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July 27, 1998 - Image 10

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1998-07-27

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Junkie XL blaze
own trail in e-music


By Adlin Ros
Daily Arts Writer
The electronic music scene is fast
reaching its saturation point. With
groups like the Chemical Brothers and
the Prodigy paving the ground work,
electronic music is now seeing a flood of
bandwagon jumpers and mediocre
releases. Bandwagon jumping and
mediocre, however, are not words you
would want to associate with Holland's
finest electronic hybrid, Junkie XL. Its
maiden release, "Saturday Teenage
Kick," is packed with memorable songs
and irresistible grooves. That's no easy
feat, as most electronic groups tend to
just go for long repetitions that go in one
ear and out the other.
The Mastermind behind Junkie XL is
none other than famed European pro-
ducer and remixer Tom Holkenborg. In a
recent interview with The Daily,
Holkenborg explained how Junkie XL
makes its sound.
"Junkie XL is about mixing musical
styles basically. Dance, rock and pop
music being the main ones,"
Holkenborg said. "I try to work within
traditional pop-song structures, so even
if there is no singing on a song, there will
still be a sample or sounds that the lis-
tener can distinguish as the verse, the
chorus and the middle."
Holkenborg's worthy credentials in
dance, rock and pop come from his
involvement at an early age with reggae,
funk and alternative bands. In 1996,
Holkenborg won the Grand Prix of
Netherlands in the Dance Music catego-
ry for "Best House Producer," and he
has done remixes for rock bands such as
Fear Factory and Dog Eat Dog.
When it came time to record the
Junkie XL debut, Holkenborg found
these connections with different genres
useful as he enlisted Fear Factory's Dino
Cazeras to do all the guitars and Urban
Dance Squad's Rude Boy to handle the
Continued from Page 9
Fronted by a constantly mugging
Steve Jackson (proclaimed "white soul
man" by Rancid's Tim Armstrong), the
Pietasters kicked things off with two
songs from the band's Moon-Ska
release, "Oolooloo" - "Freak Show"
and "Something Better." The rest of its
set included offerings from "Willis"
(Hellcat Records, 1997) and its other
Moon-Ska record, "Strapped LIVE!"
Songs like "Maggie Mae," "Pleasure
Bribe" and "Ocean" brought especially
loud cheers from the crowd throughout
the hour-long set.
Incidentally, "Willis" the "Tasters
latest album, was released on Hellcat, a
subsidiary of indie-giant Epitaph
Records. Founded by Rancid's front-
man, Tim "Lint" Armstrong, "Willis"
showcases a harsher side of the band,
and was co-produced by Brett
Gurewitz, president of Epitaph and for-
mer lead guitarist for Bad Religion.
Returaing to a beer- and sweat-soaked
stage (the entire band had been drinking

Despite the synthesis of the many
genre elements and samples, the songs
are never lost in the mix of flash and
styles. Holkenborg credits this focus to
his experience as a producer.
"It is easy to get lost and carried away
with all the equipment in the studio
when playing this sort of music,"
Holkenborg said. "So, I have to realize
that the listener will probably not pick
out the tiny difference I would notice
from adding something with an advance
musical equipment. Instead, I try to keep
the songs memorable. As a producer, I
would listen to the song and decide what
should be added and what should not in
order to preserve the essence of the song.
That is what's important to me, and not
how many different samples I can put in
With Holkenborg's emphasis on fus-
ing styles and quality song writing,
Junkie XL has managed to crossover
across multiple music crowds. "We get
people who are into the rock aspect as
well as ravers who come to see us for the
dance aspect at shows in Europe. We are
still just playing for the crowd of other
groups at the moment in the U.S., but the
response of the U.S. crowd has been
very good," Holkenborg said.
Reproducing its songs live was no
easy task initially, though. "I basically
work alone in the studio and do all the
songs myself," Holkenborg said. "So
when I first got the live line-up together,
the drummer and I had to practice
together a lot. Later, when we played as
a whole group we had to figure out who
fits where in the songs, but it all worked
out very well. There's more energy
when we play live and the songs trans-
late well."
The electronic music scene may be
facing a saturation point right now, but
with Holkenborg's experience and musi-
cal insight, it doesn't look like Junkie
XL will drown in the flood of similar
groups in the music maket.
from start to finish of the set) for its
encore, the band's now legendary cover
of the Business' "Drinkin' and Drivin"
brought the show to a close. Taking a
hint from the Murphy's crowd, fans
overtook St. Andrew's staff and
swarmed over the stage. Jackson ended
up arm-in-arm with at least 15 dripping
fans, all singing the song's final refrain:
"Drop it back and have another one,
drinking and driving is so much fun!"
Since the band's last Motor City
appearance, the 'Tasters have slowed
down considerably. There was a notice-
able sluggishness in some of the band's
But what do you expect after
almost eight months of touring? This
show, as opposed to the Pietasters'
appearance last fall with the
Bouncing Souls upstairs at St.
Andrew's, was much more intimate
and more reserved for a band known
for its typically insane, beer-fueled
on-stage antics.
Then again, the trumpet player did
lose his pants and boxers in the middle
of a solo.

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