We sat backstage with Phil Anselmo (Pantera, Down, Superjoint Ritual) and his band and ran the gamut from Pantera and their influence on the music scene to various aspects of his new solo album, Walk Through Exit Doors, his upcoming horror festival, next year’s autobiography, and a hard hitting discussion of DOMINATION as a way of life.
Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals Interview on Moe Train’s Tracks
Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA
Moe Train’s Tracks: Welcome back to Philly. So, I saw on one of your promo videos you said, ‘Philly, we got a lot of history!’ What’s up with that?
Phil Anselmo: Been playing Philadelphia since 1990. Now that’s what I call history, Jack.
Speaking about 1990, I was thinking about how “Philip H. Anselmo” seems kinda weird to me. I’m so used to calling you Phil for all these years that I feel like I know you.
I still go by Phil.
I was thinking about back (to the early 90s) when my friend Franco called me up one night and he was like ‘Moe, I got this great tape (for you to check out)!’ It was Cowboys From Hell. And that moment really changed the way I listened to music. But then again, thinking back, I was also listening to Stryper! [laughter]
From the time Pantera rose to fame, from wearing spandex to selling out tours across the world, when did you really figure out that Pantera had such a profound influence on the music scene?
Hmm, I not so sure. I think I was so close and involved in my own career and the Pantera-thing that I wasn’t absolutely aware of what was going on with anybody else; outside of certain metal bands and hardcore bands that I did follow. I know that our sound got aped kinda early by certain bands..
How’d that feel?
At first it was like, [grumbling] ‘Wow’. But you know, knowing all the shit that I know now, I had my influences. Just like Dimebag and everybody, the whole Pantera group. Just like this band (The Illegals). We’ve all grown up with all our own influences. So we see it as that you’ve got to take it as a compliment. And if you see it in any other way then there’s other ways of expressing it; whether it be displeasure or being actually bored with it. It’s been going on for a long time now. So at this point I say, ‘Go for it young sons and musicians out there. Do what the fuck you gotta do.’
Well you’re always a champion for the underground…
Which is awesome, man. The whole scene gives props to you for that. Now, going away from Pantera… You have the opportunity to make the profound impact on your own with your first solo album. When I first listened to the album I made a concerted effort not to make judgment on what the music was; not to pigeonhole it. I know so many music-media people get into, ‘uh, it sounds like Slayer, or…’
They have to. That’s their way of equating anything.
They have to; but I don’t think they should. I honestly think it’s a kind of insult. You’ve got your own music. You’re not being someone else, you’re being yourself.
Yeah. We don’t sound like anybody else.
So, how did it feel to finally have total control over the entire process? Because I know you’re doing everything front to back; you’re doing your own effects… How’d it feel to have such control of everything?
Control? Well, you gotta think back. I’ve always written riffs for every band I’ve been in. And certain bands I’ve written the whole fucking song. So with this band, when I first started writing stuff, I realized that Marzi (Montazeri) was going to be my guitar player so I wanted to write to his strengths. So with all that said, I had my hand in writing all the songs, but I couldn’t do it without these guys… because he’s got a lot of trademark elements and a lot of sonic things that he does that I think are very, very different than your average heavy metal player; what ever that is. I don’t know anymore, there’s so many different sub-sub-genres anymore and there are so many great and talented players out there. But I think he’s very unique. I think that Blue (Gonzalez) with his drumming…
[To Blue] You guys started to work together when you were really young, right?
[Phil] He’s still really young. Look at him!
How old are you, twenty-two?
Blue: I just turned twenty-three July 28th.
23? Young buck, man.
Phil: Young Blood.
That’s good though.
Phil: You need it on the skins!
Blue: I met Philip when I was 18 when we signed to Housecore Records. Maybe a year and a half after that or two years down the line was when he really needed a drummer and it was suggested that I do it by Bruce Corbitt. Pretty much from there, he started pushing me further as a drummer and as a player. And hopefully we keep going, man. This tour is going great. And now (the goal) is to do more, to expand, to grow as a band. It’s pretty fucking badass. I’m absolutely honored to be here and be a part of it.
So, you were talking about sonically, there’s a lot of intricacies with the album. I don’t know if a lot of people pick up on certain things, if they just listen to it one and [snaps fingers] that’s their quick judgment. But you really went deep into it. I’ve listened to it on headphones, and I have real good headphones, and I was like, ‘damn, this very layered’. How much of a concerted effort to you put into it to really make sure that it was layered and not a one dimensional kind of album?
Phil: First and foremost, you have to understand even basic songwriting. That’s one of my strong points, always has been, organizing the song; no matter what band I’ve been with. Once you understand basic songwriting, then you can fuck up songwriting. Really, in my opinion, there’s no wrong way to right music or to make or create music. But all and all, I’m big, big advocate of hooks and catchy lyrics, so to speak, and whatnot. So I wanted, coming from a more hardcore attitude, Discharge, or Agnostic Front, I wanted those big hooks. I wanted the memorable lines in the songs. Over the top of this frantic riffing and whatnot. And I think we got that; as far as anything that’s on the record. That is something that grows on you with every listen. The more you listen the more you pick up.
Each listen you pick up on something different. That is very purposeful. Everything that’s on that record was there without freestyle and without fucking improvisation. It was very, very purposeful. So keep an open mind. If there’s listeners out there, watchers out there, anyone picking up on this: The more you listen to it, the more you are going to realize that there are really, really structured songs. There’s even vocal melodies; I’m not just screaming. There’s subtle what I call ‘anti-singing’ vocal melodies and even vocal harmonies. When you get down to layering and things like that, people like to use that word but it isn’t really layering. I think that a lot of that has to do with (gesturing to Marzi) his style of playing and what he brings to the table. And I shouldn’t even really be talking about it, it really should be him, so here… Marzoo! [handing mic to Marzi] Open up their eyes a little bit to the guitar world.
Marzi: Well, in the guitar realm of it, it’s backing up Philip’s whole perspective of the album, his vision of it. It’s songwriting like he said but it’s completely different than the norm. So we helped Philip re-write the book, man. We helped him; but it’s his vision. It’s his sound and the way he structured the songs. All I came in to do was basically translate what he was hearing (in his head). He’d tell me and we’d sit there and we’d play; until you know what feels right.
Phil: Yeah but the freedom was always there for your guitar leads and all that stuff. The sonic scraping and stuff..
Marzi: Absolutely. He opened the door for me to do it.
Stephen Taylor (bassist): The way he uses his effects, he is able to create huge layers just on one track. Just one amp. So a lot of what you are hearing, you’ll probably hear live in a set. The music guitar can sound big.
Well that’s what I was noticing when I was listening to it on different things… Through speakers or on the headphones. On the headphones, it really stuck out to me. I’ve listened to the album a good ten times and I was just picking up one thing after another. It’s kind of like watching a movie, you know, how you see different nuances in a movie… It’s the same kind of thing with the music. That’s what I think is kind of erasing genre lines a bit. I’m not pigeonholing or anything, but it sort of erases it because it’s all over the place.
Marzi: This thing followed absolutely no formula. It created itself. It morphed itself to its own thing. And we watched it develop into what is was. It was beautiful. Phil would call me and read me the lyrics to ‘Music Media’ and I’d be on the other end just freaking out. This is after we did the music. So it just kept on flowering. But it did what is was supposed to do. He definitely oversaw it and I’m very pleased with it, man.
You should be happy… It came out great. I know you have a lot of people asking you about ‘Music Media Is My Whore’. I’m not asking about it, because I know that you probably get it every single interview; but it doesn’t really have anything to do with music media…
Phil: It doesn’t at all. That’s part of the absurd sense of humor…
I think you have a sense of humor that doesn’t get picked up all the time.
Phil: Nah. Not at all. (sarcastically)
Marzi: It’s there.
Blue: This is one of the funniest dudes you’ll ever meet in your life. He’s hilarious.
I’ve seen videos.
Phil: Yeah, but to live it 24-7 is kinda ridiculous after a while. If anyone takes offense out there that is part of the music media then (singing) you must feel guilty about something you wrote somewhere along the fucking line!
Exactly. They need to take their balls out of their purses and just man up and get over themselves.
It’s pretty ridiculous.
Marzi: You have to look way past the title of the song.
Phil: That was just a jab at those motherfuckers. As journalists, you can write objective pieces, real pieces, or opinionated pieces. So if it stings you then maybe you should’ve worn a different shirt the day you fucking wrote something about The Kid. And I’ll tell you, you’re correct, the lyrics once again have absolutely fucking nothing to do with fucking media at all and really it’s more of a [sic] procalation, PROCLAMATION… See. It’s been a hard, long couple of days. Wow! It’s a proclamation!
So, we’ve (Moe Train’s Tracks) been around for 8 years and we’ve pretty much used ‘Domination’ as our motto; or our proclamation I would say. I’m not speaking about Domination the song, I’m speaking about Domination as a way of life. We say, “Excelsior doesn’t fucking lose!” It’s one of those things where your aim is straight forward. How has Domination played a factor in your life? And does the tattoo on your head, “Strength”, does that remind you of it every day?
Phil: Hmm. Well, it takes a lot of strength to get up every day out of this creaky fucking carcass and fucking get the job done. No matter what it is, no matter how small or how tremendous, I think that right now at this point in all of our careers, especially us [clears his throat] older guys, when the motherfucking door opens you step through that motherfucker and you seize it; and you do it. If you sign up for it then you fucking finish the job! This is something that we’ve been talking about doing, Marzi and I, for twenty fucking years almost. And finally that particular door got picked and kicked down. And now we’re in Philadelphia sitting here talking about this record that was three years in the making. So that right there in itself shows perseverance, first and foremost, and extreme focus.
You know, I could have turned into an overweight goddamn drug addict and went down the toilet many, many fucking years ago, Jack. But, number one, that ain’t how the story is supposed to end. And, number two, it wasn’t gonna happen anyway. So these days when I see that little window of opportunity, either I’m going to really think about it before I jump through the motherfucker, or I’m just gonna kick through it. And once I kick through it, and I’m surrounded by the right guys, I got the right team all the way down to the road crew, the fucking management, to everybody, and that’s a gigantic support group of talented motherfuckers, there’s no place to go really but up; or at least almost vertically. We can’t be horizontal for too long.
So, what’s the definition of Domination for you?
Taking hold of every fucking goddamn hour that you are wide awake. And we you’re asleep, you better be dreaming about the goddamn future and how to fucking do it right.
I’ll tell you what, you’re very clear and on-point right now. You’re what 8 years clean now?
10? Congratulations, brother.
Thank you, brother.
These days you’re prolific. You’re producing all kinds of shit. You’re working on your film festival. How’s that going?
It’s always a work in progress but I think we got all the bands sorted. An awesome, awesome gaggle of bands. A very versatile bunch of bands. I couldn’t be happier there. Even though, believe me, there’s so many bands that I wanted, but, you know, you just gotta work around everybody’s schedule. But, either way, this year’s bands are great.
The films that we got, the older classics and whatnot, are fucking fantastic. And the special guests are fucking great, man. Jim Van Bebber, from here in the States, from the Manson family fame. Jörg Buttgereit from Germany from Nekromantik fame. He’ll be showing a lot of his stuff on 35mm. And then the GREAT Coffin Joe from Brazil is coming down. He’s gonna show some of his stuff as well as display some art that I even myself have not seen. So all that’s exciting, it’s amazing. But it is a film festival first and foremost. And these guys have been around me obviously a whole lot the last few years. Over the last ten months, I’ve received a lot of submissions from what I would call ‘lesser known directors’, because they’re not amateurs, they’re just fucking lesser known. And I get to pick through them and pick the ‘Best Of’. We got some awesome fucking submissions. And for a guy like myself who has zero aspirations to be a director, or a fucking actor, a guy who just loves to watch horror films from any decade you can point at, that’s very encouraging for me. It shows there are folks out there who really give a fuck about the genre itself and don’t want to do paint-by-numbers, teenagers-in-the-woods fucking movies, all that bullshit. Or even a remake; that shit’s boring. Do your own fucking thing goddammit!
Like Rob Zombie remaking films…
Nah, Rob’s done a really good job. I love Rob very, very much; he’s a good friend. When you’re starting out a career like he did from music to film and you get the opportunity to do a remake of Halloween, I think that’s a special thing.
So you wouldn’t jump at that if you had the opportunity?
Uh, if I wanted to be a director but I don’t. But I think I can see the logic behind it; so I’m not picking really at him. It’s the Black Christmas’. It’s the Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark’s. Etc, etc. There’s some really SHITTY movies out there. And we I say “found-footage” movies, The Blair Witch Project, it’s a pile of shit, it’s terrible, it’s the worst movie I’ve ever seen. And really they’re ripping off a movie that I’m showing that’s a whole lot older, a whole lot better, by light-years a better film, called Cannibal Holocaust. To me that’s the fucking greatest found-footage fuckin’ extreme film/art that’s out there, that’s ever (been) made.
Either way, I’m looking forward to the Horrorfest and to really turning on the paying customer, the people that actually come to this fucking event. I can’t wait for them to see these fucking films, man. (Especially) from the lesser known directors. Because, I think that most people would agree, that horror films and heavy metal music kinda somehow go hand and hand together. There’s a lot of people that love both. I don’t know how else to describe that particular phenomenon, but it just happens to be the case. So for me to show people these films, it’s like turning on a group of friends to a new record that you’re into or this new band that you fucking love. It kinda goes hand to hand in that aspect. I can’t wait for people to see these fuckin’ films.
Talking about music, you guys have a couple of songs coming out during the Fest’, right? Were they written specifically for the Fest’ or were they songs that came out that you were like, ‘That would go well with…’
When we… didn’t mean to interrupt you but…
When we sat down to write, we went through many different songs and probably came out of the sessions with 16-17 things. Some things are still a work in progress, some things are this, that, and the other, you know… Walk Through Exits Only felt cohesive. Those eight songs felt very, very cohesive with each other. The two songs that we did with Warbeast on the War of the Gargantuas split, those two songs felt cohesive with each other. These two new songs that are coming out in October are way different, WAY DIFFERENT, than anything that anybody’s heard yet from myself and the solo band. I think they go together very well. I’m still struggling a bit with actual song titles but they’re recorded, they’re ready to go; except we need to mix the fuckers which is always [groans] a chore. It’s just finding time to do all that; but we will find time to do it. Mixing, mastering; done. Two new fucking expressions of extremities from me and the boys. So, I’m looking forward to that.
Do you feel like you’re spreading yourself thin?
Yes. But at this point in my life, if I have to I have to.
You got to! Once that opportunity of window is wide open, or smashed open, and you’re flung through it askew, if the work is there and it’s meant for you,you better fucking do it ’cause there ain’t nobody else that’s gonna do it for you.
Actually, you have your autobiography coming out next year, right?
Yes I do.
How in the hell are you getting that shit done with all the other stuff, man?!?
A lot of sleepless nights Skype-ing and fucking homework, Jack. And soul-searching, and all that shit that comes with it.
Listen guys, we owe you a huge debt of gratitude. 23 years I’ve been listening to you guys. Incredible. Honestly, I was extremely excited. All of our fans were extremely excited for us to come talk to you guys. Phil… Personally, for me it’s an honor.
Thank you, brother.
But remember that it goes both ways. Without motherfuckers like you, assholes like me would be fucking zero. And to any fans out there, it’s up to the fucking people what they like and what they dislike. I think Marzi said it best the other day: “I’m not a religious man,” I’m taking the words out of his mouth but really it holds true for myself, “I’m not a religious man but I do feel blessed.” I do feel blessed with this life and the opportunities that have been laid in front of me; and for the common sense, or whatever it is, that has got me to this point. Talent, common sense, mistakes, and learning from those fucking mistakes. And picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and saying ‘Let’s get back on the horse, Jack!’ And I don’t mean heroin! (laughs)… No more!
(Laughs) Good for you! Guys, thank you very much.
Interview with Sam Totman from Dragonforce on Moe Train’s Tracks
Sam Totman, Monty Wiradilaga, Brian Kracyla
Rockstar Mayhem Festival – Philadelphia, PA
M: First of all, let me give proper respect to one of the top shredders in the scene.
S: Aw, you’re too nice. I’m sure you say that to every band.
M: We’re with Sam Totman of Dragonforce. Thanks for being with us today. First of all, congratulations on having the new album. Did the band think it was a tough task to follow Inhuman Rampage, one of my favorite metal albums of all-time?
S: Yeah, it’s always hard. Obviously, it’s not very hard on the first one ‘cause whatever you do is always going to be kind of original, or original for you I guess. But yeah, it was really hard, we actually thought that when we made Inhuman Rampage, we thought how are we going to make something better than something like Firestorm. You don’t really know if it’s going to be better until you’ve done it. Like when I wrote a bunch of songs for this new album and everybody was like, “They’re rubbish” but I knew what they were going to sound like at the end so I was like, “It’s gonna be cool.” You still don’t really know what it’s gonna be like. I might write a vocal line or whatever, and I might think it’s going to work really well, then when the guy goes out and actually sings it, it might not turn out as well as I thought it was going to be. The whole thing is like an endless kind of job, basically. It took us seven months in the studio to get the final result.
M: So, with the writing process, it’s you and Herman, or is it mostly you?
S: Yeah, it’s mostly me. Herman does more of the gear. I don’t know anything about gear. He works it out to make the album sound good. I do mostly more of the writing and he does more of the gear side of things. Yeah everyone’s got their own job to do anyway.
M: When I heard Hereos of Our Time for the first time I had to stand up during the chorus and put my fist in the air!
S: There you go, that’s the idea.
M: In victory, ‘cause I felt victorious after hearing the track.
S: Good, it’s supposed to make people feel happy.
B: Very epic.
S: Epic, yeah. People keep saying, “Well, what’s the difference with this album?” I say it’s more happier sounding, ‘cause it is. But apparently if you say “epic” it’s a bit less gay. (Laughter)
M: Well, a lot of bands say their next album’s gonna be heavier, faster.
S: Or more melodic, that’s a rather classic one.
M: What’s that bullshit? Isn’t that just saying the same thing over and over?
S: Exactly. How can you be more melodic? It’s either melodic or it’s not. Yeah, it’s stupid, oh well.
M: So what do you say to power-metal purists that down your guys style, that say it’s not the norm? I say fuck ‘um.
S: Yeah! Well, to be honest, the power-metal that we used to like ten years ago, when we first started, doesn’t really exist anymore. All the bands I listened to ten years ago there albums are crap. I’m not trying to be a big-head saying that we’re so much cooler than anybody. I think we sort of come to the point now where I don’t really think that we’re part of a power scene or any other scene. I think we’re on our own. I don’t wanna sound like blah blah blah, I’m cool, but I really think it is, it’s so different. I listened to the a Stratovarius album the other day, which is something we used to really like, I still do, and I was like, this sounds nothing like us now, it sounds almost like an eighties band.
M: You must have punk influences because I a lot of pictures with you rocking out the black Rancid cut-off t-shirt.
S: Yeah, I listen to that as much as metal. People say I’m gay ‘cause I listen to Blink 182 stuff all the time, just as much as I listen to Slayer or something.
M: Well, you wrote a lot of catchy songs, there’s a pop influence with that.
S: Yeah, it’s the same thing essentially. A lot of my vocals and stuff, I listen to a pop music as well, and if you listen to that kind of stuff, I mean, the vocal melodies and chord progressions are not that much different from what we do to say a pop punk band. It’s the same four chords and certain notes that go over those chords that work. A lot of metal people are like, “Nah, that’s gay, that’s gay” but they actually don’t realize that it’s actually the same thing.
M: So when are you gonna have Tim and Lars on stage with you?
S: Yeah, well, they probably think we’re gay. (laughter)
M: With the new album, it seems as if you’ve taken the tempo down a little bit. I don’t know if it was a conscious change or what was it?
S: Yeah, it was in places. Obviously, with all our songs on the last album they were like 200 beats per minute, it kinda made it sound like the same thing, which was cool at the time because that’s what we wanted to do. But now we thought that we’ll put different tempo bits, like for example, there’s more middle sections that are playing over a different drum beat because it forces you to do different guitar solos because there’s only so many licks you can do over a sort of bap-bap-bap drum beat. It’s more to give us more ideas for guitar as much as anything.
M: When you’re writing your dual solos with Herman, what’s the process with that?
S: Well, basically if I write a song, I’ll know there’s gonna be like six guitar solos in this section and I’ll write a bunch of chord progressions and I’ll be like, alright, that’s solo one, that’s solo two, that’s solo three, and then we just decide, alright, who’s gonna do the first one? After that it just alternates. We don’t actually sit there and write guitar solos together. I’ll write a bunch of chord progressions and then we just solo over them.
M: I saw one video of you doing an instructional video of how you guys trade off during your solos. I guess you do certain chord progressions but work other hammer-ons and …
S: Yeah, exactly. We tried to get away from it a bit on this album but on the previous album… basically what we do is just solo over the verse. If you see a song that is normally pre-chorus into the second pre-chorus into the chorus, the solo section is usually just soloed over that, ‘cause then it kinda builds the solo up in the same way as you would build up a vocal section up to the chorus. Obviously, the solo over the chorus is the most catchy and it’s over the nicer chords.
M: Sometimes it seems like you guys are almost having a battle with the guitars. I’m sure it’s always mentioned to you about the video games, that you have that influence. It seems like you guys are having an epic battle!
S: I think that yeah it sounds like a battle when it’s finished but I just think that six guitar solos one after the other is a cool thing to do. I thought it sounded good when I listened to bands when I was growing up. It was usually like one guy would do one solo and the other guy would do one and that would be it. I thought that was sort of cool. You’d hear one guy play it and then the other guy would play it, it’s was kinda like a duet between a singer and a female singer. So I thought, let’s increase that, take it to like six each. It’s not really a battle, it’s just to make it sound good, but then when you listen back to it you kinda say it is a battle.
M: Speaking of battles, I’ve seen a lot of battles caused by you guys, not by real guitar but of course by the video games, Guitar Hero III. How’s it feel to have Through The Fire and The Flames be the holy grail of all songs on that video game?
S: I think it’s cool. It’s obviously, I don’t want to sound like I have a big head again, but there’s not that many bands that have got as much complicated guitar playing in them. You can listen to someone like Steve Vai who’s a hundred times better than us but then, in my opinion, I don’t think he’s got very catchy songs, you know, he doesn’t have very catchy chords. The guitar’s great but there’s no great singing…
M: No fists in the air!
S: Yeah. So, yeah, it should be the holy grail of that game. I’m starting to sound like a real wanker now.
B: Have you actually tried to play it (on the video game) yourself?
S: I tried it once and I was pretty crap at it. It’s not really my style of game to be honest, not because it’s for the guitar, it’s just not my style of game, I prefer other games.
M: What like Final Fantasy?
S: Yeah, or I like strategy games, Company of Heroes, that’s really cool. Shit like that.
M: Thinking about video games being a new platform for bands to get their music out, on MySpace last time I looked you had 11,614,019 listens. That was last night, you probably have 20,000 more by now.
S: Really? That’s cool.
M: What does it mean for the music biz to have new outlets like this?
S: Well it’s cool yeah. Obviously, you sell less records now then you would have in the eighties, we would have sold probably something like 5 million then, because it’s just the way the music business is going. I suppose it all kinda works out, everything balances out. Supposedly more people will hear it but less people buy your records these days. In the end you have the same number of fans I think.
B: More people go to the shows.
S: Yeah exactly, so I think it’s pretty cool.
M: The metal scene is pretty interesting. We mostly cover “indy” music festivals, Bonnaroo, Cochella, that kind of stuff. They have their own scene, metal has it’s own scene. How would you describe the metal scene and the people in it?
S: Lots of fat dudes and no chicks.
M: And black t-shirts. (Laughter)
B: I stuck out like a sour thumb walking around in my white shirt!
M: Speaking of chicks, how’s that situation going?
S: Pretty grim. Well, obviously you only need one each day, unless your really greedy, but you can usually find one. It might not be amazing…
M: You get drunk enough it doesn’t matter.
S: Exactly. They’re not going to be stunning at a festival like this (Mayhem). But we’re not fussy, you can’t be.
M: I know you’re a big fan of the beer. We were going to bring you some Coors.
S: Coors Original is the only one I like. Coors Light doesn’t do anything.
M: When are we going to see you on stage with a beer helmet doing a solo?
S: When I really need one because I’m completely bored, it’s getting there. It’ll serve two purposes.
M: What if we brought a beer bong, would you do a beer bong on stage?
S: To be honest with you, I wish I could because I think it looks cool and you look quite tough but I actually can’t do a beer bong. I can’t skull back a beer. I can drink like twenty in a night or whatever but actually can’t skull back beers.
M: Have you tried though?
S: Yeah, totally, but I always puke. I wish I could, I think it looks really cool. I’ve been bombed out since I was a kid, I couldn’t do it.
M: What is your crowning achievement? Is it the Ibanez Sam Totman Signature guitar or what? And by the way do you have an extras you can spare?
S: I’ve only got like two myself! They said I could have a bunch of them but there kinda both just sitting around my house. Yeah, I suppose that’s quite cool.
M: What was your first guitar?
S: It was a classical one actually, ‘cause I learned classical music. Then about ten years later this skinhead guy I lived with smashed it over my head! (Laughter) That was my first guitar, I felt really bad.
M: You felt bad?!
S: No, I got it when I was ten! This lovely guitar that my parents bought me when I was ten years old ended up getting smashed on my head by a nutter.
M: Finally, I think Dragonforce is the epitome of being triumphant. Your music makes me want to pump my fist in victory and I envision the mighty Pegasus soaring over the clouds of Olympus!
S: Yeah, that perfect. That’s what we want to do.
M: What is your vision of the story of Dragonforce?
S: Basically the same as that. It just supposed to make you feel happy. I like the music that makes you feel happy so that’s what comes out when we write songs. It’s something that’s uplifting. If you’re sad, it’ll make you happy. If you’re happy, it’ll make you even more happy.
M: There you go. Thanks a lot for being with us, appreciate it.
S: Yeah. Cool.
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.
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!
Moe Train’s Tracks teams with Tuff Gong/UMe to bring you in a nearly exclusive fashion, the ENTIRE Bob Marley – Legend Remixed album before its June 25th release date. Our staff has been pumped about this release since its inception. One of the most revered and renowned best of albums has been tweaked, twisted and given a new vibe due to Bob’s own blood and other great artists and producers.
Stephen and Ziggy Marley have their hands all over this modern take on their father’s quintessential “best of” album. Stephen and Ziggy keep the true Marley soul running throughout this album with an EDM spin, and a little help from Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Pretty Lights (who has been on Tracks), RAC, Jason Bentley, Thievery Corporation, Nickodemus, Zeb, Photek, Z-Trip, Roni Size, and Beats Antique. With the roster of artists putting their unique spins on this album, you get a v
We’ll have our album review posted around the release date, but until then, leave your own reviews in the comments!
- King B and Moe Train
Hey reggae heads, here’s a “new” album that will blow your mind. For the first time, Bob Marley’s 1984 album, Legend, (which is Moe’s all-time favorite album by a long shot) is re-imagined for LEGEND: REMIXED, an inspired new spin on the reggae classic will be released on June 25! Summer isn’t summer without Marley on constant rotation. We have a feeling that this album will be pumping on your soundsystem while you enjoy delights of various kinds.
Fifteen of Legend’s 16 tracks have been remixed by top DJs/producers. Included in this the cohesive new set are tracks by Stephen Marley, RAC, Pretty Lights, Roni Size, Nickodemus, among others, as well as a new rendition of “Redemption Song” by Ziggy Marley. The album’s executive producer is DJ/producer Jason Bentley. Here, we have Jim James’ (My Morning Jacket) remix of “Waiting In Vain.”
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.
Interview with Toots Hibbert (Toots and the Maytals)
Brian Kracyla, Jacob Little and Monty Wiradilaga (Moe Train’s Tracks)
Hey, what’s going on reggae fans worldwide, you’re listening to a special reggae royalty edition of Moe Train’s Tracks. In this very special show, the Tracks has the honor to bring you one of the most memorable voices and performers in all of music, Mr. Toots Hibbert from Toots and the Maytals.
We had the opportunity to interview the man with the golden pipes about being a part of the establishing scene of reggae, coining the term reggae, being great in an amazing scene, finding his voice, and tons of other topics. Toots was definitely one of the most endearing and genuine musicians that we have interviewed over the years. Toots and the Maytals just released their latest album, Flip and Twist, and we’re sure that it will further his legacy as one of the top reggae artists of all time.
So Moe Train’s Tracks is honored to bring to you, this very special interview with the legendary Toots from Toots and the Maytals.
Moe: Absolutely amazing set today. Were you really having as much fun as it looked like you were having?
Toots: Yeah, a lot of fun. The people are so nice that when you sing for them you have to have some fun.
M: Feeding of the energy…
T: Yes, that heart energy.
T: Everyone just liked it. It’s a nice day!
M: Your voice is one of the most recognizable and classic sounds in all music, where do you draw all of your positive energy from to bring it into the music?
T: Well, my music is from good spirits, good spirit from the church, and from the people that come to my show with a good understanding to learn the ways of reggae music. That’s part of my energy too.
M: Your community of musicians, back in the day in Jamaica, included the most legendary performers of all time.
T: Yeah, mon!
M: Skatalites… The Wailers… How was the community of musicians back in the day when you coined the term “reggae”?
T: It’s a good fellowship in music from that time until this time. When I coined the word reggae it was just like now but people lived different. It took a little time for people to know about my music and they are really into my music now. So, it’s a good t’ing, the times have been changing and music has been better for Toots and the Maytals. When I coined the word reggae, when I sang the song Do The Reggae, the music was already playing in Jamaica all over but nobody called it reggae. People were searching for the name reggae but couldn’t find it. People used to call the beat in Jamaica “blue beat” and “boogie beat” and those are the things that spread from America to Jamaica. Boogie beat, blue beat, and “ska”, it’s like a slip. My two friends, Jerry and Raleigh, we sat down one morning and the word came up. We used to use a word in Jamaica called “streggae”, when the girl was looking so good you call her streggae, if she dressed raggity, you know. So, maybe the word comes from that, but I was the one who said let’s Do The Reggae! R-E-G-G-A-E. Reggae was spelled a lot of different ways in those days, but this is what it’s spelled like now. R-E-G-G-A-E.
M: Did the community feel that there was something huge happening? Because your music is universally recognized across all genres.
T: Yeah, that’s why I have 31 number one records in Jamaica. In those days, as it came out, people enjoyed it and knew that it was good. I have a couple of number ones, 31 number ones in Jamaica, and on vinyl in those days.
M: What was it like recording in Studio One?
T: It was strange. But, I started from Studio One. I was a good t’ing.
M: The whole process, working with Coxsone, was it just…
T: It was great, the process was good. Sing for very many, no good for many maybe, choose the songs.
M: I heard that you have some members of your family in the band.
T: My daughter and my son, my son play the bass and my daughter back up for me.
T: I’m never proud of myself. I know it’s good, but it’s not good to be proud, because the Lord says that you should not be proud. You just know that it is good and give t’anks.
M: Your music has been covered by some of the most recognizable names in all of music, like the Clash, the Specials, and Sublime. What’s your take on their covers of your music?
T: Well, I think it’s good, it’s a good t’ing to do. If a song is good, you can cover it. You can put your own line, your own style on it, and it’s still good. A lot of people cover my songs, I never really say which one is the best. I know I appreciate it, and they appreciate it also.
M: 54-46 is an amazing track…
T: I don’t even want to talk about that prison business. I’m tired of talking about that crap… It was a number one song though!
M: Well, some of your tracks… When they think of you… They think of certain tracks…
T: When I just came in, when I was like fifteen or sixteen… Those things happened when I was getting my first tour abroad, to go to UK. So I hardly talk about those t’ings again. It was a frame-up. When I didn’t get to go to UK, they sent a different group in my name, which never worked out for them. It was a thing that was planned. I just sang a song about it and it went number one.
M: You have the Toots Foundation…
T: Well, we planned this foundation for helping the youths, not only in Jamaica but wherever help is needed. My foundation is going to be bringing a lot of assistance. We founded it a few years ago and it’s been doing well. We did foundation things for the children in Jamaica, for the hospitals, for the blind, for the cancer society. We gave to the schools, we gave to the old age homes. We gave to the school in Clarendon, where I was born. The foundation is going good and I hope that we can give a helping hand whenever I do my show, which charges one dollar extra to go towards the foundation.
M: What does it mean to you to be able to give back to Jamaica, to give back to your country?
T: It’s been good, that’s why I do it. I couldn’t do it by myself, not without the people in America and all over the world.
M: We are also doing a special on the passing of Michael. How has Michael Jackson affected you musically? Or do you have any stories dealing with Michael Jackson?
T: No, his music never affected me. His music refreshed me. He was a cool guy, I liked him. I loved him too. It’s a pity that what happened happened, but it’s like you knew something was going to happen too. I figure he’ll always be innocent for me. He will always be missed by Toots and the Maytals.
M: With your music, with so many albums, so many number ones… When you are looking at your career as a whole, how do you think it lays in the history of music?
T: It’s history. My music is history. It’s antique… and it’s unique… and it’s good. It’s fattening. It’ll make you strong.
M: (Laughing) That’s the best quote I’ve heard all weekend!
T: It’s full of love and happiness.
M: How much longer are you going to be doing it?
T: Well, I’ve got no limit. We have to live good to one another, whether you’re black or you’re white. Show love to one another. Show respect. Learn to say good morning again, and good evening, good afternoon, good night, hey how are you doing, hello. Just be good, be nice, be Rastafari. That’s the way God would love we to do. His name is Rastafari and I’m just a son of God. I look at myself as an angel and a son of God.
M: So you’re looking to further the message…
T: My songs will always be a message of spirituality and happiness. My words have to be positive, if the words are negative than its not real reggae. They have to be positive, that’s the fulfillment of reggae music.
M: So, you just draw from the energy, from that positive energy, and put it through your music to your listeners.
T: Yeah, because it’s for real. Music is for real, for Toots and the Maytals, it’s for real. And love is for real. It’s not just “one love”. True love and real love is for real, there’s more than one love.
T: Yeah. I love to do this, I love to do that. So many love, you know. What’s love is real… So make it reveal… Whenever you feel… It make you feel good! Wake up in the night and rejoice that you’re gonna live to see another day. There’s no limit in my career. I do it as I can. You will always hear about Toots and the Maytals.
M: What’s your responsibility to all your listeners, to the world, through your music?
T: My responsibility to the world and for everywhere is that I’m truly responsible to the people and my music is to be positive, as it used to be and as it is right now. You have to be positive, that’s my responsibility, to make music positive for the world and for God to give us more blessings. He gave me the talent. (Singing) And I sing everything I talk! Hey-aay! (speaking again) I have to give thanks for giving me that kind of voice. I can sing it without music, I can sing it with music. It’s a revelation, a message of salvation.
M: Getting your start, how did you really come to find your own voice?
T: I give praise, I grew up in the church with my parents. Over the radio, I listened to Ray Charles, I listened to every artist, and I listened to every artist in Jamaica also. I founded my voice, and I have to learn it more, and I have to do things with my voice like (making sounds with throat). It’s a thing you have to do, like practicing a guitar. (making yodeling sounds) It’s thing that’s coming for the church, from the Lord God Rastafari, and I have it.
M: Absolutely. When did you know that ‘this is my voice’?
T: Well, I haven’t got one special voice, I have a lot of voices. I can make it turn to sing any kind of way. I know that I can sing, and people call me great, but I don’t think I’m great. I just want to be simple, and make people think I’m great.
M: (Laughing) Gems… I’m loving it! Is there anything else that you want to do in your career that you haven’t done yet?
T: Yes, there are a lot of things I want to do that I haven’t done yet. I wanna make a straight-up R&B record, well it will have some reggae in it, but mostly R&B flavor. I’m doing that. I want to be able to extend my foundation’s reach. I want to do things in Africa where a lot of black, and white people, is also, cuz there are a lot of white people born in Africa also. They’re African, so it’s not a black t’ing. If people need help, you help them when you can. My plan is to spread out my foundation and see what people think of it, and they can donate things for my foundation, and I could help. From American to Jamaica, and from America straight to Africa, all over the world, I want to do something for some people who need help, each and everywhere, north, west, east, and south. That’s my plan and my good thought and my wish.
M: That’s excellent. Thank you very much for being with us. It’s an honor and we appreciate it!
T: Yeah, mon.
Interview with Robert F. Kennedy Jr on Moe Train’s Tracks
Robert F. Kennedy Jr, Monty Wiradilaga, Brian Kracyla
Manchester, TN – Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
M: I’m here with Mr. Robert Kennedy Jr… Why are you here at Bonnaroo?
R: I’m here at Bonnaroo because this is a festival that famously has a very strong environmental ethic. The people who come here, generally speaking, have very strong ethics. I’m going to talk to people about coming to Appalachia this summer and getting arrested to stop the coal industry from cutting down the Appalachian mountains, which is the biggest crime in American history. And my kids come here every year, so I wanted to make sure and see them.
M: To appeal to a younger audience, what does that mean to your cause?
R: The people who come here, generally speaking, have a very idealistic vision about this country. They want our nation to live up to its historic destiny of being an exemplary nation. They want America to be everything America promised everybody that it was going to be. And it’s important at this point, particularly with coal, to remind people that coal represents the subversion of our democracy, the corruption of our public officials, and the destruction of our most precious national heritage, the historic landscapes where Danny Boone and Davy Crockett roamed, a place that so much of our culture, our history, our values, are rooted in those landscapes. And we’re cutting them down. We’ve already cut down five hundred of the biggest mountains in West Virginia. We’ve buried twelve hundred miles of streams. We are going to cut down an area, flatten an area, the size of Delaware and they’re not going to be able to tell their kids, to take their kids to the Cumberland. It’s criminal and it’s illegal. We got a court order saying it’s illegal but the industry was able to corrupt officials in the public, the Bush administration, and get them to reverse the court order. The entire business plan for this industry is based upon their capacity to corrupt public officials, subvert our democracy, and get away with illegal behavior. Their product is not cheap, it’s hideously expensive, and it’s not clean, you know, that’s a dirty lie. All the claims about coal by the industry are lies and they are destroying America. And they’re destroying the planet as well.
M: How do you feel the Obama administration will deal with this national crisis?
R: I think all of us had great hopes with the Obama administration. There’s a lot of heartbreak in Appalachia today and a lot of heartbreak in the environmental community because the White House just released its Mountain-top Removal Policy and it is, to say the least, extremely weak. It’s going to change nothing on the ground.
M: Mr. Kennedy, thank you very much.
My man just stopped caring. Matisyahu took his singular amalgam of talent and unique ability to elude genre-categorization and went and made himself a shitty, Tinnie Tempah pop album.
DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE YEAR.
(Moe side note: Could it be a case of the Samson Syndrome? Matisyahu shaves his beard, and the power is gone?)