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Scott Kirkland Interview

November 20, 1997 via telephone by Paul Clark.

Who does what in the band?

We both do a little bit of everything, Ken's more of the engineer producer and I do more of the musician songwriter thing or I engineer he writes. We both dabble in everything.

It's not like you do all the percussion tracks and hand them over to Ken for him to eventually hand it back?

No, we work together. It may start out something like in Busy Child were I came up with a part or something or the initial rhythm or whatever, then we work together on it forever and ever and ever to get all the drums sounding right and then come up with new parts. We both share in the responsibilies involved in the recording and mixing and the whole creative process. We do everything ourselves in our studio.

So neither of you is designated "executive producer" or anything like that?

Oh no, nothing like that, no.

What's the deal regarding sounds versus riffs. Do you start with the great sound and write the riff or the other way around?

We have a lot of fun coming up with interesting sounds and then coming up with the melodic lines to use those wonderful sounds we may come up with, like on a track called Vapor Trail there's a line, a melodic part that's in the middle that sort of sounds like a horn sort of, it's like (proceeds to hum three descending notes) and we were messing around with that track and I went over to an Arp Odyssey and I was just sitting there and, one of the things we like to do is we like to take some of our old gear or even some of our new gear like a JP8000 or the Nord and send them through tons and tons of guitar effects, like old guitar boxes.

Boss ones?

Actually we don't have any Boss ones, it's pretty much the old. We have a D.O.D. fuzz pedal which is a great little box but we love a lot of the stuff that's older like Electro-Harmonix, we have an Electro-Harmonix micro bass synth, we have a Maestro Ring-Modulator and all kinds of old things and one of the things it's kinda fun to do is to chain them all together y'know, what will the micro bass synthesizer sound like going through the Fender fuzz going through the...you hook about four of them up together and then start to tweak the sound of each one of them and then you start to work with an instrument like an Arp Odyssey which has all the knobs and everything and all the sliders and you can go from one extreme to the next, so once you get a part down, or a riff, then it's kinda fun to work around, so I'll sit there playing the part over and over again and we'll get the sound tweaking right so that it sounds right over the top of our...we try to get the balance right when we put the track together sonically so it is a long process but lots of times we have a blast on it.

So you don't put all the tracks down dry and then go back at mixdown to get all the effects sorted out?

Well, we are writing as we are mixing and what we'll do is have a track that's completely done and then we'll run off the completely finished version and then we'll go back to it and we'll lay a bunch of different things down to ADAT or whatever as back-ups. We have a Mackie 32, 8 bus plus the add on, the 24 channel add-on.

Ideal?

Oh yeah, so lots of times we'll have every single (laughs) channel running.

What do you use in your studio?

Well we have two EIV's in the studio, we have an EmaxII, Ken uses an ASR10 on his side and then we have ProTools and Digital Performer.

What computer do you use?

We use an Apple Macintosh 7200.

What do you have with you on this tour?

We have an EIV sampler (E-mu systems) that's fully loaded with RAM, an MPC2000, an ASR10 which has 16Mb RAM plus the Emax sampler which has 8. We use lots of samples and we have a Fostex D90 which has eight tracks of digital but we play a lot of the parts live, we try to play as many of the melody lines and chord progressions as we can, as well as all different things that people relate to in different songs. We let the machines do a lot of the difficult drum parts and other stuff, we just try to get involved with the music when we're playing it live.

It would be really easy for us just to take all of our, well not really easy but to y'know hit play on the sequencer and let everything go by and just sit there and drink beer and twiddle knobs every once in a while but, we've always related live music to people performing the music, that's what we saw when we were growing up, that's what we were used to and that's one of the things we felt was lacking in electronic music.

We'd go see a band and they'd stand up there and it would be sort of like the Wizard Of Oz, it'd be like I see their heads, I see their hands every once in a while turn a knob or move something but what are they really doing, so what we always try to do is we set up as close to the front of the stage as possible and we keep all of our keyboards and equipment racks at about waist height, sort of surrounding us.

On one side I have a Nord Lead and an Oscar that I play and then I use the DX7 as a controller, we have Vintage Keys and the ESQ1 and the JP8000 and a few other odds and ends and just try and play a lot of the parts, throw our keyboards about and jump around and have a good time, and people react to that and feel that we're a part of what they're hearing, so by the end of the night I think a lot of people leave happy and we leave happy. We walk off the stage happy because we feel we actually did something up there.

Do you get good support from your record company?

Oh yeah.

Who are you signed to?

We're signed to Outpost, which is a division of Geffen, which is a division of Universal, which is a division of Seagrams (laughs) but yeah we have a very artist friendly label behind us and right now were just touring, it took us a long time to really get Vegas complete because we wanted to make sure we were both completely happy with it from beginning to end.

And you did the whole thing in your own studio?

Yeah, we did it all in our studio.

Now that people are creating their music in their own studios, in their own environments, isn't it bound to make the music better, rather than moving everything across town to a "Professional" studio?

I think so, I think it's going to help keep the sound of the artists intact. You'll hear about people with an incredible sounding demo, who get a huge budget and get told you're working with this producer and going into this studio with this engineer and you've got two and a half months to get it right.

And sounding better than the demo?

Yeah, and better than the demo.

Website: The Crystal Method