Up in Crazy Town with guitarist Squirrel!
You guys go from obscurity to Mtv in what seems overnight fashion, but the album has been out for a year. What are you up to these days?
I’m actually going to be heading out to rehearsals. We’re working on some new material and rehearsing for some upcoming shows.
Is it weird that everyone thinks it’s a new album?
It’s not really weird. Before Christmas, we were talking about how when we got home we would notice a difference, and we totally do. It’s Tinseltown. When you are blowing up, the people who just gave you a nod when you walked by are now trying to be your best friends.
When “Butterfly” was released, did you expect this kind of excitement?
Actually, this was the plan from the get go. “Darkside” just ran into some bad timing when it was released.
That is my favorite track.
Yeah, “Darkside” is killer. But we knew all along we didn’t want to release “Butterfly” first because we didn’t want to be known as the band that does “Butterfly”. We are looking at this like we want to have a career.
And if “Butterfly” came out first, then you’d be afraid that everyone would want every song to be another “Butterfly”?
Exactly. That isn’t who we are. We’ve all been in this game for a long time. I can’t thank our management company and Columbia enough for sticking to the plan. I mean, it’s artist development. That is what they used to do back in the ’80’s and they don’t seem to do it anymore. We are pretty fortunate.
I find the worst thing with music now is that labels will sell a band out right away for a single and then the group is never heard of again. It’s the one hit wonder thing times ten.
Right. Of course. They want to see a return, but that is why things you saw were really hot two years ago, where are they now? We’ve been doing this for too long and we didn’t want to be that kind of band. We wanted to bring a bunch of bands with us and maybe change pop music a little bit.
I wanted to throw something out at you. As someone who probably grew up at the same time as the members of Crazy Town, I can see all of your influences, and I wonder if it’s the press looking for stories or what, but is it time we just realize that rock and rap is not going to just disappear? Because it really isn’t a fad. I grew up on both and those influences aren’t just going to disappear tomorrow.
Right. The funny thing about Crazy Town is, I’m from New York so I grew up following the history of hip-hop, that Shift and Epic have been doing nothing but hip-hop their entire lives. This is the first rock band they’ve ever been in. I’ve always been in rock bands. I’ve been trying to cross over for a long time. Now I get to do it with guys that aren’t just some rock guys trying to be rappers.
What were you doing prior to Crazy Town?
I was in a band called Sixteen Volt and Chemlab. I was doing a lot of industrial stuff with hip-hop beats.
So you were working with a lot of loops and…
Tons of loop stuff. Actually, Crazy Town is the first band I’ve worked with in ten years that isn’t entirely in machine time.
What is it like with Crazy Town being mostly live?
Well, in this band, our drummer is James Bradley Jr. and he is one of the industry’s great session drummers. He is just phenomenal. I mean, it sounds like it’s in machine time, but no band is better than their drummer. It might come down to a bunch of other things, but if your drummer isn’t good, then you are in trouble.
How has the road been?
That is the best high in the world. We are all of one head. We just love rocking the house and watching the crowd sing all the words. That is insane.
Have you been able to work with people you really admired, with and without Crazy Town?
Actually, in the last three years I’ve been able to work with people who I’ve bought records from when I was a kid. I helped Tommy Lee out getting the Method Man thing worked out. I have worked with so many people and it’s great because they want me there for my opinion. I got to tour with Love & Rockets with Orgy when they were trying to get their shit together. So here I am touring with the band that when I was fourteen I was sitting in my parent’s house trying to figure out how to play all of their songs.
Now you’ve been able to make a living out of it, is it the greatest gig in the world?
This is all I’ve been doing for ten or so years. For better or worse, I’ve been able to play rock shows and the respect of my peers. I get to do what I love for a live. That is the greatest thing in the world.
Speaking of peers, what was it like working with KRS-One?
I mean, that is like anything. I could go on about people for years. It was great working with him. It just blows your mind to think he is on a track of ours. And then Mad Lion came and did a track. I had all the BDP (Boogie Down Productions) records when I was a kid.
I hear that. KRS-One was the man.
What was so cool about it is that it’s validation that basically everything we do flows through a hip-hop filter and that we are a hip-hop band.
What is your take on the so-called rock and rap scene?
Well, I think every band has their own take on it. If you are an industrial band, it’s easy for someone to say you sound like Nine Inch Nails. If you are a rock and rap band, then it’s easy to say you sound like Limp Bizkit or whoever. But if you listen carefully, then you see that they aren’t the same. In any given band, whatever the group members grew up on will show. You really have to follow a group and see what they do for their second record because that is when you really come into your own.
I always think back to the Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots thing. Back then, everyone called STP nothing but Pearl Jam rip-offs. But who’s the better band now?
Exactly. I mean, if you went to see them play, you know they are for real. I think that, be it the press or fans, in general I’d rather have people love or hate my band than say my band is okay. You either think we are terrible or we made you passionate enough to love our band.
I think the fact that most fans for groups like Limp Bizkit are about fifteen, they have no idea about what was going on in music fifteen years ago with Run-Dmc, Public Enemy, or that the Beastie Boys had an album out before they were born.
The funniest thing is that there are people running around saying they are Beastie Boys fans and don’t even know Paul’s Boutique exists! That is the best album they ever put out.
And the same people think Metallica’s black album was like their first.
And that is the cool thing about Crazy Town. When we came out with “Toxic” and “Darkside”, we picked up fans. So now that “Butterfly” has broke, we know that there are people out there that knew us before all of this. Those fans are the ones that helped us get to where we are now.
The album goes from metal to rap to whatever. Was the plan to just take the best songs and who cares how they sit on the record?
Yeah. The thing about Crazy Town, Shifty and Epic are the thread. If it sounds dope and they put their vibe over it, then it’s a Crazy Town song. We are writing right now and the stuff that is heavy is way heavier and the stuff that is pretty is even prettier. When we were on the road talking about writing, we were saying all we have to do is write good songs, not just Crazy Town songs. We have to write good songs, period. We can’t sit there and say, ‘We can’t write that song because it’s not Crazy Town.’ That’s stupid.
Are you in an interesting position now because you do have people’s ears, so that means you can experiment more?
That is what it is all about. We want to change the face of pop music.