Known for making electronica with dance beats and rock riffs, The Crystal Method have made its way into the hearts of fans of a variety of musical genres. On the few times they've used words, its often through collaborations, samples, remixes or, now, politics.
The California-based duo has released a remix of their first single, "Now is the Time," using part of a speech from presidential candidate Barack Obama. Entitled "Now is the Time (Vote '08 Remix)," the song is available for free on the group's Web site and will surely be played during their ongoing fall tour. The original version used a slogan popular in the 1960's civil rights movement.
"I watched that speech and Obama is a pretty good speaker with a lot of galvanizing moments," Scott Kirkland, one-half of The Crystal Method, says by phone from the band's Hollywood, Calif., studio. "'Now is the Time' was repeated a lot so we thought it would be cool to revisit our first track before we release our fourth album. Even if we took out the Obama stuff, it would stand on its own as a really decent track."
It wasn't as simple as putting Obama's voice into the old music, either. The duo, whose other half is Ken Jordan, had to basically start from scratch because the old version wasn't in a usable format -- it was mostly samples and nondigital audio. They took a few elements from the original, but Kirkland says the new track was "built from the ground up" including the drums and live bass that were used.
"The first one, released in 1994, had a couple different mixes on it for more of a traditional break-beat version and a four-four version," Kirkland says. "We haven't done it live in a long time. It was our first track so it was our first baby and experiment and will always have a special place in our heart."
As far as it being available for free, Kirkland says the duo thought it would be difficult to have the audio cleared and it is a way to encourage people to vote. He says the duo have always been "political junkies on the side" and pay attention to what's going on, even if it's watching Crossfire in the studio.
"We've never done anything overtly political -- we've hinted at it but never said vote for this person or vote for that person," Kirkland says. "We support Obama, but in the song, there aren't any swipes at Republicans or McCain. It's more of a positive message and people get that from Obama first. It's more of a track to make people excited about the election."
The group is headed out on the road this fall, playing weekends around the country, to support the single and give listeners a taste of the new record that's in the works. The still-untitled new album should be finished this month and is planned for an early 2009 release.
"We're trying to go out and hit a lot of the markets that we haven't hit when we've done a lot of DJ dates," Kirkland says. "We'll play a lot of the music that's going to be on the album and then we'll come back and do a live tour next year."
The band has always had a slight appeal toward rock fans as both members of the group are rock fans and The Crystal Method has remixed or worked with bands such as Garbage, Filter, Green Day, Foo Fighters and Rage Against the Machine. The rock influence, Kirkland says, manifests itself through drum beats, distortion or other instrumentation. However, the electronic consistency of the music has also appeased fans of drum and bass, progressive house and trance.
Kirkland says the band has maintained its own sound instead of "riding the roller coaster" of different types of techno and electronic music to follow everyone else. The band's music, aside from being released on its own, has made its way into countless movie soundtracks and video games.
Kirkland says the duo started to look back at previous work when they released the 10-year anniversary of the album Vegas. He says the times were simpler and the group has changed since then -- sounding and recording better.
"We try to sound different than we did, but we don't want people to be confused when they hear us," he says. "We want to keep our own unique sound. There are songs on the new album that go off in different directions and I hope the fan will hear where we've come from and where we're going, but we just try to get better and do something different than the last time."
The Crystal Method will perform Oct. 23 at The Forum at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15 and available through www.groovetickets.com.