The Tracks interviews the legendary Chuck D of Public Enemy, and D drops serious knowledge (and jewels) on all of the Track’s listeners.
Interview with Chuck D (Public Enemy)
Chuck D, Brian Kracyla and Monty Wiradilaga
Manchester, TN – Bonnaroo
“Knowledge, wisdom, and understanding don’t come in the microwave.”
C: I think people when they ask me that question need to ask me, “Do you think that it’s something that’s lacking in the United States?” And I would say, well, yes. The maintenance of it is lacking, but it’s all over the world. I think one of the problems most Americans have is that they don’t understand that what has evolved in hip-hop is that it’s super-global. The United States is one of the places that it does it. Does it do it better than all the other places? I don’t know. You got guys that can spit three languages, how do you weigh that? I mean how do you weigh it, do you weigh it because you live in the United States, like this is it? It’s like covering the Phillies, you live in Philly, so I’m covering the Phillies, you know, so outside of Ryan Howard I don’t know what’s going on. But that’s my answer there, it’s like, political rap, you cannot be
around and in the rest of the world and not say something that resonates with the people. You cannot, it doesn’t exist. There’s hundreds of thousands of rappers out there. Whether it’s Dam, them Arabic MCs, that’s in Palestine talking about that friction over there. Whether it’s like my man MV Bill and Eli Efi from Brazil, you know we’re talking about thirty years of recorded musical science. So, this is the thing that I hope and think that the hip-hop nation here understands, that you gotta comprehend that it’s over your head. What’s the exposure? BET, MTV, any of your local radio stations. Obviously, you’re limited to the two or three places that you can name when you say that that’s the epiddimy of exposure and if whatever’s being said out there, can’t get on there, there must be some kind of ulterior motive. We’re in the days of MySpace pages, Twitter, and YouTube accounts. I mean, what do you want to include and what do you not what to include. I think that the major labels dominance of saying, “This is official”, that’s been over. I don’t know why people keep holding it up. Let me tell you why it’s no excuse, you cover hip-hop right? Sports fan?
C: Do you ever hear a sports journalist talk about activities in high school, JV, college being lost? They cover everything. Everything is covered, even damn-near the playground gets covered! And 1 gets covered! Hip-hop, it’s just like, it’s the level of laziness of going past what’s thrown at you. I mean, what’s the level of coverage is only going to depend on how legitimate the coverage wants to consider itself. They’ll say, “Oh, we only wanna cover if Def Jam releases something, we’ll follow that.” If it don’t come through this one imprint than, you know, “If we don’t know about it, we ain’t gonna cover it.” Now you in the day of MySpace pages, man. I think diligence have to go to it. It’s gotta be like, “Well, I’m not getting paid, but I does this, I follow, ‘cause I love it.” Like I said, I’m a sports fan, and they don’t let a pitch go by without figuring out was that 94 or was that 83 mph coming from this college kid that’s playing a college game that might be meaningless between two teams, but it’s still be documented.
B: But they can tell you every pitch count, yeah. You were a consultant on the Let Freedom Sing project. You wrote the liner notes. Describe that compilation’s significance.
C: The compilation’s significance is because especially black people use a portal of music and expressed ourselves through other ways when we couldn’t express ourselves to the masses just by speaking alone. There’s often times when the poets and the artists would have to say something that would penetrate the veil of racism and do it in such a way that, you know, speaking for what is right is colorless. It doesn’t matter what color you are, you speak for what it right versus what’s wrong. That’s why on that box set it’s everybody from blues artists to Pete Seger. And using music, being that we were a people and are a people that follow music a little bit more closely, because of that history of it being this expression when you couldn’t really express yourself, it meant that much more. A lot of people said, this is how I feel, so I’m gonna hum it and sing it so I won’t get beat-down maybe, or killed. Spread your wings dog!
M: When you guys were coming up, you came up with the roots of hip-hop, as artists…
C: Oh yeah, ‘cause I was getting ready to say that when I was coming up there was no such thing as rap records or hip-hop. Even when I graduated outta 12th grade, if someone would have said that I would have been making records, I would have said you out of your mind, doing what kind of records?! You know, you had Earth, Wind, & Fire, the Commodores, that kinda thing going on.
M: With your music, with how politically fueled it was, when you say about your color didn’t see color, you appealed to the masses. You appealed to me as a kid. I was a kid in the suburbs. You spoke to me, you spoke to the kids in the ghetto. What did it mean to you to get your message out there, so strong, and have the sort of influence that Malcolm X influenced you? You have a voice, in a different way, but you have a voice to the masses, where you can speak to millions of people and get your message across.
C: Number one, you’re thankful, but it does not start with, it doesn’t end with you. You’ve got to be humble to all those things that were able to give you the platform and it’s not about you. One of the greatest things I’ve heard President Barack Obama say, last year when he was actually at the democratic nomination, he said, “Hey, it ain’t about me, it’s about us as a people, and if this out there I see it and if you see something say something.” And I just think that that goes across the board. One of the worst things that ever came and attached itself to the culture of hip-hop in a very wrong and misconstrued way is when they come across and say, “Stop snitching.”, and not even know the true idea or essence of where it comes from. That’s why you got to know your history or have an old-head not afraid to tell a young-head that this where it comes from. Yeah
you can do your thing but just know where it comes from and do the right way. This whole thing of older heads mixing with younger heads to try to appeal to them and be fly with them, I think, is a discouragement and it is discrediting young people from living their life. I think the responsibility from an older person to a younger person is to say, “Yo, man, you know you can do your thing but just look out…”, boom-boom-boom, you know, and just keep it moving or whatever. No ulterior motive like, “I hope you love me, I hope you dig me, I hope you buy me. I’m thirty-five years old, your twenty-one, yo, support me.” There’s not a reason to support you! Young people wanna support their circle of things, they just want older people to give them guidance because knowledge, wisdom, and understanding don’t come in the microwave. I mean, that’s our role, that’s our objective. When you don’t do that and your like, “I ain’t nobody, I can’t say nothing, I don’t want to be preachy.” When you say that, was your saying is that,
“I don’t want to be older, I don’t wanna grow older. I might have well as died when I was young.” I think that that has hurt hip-hop. The other day I got a list of rappers right and the list was like thirty deep. And everybody was like thirty and over. And the latter half, like twenty of them, were like thirty-six and over. How can you be thirty-seven years old and not say something to somebody young that somebody young can grow off of, like we say, “drop jewels”, and you keep it moving?! There’s no excuse not to be men, and women. And not saying there’s one type of man or woman that somebody should be but being a man and being a woman that means that your mind, you know, you gotta drop somebody young down. Yeah, you know, do your thing, you know be at the club or whatever. Wup, wup, wup! If you see somebody trying to act like their… Well, you know, I got the world’s biggest teenager with me! (Laughter) But there can be exceptions! Everybody can’t be like that.
M: So, you’re a little bit older, has your message been received well by the people?
C: Always. Well, number one, ain’t nobody else my child or my children. But, I’m gonna be like that older brother figure. Yeah, cool, do your thing. If your gonna ask me a question, I’m gonna give you the answer. If you’re gonna ask me, “Yo, what’s up old-head. Can you give me your wisdom on this?” Then I’m gonna be like boom-boom-boom, I give you what I can give you. If I don’t know, then I’m gonna try to say, hey, this might be an answer you can use. That’s our responsibility, that’s our accountability. It’s been received all over the world, and I’m thankful for that. If it had to come through the portal of rap music and hip-hop, I’m doubley-thankful for that! I’m very honored and I’m blessed and there’s no excuse not to hold my head up high.
M: So, what do you think about Bonnaroo?
C: Bonnaroo is a wonderful thing. Whenever you can get groups to come together and play, and play in front of the masses… Festivals are an opportunity for people, who would not check you out of your own, to check you out by default. And Public Enemy was one of the first rap groups to play festivals. Festivals were a common thing in different continents because economically it was the thing that would work for maybe countries that just didn’t have this plethora of a financial situation. But, now that the US economy has dipped down and shifted gears, it’s like okay, festivals work and instead of promoters taking like two or three acts across arenas and stadiums is not looked upon as being feasible. Although, the arenas and stadiums are brand new and in many cases need and have a big interest in not to pay, they’ve got to fill them. But, other than major league sports, which is another pressing matter, they’re trying to get it filled. I think Bonnaroo, the Warped Tour which fifteen years ago was able to take parking lots and make that feasible… At the end of the day somebody’s got to say, “Okay, I paid the price. It didn’t kick my ass, but if it did kick my ass, I want the show to kick my ass and make me say that’s the best thing I’ve ever paid for and it was worth while.” You’ve got to give people more for what they spend. You’ve got to give them an experience, and that’s the gift of music. Now, what I try to tell many artists, and hip-hop artists really included, is don’t let your art overtake your responsibility as a performance artist. The whole key is to bust your videos and your songs, bust them in the ass when you’re live. That’s the best way that you share your experience with that audience. And that makes them go back to the music, not the music first makes you come, yeah, in a way. Really records came from the fact that I went to see Duke Ellington, blew me away, what can I take home other than just the ringing in my head? And that’s what that evolved out of. Once that became a business, it flipped back the other way. We can’t lose sight of that. But it’s easy to lose sight of it because people are distant from the history of even the things that they like. Sportscenter, when it comes on ESPN, it behooves that they show it six times so that their followers will not be stupid in the afternoon, so by the afternoon, you’re up to speed, you know. We like to see the same in rap music and hip-hop.
M: So what do you have to say to people that haven’t made the trip to Bonnaroo?
C: It’s a wonderful festival. It’s in the southeast, there’s a lot of people in the southeast that probably can’t make it out west or up north to the other festivals that are in those other different parts. If you don’t catch it, you know, we’re in a highly technological age, there’s no excuse not to hop on YouTube and catch somebody’s filming of it.
B: You’ve been one of the most vocal activists for peer to peer file sharing on the internet. Where would you like to see the music industry be in the future?
C: The music industry is healthy. I’d like to see the record industry become more supportive and the music industry become even more supportive of providing platforms for artists to be able to come at a grassroots performing level and really try to help a great minor leaguing, maybe Single A, level of artist doing their thing and let that cream maybe rise to the next level. One thing you have in sports, not to go back into the sports analogy, somebody always has a chance to try out for JV or varsity. Not to say that they’re gonna make the team, but they have the chance to try out. Well, a person should have the chance to try out as an artist, somewhere. Not to say, this whole thing, “Well, I gotta blow up!” If you can’t do your thing and be supported and blow up local, you know, down the block, then why should you even be bigger?! So, I always asked for radio, urban radio, how come it doesn’t support it’s local? If an Indianapolis radio station calls itself the home of R&B, then how come everything you play is groups that get signed to major labels from L.A. and New York, and even the Atlanta artists! They’ll play the Atlanta artists but only if they’re legitimized by the New York and L.A. companies. You can’t have no legitimacy that way. So, I would like to see the structures be more giving to, my wife says it best, territory bands. Territory bands were a big thing in the early parts of last century, territory bands. You really succeeded by maxing out your territory before moving into other territories. We need to see that in rap music and hip-hop. If not, it’s gonna be this thing of “Oh, we signed this person and nobody knows who this person is. We’re gonna put this put galvanizing, steroid of a marketing plan behind them. I hope everybody gets it and it blows up!” I mean, that’s ass-backwards, and because it worked at one time in our past doesn’t mean it’s the right way.
B: What’s the future hold for Chuck D?
C: Getting on stage, and trying to defy time! (Laughter)
B: Alright, Chuck, thanks for your time.
A classic interview with Andrew and Ben From MGMT in 2008 just as they broke as major new players on the music scene.
MGMT Interview on Moe Train’s Tracks
Andrew Vanwyngarden, Ben Goldwasser (MGMT)
Monty Wiradilaga, Brian Kracyla (Moe Train’s Tracks)
Starlight Ballroom – Philadelphia, PA
Here’s a great interview that was rescued from The Tracks’ vaults… Back in early 2008, MTT caught up with Andrew and Ben from MGMT in Philadelphia, PA.
MGMT had just gotten a major break in the music scene with the widespread critical success of Oracular Spectacular. Keep an eye on MoeTrainsTracks.com for tons of great new content!
Moe: We saw you guys down at Bonnaroo for your set, it was a great way to open up the weekend. I was a pretty epic show if I must say.
Andrew: Yeah, it was fun. We had been to Bonnaroo before so it was good to see it from the side of the artist instead of the person in the crowd. It was only our second festival show.
M: Oh really, where was the first, Coachella?
M: So how do they compare?
A: I don’t know, Coachella was crazier for us because we were more nervous. Bonnaroo was a little more relaxed and cool.
M: You guys just started tour together with a band right?
Ben: We started practicing with them about a year ago. I think we were kinda thrust into exposure a little too quickly for our taste. We played on national television after we had only been touring with the band for a couple of months.
M: Was that on Letterman?
M: You looked a little nervous.
B: Yeah, we were very nervous! But we’re getting more comfortable and we don’t have to think as hard when we’re playing, its kinda getting to be more natural. We’re getting used to playing for crowds.
M: Did you guys have sound problems at Bonnaroo in the beginning, what was going on?
B: Yeah, well, the festival thing, we hardly ever really get a sound check so it’s always a little weird starting out.
A: I think the monitors were pretty messed up.
M: (to Andrew) Oh, by the way, you had on some pretty fucking crazy pants. I remember walking up to set and saying ‘holy shit’, those bright blue ones!
A: Tropical floral bellbottoms, yeah. Really big bellbottoms.
M: They looked comfortable though!
A: Yeah, they’re real comfortable.
M: Saw you guys backstage, you guys looked pretty chill, pretty relaxed, so I guess you feel like you’re falling into place with everything.
B: We’re good at hanging out. We’re good at relaxing.
M: Any standout moments yet from your recent successes?
B: We just played at the Oxygen festival in Ireland and that was really crazy. There were all these people climbing up the towers that were holding up the tent and we had to stop the show because this girl made it all the way to the roof of the tent so that you couldn’t even see her anymore and everyone was yelling at her telling her to come down.
M: Did she take a spill?
B: No, it would have been ugly if she had! That was probably at least 60 feet up in the air or something. It was pretty crazy.
M: I saw a video of you guys at some festival in Scotland that you guys were playing and you were walking around the grounds, checking out the scene; Andrew you like the thrill-rides?
A: As much as I’d like to keep the myth going that I like thrill-rides, I’m new to them. I’ve been on like Space Mountain and most of the Disney rides, and I like those a lot. I was like twenty when I started going on roller coasters, so I don’t think I’d go on the Slingshot thing. I would vomit.
M: You guys got together at Wesleyan, and you were actually making music that you thought would be annoying?
A: We knew it was annoying.
M: Just to fuck around, just playing, just to amuse yourselves?
A: I dunno… We were young and foolish.
M: You were freshman?
M: So it was basically putting that freshman energy, that drunken and banged up energy back into the music.
A: Yeah, exactly.
M: What’s up with the clothing optional dorm?
B: At some point it was designated a “clothing optional” dorm but there aren’t many people walking around naked there. There were a few, and we were friends with most of them.
A: I did naked calisthenics with Vin Popper on time. (all laugh)
M: Tell us about some of those early dorm session jams. We used to do the same thing. We’d go out to parties, get all fucked up and come back and just grab our instruments at like 2 o’clock in the morning and start jamming. So what was it like with you guys getting together?
B: It was a lot like that. It’s was just kinda very casual, just having fun. We had a lot of other friends that we played music with and we were both in other bands at the same time. It wasn’t like we started a band in order to get successful and get fans and all that, we just started it for something to do and didn’t really care if anyone liked it.
M: You guys just probably wrote the album for yourselves.
B: In a way, I mean, we know we were writing it for other people because we had signed a record deal at that point, so we had a delivery date, so there was a little bit of pressure on us but when we were writing the songs we didn’t think that anyone was actually gonna hear the album, so it was pretty much just writing it for ourselves.
M: So I guess its still a surprise with all of this going on?
B: Yeah, its still a surprise. And, I don’t know, it keeps getting crazier!
M: When you guys were first recording you guys had a pretty gritty sound right? I mean, if you were recording back in your dorms you’re going to have that unintentional gritty, natural sound. Did you guys try to replicate that sound?
B: In a way it was the other way around because we were doing a lot of stuff just on computers, so a lot of it was very electronic and very clean sounding. I think we’ve tried to get dirtier.
M: You had the producer who worked with the Flaming Lips. Did you guys pick him because he had that psychedelic background?
A: We kinda just chose him because we talked to him and we’re fans of the Flaming Lips and other stuff he’s done, like Sleater-Kinney and Mogwai. He’s not the kind of producer that wants to mold the band into something, he kinda just lets them do their own thing. So, he was good for us.
M: So did the album come out exactly how you wanted it to come out?
A: At the time I think it did, yeah.
M: Looking back now, what do you think?
A: I’m sure now if we listened to it a bunch, we’d probably change stuff. But we think it’s good that we can’t because it captures that moment.
M: I see you in a lot of pictures wearing sunglasses, you’re not becoming Bono are you?
A: I hope to God not!! If I am you should stab me…
M: What’s your beef with him?
A: Nah, I just don’t like him. I heard he’s a great guy, and he seems like he’s got good intentions. I think it’s really the sunglasses that piss me off the most. So, now I’m never going to wear sunglasses again.
M: Will you burn them in effigy?
A: We stabbed an effigy at our senior recital.
M: Ben, you said, “To give music meaning you have to have your back up against something”; What, you don’t remember?
A: (laughs) You sound like Thoreau or something.
M: Yeah, I guess you were being pretty introspective.
B: I guess maybe just having some resistance kind of helps. With us, when we got signed and we had to deal with all the kind of big-record-label bullshit for the first time, I think it kind of forced us to look at what we’re doing and try to give it as much meaning as possible and try to ask ourselves why we were doing it in the first place.
M: So what’s your validation?
A: I don’t think we’re validated.
M: No? What will be your validation then?
A: If aliens approve of our music. So, we’re waiting for contact.
M: Waiting for the return in 2012 when the earth ends? I know you guys are joking around about your future, about what will happen hen things will come, but we’re sitting inside of a big tour bus. Obviously this is probably five times bigger than your dorm room was. You said that when the fame comes around and you get the big label money that you would go get blow jobs, you would ride horses to your gigs, and go get castles. What’s going on with the success?
B: Yeah, we’ve both gotten blow jobs before, which is cool. We’re working on the horses and the castles.
M: What have you benefited from just by being in the business?
A: We get a lot of free clothes, a lot of free stuff. And we both got haircuts for the first time in a long time. We used to cut our own hair and now we can afford real haircuts.
M: If you guys think that everything musically has been done before, how does MGMT stray away from the norm’?
B: I don’t know if everything’s been done before…
A: All the good stuff has.
B: Yeah, all the good stuff’s been done before but pretty much…
A: You could string your guitar with celery or something, but that doesn’t mean it gonna be good music.
B: Any new good thing I think comes out of recycled ideas and using them in creative ways. Rock and roll is a pretty basic, simple form of music but there’s so many possibilities with it.
A: You don’t have to make up your own language to write a good poem.
M: Who is it that does that again…
A: Sigur Ros!
M: Oh yeah that’s right. Did you guys see them at Bonnaroo, what’d you think?
A: I heard for somebody that it’s much better to see them in a wide open cathedral-type space, like an indoor space, and I could see how that’d be true. It didn’t translate that well to the festival thing.
M: Yeah, it’s pretty grand I guess. So, what’s the future of MGMT, or have not realized the present yet?
A: We have trouble comprehending what’s happening at all times. But the future should hold good things. We’re trying to get a cabin somewhere in the woods. James is gonna cut firewood, I had a vision of him walking towards me with an arm full of firewood and I’m gonna smile and then our dog is gonna lick our faces.
M: (laughing) Alright guys, thanks a lot.
The Tracks and Greg from Dillinger speak about camaraderie, DIY or Die and more at Bonnaroo.
DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN INTERVIEW WITH MOE TRAIN’S TRACKS
Greg Puciato, Monty Wiradilaga, Brian Kracyla
Manchester, TN – Bonnaroo 2009
You never know what’s going to happen during a Moe Train’s Tracks interview, as Greg Puciato, frontman of Dillinger Escape Plan, has his own interview with a dazed and confused girl, we speak about the camaraderie of the scene, how “DIY or Die” fuels his band, their new lineup, and next year’s upcoming album. Enjoy.
M: What’s going on man?
G: Nothing, just hanging out, just walking around checking some stuff out.
Random girl: (to Greg) Can you point me in the direction of the Rendezvous Tent?
G: Umm. (Laughter) What is your name?
RG: I’m Caroline.
G: Caroline, I’m Greg from the Dillinger Escape Plan, and we are doing an interview right now.
G: Um, and I have no idea where I am right now either.
C: I’m supposed to have a rendezvous at the Rendezvous Tent.
G: That what you do at the Rendezvous Tent, right, but you don’t know how to get there, which poses a problem. I don’t know either. (to random passerby) Do you know how to get to the Rendezvous Tent?
RP: I don’t know how to get there.
G: What good is trying to rendezvous with someone if you can’t get to the Rendezvous Tent?! (all laughing) Caroline, good luck trying to get there.
C: Thank you.
G: Wow! How many drugs did that girl take?
M: Welcome to Bonnaroo.
G: Seriously, that was amazing. She was higher than a kite.
M: (Laughter) I think that’s the general consensus with most people here right now.
G: Most people I look at here, if they don’t have sunglasses on, you can just look in their eye and be like, “You’re on some other thing right now in some other place.”
M: Exactly. Earlier today, when you guys came on, it was like, “Wake the fuck up Bonnaroo!”
G: Dude, I can’t believe how siked people were. I thought for sure, in general at this fest’ because it has a reputation for being more of a hippy peace-love type of thing, that as soon as we come out and start screaming at people and doing cool shit, people are going to turn around and just walk the other way, but people were siked, at one in the afternoon on the last day! It was honestly, we were talking about it after the show, the best big show that we’ve ever played in the United States.
G: Yeah. We felt like we played well. People seemed stoked on us.
M: Yeah, the reception was definitely great.
G: This type of vibe, it just doesn’t exist that often in the U.S., this type of festival vibe. It felt very European. In the United States, when you think of a festival, you think of Ozzfest or Warped Tour, and it’s like the same thing all day long. But this is cool because yesterday was Nine Inch Nails and today, if you wanted to, you can see the Dillinger Escape Plan and then Erika Badu.
M: She’s still on right now.
G: I really wanted to see her…
M: I’ll cut it short then.
G: It’s okay. It’s cool because it seems like, for a very long time here, people have been very into the mind-set of like, “I’m only listen to metal” or “I only listen to hip-hop”. Now, it’s cool to see so many people turn out for such an eclectic thing.
M: Exactly. It’s just always weird to see the different the different scenes clashing.
G: No, it’s cool, it’s very cool.
M: In watching your set it became evident how camaraderie really works its way into your music. You don’t see often where you can throw your mic into the crowd, let them sing, and when you call for it, they throw it right back to you.
G: I think something about our music, we’ve been around for ten years, I think there’s some aspect to it, besides the obvious insane energy and aggression of it, there’s a vibe of everyone knowing that it’s not the easiest thing in the world to listen to and it’s not the easiest thing in the world to get. For as many people who are siked on it there’s a lot of people that just probably hate it. I think that makes the people that are into to it have this really us-against-the-world type of vibe. We’ve always tried to be really hands-on with our fans and really communicative and never to-cool-for-school and always talk to them and do cool stuff with them. If they right to us online we try to write back to every person. I think, over the years, it’s created now a point where we have this really cool synchronous type vibe with our fans. It’s neat man, it’s really nice.
M: It’s also basically crossed the line from camaraderie to trust.
G: Yeah, that kid could have stole the mic and ran away with it, but he threw it back. That’s the other thing, I think when you have confidence and you give someone some responsibility and your cool to them, they feel obligated to be cool back. If that kid had tried to run away with the mic I probably would have jumped on him and killed him. But it feels good and it’s interesting, I have a lot of people say that our shows, even though they are so aggressive and so violent, it feels like the overall vibe is still positive in a way. So, yeah, that’s really cool.
M: Absolutely. Also, not just that, but you doing stage diving and your guitarist stage diving with his guitar! Now that’s trust.
G: Yeah. To me, we just try to take the vibe of playing in a basement to twenty people where we came from and try to get that to translate to bigger places and the only way to do that is to be as hands-on and as physically in people’s faces as possible and force them to wake up a little bit. It sad to see so many people have such a rock star complex that the only time that they engage their fans is if they do some kind of scheduled meet-and-greet or a signing or something. You know, hang out for a little bit and shake some people’s hands or jump into the crowd or do something. I do know man, you (the rock star) are no better than anyone else. This is going to be over for us one day and who knows what we’re going to be doing. So to try to act like you’re cooler than school is silly.
M: Hippies versus hardcore kids…
G: It’s two sides to the same coin because the whole hippy vibe and the punk rock thing, which is what hardcore came out of, are both very socially aware movements. The
re both very communal, we’re all in this together versus some type of exterior force type of vibe, and one just took a much more aggressive approach than the other. It’s kinda like one is Malcolm X and one is Martin Luther King Jr. They want the same thing but one is like, “I’m gonna smoke you out” and the other is like, “I’m gonna kick you in the fucking face!” But we want the same thing, so I think that’s why it translates. It’s not like we’re just knuckleheads trying to incite the crowd to beat each other up. I’d like to think it’s more intelligent than that.
M: What do you think about the term “DIY or die” and how’s that relate to your band?
G: Well, for us, that’s pretty much exactly how we try to do everything. We don’t have a manager, we self-manage ourselves. We are very hands-on, there’s no merch’, there’s no poster, there’s nothing about our band visually, sonically, how we are represented in press, anything, that we are not the seed of and have the final say in. As much as it drives us nuts and we spend every waking moment of our lives working on this, I know that there is absolutely nothing out representing us that we didn’t see from its inception to its finality. I think that it’s another thing that our fans appreciate. If they get a t-shirt from us, they aren’t getting it from some graphic designer that works for the record company that we were just like, “Yeah, whatever, that sounds cool, how big is the check we’re gonna get?” That thing has to look like something that I would wear, that means something to me, that’s looks cool. I think, especially in the climate now where the record industry is just collapsing completely, that the people that can do the most DIY are the only ones that are going to stay afloat.
M: That’s basically how the trend in music is going these days.
G: It has to be. It has to go back to that. If you’re forced to be in a position financially to cut back every bit of slack you possibly can and to try to do as much by yourself as you possibly can, it’s gonna weed everybody out. The only people that are going to stay alive are the people who really give a shit and the people who care enough to put in the time to do everything themselves. The days of being a kid, and thinking that your rock star fantasy is going to come true and someone else is going to wipe your ass for you and do everything for you and you’re just gonna get a check at the end of the day, are completely over.
M: Hit the road and promote yourself.
G: Yeah man, go out and do the shows. Don’t suck live. Don’t write shitty music. Put out cool shit and you’ll last.
M: So what’s your favorite lyric, the one that means the most to you?
G: You know what, it’s probably a lyric that’s going to be on our upcoming record because, for me, lyrics are snap-shots of where you were in your life, and you don’t want to be there forever. So when we sing songs from our past records it’s like looking at a picture of myself in an auditory way. I’ll be singing a song, and I’ll remember writing that song, I was twenty-three, I was in my basement, this is exactly what I was talking about. I might not relate to it now. Hopefully, you’re in a different place, especially when you’re yelling and screaming and pissed, you know. You shouldn’t still be pissed six years later at the same thing. The trick is to find a kernel of that memory and hone in on it, you can still mean what you saying and you’re not just spitting out consonants and vowels. That’s for someone else to decide. I know that’s a shitty answer, but I don’t have a favorite one of my lyrics. I know they’re all pretty piss-poor, to be honest with you. (laughter) If you want to listen to lyrics, you should probably listen to Dylan or something.
M: So when’s the new album coming out?
G: February or January of 2010, which sounds like a long time but it’s realistically like 6 months away. We do three more weeks of touring and then we go home and start recording in late July, early August. January, February at the latest, we’ll get it out, and we’re siked man.
M: What can we look forward to in the new album?
G: Well, we got a new drummer, and that’s the biggest difference. Our new drummer is just on fire! He’s twenty-four and honestly the best drummer I’ve ever played with. He wants to crush everyone. He’s got this fire in him that he needs to prove to the world he’s the shit. That’s kinda cool because he’s pushing us, and we’re really hard on ourselves so to be pushed by someone who is brand new is a really good feeling. I can honestly say, after being in this band for a decade, that the stuff we’re writing now is the most inspired stuff we’ve ever written. It’s hard to know whether you’re still going to be able to do stuff without becoming a caricature or parody of yourself. The fact that we can still have something to say, ten years into it, with essentially the same style music, to me is nice, the fact that people still give a shit. I think everyone will like it. Anyone that likes us should be pleased with the new record.
M: Awesome. We look forward to it. Thanks a lot for being with us.
G: Definitely dude.
The Metal Gods above are receiving a gift today in the form of Jeff Hanneman, guitarist and founding member of Slayer.
Jeff passed away due to liver failure around 11am at a hospital near his house. He is survived by his wife Kathy, his sister Kathy, and his brothers Michael and Larry.
Rest in peace, brother.
The Tracks brings you Mr. Bill Kreutzmann, drummer for The Grateful Dead. In this interview, we touched on The Grateful Dead’s influence and interactions during President Obama’s campaign, their responsibilities to the Deadheads, and if the Bay Area’s New Year’s Eve shows will be the curtain call for The Grateful Dead.
M: Mr. Bill Kreutzmann, of the Grateful Dead, thank you very much for being here on the Tracks.
B: Yeah, nice being here, thanks for having me.
M: Legends… The Grateful Dead… Obviously if you think about American bands, you think about the Grateful Dead. How do you feel the Grateful Dead’s influence and responsibility to the fans has been over the years?
B: The responsibility lies in the love of playing music and trying to play the best music you possibly can. For years and years we never pitched politics until this last horrendous eight years came up. We’re always pretty much a-political and we didn’t tell the fans anything, we just entertained. We just played music, that’s all we cared about.
M: So you said these horrendous past eight years, how are the next years going to happen, how do you feel about it?
B: I think the next eight years are going to be incredible. At least it’s going to be a lot different, a lot better. I got to meet President Obama and he’s real, man. I stood closer than you and I are talking right now and I looked right in his eye. He’s also from Hawaii so I kidded him about his surfing. There was a picture of him bodysurfing and he had really good form, he was on his side and had his arm out like you’re supposed to have when you bodysurf. I was kidding him about it, and he didn’t know where I was from, he thought Grateful Dead, he must have lived in the states or something. He looked me in the eye real close and said, “You’re from Hawaii, aren’t you?” That cat’s smart, man. No, I really see a freshness. We played the inauguration. We played the Atlantic Ball. He came and he met us there the first time and it was terrific. The guy really took time to come and meet the people that helped him because we had played at Penn State to about 16,000 people, a young audience, college educated people, and that really helped. I think the
young vote really helped him. And the way he did his campaign was so smart. Dave Axelrod is a wonderful person and he lead President Obama down the right path. He said, “use computers, use the internet, don’t get lobbyist money, get donations” and that was smart. Now he doesn’t owe any one person something, like some big corporation or something. Of course, you know all about lobbying, I don’t want to get into all that nonsense, I dislike that myself. That’s not politics. You hire somebody from your state to be your senator and then they’re paid for by something
else. That’s no good.
M: So the Dead influenced the voter’s vote? (laughs) Did you get him into office or what?
B: I think we influenced them at Penn State for sure. What happened to me is, about four or five years ago, I read his second book, The Audacity of Hope, and I said, my God, this is a dream if this guy can be president. So I’m really happy with it.
M: The show on New Year’s Eve is in the Bay Area. The rumor is that that will be the farewell show for the Dead.
B: That’s a rumor. We have actually talked about that yet. I’ve been asked a few questions today about plans and records and stuff but we haven’t actually gotten together and had a sit down about what we’re going to do yet.
B: You bet, man! It’s been fun!
M: You’ve made a lot of people happy.
B: It’s made me happy. That’s probably why I’m still alive! (laughs)
M: Appreciate it.
B: You’re welcome, man.
Oh festivals, you used to be so easy. Getting to Mayhem Fest in Camden, NJ was a bit trying this year. I had to get a few final supplies at Staples on the way to the city, and my memory card broke. Good thing I had the files saved to my phone. Filled our field audio recorder with fresh batteries and a new memory card, but it wouldn’t read the memory card. Went back in to get a different memory card, but that didn’t work either. Decided to fly back home in 15 minutes to look for the old card… Which was nowhere to be found. Flew back to another store which finally had it, picked up a 12-pack to stay hydrated, then back on the road.
About an hour and a half to As I Lay Dying interview time. If I FLEW up 322 to 95, I should be fine. Fuck Murphy’s Law. Channelling my inner Dale Earnhardt Jr, I put the pedal to the metal while cranking Slipknot’s new “best of” through my speakers. Eventually, I sat in silence as I ran through the interview in my head. Excelsior dominates all interviews and this would be no different.
As the Philly skyline came into view, I asked the gods for no traffic, and thankfully, there was none. Could I do GTA insane stunt jump over the Delaware river and cut 20 minutes off of my time?
Damn it. I was out of my nitrous boost.
The shitfest of Camden was immediately evident after crossing the bridge into The Dirty Jerz. I really wish that this venue was on the PA side of the river. Isn’t Camden the Murder Capital of the US? Shady shit around every turn. It’s crazy what danger people will put themselves through to see live music, isn’t it?! I couldn’t help but to think that the “Park Here” signs would lead to the infernal pit of doom. Thankfully, we always park across from the venue.
As the minutes ticked off the clock, Jaegermeister trucks became visible in the distance. Waved closer and closer by the friendly Camden police, I ended up in the closest lot to the venue, and surrounded by a sea of black shirts, excessive piercings, BBQ smoke, and balls to the wall blasts of people’s favorite metal band (most commonly: Slayer).
Pulled my car into a ridiculously tight space, greeted my new neighbors, cracked a cold beer open, and with about 35 minutes to interview time, thought to myself…
‘Damn it. I’m home.’
Keep your eye on moetrainstracks.com for more Mayhem Fest coverage!
Nathen Maxwell (Flogging Molly)
Monty Wiradilaga, Brian Kracyla ( Moe Train’s Tracks)
Moe: What’s going on man, how are you?!
Nathan: Aw, I’m having a great time, Moe! How bout you?
M: Having a blast! What do you think about the Rothbury scene?
N: Right on brother. Man, it’s cool, it’s different for us. I’d call it kind of a hippie festival but it’s great that our music can be a part of this. I think we fit in.
M: Well your music is not traditional Celtic music, obviously you put your own twist on it. I’d say you guys put a little dose of balls into Irish music.
N: Yeah, thanks man.
M: How does the Irish culture take your music? How do the people take your music?
N: Well, people think that we’d be huge in Ireland, and I’ll tell you it’s not the case! (laughs) And one of the reasons, like someone told me, is because there’s 34 million Irish in America and there’s about 4 million Irish in Ireland, you know! I think the youth in Ireland too, they grow up with traditional music, it’s not such a novelty to them. I mean we’ve got great fans in Ireland but it’s not as big as it is in the US and other parts of Europe.
M: You’re appealing to the Irish, you’re appealing to the punks, you’re appealing to such a wide audience.
N: I think that’s the thing about our music, it’s for everybody, young and old. I was just talking to this lady behind me, she was just saying that one of the things she loves about Flogging Molly is that it’s one of the only bands that her and her father agree on. I think that’s a big part of it too. I grow up a punk rocker, but this music it transcends scenes, man.
M: I heard you guys take a “deadly serious” approach to your music, what’s that all about?
N: When I say a deadly serious approach to music, I mean that this is all we have. This is our life, it’s everything to us. But at the same time, we don’t try to take ourselves too seriously. You gotta have fun, you gotta laugh at yourself, man. You know what I mean!
M: Absolutely. Irish pride, what role does that play in your music and how does it affect your interaction with your fans?
N: Well, our singer Dave is a Dublin-er, born and raised, and he’s ginger as well, so he looks the part. I think the Irish pride thing is biggest amongst our fans. Dave’s obviously proud of where he’s from and we’re all proud of where we’re from. I’m from L.A. I’m proud of that, Cali’ pride. But for me, I think it’s human pride, you know, we’re all one big family. That’s the way I see reality. So I think the Irish pride thing is bigger amongst some of our fans then it is amongst the band. I’ve got Irish blood. But I also have Mexican blood, Polish blood, German blood; it’s a human thing for me personally.
M: Yeah, we’re sitting here drinking Guinness…
N: Yeah, thank you by the way.
M: Absolutely, you are welcome. I was going to bring over some Jameson but I didn’t want to be responsible for you guys getting shit-faced before your show.
N: Oh we already opened the Jameson bottle on the bus!
M: Ah, okay, guess I should have brought it then. You guys have got to have some drunken Irish stories.
M: You can’t remember?!
N: I can’t remember. What did we do last night? I don’t know.
M: Exactly. So do you guys always get tuned up before you play?
N: Yeah, well, most of us. Our drummer stays pretty sober but the rest of us like to kinda hit the sauce and get that swagger on before we hit the stage. And then we just continue on through the night and party.
M: So what’s your definition of swagger?
N: Just walking the walk, you know, just being yourself. Don’t try to copy anybody, just be yourself and own it.
M: We’re also doing a side-show on Michael Jackson. Has he influenced you in anyway?
N: Sincerely, absolutely, Michael Jackson has been a part of my life ever since I can remember. All my family loved Michael Jackson, I grew up listening to Michael Jackson. I love Michael Jackson. I think Off the Wall is one of the best albums ever made. It’s a real loss. I’m not here to judge, I don’t know about all that drama he was going through the last decade and I don’t have an opinion on that and I’d like to keep it that way. To me it’s a shame that he never got to, if he was innocent, redeem himself in the eyes of the public. It’s a shame that he died so young and I think that we lost a great talent with Michael.
M: How has “D.I.Y. or Die” played a role in the success of Flogging Molly?
N: It’s been everything for us. We didn’t stand a chance in the world in the beginning.. People used to tell us we were shit, that we were just a bar band, that we’d never make it, just another bar band. We were like, yeah whatever we started at a bar, we like to drink but come on, we could play for anybody! So we had to do it ourselves, there was no one there to help us. We financed our first two records ourselves. We got lucky to become friends with a great indy label SideOneDummy, we’re still with them today, they put us on the Warped Tour. It’s all been about do-it-yourself. I’m here right now, I feel like a pretty successful person with Flogging Molly, and in my personal life I blessed, and it’s all been because I’ve done it myself. I wasn’t handed a goddamn thing.
M: So what would you say to people who are trying to get there start?
N: Just do it man. Believe in yourself first-and-foremost. If you don’t believe in yourself ain’t no one gonna believe in you. Believe in yourself and just do it. Don’t take no for an answer. If you get knocked down, get right back up. It’s pretty simple.
M: That’s right, Irish Ethos right there! (both laugh) Finally, as you said, we’re at a hippie festival, we bounce around at different festivals and, well, you can smell the patchouli oil out there…
N: And the weed! I like the weed smell! The patchouli I could stand to do without, but the weed’s good.
M: So, who would win in an epic battle here at Rothbury, the trippin’ hippies or the drunken Irish, and why?
N: Well, here at Rothbury, I go with the hippies! There’s a lot more of them. I think the hippies are definitely outnumbering the drunk Irish. Plus, you know, when you’re on that LCD you get super-powers! I don’t recommend it, kids!
M: Thank you very much for being on the show. We’re looking forward to your set.
N: Cheers, brother!
Jack White has confirmed the first two live dates in support of his upcoming debut album Blunderbuss, out April 24 on Third Man Records/Columbia.
Jack will be headlining the Hangout Music Fest in Gulf Shores, AL on May 18th, followed by another headline slot a week later at Sasquatch! May 26th at The Gorge Amphitheater in Quincy, WA. Tickets for Hangout go on sale February 10th at 10 am at http://www.hangoutmusicfest.com/tickets/, while tickets to Sasquatch! go on sale on Saturday, February 11th at 10 am at http://www.livenation.com/event/0F00476AB5323BB0.
Jack will also be performing at Radio 1′s Hackney Weekend 2012 on the weekend of June 23-24 in London. While all tickets will be free, quantities will be are limited. Registration for tickets begins at 8:15 am GMT on Monday, February 6th. For more information, go to www.bbc.co.uk/radio1.
“Love Interruption,” the first taste of the forthcoming Blunderbuss was made available January 30 as a free stream at www.jackwhiteIII.com and went on sale digitally the same day via iTunes (http://www.smarturl.it/jwli). A vinyl version of the ”Love Interruption” single featuring exclusive non-LP B-side ”Machine Gun Silhouette” will be released February 7 on Third Man Records, and is available now for pre-order at www.jackwhiteIII.com and www.thirdmanrecords.com. Third Man Records has also produced 300 limited edition Tri-Color vinyl 45s of the single and will be selling 100 copies at their Nashville storefront and select independent record stores on Feb 14th. Additionally, 50 copies of the Tri Color 7″s will be inserted into random mail orders through both aforementioned websites.
For additional dates, further information, etc. continue to check back at www.jackwhiteIII.com and www.thirdmanrecords.com .
THE DARKNESS–original members JUSTIN HAWKINS (vocals/guitars), DAN HAWKINS (guitars/backing vocals), FRANKIE POULLAIN (bass) and ED GRAHAM (drums)–have premiered the video for “Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us,” the band’s first new song in six years, on RollingStone.com. To watch the video, click here: http://www.rollingstone.com/videos/new-and-hot/the-darkness-nothins-gonna-stop-us-20120201.
“Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us” was recorded and produced by the band and Nick Brine in Norfolk, England and mixed in Austin, TX by Chris “Frenchie Smith.” The video for the song was created by artist Thom Lessner and director Ted Passon. As a “thank you” for all who’ve supported the band with sold-out tours on both sides of the Atlantic, an mp3 of the song will be available for free. The song as well as the video will be available on the band’s official site: www.theactualdarkness.com.
THE DARKNESS will kick-off their first North American tour since 2004 to a sold-out crowd in Toronto tonight. The tour will wrap up February 25 in Seattle. Check out the full itinerary here: http://www.msopr.com/n/client-roster/the-darkness/?cmd=tours.
Electric Forest – returning June 28-July 1, 2012 to the beloved Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury, Michigan announced this year’s lineup, and it’s destined to be a blast. If it’s anything like past years, it should be a must visit on your festival tour destinations! Tickets are available now at www.electricforestfestival.com.
Live music pioneers The String Cheese Incident (3 performances), Bassnectar and STS9 (2 performances) will top the bill at Electric Forest 2012. Also on the bill are Thievery Corporation, Girl Talk, Santigold, Steve Aoki, Ghostland Observatory, Richie Hawtin, Major Lazer, Big Gigantic, The Travelin’ McCourys featuring Keller Williams and many more. The complete list of currently confirmed artists is included below.
Electric Forest 2012 also introduces special curated events at this year’s festival. Working with such esteemed partners as ESL Music, Dim Mak, Check Yo Ponytail and Paxahau, look for events within the event to be hosted at the Tripolee, Forest and Wagon Wheel stages throughout the weekend. Visit the www.electricforestfestival.com for details as they become available.
Named among Paste Magazine’s 2011 list of “Top 10 Most Intriguing Inaugural Music Festivals,” last year’s Electric Forest helped propel the U.S. festival scene into a brave new era of music and camping festivals – offering incomparable VIP experiences, unique festival site features and amenities with astonishing and unparalleled integration of music and art.
Electric Forest’s unrivaled GOOD LIFE VIP experience boasts something for all budgets and tastes, from camping and RV spots, to log cabins and homes, to resort hotel-style suites – all located on the festival grounds. Visit www.electricforestfestival.com for GOOD LIFE options and details. The festival’s exclusive site – at the one-of-a-kind Double JJ Resort – offers trails, forests, fields, lakes and beachfronts, and even on-site lodging, bars and eateries. In addition, Electric Forest patrons can take advantage of the resort’s many amenities including a 60,000 square foot indoor water park, an 18-hole championship golf course, swimming pools, horseback riding, and more. At the heart of the festival, the mind-blowing Sherwood Forest offers state-of-the-art, jaw-dropping light displays, intricate and earthy artful touches, and everything in between.
Also today, Electric Forest 2012 announces two local philanthropic initiatives: Electric Forest’s Roy Price Memorial Food Drive, and the festival’s Music in Schools Program. Electric Forest’s annual Food Drive returns this year as a tribute to cherished Electric Forest neighbor, the late Mr. Roy Price. “Mr. Price and his wife offered us amazing support during last year’s Food Drive,” explains Electric Forest Producer Jeremy Stein. “They worked closely with our food drive partners, Conscious Alliance, to help ensure that the 9300 lbs. of food donated by festival attendees was distributed to those in the local community who were in most need. Mr. Price will be missed, and we’ll host this year’s Food Drive in his honor.”
Electric Forest’s Music in Schools Program is partnering with Shelby High School and Montague Area Public Schools in Michigan to help support music education in local area public schools. Electric Forest will donate funds and/or musical instruments to these music programs to help ensure that today’s youth have the opportunity to learn about music in school. In addition, young musicians from both schools will be onsite to shadow industry professionals and to perform at Electric Forest 2012.
Electric Forest is produced by Madison House Presents and Insomniac.
Electric Forest’s list of confirmed 2012 performers is as follows (Our favorites in bold):
The String Cheese Incident (3 Shows)
STS9 (2 Shows)
Girl Talk (<—- A must see)
Ghostland Observatory (Long time no see!)
The Travelin’ McCourys featuring Keller Williams
Rob Garza (Of Thievery Corporation)
Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk
Gary Clark Jr.
Balkan Beat Box
The Infamous Stringdusters
Chali 2na & the House of Vibe
The Soul Rebels
Nobody Beats The Drum
The M Machine
The Funk Ark
Brothers Past (Delaware Locals)
Frank Mitchell Jr.
Vau de Vire Society
Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp
The Crane Wives
And Featuring These Curated Events:
ESL Music at Tripolee
Dim Mak at Tripolee
Check Yo Ponytail at Tripolee
Paxahau at the Forest Stage and Wagon Wheel
With more to be announced…
Tickets on sale now at www.electricforestfestival.com and at 1-888- 512-SHOW (Open Mon-Sat 9am-9pm CST).