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Interview - Underworld Australian Tour-

Author: sparklechops
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Are they touring Australia- The answer is a resounding 'probably'. At least Karl Hyde, one half of the world-beating Underworld powerhouse, seems to think so.

"Put it this way," he says, "with all the plans for next year, it would be surprising if we didn't."

And the timing couldn't be better - right now, Underworld is huge. Not huge in an "ooh wow, we just sold out a stadium" sort of way, but more "fuck, I think we own the planet" style.

Since 1987, when the first incarnation of the band emerged (OK, so there was a brief spell as Freur and before that The Screen Gemz, but they don't count), the duo has slowly-but-surely pushed the boundaries of electronic music, finding themselves at the cutting-edge of their industry.

With a new album out 24 October, Underworld now controls pretty much all of its own affairs and bypasses major labels in favour of a deal that doesn't see them bending over and clenching their fists.

"What's different is the fact that we're running our own record label. The fact that we are able to do all our web radio shows off the site.

"It's been quite a liberating time for us where we've been making our own music via the internet, experimenting with releasing music live at concerts, the triple-album in Tokyo, the two film scores.

"All these things were part of this exploration of different ways of publishing our music and it has transformed the way we think about things. Putting it simply, we no longer feel trapped."

'Trapped' was never going to work for a band that still performs most of its set as an improvised jam and get off on the dangers this approach can bring.

"They (the audience) know that everything is improvised - the lights, the set, visuals, cameras, it's all happening right there in front of them for the first time. And they also know that some nights we might go wrong, you know- Savagely wrong, where we might have to rescue it. And that's exciting."

But recording live shows - warts and all - hasn't just provided a nostalgic insert for the band's collective scrap book. It has also meant die-hard fans had a chance to own a copy of the gig they just attended without waiting for it to fit in with a release schedule of a record company on the other side of the world. The urgency of this arrangement helps to keep the band fresh and the customer satisfied in ways previously unheard of.

"We're making recordings and selling double-albums five minutes after we go off stage, which is an extraordinary thing. But after writing so many anthems and touring the world, I'm still amazed when I look over at Rick and think that, A, we're still doing this after so long and B, we're playing to audiences with so much enthusiasm for what we're doing.

"Not only the crowd who were there at the beginning, but really young people too"

Of course, it's the older heads in the crowd that tend to call for the anthems, a fact that the band sometimes finds daunting due to the inevitable reminiscing that comes with a monster such as 'Born Slippy'. Both Hyde and Price have previously stated that revisiting old tracks like this can be a 'frightening' experience.

"It's good to remember how you wrote stuff, where you were, how different things are now. You feel grateful."

So these songs act as perfect time capsules then-

"Yeah. Just add water and it all comes back."

Oblivion With Bells is released 27 October through Play It Again Sam/Liberator.

Catch the live web TV shows on November 17, 18 & 19 on