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The Chemical Brothers: 25 Years & Counting


Unless you've been living under a hedge for the past 24 hours, you'll have heard the news that The Chemical Brothers are the first headliners announced for this year's Ultra Europe. It's remarkable that a duo formed in 1989 can still be as prolific and relevant today and is testament to the work of both Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons.

As we count down the days in excitement, like you should be doing too, till we land up on the Croatian shores - or at Sonar, Rock Werchter, OpenAir St. Gallen or Les Eurockéennes, for that matter - it's time to look back on over the careers of these electronic pioneers and delve into the records we grew up loving. Cue the montage...

When Tom and Ed met at Manchester Uni in the late 80s and began sampling the vibrant Mancunian nightlife, neither could have predicted the journey they were both about to embark on. Arriving at the peak of the Balearic scene, the DJying style that incorporated house, disco jazz, funk and hip-hop, the duo fell in love with the eclectic nature of the genre, and its diversity would later characterise their own music. 

Inspired, the two friends began DJing together in 1991 at Manchester club Naked Under Leather, hosting their own weekend club night and adopting the name the Dust Brothers. The night quickly grew in popularity, and soon the two had released their first single, 'Song to the Siren', which was created in their tiny bedroom studio and pressed onto just 500 copies. But just like the club night, the single began to get the attention of some top DJs such as Andrew Weatherall, meaning word began to swell around the duo. Inevitably more music soon followed, this time in the form of two EPs alongside remixes of The Prodigy and Primal Scream. 

Come 1995 though, and lawyers of the original Dust Brothers got involved, forcing Tom and Ed to change their title to the name that would stick with them for the next 20 years: The Chemical Brothers. A few months later and debut album 'Exit Planet Dust' was released, bringing in praise from a range of critics while laying down the Chemical Brother's unique stamp on the music industry. 'Exit Planet Dust' was big, and packed with the sounds of screeching guitar samples which set the foundations of their dance-rock-rap fusion, leading them to become the first act to bring electronic music to the stadiums. 

Here on, the duo began to come into their own, hitting the number one spot with second album 'Dig Your Own Hole' and Noel Gallagher collaboration 'Setting Sun', developing a sound characterised by household samples such as familiar guitar riffs and vocals set over a groove-heavy underside. Their albums became less of a collection of songs, but rather a musical journey that appealed to fans of all genres, putting to rest the belief that dance music could never be welcomed into the rock scene.

However, it wasn't all plain sailing for the duo, as expectations and hype dropped during the release of their third and fourth albums, spelling a return to the underground scene for Tom and Ed in 1999. Six years later though, they released the heavily guested 'Push the Button', and continued the guestlist onto 2007's 'We Are The Night', marking their return to the mainstream, and where they have sat ever since. 

Bringing us into 2015 then, almost 25 years since that first single, and The Chemical Brothers are once again about to hit up the global festival circuit. Will you be with them!?

If you want to join Tom and Ed, here is the selection of festivals they'll be appearing at. 

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