Beastie Boys are "hungry to record again"

From The Gazette (Montreal):
A Different Animal

Current tour features two shows in each city - a massive one with rhymes, and an intimate one without. 'It's almost like two different worlds, as musicians,' Mike D says


"I meant to make the quinoa, but I didn't. I would just make the tofu."

Michael Diamond (aka Mike D) took a pause from our telephone interview to instruct someone (the tour chef? a friend?) what to cook for dinner for him and his kids, age 2 and 5. "It's all about priorities," the 41-year-old said. "This is what I do on my days off."

Beastie Boys, version 2.007, are back - more laid-back, paternal, nutritionally aware and eco-friendly than ever. "This tour, specifically - and we haven't done this before - is a (carbon-) neutral tour," Diamond explained. "Our trucks and buses are biodiesel. Beyond that, we're doing things with actual concert sites where people can do cellphone recycling and regular recycling on the premises. Heading into this thing, we said we've really got to figure out a way to make it work so it takes less of a toll on the environment."

The new disc is called The Mix-Up; it's a stylishly grooving, understated collection of instrumental jams thrown down by Diamond (on drums), Adam Yauch (a.k.a. MCA, on bass) and Adam Horovitz (a.k.a. Ad-Rock, on guitar), with help from old pal Mark Nishita (Money Mark, keys) and Alfredo Ortiz (percussion).

They're slowing down their tour, playing two nights in each city - one intimate, instrumental show at a small venue, and one big, block-rockin' arena gig, replete with rhymes, over-the-top antics and all-around good times. In Montreal, the band plays Metropolis tonight and the Bell Centre tomorrow.

"We're doing our regular show, and a Gala Event," Diamond said. "It keeps it a lot more interesting for us. In the (bigger) regular show, we're playing a bunch of stuff - our hip-hop and some of our (instrumental material). We keep changing that up, and it's always fun."

"The Gala Event shows are more focused on what we're doing with the band, the arrangements. It's almost like two different worlds, as musicians. It's a different mindset, and you're engaging a different part of the brain."

Ideally, Diamond would like it to be not just the band's mindset that changes from show to show, but also the fans'. During our interview, he repeatedly asked for people attending the smaller show to step up their game, wardrobe-wise.

"For the fans who come to the Gala Event, we would like to get that idea out. ... At some shows, people have really gotten into the dress code, and gone all out with full-on gala dress. That makes it more fun for us and everyone."

Looking spiffy was a running theme in the making of The Mix-Up. "During the recording sessions, we set a dress code for ourselves. We decided if we were going to make something more instrumental-based, we should show up at the studio in suits and ties, jazz cat style."

Fashion has always been a priority for Beastie Boys, from the goofball '70s bent of their Hey Ladies video to the classic retro-cop-show cool of Sabotage.

"When you dress in character, it helps you become the character," Diamond said. "Again, if I could make the plea for the Gala, if you dress the part, you'll become the part."

The purpose of the getups in the studio was to plunge into the vibe of the music, he said. "We've done some instrumental stuff before, but we've never had it be really raw in the way a lot of breakbeats we like are. We wanted to keep that mentality. Hip-hop breaks come from the idea of taking the rawest, funkiest two bars of a song and sampling that. Our approach was to make all three minutes of every song like those two bars."

Fans who find the album too mellow - and crave the Beastie Boys insanity of old - need not despair. This project is but a pit stop, Diamond assured - not a step toward retirement. He and his bandmates will return, wilder and crazier than ever, soon enough.

"We didn't realize it until well into this tour, but the nice thing with The Mix-Up is it left us really excited to go back into the studio, which we'll be doing after this tour. It made us hungry to record again. ... I can't say what (the sound) will be, but we've only in small ways hinted at what we could explore with the next record."

Beastie Boys' Gala Event takes place tonight at 8 at Metropolis, 59 Ste. Catherine St. E. The show is sold out, but a few additional tickets may be put on sale today. The band also plays the Bell Centre tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. Chromeo opens both nights. Tickets for the Bell Centre concert cost $36.50 to $56.50; call 514-790-1245 or go to


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