By Andy Downing
RedEye special contributor
2:40 PM CDT, June 21, 2013
There have been times when neighbors sharing a Pilsen apartment building with Brandon Boom and Jeremiah Chrome thought they were living next door to one of NASA's experimental laboratories.
The rising production duo, collectively known as the-Drum, recorded a bulk of its forthcoming full-length debut, "Contact," at home, laying down a futuristic array of sounds (robotic vocals, pinging synths, metallic drums, etc.) that replicate the feel of being trapped on a spacecraft somewhere in the furthest reaches of the galaxy.
By phone, Boom and Chrome, both 29, talked about the influences that shaped the-Drum's spacey electro sound, their perfectionist tendencies and whether or not they think we're alone in the universe.
You mentioned you're both perfectionists. Was it difficult to stop tinkering with the album and let it out into the world?
Brandon Boom: Definitely. We went over the album a bunch of times figuring out every detail down to the song order. Even though it's really unpopular these days to have someone listen to an entire album, that's what we're into. We want the whole thing to flow from one track into the other.
Do those perfectionist tendencies spill over into other aspects of your lives? Like, do you have the most well-manicured lawn on your block?
Boom: [Laughs] No. The music kind of sounds like what the house looks like most times.
Jeremiah Chrome: I would say the music captures most of my OCD tendencies, and that sense of order stays more with the music than my everyday life. If you look in my iTunes you'll see everything is meticulously labeled, but when you go in my room you'll see clothes all over the floor.
If a martian landed and and asked you to play it three songs that inspired the-Drum's sound, what would they be?
Boom: Definitely number one would be "Ethnicolor" by Jean Michel Jarre. Then "Moments in Love" by Art of Noise and "Fancy" by the-Dream.
So the-Dream hasn't sued you for hyphen infringement yet?
Boom: [Laughs] No, but that would be awesome.
Chrome: The fact he'd even know about us would be cool.
Have you ever seen a UFO?
Boom: I don't think so, but when I was a kid I was convinced aliens were real. I don't believe in a lot of conspiracy theories, but with the nature of the universe and what we know of it, it just makes sense there would be other forms of life throughout the galaxy.
Chrome: Also, everything on [the History Channel's] "Ancient Aliens" is real [laughs].
As often as your music is described as futuristic, I was wondering if there's any aspect of the past you find yourselves drawn towards?
Chrome: As music obsessives, our tastes are pretty well-rounded and not everything is represented in this project. But as far as the-Drum goes, I think most of the things that inspire us from before now were things that were trying to be futuristic, like things from the '80s that were trying to be ahead of their time.
I wasn't sure if you guys secretly took place in Civil War reenactment weekends.
Boom: [Laugh] No, no, no.
Chrome: I feel like the-Drum is oriented toward the future and not the past. We both love a lot of old jazz and '70s German music and stuff, but the-Drum is trying to coalesce those influences into a more futuristic endeavor.
Being DJs, how would you rate your abilities as dancers?
Chrome: I give myself a 9.7 out of 10 [Laughs]. I used to go out quite a bit more than I do now ... and I love dancing, but I have no idea how I would rate myself. Dancing is the antithesis of rating or judging. It's a release, and my favorite way to dance is to not give two [bleeps] about what the people around me think.
Considering "Contact" opens with a launch sequence, I was curious if you had any interest in following Justin Bieber into space?
Boom: [Laughs] Isn't he supposed to be the first person to perform in space?
Chrome: I thought Jean Michel Jarre did something... Oh, but the Challenger blew up [editor's note: astronaut Ron McNair, who died in the Challenger explosion, was supposed to play saxophone from space during a Jarre concert just months after the tragedy took place].
Jeremy: And it wasn't him going [into space]. Justin Bieber is going to go to space and perform, right? I guess the good thing is in space no one can hear you scream. Or sing.
Brandon Boom and Jeremiah Chrome personality test
Last album you bought?
Boom: "This Art of Noise record."
Chrome: "I just got his 2007 Dopplereffekt EP, 'Calabi-Yau Space.'"
Song you've listened to on repeat recently?
Chrome: "'Paranoid' by French Montana featuring Johnny Maycash."
Boom: "We've never enjoyed French Montana previous to this, but we love Johnny Maycash...and this song is really, really good.
Song you never want to hear again?
Boom: "Wow, I mean, I could never hear Lynyrd Skynyrd song again."
Chrome: "There's this song that plays all the time during commercials on Hulu. It's, like, 'Put your hands in the air like a ceiling fan,' or something. If I hear that song again it'll make me want to stab someone in the leg."
Best concert you've seen in the last year?
Boom: "I saw this great show the other night by this guy Golden Donna. He played in Chicago a couple days ago and it was great. It was one of those shows where everyone was dancing."
New band you don't know personally that deserves to be big?
Both [simultaneously]: "Demdike Stare. They should be huge. They're amazing."
Favorite movie ever?
Boom: "Berry Gordy's 'The Last Dragon.' I picked it when I was 8, and I haven't looked back."
Chicago's best music venue?
Chrome: "I'd have to go with Empty Bottle. I've played there like 23 times since I moved here."
The-Drum, 10 p.m. Thursday at Smart Bar. $5-$10.
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