10 Things You Never Knew About… The Chemical Brothers

Back with another one of those block rockin' beats...

Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons are The Chemical Brothers.

The duo made their mark in the early 90s after meeting in Manchester at university in 1989, and bonded over their mutual love of house, techno and hip-hop.

Their eclectic sound, otherworldly music videos, and distinguished live shows have cemented them as one of the best electronic acts of all time. They have played on each of the seven continents, played at various festivals such as the iconic Glastonbury and are visionaries in their own right.

But what else is there to find out about the Chems?

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1. They haven’t always been called The Chemical Brothers. Originally they named themselves The Dust Brothers as an ode to the American hip-hop producers of the same name, who have worked with Beastie Boys, Beck and The Rolling Stones. But after being threatened with legal action Rowlands and Simons, quickly swept the dust underneath the carpet.

2. Before the pair became an official duo, Rowlands at the age of 19 was a member of a Balearic band called Ariel. They were signed to Deconstruction Records which was also home to Kylie Minogue and M People at the time.

3. In conjunction with Heavenly Records, they ran The Sunday Social Club in the basement of The Albany pub which is still open in Great Portland Street. However it ran for just over three months.

4. They have only ever had two number one singles: ‘Setting Sun’ (1997) and ‘Block Rockin’ Beats’ (1997). ‘Block Rockin’ Beats’ then went on to win the Best Rock Instrumental Performance the following year at the Grammys, although it actually featured vocals. And it wasn’t really rock. Confusing to say the least.

5. Before The Chemical Brothers became part of the Virgin Records roster in 1995, they were previously signed to Andrew Weatherall’s label Junior Boy’s Own. After having their track ‘Song To The Siren’ rejected by several dance record establishments who deemed it too slow to play, Weatherall received a copy and thought differently. It was then released officially through the label in 1993.

6. The London 2012 Olympics weren’t only epic because they were being held in Britain’s glorious capital, but the twosome also created an official theme song for the velodrome.

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7. Whilst their record releases tally up to over 15 – including EPs, soundtracks and more – eight of these are in fact studio albums. Six of these have hit number one on the UK album chart, including last year’s release ‘Born In The Echoes’ and the following: ‘Dig Your Own Hole’ (1997), ‘Surrender’ (1999), ‘Come With Us’ (2002), ‘Push The Button’(2005), ‘We Are The Night’ (2007).

8. The Chems are indie darlings at heart. Debut album ‘Exit Planet Dust’ included appearances from Tim Burgess and Beth Orton, while Noel Gallagher’s vocals featured on their first number one single ‘Setting Sun’. Plus New Order’s Bernard Sumner and Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie leant their vocal chords to their third LP ‘Surrender’.

9. Aesthetics are just as important to the pair as sound. Film creatives Dom & Nic directed a few of their notable videos, such as ‘Wide Open’, ‘The Salmon Dance’, ‘Believe’ and ‘Midnight Madness’. The directors have also shot videos for artists such as David Bowie, Trent Reznor and Smashing Pumpkins.

10. Their most popular track is ‘Galvanise’ according to Spotify, which has had over 21 million plays. ‘Go’ is just behind, while ‘Hey Boy Hey Girl’ has claimed 18 million plays.

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The Chemical Brothers are set to close their UK tour with performances at the Eventim Apollo, London on December 9th and 10th.

Words: Lois Browne

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