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Artist Biography

Real Name: Rick Smith, Karl Hyde
Genre: Electronic, Experimental

"Mark II of the band debuted as Lemon Interrupt with the harmonica-drenched 'Big Mouth'. Underworld's breakthrough single, however, was the wonderful 'MMM...Skyscraper I Love You', released on Junior Boy's Own, perfectly encapsulating the chilled-out house movement. It was hailed as influential on the likes of Fluke, One Dove and Orbital, but many others have taken it as a signpost in the emergence of dance music in the 90s. Underworld mix live instruments with their studio wizardry, expanded by an eclectic, often plain odd collection of samples. They confounded expectations by playing live on the MIDI Circus roadshow and are one of the few techno outfits actually to relish such activity, mixing live on the decks for a unique experience at each date.

They were accordingly applauded for a stunning, improvised set at Glastonbury in 1992.They are also part of the Tomato collective, a multimedia enclave that produces art, film and graphics for the band's record sleeves, as well as advertising campaigns for prestigious accounts such as Red Mountain, Nike and Adidas - all of which feature Underworld soundtracks. The follow-up single to 'Skyscraper' was 'Rez', but it was the attendant album, Dub No Bass With My Head Man, that engendered further excitement. Among the more modest critical responses, the album was described as a 'fantastic synthesis of dance, techno, ambient, dub, rave, trance and rock . . . the most important album since the Stone Roses and the best since Screamadelica'. More than any other artefact, it was the one single record that saw audiences and critics switch allegiances from guitar bands to more 'progressive' outfits. Some even suggested it was the soundtrack to the death of rock 'n' roll, which was, perhaps, overstating the case. A remixed 'Born Slippy' from the Trainspotting soundtrack then climbed to number 2 in the UK charts in July 1996, boosting sales of the excellent Second Toughest In The Infants.

2002 - October Underworld are touring again

2002 A Hundred Days Off Underworld 4th studio album is released in the UK September 16th. The first album since Darren departure last year.

2002 - September Two Month Off, the first single from the new album is released September 2nd

2001 Over the year they have released various song/live recording in mp3 format for the fan. Images, animation and video by tomato were also on the site wich was updated most of the time everyday.

2000 - October, Live DVD Underworld's pioneering DVD 'Everything Everything,' translates the full power, energy, and excitement of their live concerts to the living room, and also offers unique, interactive musical and visual experiences. Transmitting the scale and physical power of live concerts to the living room has long been the Holy Grail of live-playing artists and their fans.

2000 - April, Darren Quit Underworld Statement After much speculation, Darren Emerson has left Underworld to concentrate on a solo career. Karl Hyde & Rick Smith will continue to make records as Underworld. The split is entirely amicable.

Darren has been a member of Underworld for 10 years and felt that he needed to explore other musical avenues outside of the band. Darren will be going back to his roots, stepping up his DJing worldwide, while solo projects with guest producers will be confirmed later in the year. Underworld are not looking to replace Emerson. Rick & Karl are currently in their own studio working on ideas for the next Underworld album proper. As far as JBO is concerned, Underworld business carries on as usual.

1999 - March, Beaucoup Fish is out, Underworld third album is out

1998 Preparation begin in earnest for the release of the new single and album. The band play at Glastonbury, in atrocious conditions, and V98, blowing everyone away and previewing several new tracks, including "King of Snake". The album's title has now changed to "Beaucoup Fish". At the end of the year, they support a reformed New Order and promos of "King of Snake" are released with mixes by Dave Angel and Dave Clarke.

1997 First new single since "Second Toughest" released - "Moaner" is taken from the soundtrack to the new "Batman" movie. Apart from a few gigs, a quiet year for Underworld. Their label, Junior Boys Own, sign a deal with V2. They spend most of the year recording their new album, provisionally titled "Tonight Matthew I'm Going To Be Underworld".

1996 - October "Pearl's Girl" re-released. Karl moves from Romford to Soho.

1996 - September They headline Universe's Big love festival - a real climax to an incredible year.

1996 - July "Born Slippy (Nuxx)" finally re-released, and enters the charts at Number Two, with a video directed by "Trainspottin" director, Danny Boyle. Muzik feature them on the cover, as icons on a beer bottle label, naturally. Karl talks about the origins of "Born Slippy" : "it's about feeling like a slab of meat, a shit-faced piece of crap coming out of The Ship in Wardour Street, an old haunt of ours. The track is highly ironic...I'm not praising lager at all.' It turns out that the "mega mega white thing" is in fact not a pill, but a reference to Karl himself. Darren meanwhile reveals his own fondness for the amber nectar: "It's my drug of choice...though it can make me a bit leery at times. I have been known to take my clothes off of put bananas down my trousers." 1996 - June The clamour for the re-release of "Born Slippy (Nuxx)" begins in earnest as it becomes an anthem at Tribal Gathering, played in every tent several times over the night. Pete Tong says he'll play it every week on his show until it's released.

1996 - May "Trainspotting" is released, with "Born Slippy (Nuxx)" opening credits. Junior Boys Own refuse to bow to pressure, and instead release "Pearl's Girl" as a single

1996 - March "Second Toughest In The Infants" released. It's a triumph. From the swamp-blues chill out of the gorgeous "Bluski" to the unhinged quasi-jungle of "Banstyle", this is Underworld at their stratospheric best once again. Muzik make it Album Of The Month, saying, "with Underworld, there are no limitations...'Second Toughest' is an album of twisted, euphoric, hi-rise epics." In an interview, Karl tell us, "I never do drugs. If you were like me, would you waste your money on drugs? My ambition is to get to normality, to understand three dimensions. Just the three." Darren explains the attraction of Underworld thus: "We'll take you up on the top with one song, then tip you over the edge and send you shooting downwards with the next, only to bring you back up again. It's a ride from start to finish."

1995 First release of "Born Slippy" with the infamous "Nuxx" mix tucked away on the B-Side

1994 - July They hit the road with the Midi Circus tour, a travelling ensemble highlighting dance music's live capabilities, with System 7 and Orbital.

1994 - June "Dark & Long" release as a single. A brooding, ebbing, flowing Detroit-style epic, it's like having all the weather patterns of the world converge in your front room and unleash their devastating power while you dance naked under their lashings. Honest. It becomes an anthem in Oakenfold's room at Cream when he takes over there in 1996, two years later, when he plays it every week at the same point in his set.

1994 - February "NME" check them out live at Brighton's Zap Club. Karl smashes his guitar on stage, the proceeds to pick up a miniature keyboard, place it on the floor and dances a jig around it. The paper concludes: "Whatever kind of strange inspiration fires him (and Underworld) to the creative heights they scale when they pace the stage, it should be carefully nurtured. Unlike the guitar, it's irreplaceable."

1994 - January "Dubnobasswithmyheadman" released to tumultuous acclaim,. "Melody Maker" Calls it 'the most important album since 'The Stones Roses' and the best since 'Screamadelica'", adding "this breathtaking hybrid marks the moment that club culture finally comes of age and beckons to everyone." "NME" says it's "a reminder of how an overly active imagination can be an asset when applied to music.. a debut album to cherish." It's lie that pinnacle of 30 years of music, with strands of everything from Jamaican dub to folksy blues to power-techno coursing through it. It's awesome. And goes on to sell a quarter of a million copies worldwide.

1993 "I'm invisible, I'm invisible, I'm invisible/An eraser of love". "Cowgirl" arrives, a kind of vocal version of the "Rez" single which builds to impossible peaks and establishes Underworld as true contenders for kings of the new dance. The build-up to the album continue with the release of "Spikee"/"Dogman Go Woof".

1993 The first single proper, "Dirty" / "Minneapolis" is released under the Lemon Interrupt alias on Junior Boys Own, after Darren introduces the band to label owner, Steve Hall. "Eclipse" / "Big Mouth" (the latter featuring a crazy harmonica riff) under the same name follows soon after. "Big Mouth" becomes a progressive house anthem. Later this year, first single proper as Underworld, "Mmm...Skyscraper I love you" released, a towering slab of techno-meets-spiraling-outta-control-space-rawk with it's "30,000 feet above the earth/And it's a beautiful thing" refrain. It's like nothing the world has ever heard before. The lines come from a plane journey over New York. Underworld have arrived.

1992 Underworld set up The Experimental Sound Field in Glastonbury and astound all who were there with a 14-hour DJ/band interface jam. One person who was there was music business lawyer Richard Gates:"They had two whole sides of the field fenced off with screens to project on, with brilliant lights and slides and strobes. The music went through all these permutations, from Parliament to Andronicus, and in the middle of it all was this scaffold tower with Djs and musicians. It was magical, almost spiritual." Karl remembers:"Being in the middle of the field meant we were out there dancing with them." They also soundtrack their first adverts through the Tomato creative/multimedia group they've helped set up-for Adidas.

1991 They press up 500 copies of "Hump"/"Mother Earth" and sell them from the back of Rick's car. Interestingly enough, the run-out groove of "The Hump" declares "Dogman go woof". Sound familiar? Rick: "I remember when Tag took two boxes of "The Hump" and it was the best feeling. Fuck Number One in Italy, this was amazing."

1990 Darren Emerson, 17, is working as a runner in the Stock Exchange by day and a techno DJ by night. A friend says his musician brother-in-law needs a DJ to work with. The brother-in-law is Rick Smith. Karl is persuaded to rejoin. The new Underworld are born.


Based in Romford, Essex, England, Underworld were formed from the ashes of Freur in the late 80s, featuring former members of that band Karl Hyde (vocals), Alfie Thomas and Rick Smith, alongside Baz Allen (bass) and video-maker John Warwicker. Smith had also performed on sessions for Bob Geldof, while Hyde worked with Debbie Harry. After their debut album as Underworld, a funk-rock affair produced by Tom Bailey of the Thompson Twins, Burrows was replaced by Pascal Consolli (ex- Boys Wonder). By 1990 Thomas had also departed. Hyde (who had by now taken part in sessions for Prince at his Paisley Park studio complex) and Smith continued with the addition of DJ Darren Emerson (b. 1971, England) - a journeyman of clubs such as the Limelight and Milky Bar. Allen and Consolli went on to become the rhythm section of D-Influence, Burrows eventually joining Worldwide Electric.

1989 Tour America supporting The Eurythmics. Slit shortly afterwards. Rick returns to UK on his own. Karl stays in America to work with Terry Nunn (ex-singer of Berlin. Remember "Take My Breath Away"?) at Paisley Park. He eventually returns to the UK and works as a file organiser for Cooper's & Lybrand, a firm of accountants, even thinking about quitting music full time. "I just thought 'this is wicked, I'm getting paid properly.' I didn't have to worry about tax and got paid for overtime and everything."

1988 Underworld release "Change The Weather" album. It sound like a sub-Prince quasi-Eurythmics avant-Yelloo take on white boy funk. You really wouldn't like it. Trust us. We asked Music & Video Exchange to look out a copy for us, but they'd thrown them all out because they couldn't shift them.

1987 First incarnation of Underworld release debut single, "Underneath The Radar", Followed by album of same name. Sample lyric: "Blackbird sittin' at the kitchen door/Don't give him bread, he'll come back for more/Point to the bush where the berry grows/Rub your belly and touch your toes". They look like A Flock Of Seagulls after an explosion in a Max Factor factory.


This trio comprised Karl Hyde, Rick Smith and Alfie Thomas, and was formed while the three were at college in Cardiff, Wales, in 1981. Their name was actually written as a hieroglyphic squiggle, to the amusement and bemusement of writers and chart compilers everywhere. 'Freur' was the phonetic pronunciation. They expanded their line-up with drummer Bryn Burrows (ex- Fabulous Poodles, his party trick of banging his head on his cymbals once led to him being carried offstage totally unconscious) and video guru John Warwicker. The group signed to CBS Records in 1983 and enjoyed a minor chart success with 'Doot Doot'. Its popularity was made all the more unlikely by the fact that their record company had issued the original demo version rather than the recording the band had made with Conny Plank and Holger Czukay in Cologne. The record was also a big hit throughout Europe and topped the Italian charts. A second album was withheld from release by CBS, after which Smith and Hyde left to form Underworld with Baz Allen.

1985 Second Freur album, "Get Us Out of Here" Released. To massive indifference. They split shortly afterwards.

1984 Debut Freur album "Doot Doot" released.

1983 Freur have a hit single with "Doot Doot". They are also apparently massive in Israel and Italy. Commenting on Freur, Karl reflect that "if the dance market had existed then, between 1984 and 1987, we'd probable have gravitated towards it...but we wanted a record deal, we had to appeal to somebody to give us a deal, so we had to do pop. That was the way you thought in those times.


Screen Gemz is the earliest incarnation of the band, Karl and Rick met during their early twenties in a cardiff hard rock-style restaurant, where Karl made desserts and salads, Rick washed dishes, and starving musicians knew the two would feed them when they showed up at the kitchens' back door. Before long, Rick was the new member of Karl's band 'The Screen Gemz'.

In retrospect, Rick couldn't have been more naive about the music industry. 'I genuinely thought that when I joined the 'Screen Gemz' that they were the best band in the area; they had a single played on the john peel [uk radio show]. I thought, 'it's all going to happen now.' and I think within two months of joining the band that reality just kicked in so serious. I had never schlepped up and down the motorway in a transit van and done all the grueling [touring]. it was so grin; 12 months after that I left the band because I thought it was so crazy.' Rick Smith

The Screen Gemz released one [correct me if i'm wrong] single called "Teenage Teenage / I can't Stand Cars"

Known members : Karl Hyde, Rick Smith, ???

Rick was studying electronics at Cardiff University at the time. Karl was studying art."