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Q&A: The Chemical Brothers

Twenty years on from the release of their debut album, The Chemical Brothers are back and as vital as ever. But just where the hell is Ed?

  • Dave Jenkins
  • 14 July 2015

If the words 'new Chemical Brothers album' don't excite you, you might be reading the wrong magazine. One of the few universally uniting acts who can get techno and EDM fans to shake hands (and shuffle feet) in agreement, the duo are back this month with their eighth album: 'Born In The Echoes'. Delivered exactly 20 years since their game-changing debut 'Exit Planet Dust' and featuring the likes of Beck, Q-Tip, Ali Love, St Vincent and Cate Le Bon, it's another mile-a-minute block-rocking blur of genres and senses and is well worth the five-year wait since their last opus, 'Further'. Described by Tom Rowlands as 'rawer' and 'more instinctive' than their previous work, it marks the start of yet another exciting new chapter. With disco partner Ed Simons pursuing his academic studies, their new live line-up features long-time confidant and king of their legendary visuals, Adam Smith. We caught up with Tom to discuss Adam's new role, the new album, the old albums and a whole load more…

You're two days off your first live show in a long time. Excited?

Yeah! It's actually happening! It's really exciting; we've got loads of new music to play, lots of old music to play and we've been working out how to put it all together. It's been great fun working it all out and Adam's been working on new visual material. It's a whole new show!

Adam's an official Chemical Brother now, right?

He has been for years. When Ed said he couldn't tour this summer it was like, 'Oh, what are we going to do?' But we'd had the idea a long time ago of Adam being on stage with us anyway, so it made sense. He's got a lot on when we play, he's got visual stuff and he's doing musical stuff.

Adam must be musical anyway?

He's been a DJ for years. He used to play after our shows, and he knows our music inside out. He's the ideal man for the job!

The set-up must have developed, too...

We're always adding new machines. We've got various vintage synths and drum machines, lots of digital kit. We like different technology to do different things. It's not the easiest way to do things, but it's more fun.

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