Their studio is known as the Bomb Shelter, their new album is Legion of Boom and it features a song called "Weapons of Mass Distortion."
What's up with party hardy dance duo the Crystal Method getting all political on us?
"That song was called 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' at some point," said Scott Kirkland of the rocking dance track he created with partner Ken Jordan featuring ex-Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland. "That was the nickname for a long time, but we thought we had to get away from that because it was no longer cute or funny once the war started. There's no real political statement because it doesn't have any lyrics, but what was going on in the world with all the false reports and things leading up to the war was just so distorted."
The new title makes much more sense, especially given the pair's love of distortion, which has played a role in TCM's music since their 1997 debut, Vegas. The song — which mixes a booming bass line, big beats and a hypnotic guitar hook similar to the theme from "Knight Rider" — is one of the few on the album that retains the thickly layered sound of the group's previous album, 2001's Tweekend.
That's because Legion of Boom was inspired by a year of DJ dates the pair played behind their first mix CD, last year's Community Service.
During those shows, Kirkland said they reconnected with the ecstatic, bare-bones rave vibe that got them interested in making dance music more than a decade ago.
Ironically, the pair chose to collaborate almost exclusively with rock artists on their third studio album. Along with Borland, who appears on three tracks, they hooked up with Los Angeles blues-rock belter Lisa Kekaula (The BellRays) for a pair of grinding soul dance anthems, vocal instrumentalist Rahzel (Roots) for the pseudo-political "American Way" and former Kyuss singer John Garcia for the album's first single, "Born Too Slow."
Kirkland said the sessions with Garcia did not get off to a great start. "He came in understanding just enough about us to be comfortable with what we do," Kirkland said. "But it took him a few hours to loosen up. Having a bottle of Jack Daniel's and two cases of beer in the studio definitely helped ignite that performance."
Isolated in a vocal booth on the other side of the Bomb Shelter where Kirkland and Jordan couldn't see him, Garcia had a few acceptably soulful takes, but the pair could tell he was holding back. After a few more drinks, Kirkland said Garcia "blew the lid off it," resulting in a mix of deep funk and Led Zeppelin vocal gymnastics that builds to a crescendo in which Garcia howls with all his stoner-metal might.
Both Kirkland and Jordan have long mixed their love of club culture with an affinity for hard rock from the likes of AC/DC and Metallica, but the hook-up with Borland raised some eyebrows. "We met him on the Family Values Tour and listening to what he did with Limp Bizkit, we just thought he was an amazing guitarist who had a real different slant on rock music," Kirkland said.
Borland, taking a break from writing and recording the debut for his post-Bizkit band, Eat the Day, said because he'd never written or recorded anything for an electronic album before, he was interested in giving the collaboration a shot. "It wasn't odd at all," he said about switching gears from nü-metal to dance music. "It was super easy, because it's very similar to how I work by myself — sitting in a room and playing guitar into a computer."
Borland said he listened to the demos Kirkland and Jordan sent him, laid down some parts and trusted the pair to choose and manipulate the songs any way they wanted.
"He takes a different approach to his guitar," said Kirkland of Borland's bluesy, atmospheric riffs on "Born Too Slow," "Weapons of Mass Distortion" and "Broken Glass." "Every song we've ever done has some element of distortion and fuzz on it. Taking that and adding his guitar and more organic drums and bass works because rock is something we naturally hear in our music."
Borland said they can call him anytime. "[I was] a little surprised [they invited me to work on the album], but I was glad to accept the invitation and have the experience to put under my belt," he said.
"Born Too Slow" is featured on the new "Need for Speed Underground" racing game and is also on a new maxi-single CD with remixes by Deepsky, EK and Nu Breed, due out December 9.
Before taking Legion of Boom on the road in early 2004, Crystal Method will play a seven-city DJ tour beginning November 14 in Montreal.
The group's album drops January 13.
Crystal Method DJ dates, according to their spokesperson:
- 11/14 - Montreal, QC @ Sona
- 11/21 - Denver, CO @ Rise
- 12/12 - San Diego, CA @ L5
- 12/13 - Chicago, IL @ Vision
- 12/18 - Tucson, AZ @ City Limits
- 12/20 - Tempe, AZ @ Club Freedom
- 12/31 - Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues