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Darren Emerson To Focus On Solo Career

Remaining members Karl Hyde and Rick Smith will 'continue on as usual.'

World-renowned club DJ Darren Emerson, now a former member of the electronic-rock group Underworld, left the band to concentrate on a solo career, the group's UK label announced in a statement Wednesday (April 26).

"Darren has been a member of Underworld for 10 years and felt that he needed to explore other musical avenues outside of the band," the statement said. "Darren will be going back to his roots, stepping up his DJing worldwide, while solo projects with guest producers will be confirmed later in the year."

The statement also confirmed reports that Underworld vocalist/guitarist Karl Hyde and producer Rick Smith would not replace the DJ and would "continue on as usual."

Junior Boys Own, the group's UK label, also announced two new Underworld performances: June 30 at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark, and July 14 at the MTV Festival in Ibiza, Spain.

Underworld have five additional festival dates planned, including the two V2000 events in England, Aug. 19 in Chelmsford and Aug. 20 in Stoke.

Tour dates in London, the United States and Japan are expected, according to the statement.

Underworld, who scored a massive U.S. hit with "Born Slippy" (RealAudio excerpt), from Danny Boyle's 1997 film "Trainspotting," will release a live album and DVD in September on V2 Records in the U.S. They will feature tracks from each of their last three studio albums, along with previously unreleased material culled from last year's world tour.

Hyde and Smith are in their own studios working on ideas for the next Underworld studio album, the label said.

The duo formed Underworld in the late '80s but didn't strike a chord with listeners until they recruited hip trance and techno DJ Emerson in 1992.

Following a handful of now-anthemic singles, including "Dirty" and "Rez" (RealAudio excerpt), Underworld released their debut

full-length, Dubnobasswithmyheadman, in 1993 in England, although it didn't gain a U.S. release until the following year, on Wax Trax!/TVT. The group's mix of brooding techno, live guitar and pastiche poetry created dance-floor anthems that began crossing over into the UK mainstream. An innovative live show using the band's own projected images and rock-style theatrics established them as one of the premier electronic-music performers.

Tomato, a progressive visual-arts collective, was founded by Underworld in the mid-'90s, and continues to work with such high-profile clients as Nike, Adidas and Pepsi.

The band's second album, 1996's Second Toughest in the Infants, maintained the intensity of the debut but also ventured into new dance territory, even incorporating some elements of drum & bass. Its sales far surpassed Dubnobassiwithmyheadman, as its release followed the huge success of "Born Slippy."

Also in 1996, Emerson released a mix CD as part of the Mixmag Live! Series. He also released a mix titled Cream Separates the following year.

Underworld's third album, Beaucoup Fish, which featured the single, "Push Upstairs" (RealAudio excerpt), was released last year, and the band toured the world in support of it.

(This story was updated at 7:12 p.m. EDT Wednesday, April 26, 2000.)