Anyone who hears the Crystal Method’s new single “Post Punk” may recognize a familiar voice laced throughout it: “I don’t want to be a punk. I don’t want to belong to any of it. I just want to be.”
It sounds just like Iggy Pop talking about the Stooges in Gimme Danger, Jim Jarmusch’s 2016 documentary about Pop’s former band. And, in fact, that’s exactly what it is — a sample of Pop’s voice propels the group’s first new single in four years.
For Crystal Method co-founder Scott Kirkland, Pop’s quote brought him back to the days when he and Ken Jordan started the DJ collective. “When Ken and I first met and started DJing in Vegas, in ’89 and ’90, I’d play Jane’s Addiction, the Cure and Depeche Mode, and then some disco,” Kirkland recalls. “It was all about getting that crowd at that moment to have a good time. So that line of Iggy’s about how he doesn’t want to be one thing— that fits with our perspective on music. We never wanted to be pigeonholed and told we were one genre. We love being different things.” (Jordan retired from music in 2016, leaving Kirkland to run the band on his own.)
Whether “Post Punk” would be released in its current form was another matter. Among Kirkland’s collaborators on The Trip Out is Hyper, the veteran British producer and mixer. “He started the track and we were exchanging files back and forth,” Kirkland recalls. “And he said, ‘Have you seen this Gimme Danger documentary? There’s a part in there where Iggy is talking and I’m thinking of sampling it and putting in the track.’”
Kirkland remembered the line but says he was skeptical that all the necessary legal clearances could be obtained: “Lots of hoops to jump through there. But I loved his enthusiasm and we moved forward with the idea.”
Once the track was done, those clearances did end up taking a few months. Last November, after all the necessary paperwork had been done, Kirkland was in New York, prepping for a DJ set at a downtown club, when he saw a masked but familiar face strolling around between sets. “It was that hair, and that look of his,” Kirkland recalls — and sure enough, it was Jarmusch. The two hadn’t met but after they were introduced, Jarmusch was effusive over the song. “He said he heard the track and apologized for the delays,” Kirkland says. “He said, ‘I was on vacation, but the track’s great.’ He was super-warm and generous.”
Pop also gave his OK by way of his posse, although Kirkland was prepared to ask him to cut a live vocal for “Post Punk” in the event the sample couldn’t be cleared. “I haven’t heard from him directly, but we heard he likes the song,” Kirkland says. “A friend of mine said, ‘Iggy just retweeted your post about the release!’”
With its thumping, big-beat grind, “Post Punk” — to be included on the Crystal Method’s The Trip Out, due April 15 —feels very old-school EDM, and the involvement of Hyper isn’t the only reason; also pitching in on the song is former Prodigy drummer Kieron Pepper, who plays guitar on the track.
In that way, the track is unintentionally part of a new wave of Nineties nostalgia, which includes this year’s Super Bowl halftime show (featuring period icons Dr. Dre and Snoop), the Clinton-era flashbacks in Showtime’s Yellowjackets series, and The Nineties: A Book, author Chuck Klosterman’s new tome on that decade.
Of course, that was also the era when EDM went mainstream thanks to DJs like Fatboy Slim, the Chemical Brothers, Moby, and the Crystal Method; some went so far as to call dance music the new rock. “I remember that time fondly,” Kirkland recalls. “When our first single came out in ’94, there was no thought of getting a major-label deal or having an album that would go wide. The next thing you know, Keith [Flint of the Prodigy] is on the cover of Rolling Stone. He was the perfect picture boy for ‘let’s do something different.’
“That next big thing died out real quick by the 2000s, but it was a great time,” Kirkland adds. “Those were the days when we’d take all this gear on tour with us, and you could actually slip the baggage handler a $20 bill and he’d take it all down to the plane.”