Karl Hyde, one-half of British electronic duo Underworld, tells Billboard.com that serving as the music directors for the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games will be "very slightly bigger than anything we've ever done." And although Hyde and Rick Smith has already been putting together musical idea for the three-hour event on July 27, 2012, Hyde won't reveal any grand musical ideas -- but advises fans to "expect the unexpected."
"I think that anyone that really knows the breadth of our taste, that's listened to our radio shows or anything to do with our musical history will know that we are not purists," says Hyde. "Anything more than that would be like telling the kids where we hid the Christmas presents."
Underworld's Olympics gig, which was officially announced on Wednesday (Dec. 7), will re-team the electronic vets with director Danny Boyle ("Slumdog Millionaire," "127 Hours"), who is serving as the artistic director of the ceremony. Boyle originally gave Underworld its mainstream breakthrough by prominently featuring the group's single "Born Slippy" in his 1996 film "Trainspotting"; more recently, Boyle tapped the duo to score his stage adaptation of "Frankenstein" at the U.K.'s National Theatre last year.
"I think, in many ways, 'Frankenstein' was probably the dry run for this [Olympics] event," explains Hyde. "It was a steep learning curve for us: it was us scoring live action and the thing evolving and not being able to lock up to picture or be in any of that comfort zone."
Like "Frankenstein," composing the music for the Opening Ceremony will dominate most of Underworld's focus for months: the duo will have to fill the three-hour event with original music while coordinating with Boyle's artistic vision. But Hyde says that once again working with Boyle -- who also collaborated with Underworld on his films "The Beach" and "Sunshine," and who personally asked the group to serve as music directors -- is worth the prolonged hours.
"We'd certainly would have to stop touring, we'd have to stop anything, any other things being a priority in terms of our music, even our families at some point," says Hyde. "We knew that, with 'Frankenstein,' we'd been locked down for several months living at the theater and developing that project, and with something like this would equally require us to be focused 100 percent on it. But when Danny asks, we will say yes, because he takes us on an amazing journey."
Underworld will play one final arena show at Den Bosch in the U.K. this Saturday (Dec. 10) before focusing solely on the Olympics. The duo's most recent album, "Barking," was released in Sept. 2010.