The Chemical Brothers
Since 1992, The Chemical Brothers have become one of the world's most widely recognized electronic acts, with five number 1 albums, two number 1 singles, four Grammy awards, and music featured in TV commercials and video games, not to mention their massive live performances and psychedelic videos. We now join Tom Rowlands for an inside look.
How did you and Ed meet?
We met at Manchester University.
When did you start making music?
I started making music properly in about 1986 with friends from school.
What inspired you to start making music?
I had always been interested in music. As a child I learned piano, then guitar, and then at school I was in bands, etc.
Were you self taught?
I was taught conventional instruments but all electronic stuff was/is picked up along the way.
Tell us more about your DJing background and how that led to you making music?
I was a musician first, making records and playing gigs, and then got into DJing when I was at university. I had lots of records and together with Ed we started playing small parties and putting on our own nights.
What are some of the artists and genres that have influenced your music?
Hip-hop, techno, house, funk, rock, all kinds of psychedelic music really.
Tell us about the process you use to start assembling or creating a track, and the role each member plays?
They develop in different ways. Generally I come up with the initial ideas for the songs and then we grow them togther.
How has your method of making music changed over the years?
At the moment it seems quite like when we started out making music and I would be in my bedroom making tunes then playing them to Ed and tweaking them from there, only now my "bedroom" is a studio stuffed with interesting noise makers.
You just completed an 18-month tour. What do you like to do in your free time?
Muck about at home, ride my bike, go to the pub.
Do you prefer working in the studio or performing live?
I like both but if I had to choose one to do for the rest of my days it would definitely be the studio.
How much time do you spend in the studio, and how much time do you usually spend on each track?
I try to be in the studio at least five days a week. The time on a track varies from a week or so to many years for some troublesome tracks.
How many songs do you create that never really make it on an album?
Well not so much fully developed songs, but we have lots of grooves and half-finished ideas sitting around that just need that moment of inspiration to turn them right
And where do you find your inspiration?
You have both the 777 and now a couple Revolution units. How have they been used in your past and current work?
We use the 777 live. All acid parts in our live tracks like "EBW7" and "Do It Again" are played on the 777. The Revolution is used more in the studio. I love it especially for the sequencer and its Remix feature which is so inspiring.
Can you elaborate more on how you like to use the Remix feature?
Well I love the way you can spend ages writing a sequence and then with the twist of a few knobs you get something either radically or subtly different but that still fits with the original pattern. It's a great way of generating new ideas.
The 777 has been used on tracks such as "Get Yourself High" and "Acid Children." What other tracks feature the use of the Future Retro machines?
Yeah all those especially, but just recently we used the Revolution sequencer to trigger an EMS Synthi AKS on a remix for the Oasis track "Falling Down." We ended up making a noise we couldn't have first imagined like a distorted saxophone. The riff was generated by flicking between different remix settings in real time.
You've just released "Brotherhood," a compilation of electronic battle weapons. First I have to ask, was the name Brotherhood inspired in any way by New Order's album title?
Well first it seemed a good title for the Chemical Brothers, but yes obviously we are aware of that album. It's a great record.
Tell us a little more about the electronic battle weapons, and how they differ from tracks on your full length albums?
They are primarily tracks we make with the sole purpose of playing in the clubs, generally the songs differ in their arrangements.
You have done collaborations with some great artists such as Bernard Sumner, Hope Samdoval, Bobby Gillespie, Wayne Coyne, Q-tip, etc.... Who are some artists that you haven't already worked with but would like to?
Jack White.... Rakim in his prime.
Can you give us a glimpse into any future releases and what we can expect?
Well I'm just in the studio now trying to imagine the future....
Looking back to the early days, did you ever imagine The Chemical Brothers would become as successful as you have?
No, it started as something to do over the summer of 1992! But we could tell we were making a different noise from others. If we had tried to plan it would never have turned out so well.
Your sound is always evolving. Where do you see your music say in ten years from now?
It would be boring if I knew the answer to that!
Any words of wisdom for those just getting into music?
Make what you like. It's more tricky than it sounds!
We Are the Night
Push the Button
Come With Us
Dig Your Own Hole/Exit Planet Dust
Brothers Gonna Work It Out
Loops of Fury
For a complete listing of albums, singles, and remixes please visit the following link:
For more information, please visit the following links: