"The next album will be a very serious, political album"

From The Jewish Chronicle:
Taming of the Beasties
By Gisella Farrell

“Our instrumental album is not a statement against the current rap scene. It’s basically a statement against ourselves — our music,” Mike D says. “Our record before this one was the To The 5 Boroughs album, where we were MC-ing and using programming software and drum machines. So when we got together to make The Mix Up, we just sat down in a room with some instruments and started making music.”

“We’ve been playing this kind of music for a long time, but it’s the first record we’ve had that’s just instrumental — it’s just something we want to do,” adds Ad-Rock. “It’s basically inspired by a lot of funk and psychedelica that we’ve listened to over the years in the process of finding and developing our own sound.”

Mike D claims the album represents a new maturity for the band, who have not only learned how to behave themselves — they have also learned the art of sartorial elegance.

“We’re dignified now, we’re wearing suits, we eat at dignified places and conduct ourselves in a good manner,” Ad-Rock laughs, adding: “Of course, the dignified thing was always there for me — there’s a subtle maturity about it, that I have and these two people [indicating Mike D and MCA] don’t!”

It is not only aesthetics that are different this time. The Beastie Boys have swapped arena tours in favour of a tour visiting smaller venues and obscure festivals around Europe, which culminated in a headline slot at last weekend’s Bestival on the Isle of Wight and a performance at London’s Roundhouse. Is this by design or a reflection that the new sound has left some Beastie fans unwilling to rush out and buy their tickets?

“We’re doing a smaller-venue tour this time,” says MCA. “They wanted us to do stadiums, Wembley kept calling us, but we wanted to bless the people, you know. We have specified a dress code for fans too. We won’t be turning anyone away, you know, we’ve just asked them to wear suits, dress up a little.”

Twenty years ago, what the Beastie Boys were wearing contributed to an outcry in the press and questions in Parliament. Their infamous Licensed To Ill UK tour of 1987 was clouded by arrests, controversy and accusations of lewd behaviour. Their preference for bling fashioned from car badges led to a spate of vandalised VWs and Mercedes as fans sought to copy their heroes.

“Those old days, that was awesome. We were putting the fun into the music… there’s no one more fun than us!” says Mike D.
“But we feel like we’re owed the keys to London in payback for all the chaos,” says Ad-Rock. “We’ve been coming here for over 21 years as a band, we’ve bought revenue to you — dignity, in fact. Paul McCartney got knighted but we don’t want to be knighted, that would be extreme. We just want the keys to the city.”

If anything confirms just how far the Beasties have left their wild youth behind them, it is their wish-list of future collaborators.

“To be honest I wouldn’t mind working with Sir Elton,” says MCA. “We did cover his song Benny And The Jets once.”

Mike D adds: “Any artist with a Sir in their name, we’d work with them. Of current British artists, I think Dizzee Rascal’s good, I like him. MIA’s good too, although I don’t know if I’d call her a rapper, she does a lot of different stuff. The Streets [aka Mike Skinner] is pretty cool too.

“Then there’s Prince — he is funky…”

“I saw him on the street once,” Ad-Rock interrupts. “He got out of the car wearing head-to-toe yellow. Hats, boots, trousers — everything canary yellow.”

The Beasties continue to banter amiably. If there are any cracks in their relationship after almost 30 years together, there is little sign of it.

Perhaps it is their domestic circumstances that keep than seemingly so sane. All three have the kind of settled family lives that befit three middle-aged men.

Mike D is married to American film director Tamra Davis, with whom he has two sons called Skyler and Davis; Ad Rock is on his second marriage, to feminist singer Kathleen Hanna; while MCA’s wife is American-raised Tibetan Dechen Wangdu, a prominent activist for Tibet, and they have one child, a daughter called Tenzin.

“Yeah, I am a family man, and I even have a secret gardening hobby,” Mike confides. “I like picking the fruit — that’s how I contribute to the household. I’m good at playing with water balloons with the kids. I fill them for the kids, they tie them up. That I can do.”

MCA chips in: “Personally, I like to get up on the roof, do some DIY… I like to cook dinner too.”

Can these be the men who as recently as 2005 made an album praised for its political edginess? To The 5 Boroughs was inspired by the September 11 attacks on New York (all band members were at home or in their studios just blocks away from the Twin Towers on that fateful day).

Packed with Jewish references (the lyrics include a call to “holler back challah bread” and the slightly perplexing assertion that “the truth is brutal/your grandma’s kugel”), the album was a tribute to their home city, as well as a damning indictment of President Bush and the consequent Iraq war. Do their cosy lifestyles mean that edginess has gone forever? “Well, there’s definitely going to be lyrics on the next album,” Mike says, before adding: “I think right now it might be inspired heavily by water balloons because that’s an important issue.”

Ad-Rock corrects him: “It will be a serious album — the next album will be a very serious, political album.”

9 comments:

10:28 AM friis said...

That's one of the best interviews in a long time.
are waterbaloons the new eggs? :p

10:49 AM annadcj said...

I liked it too. Looking forward to the next album, hope it won't take forever again.

3:06 PM Spiffy D said...

It seems like a solid, serious interview but is Ad-rock joking when he says the next album will be serious and political? In print it's hard to sense the tone of his remarks and he might be bullshittin'

-- damian in seattle

10:04 PM jenny said...

"there’s a subtle maturity about it, that I have and these two people [indicating Mike D and MCA] don’t!” - adrock

god i love love love when he does that.... heeeheeehee haw lol oh adam "these two people..." oh my

7:08 AM Hot Sauce said...

About the next album being political...In an election year, I can't see them ignoring topics of importance to them. I would be disappointed if they listened to the criticism of TT5B being too political and backed away from hot topics on a new album. In my book, you're not a real artist if you don't have something of significance to say.

1:29 PM pshabi said...

It was a joke. They would never do a very serious, political album. Maybe a track or a few references here and there, but C'MON!

NOT GONNA HAPPEN.

9:01 PM Danielle said...

I remember people not believing that they would record an all instrumental album.

I expect them to comment on environmental issues and politics on the next album. They are men who have something to say.

8:38 AM Carl Sega said...

It's got every chance of happening, and I'm hoping it does.

10:54 AM Kevin said...

All I want is the next album to be a rap album. They can rap about any subject - I don't care.

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