The Dutch band Junkie XL started in 1995 and debuted in 1997 with their album "Saturday Teenage Kick". Their music is a mix of rock and big beats, often compared with the sound of The Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers. The power of this music is absolutely best expressed in a live performance. Junkie XL is one of the first bands that plays modern electronic music and combines it with a good live show.
Junkie XL's music is a mixture of styles; alternative dance with a rock-attitude. The real Junkie XL-feel is probably in "Saturday Teenage Kick": an uptempo hip-hop beat with a groovy guitar and Rudeboy behind the mic.
Junkie XL's name is based on what Tom Holkenborg described as his "studio-junkie" reputation. He's seen as a real workaholic. The XL is referring to the process of "eXpanding Limits" (of perception, reality, etc.).
On stage Tom Holkenborg is the main man, the sequencer. All sounds played on stage come through his desk and he adds all kinds of effects to them. Tom once said: "The basic ingredient that separates us from other electronic bands is that groups like Fatboy Slim are presented as dance acts with rock guitars. I consider us more of an alternative rock-band using dance tools."
According to Tom it is very hard to perform this kind of music live: "To soon you end up sounding like a school band", says the man behind the music. After a lot of rehearsing, the band first performed in "De Melkweg" in Amsterdam, November 1997. A few months later the band did some shows with The Prodigy who were touring in Germany. After that little tour, lots of people claimed (including Liam Howlett…) that Junkie XL stealed the music-concept from The Prodigy. But all the Junkie XL-fans know that that's not true, 'cos Tom was already mixing rock and electro with Nerve.
Junkie XL did an amazing tour in America. They played in about 80 cities (on their own and for example with Gravity Kills. Junkie XL ended to be first in the Dance Pool Charts (which means that 20.000 American club-dj's selected the Junkie-song to be the best song of the year). Their popularity was also indicated by the fact that MTV called Junkie XL to ask if they could broadcast the "Billy Club" video (Roadrunner has no contact with MTV….). By the way, Junkie XL has a contract with Roadrunner for 5 (!) albums……
Tom Holkenborg wants the Junkie XL-music to be a combination of dance and rock music. The music must be timeless, like (for example) The Beatles. At the first album "Saturday Teenage Kick", the rock-sound dominated. Although this debut-album was a great success, Tom didn't think it was timeless. The second Junkie XL album "Big Sounds Of The Drags", released in 1999, is more a dance-album with a 70's sound.
At the end of 1999, Junkie XL stopped playing with a whole band on stage. The cooperation (Dino Cazares, Rene van der Zee, Baz Mattie and Frankie D. were not real members of Junkie XL, they were just working together with Tom) stopped because of financial reasons and because of the fact that Tom wants to represent a dance-act and that works better with only Tom and Rudeboy on stage…
In June 2000, Rudeboy quitted Junkie XL and Tom plays all performances alone, clearly choosing for the progressive-house style. Respected DJ's like Carl Cox, Pete Tong, Nick Warren, Jo Wiley and Steve Lamaq (BBC Radio One) start putting Junkie XL on their playlists. Six months later, Junkie XL stopped working with Captain Video (who provided the background video's at the live performances).
Nowadays, all the Junkie XL releases appear on Mostiko Records, which is the dance-label of Roadrunner Arcade. In 2001 Junkie XL was doing performances in and outside the Netherlands. Tom used these opportunities to try some new stuff on the audience for the new album.
Since a few months Junkie XL is also well known under the name "JXL" because the remix of Elvis' "A Little Less Conversation" has been released as "Elvis vs JXL". The track, which has been used for the Nike Football commercial, is currently getting a lot of airplay and reached the #1 position in over 20 countries by now.
The third Junkie XL album will be called "Radio JXL - A Broadcast from the Computer Hell Cabin". Unfortunately, it is currently suffering some delays due to the fact that Junkie XL wants to synchronise the release of the album worldwide. Date of release is now set on January 2003. Some very interesting vocalists will appear on the album. Saffron (once singer of Republica) has already recorded "Crusher" and some other tracks. Also Gary Numan recorded a track with Junkie XL in Amsterdam. The names of the other vocalists on the album are kept a secret until the release. Some titles of the tracks on the new album are "Crusher", "Beauty Never Fades", "Breezer", "We're Gonna Rock (Nudge)", "Spirits" and "Destiny". Some of these tracks are currently being used by Junkie XL in the live sets.
Paard van Troje, Den Haag
Recreatieschap Spaarnwoude, Velsen Zuid
Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam