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Chemical Brothers Biography

Home > Music > C > Chemical Brothers > Biography

Birth Place: London, United Kingdom
Years Active: 1991–present
Genres: Big Beat, House, Trip-hop, Alternative Dance

The Chemical Brothers are a British electronica duo consisting of Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons (full names Thomas Owen Mostyn Rowlands and Edmund John Simons, occasionally referred to as Chemical Tom and Chemical Ed). Known for their live sets, they are pioneers of the big beat electronic dance genre which achieved mainstream popularity in the 1990s.

Originally the duo was known as The Dust Brothers and released their “Fourteenth Century Sky” EP, in January 1994. “Fourteenth Century Sky” was followed later in 1993 by the “My Mercury Mouth” EP. In 1995 duo to threatened legal action over their name, the duo changed to become The Chemical Brothers.

June 1995, they released their fourth single, the first under their new identity. "Leave Home" was released as a preview of their imminent debut album and became the band's first chart hit, peaking at #17.

In July 1995, The Chemical Brothers released their debut album “Exit Planet Dust” (the title inspired by their name change) on Freestyle Dust/Junior Boy's Own. It entered the UK charts at #9 and featured guest vocalist Beth Orton on the song "Alive Alone". It eventually went on to sell over a million copies worldwide. Shortly after its release, The Chemical Brothers signed to Virgin Records, to which they took their own offshoot label, Freestyle Dust. For their next single, in September 1995, they again used a guest vocalist for the release of "Life Is Sweet," featuring their friend Tim Burgess, singer with The Charlatans. It reached #25 in the singles charts. It later won them a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.

Their third album “Surrender” was released in June 1999. It featured vocals from Oasis’ Noel Gallagher, Mercury Rev's Jonathan Donahue and Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval. As the previously released single, "Hey Boy, Hey Girl" had suggested, the album was more house-oriented than the previous two. On one of the album's stand out tracks, "Out Of Control", New Order's Bernard Sumner supported by Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie provided vocals. It reached #1 on the UK Album chart.

The Chemical Brothers finished work on the album, “Come with Us,” in October 2001. It featured collaborations with Richard Ashcroft ("The Test"), of The Verve, and long-time collaborator Beth Orton ("The State We're In"). The album was released in January 2002, preceded by a single, "Star Guitar," a melodic, Balearic Beat number, with a promotional video by Michel Gondry. What would be the second track on the album, "It Began in Afrika," was released September 10, 2001 to be circulated around the clubbing scene where it was a popular hit. “Come with Us,” was less well received than their previous albums, but nonetheless went straight in at #1 in the UK Album chart in the first week of its release. In April, the title track from the album was released as a single with remixes by Fatboy Slim as part of a double-A sided release with "The Test."

In 2004, The Chemical Brothers began work on “Push the Button,” their fifth studio album, which features collaborations with Tim Burgess, Kele Okereke and Anwar Superstar, amongst others. The album was released in January 2005.

"Galvanize", which features Q-Tip on vocals, was the first single to be taken from “Push the Button.” The single was released in January 2005, and entered the UK chart at #3. The second single "Believe" (featuring Kele Okereke from Bloc Party) failed to crack Top 10, but still made it into the Top 20, peaking at #18. "The Boxer," featuring Tim Burgess, became the duo's first single to fail to crack the Top 40. The album and single "Galvanize" won a Grammy in the Grammy Awards of 2006.

“We Are the Night,” was released in July 2007. The album was heavily collaborated with the likes of Klaxons (on "All Rights Reversed"), Midlake (on "The Pills Won't Help You Now"), Ali Love (on "Do It Again") and Willy Mason (on "Battle Scars"). The record entered the UK Albums chart at #1. It also debuted at #65 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. It was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry. The album won the Grammy Award for Best Electronic/Dance Album at the 50th Grammy Awards, making The Chemical Brothers the only artist to win this award more than once.

“Further” was released in June 2010. The first single "Escape Velocity" was released in April 2010 as a vinyl-only single. It did not chart in the UK. A second single "Swoon" was released in June 2010. It reached #85 in the UK. Further was nominated for Best Electronic/Dance Album at the 2011 Grammy Awards.