Underworld Kicking Off Two-Week U.S. Tour

British techno trio, promoting latest album, to play first date in D.C. April 20.

British techno trio Underworld will launch a two-week U.S. tour April 20 with a show at Washington, D.C.'s 9:30 Club. The group will be promoting their latest album, Beaucoup Fish, due April 13.

The tour of major U.S. cities will wind through New York, Chicago, Seattle and Las Vegas, before ending up at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Los Angeles on May 1.

Beaucoup Fish, an 11-song collection, will feature the jazz-

inflected single "Push Upstairs." The new album is the follow-up to

Underworld's 1996 breakthrough, Second Toughest on the Infants,

which spawned a worldwide hit with

"Born Slippy (Nuxx)"

(RealAudio excerpt). Originally from the soundtrack to the

controversial, heroin-themed film "Trainspotting," "Born Slippy" was

not originally on Second Toughest but was added when it became

a break-out hit.

Underworld -- fronted by singer/guitarist Karl Hyde, programmer Rick Smith and DJ Darren Emerson -- took a year off to pursue outside projects following the surprising success of "Born Slippy."

"Did we expect that success?" Hyde said. "No, we didn't. We knew ['Trainspotting'] was a really good film, even if we didn't know that it would have been embraced by so many people globally.

"We were very pleased the way that [the film's director] Danny Boyle used our song, because up to that point, the words sounded like a beer-drinking anthem, and they were pretty much the opposite," Hyde added.

The success of "Born Slippy" was somewhat daunting for the band. "It got out of hand," Hyde said. "We were already happy with the way it sold, and suddenly, it became a huge pop phenomenon. But we're not that kind of group. We went along with it for a while, then we pulled back, because we were not happy with it."

For more than a decade, Underworld have made their name with a mix of trance, breakbeat and techno sounds. Many of their songs feature Hyde's heavily treated, deadpan stream-of-consciousness vocals. The band was hatched from an early '80s collaboration by Hyde and Smith in the new-wave group Freur.

Following the dissolution of Freur, the pair parted. They reunited in 1988 to form Underworld and release their first album, Underneath the Radar, as a duo. Change the Weather followed in 1989. The group re-emerged in 1993 as a trio with Dubnobasswithmyheadman.

Before beginning to work on a new album, Hyde said, the three Underworlders took a year off to work on individual projects. Some of them were linked with their design company, Tomato, which produces commercials, videos and record covers.

"We [did it to] get a sense of our own identity," Hyde explained. "[We did] things like talks, lectures, CD-ROMs. ... Darren got back to his old DJ work."

Hyde said that the trio decided to embark on a tour before record's release so they could test the new material on stage. According to Hyde, Underworld previewed the album in the middle of the recording process at a slate of European festivals, then went back into the studio to reassess the songs.

The result is an effort that swings wildly from the bouncy, downbeat techno jazz of the opening 12-minute track "Cups" to the straight-up, frantic dance-floor beats of the epic "Shuddering/King of Snake."

Underworld's U.S. Tour Dates:

April 20; Washington, D.C., 9:30 Club

April 21; New York, N.Y., Hammerstein Ballroom

April 22; Philadelphia, Pa., Electric Factory

April 24; Detroit, Mich., St. Andrews Hall

April 25; Toronto, Ontario, The Guvernment

April 26; Chicago, Ill., Rivieria Theatre

April 28; Seattle, Wash., The Showbox

April 29; San Francisco, Calif., The Warfield

April 30; Las Vegas, Nev., House of Blues

May 1; Los Angeles, Calif., Santa Monica Civic Auditorium