The other day I had lunch in Montrose with Ken (older, quieter, a just-a-pinch-between-your-cheek-and-gum Walt Garrison drawl) and Scott (younger, squirrelier, a staccato quasi stutter) of the successful techno combo the Crystal Method, whose 1997 debut wiggled its way into numerous movies, TV ads, even video games, and whose new album, Tweakend, is due out July 31. On the way to lunch, we passed a suspiciously sparse old record store in La Crescenta, where only moments before meeting the Method I had found, still sealed with its original $6.99 price tag, a large Winterland Productions T-shirt silk-screened with a Hi Infidelityera photo of REO Speedwagon . . . which made me think of REO Speeddealer . . . which in turn gave me a good way to break the ice and broach the subject at hand . . .
L.A. WEEKLY: I thought Id find 101 Strings Astro Music at that store.
SCOTT: I looked through there, all I found was . . .
KEN: Great White . . .
SCOTT: And you know how sometimes youll pull out a record that still has the plastic and say, Wow, records used to cost $5.99? He still has those prices on there.
Ken: Hows he makin rent?
Scott: Well, he doesnt move a lot of product. And he sketches out when you go in there. When I went there, he started playing Radar Love. It was so surreal. And the back of the place is total Sketchville TVs taken apart, radios all over.
On that note . . .
Ken: We knew this was for the Drugs issue, but thought it was a music-only interview.
I can just feel you guys out.
Ken: Cant touch the nipples, though!
Scott: We could talk about that bust.
Ken: Mm, I dont want to talk about that.
Either way . . .
Ken: We can touch on everything, but I dont just want to throw things out.
When you came to L.A. in the early 90s, were drugs more in the open?
Ken: Definitely, but everyone was cool. The difference is, music came first back then. The whole [rave] culture was the antithesis of meat-market bars. Now people go just for the drugs and arent even aware of who the DJ is. A good percentage are passed out on the floor.
Scott: When these big clubs started taking off, there was this sleazy crew that would sell fake hits. Bunkstacy we used to call it, a heroin mixture with caffeine. And it turned so many people off they thought, Ecstasy sucks, its awful!
Ken: Actually, one of the first raves we went to was a predecessor to our name, this fantastic rave called Love, Sex, Dance. LSD. We thought the double meaning was hilarious.
Was meth big on the scene by then?
Scott: Im sure, but we only got the double meaning after we heard the words The Crystal Method together and said, Wow, that sounds cool. This rapper we were working with actually said it at the end of the night, when we were desperate to get him out of the studio: Ah, the crystal method in reference to how we were gonna have the time to do his mix and still do our own thing. It was like when you make fun of truckers doing speed.
Ken: Ive never known meth to be popular on any scene. Its always been looked down upon.
Scott: It is weird what a menace to society its become. And fair enough, its not a good thing to play around with. We just thought [the name] was like The Doobie Brothers.
So you dont feel guilty about . . .
Ken: We would if we had done anything to promote drug use. But its never been what the band or musics been about. We just thought it was funny.
What about the name of the new album?
Scott: I understand it has different meanings, but this society is so like on MTV, I can hear Shaggy bangin on the bathroom floor, but cant hear Weezer sing hash pipe? So we dont shy away.
How did you stumble across the Tweakend pun?
Scott: Tommy Lee was doing his song Narcotic, which we worked on, and I made a Loverboy reference: Everybodys working for the tweakend. Months later we were coming up with names for our record, and somebody said Seven Day Tweakend. Too long. So, what about Tweakend? At the time, we were looking at a Web site that keeps up to date on all the nicknames for methamphetamine, like . . .