Stereo MC's Get 'Deep Down & Dirty'

After a seemingly inactive decade, Britain's Stereo MC's return with a new album that should secure their rightful place in the electronic music pantheon. "Deep Down & Dirty," due June 12 via Isla

After a seemingly inactive decade, Britain's Stereo MC's return with a new album that should secure their rightful place in the electronic music pantheon.

"Deep Down & Dirty," due June 12 via Island Records, showcases the innovative act's rambunctious fusion of breakbeat, funk, and hip-hop -- a sound that has catapulted the septet into the globe's collective dance-music consciousness.

Following the resounding success of its 1992 breakthrough opus, "Connected," which earned two coveted Brit Awards (including album of the year), the London-based group took time off to refocus, mentally and creatively.

"We haven't really been away nine years, because we didn't stop promoting 'Connected' until 1994," explains Nick "the Head" Hallam, who, along with Rob Birch, forms the creative hub of the outfit. "We were just kinda burnt out, plus we had to deal with personal things. In the end, we needed to find the foundation of what we were doing and feel it again."

Hallam says, "It got to a point where Rob and I weren't even really talking -- and this went on for about one year. This was particularly bizarre, as we've known each other since we were 6 years old."

Both Hallam and Birch, though, feel the downtime, coupled with very necessary soul searching, has given the act a new ebullience, which pervades "Deep Down & Dirty." "I don't think this record would have been made in the same manner had we not experienced everything we did over the past few years," Birch says.

"I think we wasted a lot of time by trying to create music without really addressing the fundamental problem of how we were dealing and relating to each other," Birch adds. "I think we first had to address those things that weren't really related to music before we could go ahead and create [music]."

"I think we just let ourselves go and tried not to think too hard about what we were doing," Hallam says of the new album's recording process. "We tried to bypass the conscious brain, concentrating solely on finding a groove."

Birch concurs, adding, "Once we let go of certain things, the ideas started to flow. And the more we did it, the better it all started to sound."

In Stereo MC's absence, however, Hallam and Birch didn't remain idle. The pair formed a publishing company (Spirit Songs) and an independent label (Response Records). They also remixed U2's "Mysterious Ways" and Madonna's "Frozen" under the Ultimatum alias. Last year, the duo beat-mixed a volume of the "DJ Kicks" series for German imprint Studio K7.

"The Stereo MC's are the pioneers of the modern dance movement," Island director of marketing Carmen Liu says. "Before them, there weren't that many U.K. dance acts who were accessible to the U.S. market. They really paved the way for acts like Fatboy Slim and the Chemical Brothers."

The first single culled from "Deep Down & Dirty" is the title track; it was serviced to modern rock and college radio at the end of April. Club DJs were serviced with remixes of the track (by Jon Carter and Two Lone Swordsmen) earlier this month.

Liu says the label is taking a grassroots approach to marketing the band on the Internet. "We'll be doing special promotions with various Web sites," she notes. Also, the Web site has been holding a "track-listening party" -- streaming two new album tracks each week -- since last month. This will continue through May 28, the album's U.K. release date.

At the time of the album's U.S. release, the Stereo MC's are confirmed to tour throughout North America. Commencing June 8 at Toronto's Opera House, the group will play Montreal's Club Soda (June 9), Boston's Axis club (June 10), New York's Bowery Ballroom (June 12), Chicago's Metro club (June 12), and Los Angeles' Whisky a Go Go (June 12), among other venues.


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