The Crystal Method returned this year with their fourth studio album, Divided by Night, a smashing collection of songs featuring such diverse artists from Matisyahu to Peter Cook. I got the wonderful chance to talk with the Crystal Method’s Ken Jordan, who along with Scott Kirkland, has created significant electronic music that’s maintained its cool factor. The band is scheduled to appear at the WaMu Theater in Seattle on May 30th and I cannot wait for the experience.
Q: What are some of the changes for the new tour?
Ken Jordan: There are a lot of different technical things. On our tour we’re running two synced up MacBook Pros. We’ve got our brand new Axiom controllers and all the lights are new stuff. This company High End Systems out of Austin is letting us use brand new lights that are not even available to anyone else yet. Light and sound is all pretty new.
Q: Emily Haines is on the new album – how did you meet up with her?
K.J.: We knew of Metric but it wasn’t until we saw this video on youtube, where she was singing with someone playing acoustic guitar. Her voice was very prominent and we just really fell in love with her voice and wanted to try to get her on the record.
Q: You also have Justin Warfield and his wife, Stefanie King Warfield on the album?
K.J.: He delivered a great vocal on Kling to the Wreckage. We also had this background vocal part and we asked who it was. He said it was his wife so we got her to do another song, which was Black Rainbows.
Q: They both have cool voices. Are there other people you’d like to collaborate with?
K.J.: Yeah, we’re going to keep finding new people. I don’t want to spoil it by not having it come true.
Q: What about somebody’s voice that you really loved, like when you were growing up?
K.J.: Stevie Wonder stuff from the 70s. Bill Withers. We actually did try to reach out to him [Withers] because I heard he’s still singing really well . . .
Q: Are there any music genres or styles that you’re interested in trying that you haven’t tried yet?
K.J.: We find out what works best for us is trying something that’s totally different. We’re willing to try anything. The things that don’t work out don’t show up on the record but we’re always trying different things.
Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland of the Crystal Method – photo courtesy of thecrystalmethod.com.
Q: You’ve contributed a lot to movies and soundtracks. Are there directors that interest you?
K.J.: We’ve done some scoring. We scored a film called London and I scored a TV movie once – Columbo Likes the Nightlife. We really do like scoring to picture. There’s a lot of directors we do like so hopefully we will get to work with them.
Q: Are you still working on the Doors’ music?
K.J.: We did the one remix a while back for Roadhouse Blues. This year we’re going to do another remix for Break on Through.
Q: When were a little kid did you learn to play piano or did you pick it up later?
K.J.: Much later. I didn’t even take piano lessons until I started going to college. I never wanted to be in a band or anything. I actually started making music because I was running the college radio station and bands that liked my taste in music asked me to come into the studio with them. That’s when I decided I wanted to be a producer/engineer. The little piano that I had learned helped me quite a bit. When I started working with Scott it became more of a band – not so much being a producer or an engineer.
Q: Did you two meet initially in college?
K.J.: We met in Las Vegas – we both grew up in Las Vegas. We had both already started working on some music with other people, Scott more by himself. I was working with a singer. We had the same part-time job and he came in with a drum machine one day and we started talking. We put all of our gear together and eventually the Crystal Method was born.
Q: Was Las Vegas an interesting place to grow up?
K.J.: It’s an interesting because when you’re a kid you don’t realize that other places don’t have slot machines and 7-Elevens. Neither one of our parents worked in the casino industry so it was a little more normal for us.
Q: Are there some types of music you disagree on?
K.J.: Scott likes a lot of the 80s hair metal bands and I don’t like any of them.
Q: Where did you get the title of the new CD from?
K.J.: Divided by Night is kind of a metaphor for our lives. We lead pretty hardworking normal lives during the day but then when we’re going out in the clubs and djing or playing concerts it’s just radically different. The phrase Divided by Night represents that division.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
K.J.: I play a lot of ice hockey.
Q: That’s brutal.
K.J.: No, it’s not.
Q: How did you start doing that?
K.J.: I didn’t learn until really late in life. I didn’t play until I moved to L.A., back when Wayne Gretzky was on the teams. I got really interested. A lot of friends of mine from Vegas had a team and were in L.A., so I joined the team.
Q: You need to have strong ankles for that.
K.J.: Well the boots keep your ankle together pretty good.
Q: How have you and Scott managed to stay friends, for like 10 years?
K.J.: It’s more like 20 years. Besides our immediate family members it’s the longest relationships we’ve been in. You learn to get along. You have to like each other first or it’s probably not going to work anyway.
Q: What’s the songs of yours you’re most proud of?
K.J.: The last song [on Divided by Night], it’s called Falling Hard and I think it’s the most beautiful song we’ve ever done.
Q: If you could have the power of a robot what would it be?
K.J.: That’s a good one because we don’t really know what robots do right now.
Q: There are limitations.
K.J.: I would like the power not to be so emotional sometimes.