Interview: Ken Jordan of the Crystal Method

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.

Share

Photos: Melvins, Green River and Melvins @ Showbox

Friday’s sold out Showbox show was unbelievably fun, surpassing my high hopes. The Melvins and Green River are both timeless in music and performance and perfectly matched to share a bill. Both (all three?) bands delivered – the Melvins’ current incarnation opened the night and left me stunned and delighted.

Green River took the stage and prowled through old favorites with “This Town”, “P.C.C” and “Come on Down” standing out for me. I saw Green River twice last year and on Friday they seemed tighter, more like a current thriving band than a bunch of talented guys from other amazingly good bands that got back together for a show to bash out some old songs. I loved their set and so did their fans.

Olden-times Melvins headlined the show – they started into Houdini and the pit got crazy. Beer cans were flung onstage, bodies surfed, and sweat flowed. Security had their work cut out for them as the crowd surged and a few front-rowers had to be hoisted over the barricade. The music sludged on and I was taken back in time to when I first listened to Houdini at volume sufficient to drown out the chronic Magic games taking place in my dining room. (I’ll tap your freaking manna.)

Friday’s was my 50th show of 2009, which has yielded some great music so far. The Melvins, Green River and Melvins are near the top of my favorites list and will be tough to beat.

Share

Show Preview: Melvins and Green River @ Showbox Fri & Sat

Both the Melvins and Green River have long been on my regret list – bands I thought I’d never see live. Last summer’s excellent SP20 festival allowed me to cross Green River off that list and tomorrow night will see my Melvins dream realized at their 25th anniversary show at Showbox at the Market. I’m so excited for this show I can barely contain myself. I hope you have your tickets as Friday is sold out, though a few for Saturday’s all ages night may still be available. They will be performing Houdini in its entirety and I can’t freaking wait.

Alex Crick saw the Melvins years ago (at RKCNDY?) and shared these fantastic photos with us.

melvins07

melvins08

melvins04

 

Did I mention Green River is also on the bill? I’ve been waiting and hoping I’d get to see them again – I snapped these photos at November’s Showbox show.

mark-jefff

green-river

I have serious pre-show denial and am relieved to be skipping Sasquatch this year, as I’ll likely need the entire weekend to recover from what I expect to be an incredible night.

Share

Photos: The Apple War @ Neumos

Seattle’s own The Apple War played Neumos on Sunday night. I really love this band. I know, I have said it before. They’ve got great songs and good vibes – plus they’re oh so photogenic. Alex Crick got some photographic beauties of them . . . enjoy . . . and I am not being lazy by not making these pix a little smaller. I just like the full effect.







Share

Photos: The Detroit Cobras @ Neumos

Alex Crick took some groovy shots of the Detroit Cobras when they played Neumos on Sunday. I am keeping the first picture in its original size because well, I love it.




Share