"It's just more fun and games," the Crystal Method's Ken Jordan says of the electronic duo's new album, Tweekend. "I mean we're called 'the Crystal Method.'" True, but before you give Jordan and musical partner Scott Kirkland a knowing wink, or a little nudge, the title Tweekend refers to the pair's perfectionist tendencies. "A lot of the songs took a while because we just kept re-tweaking the mixes and songs," Jordan says.
With the album due out tomorrow -- four years after the Crystal Method invigorated American dance music with their gold-selling debut, Vegas -- They have been forced to answer a lot of questions about the long delay. Jordan, for one, promises that the next one won't take nearly as long, but then laughs and adds, "Maybe I should qualify that."
The primary reason Tweekend was four years in the making is because of the success of Vegas, which spawned the dance mega-hit "Get Busy Child." Jordan and Kirkland, who grew up on heavy arena rock -- they have an autographed Rob Halford poster adorning the door to the backyard of their Glendale, California "Bomb Shelter" studio -- spent two and a half years touring behind Vegas, named for the city where the duo formed. And, even though touring bumped their recording schedule back, they made good use of their rock & roll lifestyle on Tweekend, even recruiting Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland and Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello.
Weiland sings and plays guitar on the sinewy, slithering electro-pop track "Murder." "The thing with Scott Weiland goes back three years," says Kirkland, "when we were doing a radio festival and he was supporting his solo album. After we finished our show we found out that he had written a song to do with us onstage."
With its traditional verse/chorus/verse structure, the song is a bit of a departure for the more-meandering Crystal Method. Jordan admits that making the song, which started from vocals and electric guitars, into a Crystal Method track took a lot of work. "It was really a hard one to do in converting it back over to us," he says. "It'd be a fun EP to put out the metamorphosis of that song, including the beginning, middle and final versions." For the track, Weiland actually never hooked up with Jordan and Kirkland in the flesh; instead, as Jordan puts it, they collaborated through "the magic of technology."
On the other hand, Morello -- who counts the Crystal Method among his favorite artists and calls them "the funkiest guys I know from Vegas" -- made the drive to Glendale. "He came over here and he was the total professional, real into the moment," Kirkland says. "Cell phone off, doesn't talk about the business; he takes care of that someplace else." In all, Morello produced three tracks and plays guitar on two. He presence is particularly felt on the hard-edged, attitude-laced first single, "Name of the Game," which he produced. A menacing bass line propels the song into the most aggressive terrain the Crystal Method have traversed yet -- at least until the last track, "Tough Guy."
A muscular hook fuels the dark tone of the album's finale, which used to be called "Trans Am." The song was born out of frustration, they explain, at an aborted attempt to work with singer/actress/super-model Milla Jovovich. Long story short, she presented them with a track they really liked, only to play it for her boyfriend, Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante, who then recorded it with her. Having worked out their anger through "Tough Guy," Kirkland adds, "She was really nice other than that."
Scott Weiland, Tom Morello, Milla Jovovich and producer Jon Brion (who appears on "Over the Line") are not the names you'd expect an electronic act to be running around with, but that's exactly what attracts the Crystal Method to them. "Working with somebody different, who does something we really like," says Jordan, "sounds way cooler than working with somebody who does the same thing."
However, fans worrying that the Crystal Method's success has led them astray will be reassured by Tweekend's purely techno gem "Ten Miles Back" -- featuring ethereal vocals from Toronto band My Favorite Beast. "If people listen to [Tweekend] and not expect 'Busy Child II,' without a doubt they'll hear us," Kirkland says, "and recognize we're still the Crystal Method."