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The Qemists - Cutting The Right Medicine

Author: Nina Bertok
Monday, March 2, 2009

Ninja Tune-signed drum n bass/rock hybrids The Qemists talk to 3D’s Nina Bertok about working with Mike Patton, their grunge origins and haters.

Love them or hate them, there’s no denying The Qemists have mixed some powerful potions on debut album Join the Q, earning them the seal of approval from the likes of mighty Mike Patton and badass Bruce Dickinson.

So how does one react to such a high profile fan-base-

“What can you say to that except that it’s fucking amazing-!” Liam Black, one-third of the Brighton drum n bass/rock trio, responds. “Mike Patton we actually have on a track on the album called Lost Weekend. We had already written most of the song but we really wanted a full-on American rock vocal on it. There is a guy who knew Mike personally and who offered to give the track to him to see if he was interested in working on it with us.”

Less than a week later, the trio received word that Patton was already putting the finishing touches on the track in question, Black recalls.

“About one week after that we got an email from Mike saying that he had already worked on it in his studio in San Francisco and that he loves it and that he hoped we didn’t mind! That blew our minds, to be honest. He was a true professional and he followed some simple requests of ours to deliver a truly inspiring vocal. Mike is really an enormously talented artist.”

Not unlike the quirky, eclectic stylings Patton himself is notorious for, The Qemists deliver a genre mix-up that sees just about everything from hip hop and dancehall to metal and soul covered. But while Black admits that pushing music forward is almost a mantra for The Qemists, he insists cutting edge music is pointless if it sounds awful.

“Pushing music forward must never become the focus above making good music, though,” he says. “You have to attain both. There is no point making cutting edge music if it sounds rubbish. We started out learning the songs from our favourite bands like Soundgarden, Nirvana, Rage Against The Machine and Red Hot Chili Peppers. It then evolved as we became more competent into a crazy math/prog band with really complex song structures and time signatures. There are many elements of our past influences that we’ve carried through into The Qemists. I think we have matured and subconsciously brought the best bits of our musical heritage with us.”

And to those purists that pooh-pooh the dnb-rock crossover-

“Deal with it,” says Black. “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but it’s a shame that these purists are missing out on enjoying so much other music. If they gave it a chance they may well enjoy it. They don’t realise the scene they are so adamant to defend will grow tired and stale if they don’t allow it to evolve and embrace new interpretations of it. Being open-minded and receptive is vitally important throughout life, it is not specific to making music.”

WHO: The Qemists
WHAT: Join the Q through Ninja Tune / Inertia
WHEN: Out now