Interview with Adam Yauch

Bong hits for Yauch
by Steve Lalla

Beastie Boys exhale an all-instrumental album

After tearing the music industry a new one with Licensed to Ill 21 years ago, the Beastie Boys have reinvented themselves constantly through three decades, emerging as masters of lyricism and wit, cut-and-paste pioneers, philanthropists and moralists, designers, genuine musicians and overtly independent architects of their own reality - and ours. With their recent all-instrumental album, The Mix-Up, the B-Boys shocked us again, but still managed to debut at number 15 on the Billboard charts and garner rave reviews for their stylish accompanying tour.

Bassist, philosopher, videographer and dope MC, when he chooses to speak, the Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch (a.k.a. MCA, a.k.a. Nathaniel Hornblower) is a spiritual guide to a generation of trendsetters, delinquents, rappers and Buddhists.

Hour I read that you released an instrumental LP because your contract deadline was up and you didn't get a chance to lay down the vocal tracks.

Adam Yauch That was a lie that we told. If it got printed, that's always nice. In fact, we really wanted to do vocals, but all three of us got laryngitis.

Hour Are you gonna get mad when I print that?

Yauch No! I'll be happy if you actually do.

Hour I will.

Yauch It just seemed like fun. We've worked on instrumental music for a long time and usually end up throwing a couple of songs on each album. There was a compilation that came out called The In Sounds From Way Out that was instrumental versions of a bunch of songs. Making an entirely instrumental record was an idea we'd been kicking around for awhile. The last record [2004's To the 5 Boroughs] was pretty much a hip-hop record, made with drum machines, sequencers and synthesizers. We started this one with instruments, when we went back and started listening to stuff we had recorded it sounded really cool as it was.

Hour Six years have passed since 9/11; To the 5 Boroughs was quite vocal on the event.

Yauch It was pretty intense. But it's not something I think about day to day anymore.

Hour Have you seen any of these controversial online flicks, Loose Change or Zeitgeist?

Yauch Yeah. It's hard to know where conspiracy theory and crazy made-up shit ends and where the truth begins. My feeling watching Loose Change was that if 10 per cent of it is true, it's insane. And I thought it would make a great film, the whole thing with the CIA, smuggling the gold hidden under the WTC. It would be interesting to know if there's any truth to it.

Hour What happened with Grand Royal [the record label founded by the B-Boys in 1992]?

Yauch You heard that they sold it on eBay for a dollar, right? It's very possible, I don't know. When we started it we thought it'd be cool to put out some friends' music, but it got more employees, more overhead, and needed to sell a bunch of records to make ends meet. It got top-heavy and sunk. Whoever bought Grand Royal isn't allowed to make or sell Beastie Boys records. I'm no expert on this though. I just make the shit. You should be interviewing my lawyer.

Hour I quit smoking weed, and I always remember hearing your line "I quit smoking cheeba, it was part of the key," when I was a teenager.

Yauch When you were getting wasted [was it] all like, "Yo, this bong hit is for Yauch!"

Hour Ha ha ha! So what's your current stance on that?

Yauch For me there was a while that I was smoking weed and having fun. But it got to a point where it was making me paranoid and ruining my life. It turned on me. But each to their own, I guess. If someone's having fun with it, more power to 'em.


11:07 AM iMan said...

I am disappointed to read Adam Yauch condone marijuana use. It's irresponsible of him when the band has so many young fans. Marijuana destroys young people's lives.

3:43 PM Hot Sauce said...

All he said was you gotta do what's right for you. I agree with that idea.

2:58 AM Ian Bathelt said...

Long burn the fire.

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