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Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2008

The Crystal Method

Serious about New Year’s Eve, change

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When they arrive in Milwaukee, treat them as visiting professors. After all, they're experts. The Crystal Method has performed 13 of the last 14 New Year's Eves, and they know more about throwing that year-end party than you could ever hope to. If you don't think you're having a good time at their Dec. 31 performance at the Rave, you are probably wrong.

"We know people are coming out to have a good time," says Scott Kirkland, one half of the big-beat outfit. "We take it seriously."

The Crystal Method has been making people dance since 1989. Both members were DJ-booth staples throughout the rave movement of the 1990s and mainstream successes after their collaboration with Filter, "(Can't You) Trip Like I Do," hit the radio. On New Year's Eve, revelers will have a chance to dance to their new collaborations, songs featuring Matisyahu, Emily Haines from Metric and Peter Hook from New Order.

Kirklandand band mate Ken Jordan have said they'll be previewing tracks from their upcoming album. It could be the last time to hear the songs until April, when the release tentatively titled Divided By Night is scheduled to hit stores. Jordan and Kirkland have been recording for nearly two years, and are proud perfectionists with the luxury of owning their own facilities.

"You have your own building, you have your own studio, you can take your time and do it right," Kirkland says.

But as they labored over their next big thing, they took some time to revisit their past. On a whim the duo recently reinvigorated a 14-year-old song, turning it into an unwitting team-up with the most unlikely vocalist: the junior senator from Illinois.

They built their first single, "Now Is the Time," around the titular sample, a slogan from the civil rights movement. While watching Barack Obama accept the Democratic nomination for president, Kirkland and Jordan noticed the candidate use that slogan to enormous effect. On a whim, the band created an Obama acceptance speech version of their oldest song.

"'Now is the Time' came out in '94," Kirkland says, "so bringing up the tracks was an adventure. When we wrote that song, technology was vastly more primitive than anything that is (now) available for the cheapest laptop. So we had to dig up all the old storage devices, find all the old samplers, find all the old sequencers."

The "Vote '08 Remix" is available to download on The Crystal Method's Web site.

The new version is not overtly partisan. It only includes Obama's statements calling for change, Kirkland says, adding, "There's no 'John McCain, you're a dick.'"

The project will provide New Year's partygoers with the extremely rare opportunity to dance to the dulcet tones of a president-elect. And they will dance-Kirkland will make sure of that.

"There's always such a huge buildup to the night. A lot of people really go out and want to have this huge experience. We understand that. We understand that people are coming out to have a good time," he says. "We don't take this lightly."

The Crystal Method headlines the Rave's 9 p.m. Stellar Spark VI party on Dec. 31, with Paul Birken, DJ Rozz, Delta 9, Chris Grant, Casey Lee, DJ Nitro, The Genome Project and others.

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