Interview with Adam Horovitz

From The Stranger:
It's the New Style
Adrock Talks the Beastie Boys' New Album, Selling Out, Feeling the Love, and Feeling Himself

By Jonathan Zwickel

The Stranger picked the wrong Beastie Boy to talk to.

We got on the horn with Adam Horovitz, better known as the King Adrock, a few weeks ago—a few weeks before it was announced that the Boys' upcoming album The Mix-Up is purely instrumental. As much as we pried, Horovitz danced around questions about the album and pretty much made light of the whole situation. Not surprising, coming from a self-proclaimed pistol packin', Monkey drinkin', no-money bum.

Since the early '80s, the trio of white, Jewish New Yorkers have woven their influences into a funky banner flown proudly over Generation ADD. They scored a slew of firsts: connecting the dots between punk and hiphop; mashing up rap and rock; dipping into sampladelic production; playing hiphop with live instruments; founding a pioneering hipster lifestyle magazine; discovering a higher calling; embracing web distribution technology; and generally making it cool to love your origins, no matter how littered with mass-media minutiae they may be. Few late-20th-century pop icons have pulled as much cultural weight and done it as playfully.

All I've heard about the new record is that it's taking you guys in an entirely different direction. That doesn't mean you're getting Scott Storch involved, does it?

Whew. Now, I'm hoping you're not saying anything anti–Scott Storch. You don't like Scott Storch?

He's alright, but he's been hooking up with all these hacks and B-list celebrities to produce their comebacks or their debuts and I'm hoping you guys didn't go that route.

Are you saying that we are B-list celebrities? Go on, go on say it. If I'm allowed to say whatever I want, you for sure are allowed to say whatever you want. I won't get my feelings hurt. I mean, I'll be angry...

Me? No, never.

No, we did not work with Scott Storch, but we were, for really, influenced by Scott Storch.

Okay.

Yeah. Just fashion-wise. I mean he does make good music, but this album doesn't sound anything like the music he makes.

It's all about the huge sunglasses and stogies.

It's all about the Miami look—a lot of linens. We're working with a lot of different fabrics right now.

So who is the producer?

Well, we actually went with the same producer that we usually go with on this one: us.

And so what makes it so totally unexpected?

I don't know about totally unexpected. I mean, these days, totally unexpected is like—what can you do today that's totally unexpected? [Laughs] I mean, kids today...

You could go for the DJ Drama–type mix tape.

Or if we had our own Trapped in the Closet chapters. That would be awesome. You've seen Trapped in the Closet, right?

Of course. But so what is it that makes it so different?

What is it? It's a CD, but I'm sure it'll be a record also. Of music. About 50-something minutes of music. So it's not that unexpected. I mean, if you listen to Beastie Boys records it's not that crazy. John—I'm with engineer J Whiz, or Jizz One, or you just wanna go with "John" today? [Horovitz confers with sound engineer John Weiner]. Okay, John. Forty-two? Yeah we cut 42 songs, but it's shorter now.

Forty-two? That's a lot of songs.

Yeah of course, we always have a lot of songs. But there are 12 on the album.

Mix Master Mike?

Not appearing on this record. Maybe that is unexpected.

Okay.

It's an instrumental record. There will be no rapping.

Aha. So the "jazz set" you guys are playing at Sasquatch—that's an indication of the direction you guys are headed?

I think "jazz" may be a little loose of a word for us. I don't know if you can call it jazz, but I guess it could be in keeping with the spirit of jazz. But that's maybe too long of a sentence.

So like Grant Green, Roland Kirk soul-jazz type stuff?

It would be nice if it was like that, yeah.

And have you played it for anybody? Your parents, your wives, your friends?

Yeah, our people. Our street teams.

And the reception?

Well, it's difficult 'cause you don't really get too many of your friends who go, "Yeah, this kinda sucks." But everything we do I play for my brother. He's my gauge. He's the brutal truth. He also really likes the band Brutal Truth. Or used to. And he likes this one. He didn't like the last one, but he likes this one.

So you guys have been getting together in the studio every day to practice? To write songs?

Well, we've definitely been getting together in the studio every day. We haven't been practicing. Or, I guess, writing songs. We're just sort of recording them and writing them after. But that's kinda how we usually do stuff anyway.

That's gotta be fun, just getting in the studio and fucking around with each other.

Well, that's for sure. We feel pretty confident. We're feeling ourselves right now. We are known for feeling ourselves. We like that to get out.

Is it easier to be a Beastie Boy now, 20 years later?

For me or for the layman?

For you personally.

Of course. It's a breeze.

What about added expectations?

Doesn't matter. If the added expectations were there, we probably wouldn't be making an instrumental record.

That makes sense.

Like I said, we're feeling ourselves.

For a long time now, you guys have been showing a sincere love and sincerity for the culture you're participating in. Whether it's New York or punk rock or Lee Perry, there's a real appreciation and love for the stuff you talk about.

A whole lotta love.

It seems like you don't find that so much anymore, or if you do it's a put-on.

In the 2000s, you're not allowed to sincerely appreciate anything.

Yeah, what happened?

You know, you just gotta make fun of things. You gotta make fun of what you love and make fun of what you hate. It's like if you stand up and say that you love something, then you're like playing the No Nukes concert. Same as if you hate something. It's a lot easier to be middle of the road.

Just hedge your bets.

Flip-flopping.

But you guys went this opposite route: You started off as wise-ass bullshitters, but the longer you stayed with it the more sympathetic you guys got. Is that fair to say?

Sounds good to me.

That's the way you guys have always gone, just doing what you feel.

Yeah, it's part love, part feeling ourselves, I guess. The mixture.

Which comes first?

The music.

And then the love?

I guess, yeah. I don't know. The love of the music and the love of ourselves go hand in hand. [Laughs] Yeah.

It's interesting to me how that love or that sincerity, that sympathy, has disappeared. Do you still feel that personally or do you feel burned out?

I don't know what it is. It's just, you know, the state of the music industry, I guess. All the same people—it's like, Pete Rock is still making music. There's plenty of music. You know, all those people who are still doing it and still love music. Q-Tip certainly still loves music and still makes music. But unfortunately there's a shift in the music industry that's not necessarily about music. But it happens. And it'll change.

It seems that that's a reflection of society as a whole.

I was hoping that when Bush first got elected—or first became the president, rather—that there would be a lot of good punk rock and punk-rock hiphop and Public Enemy–type bands. But it didn't really happen. I was sure it was gonna happen, but it didn't.

It seems like it went in the opposite direction: party and bullshit.

Which you can't be mad at. I like champagne as much as the next person. I really do.

Checking out your tour schedule for this summer, it looks like you're playing a bunch of European festivals.

Well, you know. You gonna be mad at me for making money?

I imagine they're pretty cush, set in some nice locales.

I don't know about the nice locales, but cush, yeah. That's where you get paid. And they're fun to play. I've never gone to a festival, but I've played millions of 'em and they're fun to play. You get to hang out with a bunch of different people, so they're fun.

I don't think anybody would be mad at you for going that route these days. The whole idea of selling out has changed drastically.

I don't think that people buying records or whatever really give a shit if you make money or not. I don't think they think about it. I think they just assume that whoever's onstage—wherever the stage is—are millionaires. And people still argue if they're paying more than five dollars for a show at a small place. It's ridiculous.

But the notion of selling out to a major label, that's definitely there in certain scenes. But if you don't sell out to a major label, then music's gotta be your hobby; it can't be your livelihood.

And even if you do sell out to a major label these days, it doesn't mean you're gonna make any money. The notion of selling out now is flipped. If you sell out it doesn't mean you're gonna make any money. The internet and independent ways of getting your music out there could be a more lucrative way in 2007.

7 comments:

11:56 AM doc said...

There are some interesting exchanges in that interview. Thanks so much for posting it.

Adrock: "In the 2000s, you're not allowed to sincerely appreciate anything." That's so true. And so sad.

12:10 PM Danielle said...

Holy mackerel! 42 songs cut?!

4:24 PM j dogg said...

'Well, you know. You gonna be mad at me for making money?'

I ain't mad atcha. :)

Thanks m2m! So nice to read the words of the King.

5:04 PM dave790 said...

that was an interesting read, good lad adrock.

2:06 AM Anonymous said...

Most interesting to me, was the allusion that his brother Matt didn't like "the last one" (i.e. TT5B). I wonder how the Bboys themselves feel about it deep down?

2:24 PM Adam said...

I think the "42" was the number of minutes and then as a joke he said that's how many songs. I thought I heard the album was longer than that though so I could be wrong here.

8:02 PM fonky said...

This interview is excellent!
After reading it yesterday night, I dreamt that Ad Rock was eating a raw artichoke....!?!

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