Jun. 27, 2012 - Issue #871: Edmonton 2012
The Method is strong with this one
The Crystal Method approaches its 20th year with the help of 'The Force'
Fri, Jun 29 – Sun, Jul 1
Boonstock Music & Arts Festival
Schedule at boonstock.ca
To find oneself a fan of the Crystal Method is to adopt patience as a primary virtue.
Just four full-length albums are spread across the electronic duo's almost 20-year career, buoyed by a soundtrack here, a mix for Nike there, and the occasional EP to fill in the years-long gaps between releases. But even with those little tide-me-overs, whenever new material seems to be on the verge of release, it can just as easily ebb backwards with equal force. Case in point: Sling the Decks, a forthcoming EP, was announced for a spring release months ago. Now that we're past the solstice, it's still officially forthcoming, without so much as a firm release date.
When we speak, Method man Ken Jordan points out he's technically still got five days before summer begins, though he also admits he's already bumped its release farther into summer in his mind. (And sure enough, it didn't come out in those final few days.)
"If you've ever noticed our release schedule, we're unbelievably slow. We're not a single-per-month band," he says, chuckling across a phoneline at home in LA, shortly before setting out on a string of summer shows that will bring him and musical partner Scott Kirkland to the Boonstock Music & Arts festival in Gibbons, AB.
"We just like to get it right," he adds. "Our process is more in the studio, using all of the gear we have—at this point, we don't finish music on our laptops. We get things started sometimes, but we need time in the studio, and we're on the road a lot. That's generally the thing that holds us back."
Formed back in 1993, perhaps it's the Crystal Method's emphasis on the live show rather than the album that's kept it going. Jordan points out that even as the DJ, dance and electronic scene changed over the past decades, being active and touring components of the scene kept the band on its cresting wave rather than drifting away into obscurity. They've both kept up with leaps in technology, he notes, but he and Kirkland still draw on analogue gear with just as much emphasis.
"We still use our old analogue synths," he says. "[We were] just working yesterday with a Roland Jupiter 4, which came out in 1978—very few presets, but one of the presets is called 'The Force.' The keyboard came out like one year after Star Wars did. It sounds good!
"The four stands for, it has four voices; you can make a four-note chord," he continues. "But one of the voices can't be tuned, and so it's stuck in some weird interval, like six half-steps above or six half-steps away ... it makes really interesting sounds with the arpeggiator on."
As they approach the two-decade watermark as a band, slowing down isn't on Jordan's mind, though regrettably, speeding up seems just as unlikely. He seems happy to maintain the Method as it is. At least for now.
"It's all great memories and great experience," he says on looking back. "The main thing is we still love working on music, we still love performing. [We] plan on doing it for... a while longer. I don't know about 20 more years," he laughs. "But definitely a while longer."
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