GreenBase: The Crystal Method Go Green

By: Jason Turgeon

GreenBase: is a feature and news section of JamBase that focuses on the intersection between music and the environment. In GreenBase pieces, you can keep track of what your favorite bands, festivals, and venues are doing to help the planet. You can read more green music news on the GreenBase blog.

The Crystal Method
Over the summer, GreenBase noticed that The Crystal Method‘s Ken Jordan was one of the most-involved artists with the green discussions happening at Rothbury. Then about a month ago, TCM released a remixed version of a Barack Obama speech set to the band’s 1999 classic “Now is the Time” at the Democratic National Convention as a free download. Since the band is better known for being a hard-partying electronic music outfit rather than a political or socially motivated act, we thought we’d get in touch to see what was going on.

Ken Jordan, one-half of The Crystal Method, took time out of a busy DJ tour schedule to speak to GreenBase. He called us from his new Ford Escape Hybrid while sitting next to his girlfriend, Janine Johnson, the brains behind the non-profit group Green Wave Enterprises, and we discussed politics, his evolving green views and a recent fundraiser on a solar-powered stage, among other things.

JamBase: You were really involved at Rothbury with some of the Think Tank things, and then you released the new Obama remix. Tell us what’s on your mind.

Ken Jordan: We just did an Earthdance fundraiser at my house. It’s like a yearly thing where there’s events all over the world, you know? It’s like the rave version of Earth Day. It raises all kinds of money for nonprofits.

JamBase: You did that at your house?

Ken Jordan: Yeah, I’ve got a nice pool; we did it at the house. We had Adam Freeland there, and Scott [Kirkland, other half of The Crystal Method] and I had fun. We did it with Green Wave.

The Crystal Method
So you’re a closet greenie! When I was doing research on you, I was looking around for some kind of sign that you were some crazy Greenpeace supporter and I couldn’t find any. This seems like it’s all kind of new for you guys.

It is new for us.

Was there a moment that triggered this for you or was this something that you’d always kind of thought about?

Well, my girlfriend really started opening my eyes to everything [laughs].

She’s sitting right next to you in the car?

Yeah [laughs]. Once you start opening your eyes, everything starts getting really clear and obvious, you know?

So how long ago would you say that was?

Probably about a year ago.

So now that your eyes are open, what kind of things are you seeing? Are you greening stuff in your house or on your tour?

Well, I’m driving in my hybrid. I got rid of my Range Rover and got [a Ford] Escape Hybrid. I’m really hoping that when we do our next live tour next year that we can get a biodiesel tour bus. That would be really cool.

How about the current tour?

We’re trying to green our rider. We’re trying to do things with less of a carbon footprint, trying to do less of the plastic bottles of water, everything that goes to waste or landfill. Some promoters and clubs are receptive and others aren’t. A lot of the problem is that some of the times when we get booked our old rider goes out, but we’re working on that.

Are you getting a positive response to the new Obama mix [you can get it free here] that you put out? Are people okay with you all of a sudden becoming a political act where you weren’t before?

The Crystal Method
Well it’s obviously pro-Obama, but it was really just about getting out the vote.

Is this a song that you’re going to be playing in some of your club dates this fall on your tour?

It made its club debut last night in Anaheim and it went over really well.

I saw you at Rothbury and you were all over the place. Was there anything at Rothbury that caught your attention, anything you’d like to see other people do?

Well, lots of things, but the one thing I sort of discovered at Rothbury was about how a lot of this stuff has to be legislated. You can try to get people to recycle or reduce their carbon footprint, but until governments legislate some of this stuff, I think it’s going to be really hard. I really found out how important legislation is and how that might be the key to fixing everything. Sometimes people just won’t do the right thing unless it’s against the law not to.

So, were you a voter before this? You’re talking about legislation and encouraging people to vote.

I’m a lifelong democrat, but I’ve lived in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, and I really haven’t been exposed too much to the green world.

How’s Scott with all of this? Is he on board with it or is it kind of your thing?

Yeah, he’s fine with it. I think for the most part any non-serial killer, once they’re exposed to this stuff, is for it, you know [laughs]. It’s not so hard to do, it’s fun to do, you feel good about doing it. Overall, it’s a good experience. You end up happier when you’re not wasting and not polluting.

That’s something that I wanted to talk about. It seems that whenever we start talking about doing things that are good for the planet, people get very serious. You guys are a band that’s all about having fun. Have you found that it’s hard to reconcile a positive message with people having a good time?

The Crystal Method
Well, we haven’t come across that yet. I was gonna say something that might get me in trouble, but maybe I won’t. I was gonna say we haven’t hit the heavy right wing areas yet. Who knows what will happen when we play the Obama song in Alabama?

So what’s next for you? You’re talking about biodiesel tour buses and driving hybrids and supporting politicians. Are you going to continue down this road for a while or are you going to continue just making good, strong party songs?

Well, I really want to work with Green Wave to get this whole greening of the electronic community going. Just simple things to start with, just changing the rider, just having actual towels from the bar instead of having paper towels, having actual glasses for the bar instead of plastic cups or plastic bottles of water. Just simple things like that which don’t cost any money at all, real no-brainers. I think once given the opportunity, where it’s no additional cost to anyone, I think people will really be into it. And I was going to say that when we did the Earthdance event, we were all solar powered for the sound system and everything.

Was that something you built yourself or were able to rent pretty easily?

No, this company Sustainable Waves donated the system for us on that day.

So it worked out? You didn’t have any equipment problems or anything?

The Crystal Method
Actually, DC power is the best stuff to run on anyway. If you’ve got good battery power, you never have any spikes or anything. It’s really clean power.

Turning to your music now, what do you guys do to keep your live shows special?

We’ve always approached our live shows, which we’ll be doing again early next year, from more of a concert point of view instead of a DJ point of view or a rave point of view. It’s always worked out really well for us, treating each song individually with beginnings and ends instead of one real long continuous set of music. And even though it’s just me and Scott up there, we’re playing as much stuff as possible live from our keyboards and samplers and stuff. We’re talking about maybe bringing out a couple of musicians, maybe bringing some vocalists, on this next tour.

So, the tour you’re on now is a DJ tour?

Yeah, and that one goes through Christmas.

And I understand you’re putting out a new album?

Yeah, our new album will be out in January of ’09.

Are you going to have any kind of green or political stuff on the album?

For the physical release, there are a few different green packaging options out. We’ll have to figure out which one we like the best.

How about the songs themselves? Are you going to put the Obama mix on the CD?

It might be on there just as a bonus track. Lyrically, I don’t know if we’re going to be doing anything particularly preachy. We generally try to stay away from that in our song titles and lyrics.

The Crystal Method – “High Roller” Live

The Crystal Method is on tour now, dates available here.

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