Proponents of the much-maligned big-beat style of dance music (i.e. the Chemical Brothers), the Propellerheads -- keyboardist/bassist/DJ Alex Gifford and drummer/DJ Will White -- sprang out of Bath, England in 1996 to achieve almost overnight success in the U.K.
with their brand of unabashed party techno, which combines strains of hip-hop, acid house, jazz-funk, and spy-film soundtracks. Gifford began his career as a studio musician, playing keyboards for Van Morrison and saxophone for the Stranglers, among others, before joining dance collective the Grid. After a stint on the staff of Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios, where he helped write and produce the well-received Arcane compilation, Gifford decided to start recording his own music, and sought out local drummer White. In 1996, the duo released its first EP, Dive, on Wall of Sound; almost immediately, the title track was licensed by Adidas for use in a television commercial. The follow-up, Take California, appeared later that year, and the title track became a significant underground big-beat success. The 1997 Spybreak! EP was another hit, demonstrating the duo's love for spy-film soundtracks; later in the year, the group hit the British Top Five with a remake of the Bond theme "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," recorded for the compilation Shaken and Stirred: The David Arnold 007 Project. Remixes for acts like Luscious Jackson, Soul Coughing, and 808 State followed, and Propellerheads signed to DreamWorks. The band made its U.S. debut in 1997 with a self-titled CD5, which contained the new single "Bang On!," as well as several old and new tracks. In early 1998, the Propellerheads released their full-length debut, Decksandrumsandrockandroll, to generally positive reviews. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi