Chase & Status - drum'n'bass producers, hell-raising live
act, DJs, songwriters and studio pairing, Saul "Chase" Milton and
Will "Status" Kennard - are a band with an already hefty
reputation. Having turned heads in 2008 with their first album,
More Than Alot, the duo played weekend-defining shows at
Glastonbury and Bestival and sold out huge headline tours in 2010.
They also remixed tracks by Jay Z, The Prodigy and guitar
doom-mongers, White Lies.
That's just the tip of the iceberg, however, the release of their debut album was trailed by three sell out UK tours, including their first ever live show at 2009s Radio 1 Big Weekend and headline slots in front of 64,000 punters at the Warriors Dance Festival.
Following on from this grandstanding entrance, the pair have updated More Than Alot's dubstep breaks and pounding harmonies with their follow up album, No More Idols. Fusing drum'n'bass breakbeats with grime and dubstep cuts while showcasing a raft of A-List collaborators, their second full length player looks set to further the footprints laid by 2008's critically-acclaimed opening shot.
"The last album was a mishmash of styles and singers," says Saul. "We loved the fact that there was a lot of different tracks on there. No More Idols is the same and we're buzzing off it."
The nuts and bolts of this sonically spilt personality can be located in the band's formative years. Having met in London in 1999 via mutual friends, the duo bonded through a love of jungle breakbeats, garage and the UK dance scene. By 2004, Chase & Status had begun laying a blueprint for club domination, first as DJs and then as artists in their own right.
They remixed "dark, techy tracks" by artists working alongside them in a communal studio space before scoring a record deal with drum'n'bass stable, Renegade Hardware. Elsewhere a string of soulful, MC anthems were recorded for the more mainstream Bingo label. "We were really into everything," says Will. "Drum'n'bass stuff, real grimy tunes and jumpy dance tracks. No one else was doing that mix of tunes."
The Big Time came calling in 2006 when Chase And Status signed with Andy C's RAM label. The results were immediate: Come Back - a track from The Druids EP - received heavy rotation on Radio One. Further acclaim arrived when Will and Saul began work on their debut album, More Than Alot. The vocals of emerging hip hop singer songwriter, Plan B and rapper Kano were drafted in to add memorable pop hooks to their hard-edged sound.
"We met Plan B after doing a remix of his stuff," says Will. "And we worked really well together - the single, Pieces sounded huge. Kano's track, Against All Odds was a real hip hop number and that opened us up to a mainstream audience. More Than Alot became a real slow burner of an album throughout 2009."
Chase & Status were soon drawing admiring glances from impressive quarters. They scooped a Q Award in the Best Video category and opened their own label, MTA, where they signed hotly tipped duo Nero. A year on from the release of their debut, they were drafted in to produce and co-write part of Rihanna's fourth album, Rated R in 2009.
While Rated R scaled the charts, Chase & Status turned their efforts to improving their muscular live sound, which incorporated guitars, synths, MCs onstage and introduced the industry legend Andy Gangadeen on drums. It worked. They quickly became one of the most hotly talked about acts on the live scene and were asked to headline some of the world's biggest festivals including headlining the dance stage at Glastonbury 2010. Then they shifted sights to the follow-up to More Than Alot. At first their personal studio work proved tricky. Having manipulated the glitzy pop harmonies of a mainstream artist, Will and Saul initially struggled to find the recording groove that informed their first album.
"We wanted to expand creatively," says Saul. "At first we were in the headspace of writing three minute pop songs, but we got there in the end. After we'd written the tracks, we wanted to work with a list of collaborators. We could have asked for the likes of Rihanna and Jay Z but we wanted to showcase the best of British talent, especially the new rising stars from the underground. We got everyone we wanted."
Featuring a team sheet that lists Dizzee Rascal, White Lies, Tinie Tempah and long term studio collaborator Plan B, No More Idols bolts old skool rave bleeps (Blind Faith) to quaking drum'n'bass beats and punkish riffs. Free download, Hypest Hype, one of their many singles to be A-Listed at Radio 1, saw DJ Fearne Cotton claim its clattering beats and waspish guitars had "scared" her into liking the band. Elsewhere, Brixton Briefcase features the album's only non-British contributor, Cee Lo Green.
"We've always loved him," says Saul. "He's got an amazing voice, but the album showcases other amazing new talent like Maverick Sabre, Tempa T, Liam Bailey and Claire Maguire. Basically we got to work with everyone we love. There was a lot of stress and a lot of paranoia along the way, but now we can't wait to send the tunes out there for other people to hear. We can't wait for No More Idols to hit."