Tom Rowlands and Ed Simon — aka the Chemical Brothers — this month offer Further, their new album which in some ways is their hardest-sounding, most roof-raising, pure dance record since the 1995 debut album, Exit Planet Dust.
“Our music is hedonistic and that’s one of the responses to life,” said Simon, the curly-haired partner to the straight blonde locks of Rowlands.
“Not necessarily taking drugs but being together and finding some enjoyment in life, coming to our gigs to get out of the house and be together.
“When people are so entertained at home there is less communion and beyond politics, that’s the thing I feel really strongly about — getting people to connect and be with each other.
“Putting on a show and getting people out of the house still gives meaning to what we do.”
Looking for meaning was probably not a high priority when Simon and Rowlands began mixing house, hip-hop and techno in Manchester and London clubs in 1992. If it moved you, it worked and if it worked, they were happy.
But after six albums, children, domesticity and the rise and fall and rise again of electronic music as cutting-edge chart music, the two 40-year-olds could be excused for lacking motivation, but on the contrary, the pair say they are as keen as ever.
“I think we enjoy it. We really enjoy the collaboration between the two of us,” Simon said. “The music is a celebration of a pretty longstanding friendship.”
Of course the question itself of why they are still making music is an odd one. The Chemical Brothers make music: this is what they do.
As Rowland explained a few years ago, “We’re still keen on the idea of making an album even though it’s getting a bit of an outmoded idea in the world of downloads and people buying single tracks. We love the idea of making an hour of music that is an experience, that moves around and makes you feel different ways and has a resolution at the end.”
And according to Simon, that obsession hasn’t gone away, even if rather than worldwide touring this album’s offshoot is films created to accompany each of the eight tracks on the record.
“There have been times during the past three records where both of us have been feeling that maybe it’s not going anywhere and then things come together and we make a piece of music or there’s a germ of an idea,” Simon explained.
“This time, moving away from all the guest vocalists and working on the visual show gave another dimension to what we are doing. We haven’t committed to a huge worldwide tour. So you take those things away and you concentrate on just one thing.”
Their lives have changed, with fewer drugs and more children, the nature of the work has changed somewhat as technology and contributors change and evolve, but has the way they work together as people changed?
“It’s less intense. We used to live together and then we’d be in the studio all day and then off on tour. It was crazy. Probably we need to say less to each other now because we have an understanding,” Simon said.
“But when we are right down in the depths of making the album we are in the studio for quite long periods of time together and that’s pretty much exactly like it’s always been.
“We see each other less than we used to and on a superficial level we used to argue a lot when we were younger and fierier and now you don’t want to argue about the nuances of how a particular track is arranged and say harsh words to someone who you’ve spent pretty much your whole adult life with.
“Having said that, I think it’s important that we disagree and have conflict, otherwise the collaboration would be pointless.”
If there wasn’t disagreement and friction they may as well be doing it on their own. After all, if you are thinking the same, why do you need two people?
“You’ve got to keep some conflict but the conflicts no longer involve things being thrown,” he chuckled.
So no need to bring in a therapist in a chunky sweater to do some Metallica-like group counselling yet?
“Not yet, not yet,” he laughed. “Maybe we’ll see how the touring goes.”
info: Further (EMI) is out now.

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