(This was originally published in WAV Magazine, Kotori Magazine's predecessor, in the Spring of 2004. Click here for a PDF of the full print magazine, which also includes interviews with Saul Williams, DJ Dan and much more.)
Taking a much deserved breather from an intensely insane schedule consisting of touring, DJing, completing production on “Legions of Boom” (the highly anticipated follow-up to the wildly successful “Tweekend”) and filming a music video directed by Gore Verbinski of Pirates of the Carribean and The Ring – who apparently also created the Budweiser frogs and played guitar in punk band The Daredevils with Brett Gurewitz of Bad Religion and Josh Freese of The Vandals – Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland, the mad scientist electro-wizardry creators of The Crystal Method, graciously found some time to answer some of your questions and a couple of mine. Here they are...in your words…
Ask them about growing up in Vegas and how it influenced their lives and their music (Erin from S.F.).
SCOTT: Vegas is a town that where there’s a lot going on, but there really isn’t a lot for people that are under 21. It was a smaller town when I was growing up. You had just a few radio stations, and very little late teens to early twenties audience appeal. I had a lot of friends there that always looked beyond what Las Vegas had to offer and wanted to seek out other things. I remember going up to Rough Trade in San Francisco and just absolutely going berserk buying so many records and cassettes and just finding out there’s other things beyond Vegas. You realize that you’ve got to go somewhere else to get your entertainment and to find other things, and that’s what me and friends of mine kinda seeked out. We’d drive to Arizona and California to see bands live. I moved to California when I
KEN: When you grow up in Las Vegas you just assume that every 7-Eleven in every country has slot machines. But Vegas now has become like, nightclub, nightlife paradise. Itz insane there. Itz got a scene that is very hot.
Some of the hottest clubs there?
KEN: I really like ‘Rain” at the Palms, I like “Drais” which is after-hours at Barbary Coast and I went recently to the opening of ‘Ice’ which wuz pretty cool.
How has your music evolved and branched out over the years? (Bob from N.Y.):
SCOTT: We were heavily entrenched in the L.A. rave scene in the late 80s and early 90s and a lot of that came out in our first album (Vegas). Our second album, Tweekend, obviously was influenced by what was going on in the music world at that time and just wanting to do something different. We expanded out and worked with people like Tom Morello and DJ Swamp. Tweekend has some of my favorite music that we’ve ever made. Over the last 2 years, we’ve gotten back into electronic music pretty heavily. We did a mix CD called ‘Community Service’ in 2002 and went around the country DJing. Just being involved in electronic music and breaks has really helped influence the music on “Legions of Boom”…the up-tempo, bass, drums and beat, so it’s evolved naturally. We want to try to move on and do something different on each album.
Are you hooked on crystal or are you dependent on creating a new method? (another from Bob):
SCOTT: I’m definitely not into crystal, so I’ll go with creating a new method.
What do you think the future holds for the biz and how you are positioning yourselves to take best advantage of it? (Evan from L.A.)
SCOTT: Up until about a year ago, I would have thought it was definitely going in the wrong direction. I think that sites like I-Tunes and Napster will help bridge the gap between people that want to download music and the record companies.
KEN: Maybe 10 years from now we’ll look back and remember when there used to be records. I hope not, but who knows. Hopefully people continue to pay for downloaded music, but even if not, we still have touring, DJing (and) we license a lot of music for different uses.
SCOTT: When we signed to V2 we just wanted to make sure that we would have a deal with ITunes and these other sites so that people would be able to download our music legally. We’ve been very fortunate to be able to make music and we’ve been very fortunate to sell records and deal with licensing. It all starts out with building a really strong fan base and we’ve done that by continuing to play live. By the end of the Tweekend tour, I think we hit like 60 cities, including stops in Australia and Mexico and we definitely plan to do the same with this record.
Can you describe your writing process…how a song goes from idea to final track? (Jason from San Diego):
KEN: Generally it's different for every song. Most people assume that we come up with the drum beat first and work around it, and yeah, we write like that sometimes, but I think we have the most success when we come up with something else, like a cool riff, or a cool vocal idea, or a cool medley, or a cool chord or chord change, then we write around that. If you have something that makes a great song first, generally it’s easier to write drums and bass around that.
SCOTT: A lot of the ideas for this record started out of Reason. It allows the initial ideas to flow and create a groove and get a bass line going, and once that’s started, we import it into Digital Performer, which has been our main sequencing program for many years. From that point we expand on it with all of our outboard gear…synths, drum machines…and send it thru compressors and distortion. In this last album, one track was created in two days, other times we’ll put something aside and come back to it with fresh ears. It could take up to 6 months.
When was the last time you were impressed with something new as far as sound and DJ equipment goes? (lil’ ol’ me)
KEN: The last thing I was really impressed by was the Pioneer CDJ1000. It’s a really rockin’ piece of gear. We use them every time we DJ.
SCOTT: As far as synths or outboard gear, I was really excited with two new synthesizers. One being the Andromeda 6, a keyboard from Alesis that is heavily used on this album and the other is the Roland V-synth. As far as software, Reason has helped with not just creativity in the studio, but creativity outside the studio. We’ve been able to take things on the road or work on our little home studios away from the Bomb Shelter (the official name of their studio) and come up with something that could then be taken into the studio and expanded upon. There’s a lot of great soft-synths that Native Instruments has put out…Absynth…Reaktor…those are used heavily in our music.
Ken once mentioned that Radiohead was one of the current mainstream bands that he listens to. What other music do you listen to? (J.B. out of D.C.)
KEN: Right now I’m listening to the new Hybrid record, the new Koma & Bones, and the new Elite Force album called Turning Back. As far as the mainstream I like the Foo Fighters, Coldplay and Radiohead, but for the most part, I listen to stuff that’s in our genre…breaks and that sort of thing.
SCOTT: I like Fanny Pack, they’re fun. Coldplay and of course Radiohead. I’ve always loved Massive Attack and the Chemical Brothers. I’m starting to hear a few things off the Basement Jaxx record which I like. I love everything that Tom Morello’s been involved in the last 10 years. I’m a big fan of Rahzel, who’s on our new album. And of course that Outkast record is one of my favorites. I just love all different types of music. DJ Swamp. Tom Morello. Scott Weiland. Perry Ferrel.
You’ve got a thing for collaborations. Who can we expect on the new record? (Micah from L.A.)
KEN: We have Wes Borland doing some of guitars. The guy that left Limp Bizkit. He is a really cool guy who is very NON-Fred Durst-like. His guitars are all over our new single, ‘Born Too Slow.’ We also have the singer from a band called the Bell Rays on a track.
Do you guys prefer DJing or the Live setup? (Scott from Phoenix):
KEN: DJ gigs are fun but you can’t beat the live show.
What can Crystal Method fans look forward to in the months surrounding the release of “Legions of Boom”? (lil ol’ me)
KEN: We’re doing DJ gigs every weekend all around the country. We’ll be in Europe for a little while in January between rehearsals and all that stuff and our live tour starts in February.
As a way of giving thanks to all their fans, anyone who brings a copy of the booklet from Legions of Boom to any stop on their current tour will get to meet the band.