NY Rock Interview with Tom Rowlands

In July 1997, Tom Rowlands gave the following interview to NY Rock.

"No, we are not complete acid heads, and I'd rather not talk about drugs. Let's not get into that," states Tom Rowlands, one of the two Chemical Brothers, as he becomes evasive when asked if the band's name is a reference to the drugs they might take.

"Ed [Simons, the other half of the Chemical Brothers] and I've always been acid house fans. We called us the Dust Brothers first because we really liked the U.S. Hip Hoppers but then we settled for Chemical Brothers. Sounds good, doesn't it? I think it's a pretty cool name but somehow I can't see myself playing in a band called the Chemical Brothers when I'm 30. I mean, yeah, well there is life after 30 I know, but at the moment 30 seems to be so far away..."

NY Rock: What do you plan to do once you’ve reached that critical age and have to face the fact that you are, in fact, over 30? [Both band members are currently age 26.]

Rowlands: Producing would be nice, that's something both Ed and I would like to do. Producing is really so much fun. We've produced a couple of things for other musicians and bands and we really loved it. I think our future is producing but at the moment playing live and just being the notorious Chemical Brothers suits us just fine.

NY Rock: There were rumours that some generous sums were offered to remix singles by bands such as Aerosmith and INXS but the Chemical Brothers were not interested....

Rowlands: We'd rather do what we consider fun. We're pretty young now and money isn't everything. You can buy a lot with money but you can't buy fun with it. So if we'd remixed those singles and wouldn't have felt good about it, we'd have lost out. It's not that we don't care about money or despise it but it's not the most important thing in the world. Of course, we enjoy money -- we'd be pretty stupid if we didn't -- but we just don't want to get hooked on it. There's something damned unhealthy about people who's whole thinking centers around money.

NY Rock: So what are you planning to do with all your money?

Rowlands: First thing will be a bike. I plan to cycle a bit through London now that the weather's so great. We are going to go on tour soon and I just want to use the time I've got left and I've always enjoyed riding bikes.

NY Rock: Is it true that this is going to be your last interview? Do you dislike interviews so much?

Rowlands: A hell of a lot of interviews are just the same questions over and over. They ask, "What do you blah blah blah," and most of the time they just don't care about the answers. That can be pretty annoying. Sometimes I really do wonder why they bother asking us and don't make it all up. We had a pretty weird experience with a girl from MTV America. I think she hated us, but I guess that's her problem. Anyway we've spent so much time recording, mixing in studios now we look quite forward to go on tour again, to play live again.

NY Rock: It doesn't sound like you suffer from stage fright.

Rowlands: We don't, not at all. Playing live is great, the feedback from the audience and all that. The only problem is that I really ruin my health with it. On stage there is the temptation of turning the music louder and louder. It's like a drug and after a show I always end up with ringing ears. I could wear earplugs but that would be awful because then I couldn't hear the music, earplugs make everything sound flat. Maybe I should have custom made earplugs -- that would be something I could invest money in.... We look quite forward to playing live but that can change pretty soon, better not ask me after I've been a month on the road. It really can get bothersome. When we're touring we don't see much except hotel rooms and venues. I guess that's what people call the great life of a musician!

NY Rock: You and Ed met at the University of Manchester. Manchester is the capital of Britpop. Are you undercover Britpop fans?

Rowlands: Yuck, no fucking way! Manchester is a pretty cool place. I like the club scene and so did Ed. That's why we started to study in Manchester. It was cool. We did a lot of DJ’ing there -- a great concept, build up our brains during the day and destroy them at night. But I really don't like Britpop. Britpop, British beef, BSE [Mad Cow Disease], I think it's got a lot in common. You've got to have holes in your brain to play Britpop!

NY Rock: But the Chemical Brothers recorded a single with Noel from Oasis...

Rowlands: Yes, we did. He asked us to and first we didn't really believe him. We were like "yeah sure as if that would ever happen" but then it did and it was fun and I guess nobody can call the result Britpop.

NY Rock: Ed and you both studied history in Manchester, did you finish your studies?

Rowlands: Yes, we did. We're both history teachers but there's no way that we'd ever teach!

NY Rock: Why not?

Rowlands: British schools can be pretty tough and nasty places. Some of the pupils are really hard-core and I fancy my health too much. There's no way to discipline them. I also like my long greasy hair far too much to cut it and which school would employ me looking as I do now?