Whether you’d consider yourself a fan of the genre or not, you’ve definitely heard songs by The Crystal Method. The duo of Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland have enjoyed tremendous commercial success across all kinds of media, and now their world tour has landed right here in our backyard. Their ever-evolving sound has come together on their latest album, Divided By Night, and we met up with them before their show at the Avalon to talk about what this particular night meant to the guys.
“We’ve had great LA performances,” added Jordan, “but they were festivals like Coachella and Electric Daisy Carnival, so it wasn’t like we got to have our own show. We really wanted to do something like this before we wrapped up the touring on the album, so we’ve been looking forward to this show for a long time.”
Los Angeles is where The Crystal Method was born.
“This is where we got in to techno and raves. We moved here from Las Vegas in 1989, so we have sort of an LA-grown sound,” said Kirkland.
The last time we saw The Crystal Method at Avalon, they played with Adam Freeland and Hybrid on a night which was just as much of a rock concert as a DJ set. With the right songs and able hands at the controls, a room can fill up with so much energy that it can push at the walls and rattle the speakers.
“We’ve always wanted to bring that energy from the live concerts that we loved going to,” said Kirkland. “We love that interaction with the fans and the crowd, so people can see us actually doing something up there.”
We have always approached our live shows as more of a rock concert.
“The live show is all our music and it’s nice because you don’t have to wonder whether a particular song is ours or not, because they’re all ours!” added Jordan.
“Pretty much every track that was in the set has been overhauled,” Kirkland explained. “They’ve been deconstructed and then built back up because we don’t do mash-ups of our tunes, but there are blends which get things to flow really well. We really wanted to keep the integrity of the originals intact but we also wanted to update them too, so I think we’ve managed to walk that fine line.”
“And tonight we’re gonna change things up a little bit by bringing in Meiko,” he added. “We’ve only performed one time with her before and that was for our KCRW performance, but it went so well and she just happened to be around, so we rehearsed it a couple of days ago and we’re excited to showcase it tonight.”
She delivered a stirring rendition of the downtempo track “Falling Hard,” which she recorded with the guys to close out Divided By Night. The live version, with Meiko on acoustic guitar, helped showcase to this sold-out crowd the true depth and scope of a band that has been at the top of the electronic music world for nearly fifteen years.
In addition to Meiko, Divided by Night brought together collaborators like Matisyahu, Emily Haines (Metric), and long-time musical hero Peter Hook (New Order).
“When you get a chance to work with people that you really admire and they contribute to the project like it’s one of their own, it’s pretty special,” said Kirkland.
He added, “The rock influences came out on Tweekend and some of the darker, techno influences on Legion Of Boom but this one is a continuation of us evolving and giving a different take on where we’re coming from by infusing these different artists into our sound.”
To become the proper band they are today, The Crystal Method have played on incredibly diverse bills, such as as the nu-metal flavors found at Korn’s Family Values Tour. They’ve also played hundreds of shows all over the planet, a flickering reminder of which sat in the middle of the stage in the form of a glowing orb. So when the curtains came up on the Avalon, the boys looked as comfortable as ever rocking out with their custom-designed keyboards that were more akin to something you might find in Star Wars. The light show and accompanying visuals that accompany the tour are truly otherworldly.
“Our lighting director is here and he’s been with us forever,” Kirkland said. “We’ve built a relationship with High End Systems, which is this amazing lighting company, who have led the entire industry for many years in innovation and it’s great when you get someone who knows the songs and the sound so well that they’ve taken the time to craft a visual show that matches the audio.”
But if you’re prone to seizures, bring a pillow or a helmet because you’re going to need it!
While the stage setup has certainly evolved over the years, hearing classic Crystal Method tracks like “Busy Child” and “Keep Hope Alive” cut through the Avalon left my ears ringing and my synapses burning. New memories were created here, forever linked to those classics and each pulsing minute on the dance floor.
“We’ve always made an effort to not repeat ourselves but to challenge ourselves. It would have really been easy for us to go into the studio and slap together a “Vegas II” and continue on with that vibe with the big fills and breakdowns, but that was for that time period. When we started to evolve by doing different events, such as the Family Values Tour and performing our music in all these different environments for people who would not normally hear our sound, it was great for us because we’re not going to pigeonhole ourselves as a band that can only play at raves or nightclubs.”
This being an LA show, the night wouldn’t have been complete without a little extra push, and the boys did not disappoint their fans and many friends in attendance.
“There’s definitely a little bit of showmanship,” Kirkland laughed. “That’s a big element from the bands that have come out of here that are much bigger than us. Everybody always brings a big show element here because in LA, you gotta do something to make yourself standout. There’s like twenty million people here and almost as many bands, so you’ve gotta do something.”
That something caught everyone by surprise, when Jordan took to the stage just before their encore and proposed to his girlfriend, Janine. As the crowd cheered on (and she said yes), it closed out their near ninety-minute show with a little extra euphoria.
Looking back, the band was very calm before the show, even with all that was about to transpire. You’d never have guessed what life-altering events were just hours away. They’re very patient, relatable guys. Except, you know, that they’ve just rocked the GRAMMY Awards, headlined the Electric Daisy Carnival, and now once again conquered the Avalon.
After a landmark show like this one, we can’t wait to see where they take their sound next. For those that are new to the band, there’s never been a better time to jump onboard.
Buy: Divided By Night on iTunes