The Chemical Brothers

The Chemical Brothers


The Chemical Brothers are the UK-based Grammy Award winning electronic music and rave duo of Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons (occasionally referred to as Chemical Tom and Chemical Ed). Initially they called themselves "The Dust Brothers", after the noted United States production duo of the same name, but their burgeoning popularity and the threat of legal action from the originals led them to change their name in 1995. Along with The Prodigy, Fatboy Slim and The Crystal Method, as well as other lesser-known acts they were pioneers of the big beat electronic dance genre, and are known for high-quality live sets.

Ten years of The Chemical Brothers

Late 2002 and early 2003, saw Rowlands and Simons back in the studio, working on new material, including "The Golden Path", a collaboration with Wayne Coyne, the lead singer of The Flaming Lips. This was released in September 2003, at the same time as a "best of" album, entitled Singles 93-03 marking ten years of The Chemical Brothers' releases. Singles 93-03 included most, but not all, of their singles. A second new track, in addition to "The Golden Path", was included on the album, called "Get Yourself High". Singles 93-03 was also released on DVD, whose extra features included selected live performances and interviews with Rowlands, Simons and many of their collaborators from throughout the period. "Get Yourself High", which featured Canadian rapper k-os on vocals, was released as a single in November 2003.

In late 2003 and 2004, The Chemical Brothers continued to work in the studio, on new material and a remix of "Slow" by Kylie Minogue. After being released on rare white label vinyl, it was subsequently given a commercial release in March on CD (on her next single "Red Blooded Woman") and on exclusive 12" vinyl picture disc (containing two other Kylie remixes). In Summer 2004 they returned to the festival circuit, including appearances at the Glastonbury Festival, Tokyo, Scotland and Ireland. They also visited South America for the first time, arriving at Chile, Argentina and Brazil. It was during these sets that they played new material, including "Acid Children", which proved to be one of the most popular new tracks.

In September 2004 The Chemical Brothers released the seventh Electronic Battle Weapon. "Electronic Battle Weapon 7" was being released as a one-sided promo-only 12", containing "Acid Children". A marked departure from the Chemical Brothers' previous musical endeavours, it featured a screeching 303 bassline and a distinctive vocal sample; a pitch-altered sample of Freddie Krueger proclaiming "You Are All My Children Now!", which is lifted from an old horror film, A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge. Coupled with the projection of a sinister clown mouthing these same words at their live gigs made for quite an experience.

The Electronic Battle Weapon series of promo releases have typically been newly recorded Chemical Brothers tracks, released on promo to allow DJs to test them in a club environment, and to gauge their popularity.

Push the Button

In 2004, The Chemical Brothers began work on Push the Button, their fifth studio album, which features collaborations with Tim Burgess, Kele Okereke and Anwar Superstar, amongst others. The album was released on January 24, 2005.

"Galvanize", which features Q-Tip on vocals, was the first single to be taken from Push the Button, and premiered exclusively on iTunes. The single was released on January 17, 2005, and entered the UK chart at #3. The second single "Believe" (featuring Kele Okereke from Bloc Party) failed to crack top 10, but still made it into the top 20, peaking at #18. "The Boxer", featuring Tim Burgess, became the duo's first single to fail to crack the top 40.

The album and single "Galvanize" won a Grammy in the Grammy Awards of 2006. One of the songs in this album, "The Big Jump" appears in the video game Burnout Revenge, as well as Project Gotham Racing 3. The track "Surface To Air" features a pulsing chord progression and baseline reminiscent of the intro to The Strokes song "The Modern Age".

Tate Tracks

In September 2006, the Chemical Brothers were revealed as the first musicians to be involved in Tate Tracks. Tate Modern invited various groups and songwriters to choose a work that inspired them from the gallery's collection of modern art and then write a track about it. The Chemical Brothers' submission, Rock Drill, was inspired by the Jacob Epstein sculpture Torso in Metal from The Rock Drill, and can be heard on headphones in front of the work in the gallery. From October 2006, it also became available to hear online at the Tate Tracks website.

We Are the Night

The Chemicals welcomed June 2006 with an announcement on their official forum stating that the duo had been working on fresh material, specifically an album, codenamed 'Chemical 6'.[3]. Simons also announced that the band would be playing select venues in the Summer 2007 season, specifying Rome, and also Fabric in London.[citation needed] Simons is also quoted as saying that the duo are 'hoping to put a battle weapon out for the summer,'[4], retrieved possibly referring to the 'Electronic Battle Weapon' series, which are somewhat experimental tracks the band occasionally release on white label.

Electronic Battle Weapon 8 & 9 were debuted on Pete Tong's BBC Radio 1 show on December 8, 2006. The double sided vinyl was finally released just before The Chemical Brother's much anticipated New Years Eve gig at the famous Turnmills in London. The vinyl had a limited edition release worldwide and has been received well by fans, DJs and critics alike. Electronic Battle Weapon 8 at about six and a half minutes is very distinct from the 'big acid' style that the earlier battle weapons adhered to. It is characterised by 'thundering dirty drums' with a rising synth line, and to many it is perceived as being one of the most euphoric tracks that the Chemicals have released in recent years. A version of this track features on the 'We Are The Night' album and is entitled 'Saturate'. Electronic Battle Weapon 9 is typical Chemicals dancefloor track with their trademark vocoder vocals coupled with sirens and a basic 'tribal' melody.

At the same Turnmills gig, the Brothers also played a previously un-released song at midnight to welcome 2007 which went down well with the crowd. This track eventually emerged as Burst Generator, found on the album We Are The Night. Many are left wondering if the latest in the Electronic Battle Weapon series were simply one off genius pieces or signal a new direction they could take with the new album, perhaps swaying from their genre defining 'big beat' psychedelic albums of the past.

On March 21, 2007, The Chemical Brothers officially announced their forthcoming album on MySpace. The new album entitled "We Are the Night", was released on July 2, 2007 in the United Kingdom and July 17, 2007 in the United States. The Chemicals cited a delay in the production of artwork for this delay. EMI subsequently released an online 'old-skool' The Chemical Brothers computer game as an apology. The track listing was released to the fans on the official mailing list on April 10th. The new album is heavily collaborated with the likes of Klaxons (on "All Rights Reversed"), Midlake (on "The Pills Won't Help You Now"), Ali Love (on "Do It Again") and Willy Mason (on "Battle Scars").

On April 12, 2007, Pete Tong again had the privilege of giving the world the very first preview of a Chemicals track. This time it was the first single "Do It Again" off their new album, aired on his BBC Radio One "In New Music We Trust" show.. The track is widely regarded as dance floor friendly, dominated by pop vocals and a minimalistic production approach.[citation needed] The track is regarded as a 'grower' after gaining mixed reviews after the first listen on Pete Tong's show, with its simplistic catchy vocals and electro beat. The official release of the single was June 4 (digital download) and June 14 (12", 7" and CD).

In 2008, The Chemical Brothers' music will also be featured in a movie adaption of Irvine Welsh's best-selling novel Ecstasy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance.

The album went on general release in the UK on July 2nd.


The Chemical Brothers are credited as being one of the few truly arena-sized electronic acts. Their live acts comprise large screens displaying psychedelic images, strobe lights and lasers that project over the crowd. There has been speculation over how much of their live gigs are pre-recorded, although they insist (on their official website FAQ) that they have a mere outline of track order and the rest is mixed live. This would seem to be confirmed by concert goers who have seen gigs on consecutive nights and have posted notable differences between the sets played.

The Brothers have also played at many major festivals, from Glastonbury to Reading and currently hold the record for most gigs performed in a year at the Brixton Academy.

In addition to performing their own music they also hold regular DJ nights where they mix other artist's tracks (in the style of Brothers Gonna Work It Out).

As with their recorded albums The Chemical Brothers are well known for their incorporation of guest vocalists into their live performances. Notable appearances in recent gigs have included Bernard Sumner of New Order, who sang on the original "Out of Control", and Tim Burgess.

The duo also played at the launch event for the Wii gaming device.

On the night of the 1 September 2007, The Chemical Brothers played at the main stage of the Electric Picnic to a crowd of around 20,000. The festival was however marred by the death of a 23 year-old fan. The incident occurred as The Chemical Brothers came to a climax at 2 a.m. early on the Sunday morning. Organiser John Reynolds extended his sympathies and said: "A young man took ill at the festival, was treated at the medical centre, removed to Port Laoise Hospital and was later pronounced dead." Police said they were not treating the death as suspicious.

The Chemical Brothers took over the streets of downtown Los Angeles on September 29, 2007, headlining the 13th Annual Nocturnal Wonderland Festival. (Credit: Wikipedia).



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'Push The Button' jukebox

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