August 2003
By Steven M. Housman

Underworld - Three Years Equal A Hundred Days Off

Underworld is back… big-time. Time to discard the rules about how to create, consume and categorize dance music. Underworld’s ten-year reign as the Planet’s most inventive producers of free electronics is once again open for visitors.

A Hundred Days Off is the title of their latest disc and first studio album in three years. Their time off glows with evidence as they deliver the highest quality of dance rooted music around.

Underworld, once a trio is now a duo that consists of Karl Hyde and Rick Smith. This album proves they still deliver the goods and still clean up on the dance floor as well. Techno kinetics fuse with the celebratory percussion. A Hundred Days Off oozes with sex and soulful sensuality.

Karl Hyde took time out of his busy schedule to speak to me about “Hundred Days Off.” I found his frankness and sense of humor something we all need out of music and basically what we desire out of life itself.

I understand this is your fourth studio CD. How does the music on this disc differ from the previous three?

That’s up to the listener. This was a very similar creative process that had been involved with all of the previous albums. We did experiment and explore a bit more. We recorded so much material we had enough left over for four more albums! We had a great time with this album.

Are you currently performing or touring to promote this CD?

We started doing that in August with some warm-up shows in Eastern Europe. The tour will start in the US in mid-September. We’ll then roll on to Japan, back to Europe and back to the States again by December. We’re a proper professional group now (laughing).

Why did you choose “Two Months Off” for the lead single?

It was between Steve Hall and his label JBO and Rick. It was their discussion and I bow to their stupidity (laughing) or superiority!

Where did the title “A Hundred Days Off” come from?

Rick’s kids. They would say “we don’t want to go to school, can we just go for a day and then have a hundred days off.” It was sort of a running joke.

Do you prefer the recording studio session opposed to a live recording?

It’s a very different phenomenon. In a live situation we perform in the night and in the moment. In the studio we work on things and go over and over. They’re both fun, they’re both viable. What Rick has done with the DVD and the live album was fantastic. He really captured the spirit of what was happening. (Karl was referring to the award-winning DVD “Everything, Everything”)

Do you have a particular favorite cut on this CD?

No. I’m an album man myself.

Do both of you collaborate equally?

We both write and we both spend time in the two studios that we have but it’s Rick’s job to produce the album and to finish the tracks. He writes pretty much all the grooves.

Who were your musical inspirations when you first started recording a decade ago and who are they now?

My first recording sessions was at eleven years old so that would be 34 years ago so my influences then were Simon and Garfunkel. Now I just like good music from all music genres.

Who do you enjoy listening to for your own pleasure?

Everything from classical to world music to dance. As long as it’s good.

If I could look in your CD player at the moment, what CD’s would I find there?

Joni Mitchell’s “Blue,” “K.C. and the Sunshine Band’s Greatest Hits,” and an album called “Electronica 1” which is really good.

I have to tell you that I love the album. I heard shades of the song “I Feel Love” and “The Chase.” Were you a fan of the 70’s classics made by Giorgio Moroder?

I really liked what he was doing, especially with “I Feel Love” and all that kind of stuff. He was doing some crucial groundbreaking music in the dance scene. I met him in ’91; he’s a really nice bloke whom I have a lot of respect for.

Is there anything I haven’t asked that you would like the readers to know about Underworld?

So far the response to this album has been fairly unanimous. We’re happy! (Jovial laughter).

© 2003 Steven M. Housman. All Rights Reserved.