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Electronic music pioneers The Crystal Method originally planned to release their self-titled new album last summer, but recording was put on hold for several months when Scott Kirkland underwent an operation to remove a benign posterior fossa arachnoid cyst in his brain. Complicating matters further, Kirkland developed a bacterial infection, which put him in the ICU for a week and required a month of at-home recuperation.
“It was a scary time," Kirkland says. "We all tend to put important dates on the calendar – birthdays, anniversaries and so on – but anytime somebody opens up your skull and fiddles with your brain, you should mark that date down too as being important."
Once he was well enough to return to the studio, Kirkland and his music-making partner, Ken Jordan, attacked tracks both new and old with a fresh perspective. "I wouldn't recommend what I went through to anybody," Kirkland says, chuckling, "but sure, the time away kind of cleared out the cobwebs. Ken, too - we both went back in and said, 'OK, time to kick some ass.' And that's what we did."
Sonically, Kirkland and Jordan aimed to keep things gritty and aggressive, but rather than relying on the latest hardware and plugins, they found inspiration in vintage synthesizers and analog pedal effects. "Everybody has the same stuff these days, but not everybody has some of the old stuff," Kirkland says. "And the old stuff makes you think differently. You have to work it; you push a button or move something and you get a crazy, wild, unexpected sound. That’s where the excitement for making music comes from. We didn’t want to lose that feeling."
The new album features appearances by country-pop singer LeAnn Rimes, Voice runner-up Dia Frampton and former Scars On Broadway frontman Franky Perez, among others, but Kirkland stresses that he and Jordan weren't looking to do the standard-issue "special-guest" package. "Whenever somebody came in and did something with us, it was because that's what the music needed," he explains. And while some artists are currently calling into question the practically of releasing full albums, Kirkland asserts that he and Jordan remain hardcore traditionalists: “No matter how much they try to take it away from us, we’re sticking with albums. We’ll be those guys who still believe in the long format when everybody else has gone the other way. We have a romantic attachment to albums – they're still cool."
On the following pages, Scott Kirkland runs down The Crystal Method's self-titled new album track-by-track.