Who says you can’t be all things to all people? Not the Crystal Method. The Los Angeles-based duo has heated its cauldron of rock, hip-hop, and electronica alongside Limp Bizkit on the Family Values tour, then backed up Orbital on the rave-centric Community Service outing. The group continues to conflate genres-and defy expectations-on its sophomore effort, “Tweekend,” due July 31 via Geffen/Interscope.
Compared with the act’s 1997 album, “Vegas,” which peaked at No. 92 on The Billboard 200, the new set offers harder beats, more muscular rhythms, and a rockier edge. Credit part of the evolution to the disc’s numerous contributors, among them Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello (who plays guitar on two tracks and co-produces three); Stone Temple Pilots’ Scott Weiland (who adds guitar and vocal parts to “Murder”); Beck accompanist DJ Swamp (whose scratches on the first single, “Name of the Game,” No. 24 this week on Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks chart); and Fiona Apple producer Jon Brion (who adds Wurlitzer and vocal parts to “Over the Line”).
According to Method man Scott Kirkland, most of the pairings were serendipitous-tour buddies, old friends, and people that the duo heard were fans. “We really didn’t go in with a plan,” he says, mentioning the act’s previous collaboration with Filter, “(Can’t You) Trip Like I Do.” “We just start working on ideas, and things happened.”
“You can tell why it took us so long [to make this second set],” jokes partner Ken Jordan. “We have no direction.”
But that’s hardly the case. Like Moby, the band has survived the ebb and flow of electronica’s popularity by ignoring trends and consciously seeking alternative outlets for its music, including PlayStation games (“Nitrous Oxide”), film soundtracks (“Spawn,” “South Park,” “Lost in Space”), and TV commercials (the Gap). The strategy has paid off, winning the group a broad fan base. “We’ve never been strictly a dance act,” Jordan explains. “People who like [modern] rock generally like our sound, too.”
Geffen is utilizing similarly unconventional means to market “Tweekend.” One tenet of the campaign is a breakdancing, BMX-riding character called “Nosey,” whose face consists of a huge pair of nostrils. Nosey stars in the “Name of the Game” video, which debuted June 28 on MTV2, and will be used throughout the campaign.
Nosey “is such a genius thing,” says Geffen president/Flip Records founder Jordan Schur. “He’s going to be appearing at a lot of cool places, including TV events and radio stations. We’ve also made Nosey belt buckles, a Nosey mask… it’s insane.”
Schur says the label will begin marketing Tweekend with release parties in 20-25 markets. The first 200,000 copies of the album will have a special bar code allowing purchasers to access free downloads from the redesigned Crystal Method Web site (thecrystalmethod.com).
On the multimedia front, Sony will use an as-yet-undecided track from the album for the opening theme of a new PlayStation game. Details are still being worked out, but Schur assures that “it definitely is happening.”
Fans will get to see the band live on its 7-Day Tweekend tour, a two-month-long jaunt that begins Aug. 4 in Seattle. Numerous radio station-sponsored concerts are on the itinerary, as well as a pair of dates at the U.K. festival Creamfields. All performances will be filmed for a weekly diary that will be posted at indie movie site ifilm.com.
Despite the thoroughness of the label’s marketing plans, there is one strategy that it will not use: capitalizing on the album’s guest stars as selling points. “I want to be true to this band,” Schur says. “They’ve got a lot of amazing people on this record, but it really is about them.”
Noting that “Vegas” has moved 826,000 copies in the U.S., he adds, “Their time has come. Scott and Ken are not super-serious about anything, except the music they do.”