The duo of Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland- better known as The Crystal Method– have been frontrunning pioneers of big beat electronica for over a decade, setting standards with their 1997 debut, Vegas, and raising the bar with each subsequent release. In addition to putting the finishing touches on their yet-untitled fourth studio album, they just kicked off a 30-city weekend club tour throughout the U.S.
In 1994, the pair released their first single, Now Is The Time, which sampled a prominent slogan of the 1960’s civil rights movement. The same slogan was used throughout Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention last month. Inspired by the message and the pivotal state of our nation, Jordan and Kirkland remade the song, using a sample of Obama’s “Now is the time” statement from his speech. Fans can download the song for free through the band’s website. Accompanying artwork for the song by Shepard Fairey, a revision of his popular Obama portrait logo, can also be viewed there.
The guys have also hosted the now-defunct weekly Community Service radio show on Los Angeles station Indie 103.1 for the past four years, introducing Hollywood’s FM hipsters to the inside track on all things electronica. So, with that being said, we spoke to Scott Kirkland recently, but decided to go a different route than the usual journalistic fellation you see in most interviews. If you want to read about The Crystal Method’s favorite colors or food to eat on tour, there are other places you can go for that. We just got right to the point.
Antiquiet: Your Now Is The Time remix doesn’t leave much guesswork to where you stand, politically. What made you say ‘Okay, we’ve gotta do this?’
Scott Kirkland: He’s the right guy, it was the right time. It’s as simple as that. We were watching a speech of his, and hearing some of the things he had to say… It really resonated with us. So we got a recording of it and cut it up, and the next thing you know we’re breathing new life into this song of ours that’s already such a part of the framework for how people know us. I’m really happy with the updated version.
Antiquiet: Now, a lot of musicians steer clear of politics, but it seems that if you can get your voice out there and inspire people in a productive, educated manner, there’s no better platform. You’ve got thousands of fans at your fingertips at every show, and those kids are exactly the people that need to be inspired, need to be woken the fuck up and shown truth, as opposed to spinning propaganda one way or the other. Where do you stand in that mix?
Scott Kirkland: Well, we’ve never made too big a point of going that far into politics. I mean, shit, we’re both political people, we’ve been raised in very politically aware environments. My dad was one of those famous Reagan Democrats. He was very conservative, fiscally conservative. And my uncle was a lot more liberal, so when he’d come around there was always some real interesting conversation to be had. But we’re not trying to force our opinions. This was just a piece that inspired us. I think it’s alright, I think a lot of people are passionate about it on both sides. And that’s good.
Antiquiet: You got involved with Shepard Fairey for the artwork…
Scott Kirkland: Yeah, he did a variation of his Obama Hope poster for us to use, which was really cool. When we first put it up as our avatar on MySpace, a few people were thinking that we were being overtly political, and had that up there for no other reason than that. And on people’s MySpace pages, on their friends list, that’s what people see when they check out what their friends are all about. So there actually were a few people that weren’t big fans of Obama that were really kind of turned off by that. And we took it off our avatar because it makes sense in that environment to have it up once we’ve got the song up, but at that point it was just the image.
Antiquiet: What kind of an impact do you expect the song to make?
Scott Kirkland: Well, we put the song out with about a month left in the election, so we figure that by this point people’s minds are pretty much made up, whether they want to go in one direction or another. But there are friends of ours who just don’t pay attention to politics, and who’ll just dig the track for being the piece of music that it is. Hopefully people will continue to support the idea of free music for a cause.
Antiquiet: Speaking of supporting music, you’ve done the Community Service radio show on Indie 103.1 for about four years now…
Scott Kirkland: Yeah, they’ve actually pulled the plug on that.
Antiquiet: What the hell?
Scott Kirkland: They’re making some decisions right now to move to a more conventional format, so all the specialty shows are pretty much going away.
Antiquiet: So it’s basically going down the toilet.
Scott Kirkland: Well I hope not. I don’t know, we’ll see. They offered to let us move to the midnight to 2 AM time slot for a time, which on a Friday or Saturday night is exactly the time that our audience would be in the clubs already or at the party. We’d be falling on deaf ears, essentially. Besides, we’ve got a tour coming up, so we’d have to mail it in, and taping the show beforehand just never feels quite right. We’ve had to pre-tape in the past, and it just wasn’t what we were looking for.
Antiquiet: It would be a damn shame to see 103.1 go conventional. There aren’t too many other options, as far as good radio in LA.
Scott Kirkland: You’re right. There’s something cool about hearing some of the deeper tracks on the records they play, and get different flavors of alternative exposure. Hopefully they’ll use discretion in whatever they’re doing over there.
Antiquiet: I hope they’ve got sense enough not to get rid of Jonesy and Henry Rollins.
Scott Kirkland: Yeah, Rollins is moved to Saturdays, I think. But Jonesy’s a little too entrenched in the branding of the station to get rid of him, I’d think. That would be ridiculous. But the concept for our show was to kind of provide a soundtrack for people getting ready to go out. If they’re in the clubs by midnight, they’re getting ready between 10 and 11. So that was ideal. We were talking to our fans.
Antiquiet: What’s the word on the new album?
Scott Kirkland: Obviously it’s hard to be objective when you’ve been living and breathing these tracks for so long. We’ve really put our hearts into it, and we’re really excited about these songs. We got people like Matisyahu and LMFAO on tracks, and it’s shaping up to really be something we can get excited about. You should keep an eye out for it around February of next year.
Antiquiet: You’ll be playing the songs out live on this tour though, right?
Scott Kirkland: We will drop a few songs into the live set, sure. It’s good to feel ’em out beforehand.
Antiquiet: Good deal. So… one last note- just to be clear, you’re voting for McCain, right?
Scott Kirkland: (laughs) Yeah…. exactly.
The Crystal Method Tour Dates
Thu 10/16 Daytona Beach, FL The Coliseum
Fri 10/17 Tampa, FL Green Iguna
Sat 10/18 New Orleans, LA Ampersand
Thu 10/23 Charlotte, NC The Forum
Fri 10/24 Nashville, TN Limelight
Sat 10/25 New York, NY Webster Hall
Fri 10/31 Seattle, WA WAMU Theater
Sat 11/01 Atlanta, GA Swerve
Thu 11/06 Destin, FL TBA
Fri 11/07 Knoxville, TN World Grotto
Sat 11/08 Orlando, FL Firestone
Thu 11/13 Denver, CO Beta
Fri 11/14 El Paso, TX Studio 69
Sat 11/15 San Francisco, CA Ruby Skye
Thu 11/20 Boston, MA Underbar
Fri 11/21 Houston, TX Riches
Sat 11/22 St. Louis, MO Dantes
Sat 11/29 Chicago, IL Vision
Tue 12/02 Boulder, CO The Fox
Wed 12/03 Calgary, Alberta Warehouse
Thu 12/04 Vancouver, BC Celebrities
Fri 12/05 Austin, TX Sky Lounge
Wed 12/10 Las Vegas, NV Body English
Thu 12/11 Columbus, OH Sugar
Fri 12/12 Philadelphia, PA TLA
Sat 12/13 Dallas, TX Lizard Lounge
Wed 12/17 Windsor, Quebec Boom Boom
Thu 12/18 Toronto, Ontario The Social
Fri 12/19 Minneapolis, MN Epic