The historic Capitol records building in Hollywood! Wow! There it is, standing tall, round and majestic. An oversized Perkins-esque American flag flaps wildly atop the structure that is home to such recording artists as The Beastie Boys and Everclear. I am here to interview the Kottonmouth Kings. I am a half hour early, but why not proceed?
Inside the world’s first round office building (what a feat!) I check in at the desk. I drop a name, “I’m here to see the (clears throat, ahems) Kottonmouth Kings.” The lovely ebony attendant indicates the sign in sheet. “You want me to sign this?” I ask.
“Yes,” she says.
“On this line right here where it says ‘signature’?” I ask.
“Boy?” she questions, guessing at my I.Q. Yeah, yeah, I get it. I sign and she tells me to go to the fifth floor. I do.
The elevator opens, presenting the fifth floor to me, presenting me to the fifth floor. I feel so important when a plucky young woman, who we’ll call Melody, flies over to me and says, “Hi, who are you here for?”
“I’m here for the Kottonmouth Kings,” I answer truthfully.
“They’re just wrapping up. I’ll tell them you’re here. It’s nice meeting you,” she introduces herself and then introduces me to another Capitol Records lady who we’ll call Harmony, “I want you to meet Harmony. Harmony, this is Neil.”
“Nice to meet you Neil!” Harmony chirrups.
“Um, nice to meet you too but I’m not Neil,” I reply and immediately cause a panic.
Not Neil?! My God?! But! Who the Hell are you? Who do you work for? Security!!!! Arrest that man!
“I’m Rick with Modern Fix Magazine.” It turns out I’m not on their list and I’m treated in an off-putting manner, and feel like a sack of three day old turds when the real Neil arrives from Launch.com to the mighty accolades of both Harmony and Melody.
“Hey!” I think about yelling, “We have a website too!” But I don’t because I’m meek and emotionally wounded. They make me sit and wait.
They drag Neil off to another room and give him Pina Coladas and foot massages. They compliment him on his personal hygiene. The CEO of Capitol offers goody-goody Neil his daughter’s hand in marriage.
Melody returns, “Even though you’re not on the list the guys totally want to talk to you. They’ll see you soon as they’re done with this guy. Can I get you anything? Coffee? Blowjob?”
“Don’t be a jack ass.”
She walks away. I sit in my chair next to the copying machine and across from three elevators. The fifth floor is a busy floor. The elevators come up and then go back down to one. The elevators talk. A pleasant recorded female voice says, “Fifth floor going down,” just so those who have had their semi-circular canals and cochlea surgically removed know what direction they’re traveling in. “Fifth floor going down, “ the elevator says and I take it literally, fantasizing about the big earthquake and hoping that as the Capitol Records building collapses the three elevators will sing out in a round, “Seventh floor, sixth floor, fifth floor…going down…”
Time passes. Melody comes for me and takes me to the Kottonmouth Kings.
In the Kottonmouth King lounge there is one Kottonmouth King, Brad Daddy X. It’s my first time ever meeting anyone with a hip-hop moniker. He says, “Hi, I’m Brad.”
I’m disappointed because he is Brad Daddy X, not Brad. I know millions of Brads who lick the soles of my shoes for nickels. I don’t need another punk “Brad” in my life. I need a Brad Daddy X, dammit!
I ask him, “Do you mean Brad Daddy X?”
“Yeah. That’s me,” he answers, instantly making me feel better. Brad sits in a chair to my immediate right and two men sit on the couch across from me. They are wearing black and white face make up. They are the Corporate Avenger, I am told. I introduce myself to the Corporate Avenger. One of them wears a t-shirt that reads, “Corporate Avenger” on the front and “The bible is bullshit” on the back. Warmth is in the air.
I take a seat and say, “I just want to say that it’s really great to hear some politically charged, non-sexist hip-hop. The poor attitudes towards women and macho posturings of most hip-hop bands pretty much keep me away from the music as a genre, but the Kottonmouth Kings transcend that bullshit and I’m able to really enjoy the music and the message.” They all smile.
Brad Daddy X thanks me. “Let’s start this,” I say and hit record on my little hand held recorder.
What happens next is horrible. The interview is conducted. Many brilliant insights are offered, but all this was lost. The tape broke. It really is sad that the tape broke. We talked for over a half hour, and these guys talk and say a lot, about the pro-legalization agenda, DIY medicine, political censorship, far left views and anarchy, major labels, Mp3s, Rolling Stone magazine and their racist review of the new Kottonmouth Kings’ album, racism, imperialism, ethnic identity, ownership of land, punk rock and the struggle to live. I’m pissed off that the tape got munched. I’m pissed off I was so short sighted as to not use nine different recorders as back up, and on a deeper level I’m just pissed off. The tape could not be saved.
The Corporate Avengers diligently tried to help me restore the tape. They also calmed me down, encouraging me not to stress out over it and that we could always reschedule the interview.
Brad Daddy X cried out upon seeing me pull the mangled micro-casette from the recorder, “Oh my god! Dude! The tape broke,” then he starts to laugh. “That’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.”
“Yeah. Sure is funny,” I say, but I know he means ‘funny’ in a way that isn’t at my dumbass expense. I know because I was able to interview him again. So, presented here is take two. Action!
The Brad Daddy X interview:
How do you feel you’ve grown since the first album came out, and how you feel you’ve changed musically since the departure of Saint Vicious?
Brad Daddy X: I think it’s kind of like a limp penis, to an erect penis. I think we are at full erection right now. When we made the first record, we were obviously developing and creating the whole concept. We recorded that record in 10 different studios at different times when we could get in and do our thing. And that record is what it is. It’s killer, “Royal Highness”, our first record. But everyone has developed from being on the road for 2 1/2 years straight and seeing all the things that we’ve seen, having all the experiences we’ve experienced and just playing every night… I think everyone has just evolved into the next phase of the Kottonmouth Kings.
Do you think fans will be happier with this album?
Brad Daddy X: We’re happier with it, so I think they will be. We are really feeling this record. The beats are proper. The sounds… as far as production wise, we take a lot of pride in really creating our own sound. We’ll take samples and different keyboard modules and whatever we are going to use for whatever sound we are trying to create, and we will completely fuck with those sounds. We don’t use any stock sounds. All those sounds you hear on that record are a hybrid of a sound we’ve created. When we get in the lab, we definitely take deep interest.
The politics of this album have become increasingly strong in a pro-legalization direction and doesn’t engage in the standard sexist dialectic. How do you feel that separates the Kottonmouth Kings from other more mainstream hip-hop?
BDX: Obviously, Kottonmouth Kings are going to be a unique group that separates itself. From the sounds we use, to the concept of the band, to the variables that are in the band, to the philosophies that are behind the band… the whole approach we take will hopefully be unique and set us apart from everything. As far as our stance on legalization is concerned, after seeing the country and seeing the world and seeing how many people actually smoke weed and love and appreciate this plant, and then you go to other countries like Amsterdam where its legal, and you come back here, it makes it even more ridiculous that it’s outlawed here. I think just as we evolve, we realized we’d like to adhere to universal and spiritual laws. The bottom line is the plant marijuana is a plant. It grows naturally in mother Earth’s soil. The concept of any man, any government, any policing agency telling one man that he can’t use what the creator put here, is a ludicrous concept. There are people in cages for this. This is a PLANT. It’s time to wake up. It’s wrong. It’s a lie.
It would seem like it’s a rough platform to hold with popular radio and MTV. I saw your video for “Peace not Greed” (which features Jack Grisham from TSOL) but a lot of times, the media needs to censor out the word, “weed”, “marijuana”, “pot”, on and on… and this is a political platform that you stand upon, doesn’t that amount to political censorship?
BDX: Oh, it’s censorship in every sense of the word. These are the lyrics that are in our songs. For the Kottonmouth Kings to get played on the radio or MTV, trust me, we’ve had to fucking clean up the songs and do radio edits, and do all this stuff that they make you do because they have “standards.” I don’t know who sits on these standards boards, but they have people up in these offices that say, “You can’t say the word ‘plant’. You can’t say the word, ‘smoke’. You gotta take the word ‘weed’ out. You gotta take this and this out…”. Everything is so homogenized and pasteurized by the time it gets to the people, that’s why for us, the internet and doing live shows and people buying the album… to really get the Kottonmouth Kings you’re going to have to dig a little deeper than hoping you’re going to hear the real Kottonmouth Kings on the radio or these mainstream formats. You’re just going to hear this stripped down, homogenized version of the Kottonmouth Kings. That’s just the nature of the beast. But we’ll continue to make records and write songs that we believe in and speak to the people who listen to us. We’ll continue to make songs that speak the truth.
You mention the Internet and I saw on your website that the Kottonmouth Kings and Suburban Noize Family is a “movement”. What does the movement personify?
BDX: The movement personifies freedom (and personal freedom). Truth. Obviously for the legalization of the plant. There are way too many people in jail, locked up behind bars for the plant. We’d like to see the decriminalization of the plant.
Not too mention the money spent fighting the plant…
BDX: Definitely. We are doing this weekly radio show for the Cannabis Culture Magazine. Corporate Avenger (who appears on the Kottonmouth King’s “Peace Not Greed”) is going to be hosting it every Wednesday. Suburban Noize artists that have been making music together for years and years and years, all these people are involved with this label… Dogboy, from Too Rude is also featured on the Kottonmouth Kings record, Corporate Avenger, Grand Vernacular the Lyrical Scientist, we all tour together. We all support each other and we all do this whole thing together. It was that way before there were record companies involved with us, and it will be that way in the future. It’s all about empowering the artist. We have our own merchandising company called “Merch.com”. Our own label called Suburban Noize that produces all our records. We are very self-contained and self powered. And with the Internet, no longer is there the middleman who is exploiting the artist. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a relationship with entities like Capitol Records who are going to be partners with you and help you gain your goals.
[Corporate Avenger’s radio program can be heard on the internet at pottv.com on Wednesdays at 7:00 pm pst.]
BDX: We are all about respect for community and respect for your fellow man. When your purpose in life is to work for some corporation, and then get your retirement fund, by the time your 65… We encourage people to take their existence back on whatever level. You want to start a magazine, you want to do music, you want to do art… whatever you want to do, just do it on your own terms. Live while you live.
The Internet is an incredibly powerful tool for that.
BDX: Totally, and it scares the shit outta these fucking… No.1 The music industry is like a microcosm of society as a whole, and the government scrambles and is scared shitless on how to regulate the internet and how they can control it. It’s the same way with the music industry. Whenever they don’t have control over something, they get freaked out. It scares them and it threatens them. They are scrambling right now. They fucking can’t believe this Napster thing. The kids are actually exchanging the music files. It’s empowering the artist and they don’t want the artist to have power.
One would think it would be healthy to have fans exchange mp3’s. It gets the music out there.
BDX: If kids want the music, they are gonna get it. However they get the Kottonmouth Kings music, that’s killer. The thing that does suck is when I’m hearing weird things like people taking our fucking CD’s and selling them on Ebay and making a profit and then downloading our CD’s and selling them like that. To me that’s bullshit. If someone wants to download the file for personal use or to share with someone, that’s killer.
A great example is the Grateful Dead who highly encouraged all sorts of bootlegging and they had great prosperity.
BDX: And they never had a problem with it. Just like we usually never have problems with people coming in and filming our shows. Sometimes the venues will and that’s beyond our control. But we personally encourage it. We want to document every show that we do. It’s a special day. We don’t take for granted that we gather together with 1,000 people and have an amazing exchange when we do a show.
What do you like your music to evoke in your fans? Do you want them behind the political message as well as the music?
BDx: At the end of the day, it’s not that we want to evoke anything… but some people can kick back and hear Kottonmouth Kings record and it can be a great party album. They can smoke an ounce, drink some beer, fuck… hang with your man, hang with your lady… whatever you’re gonna do to enjoy the record. You can drive around in your car and you might like the sonics of a Kottonmouth Kings record. You might love the 808’s, you might love the bass tones, you might like some of the energy of the tracks. Then again, you might like some of the lyrics. Some of it might inspire you to achieve something in your life. As long as you set your mind to it, you can achieve anything you want to achieve. Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t. Trust me, if Kottonmouth Kings are doing this… touring around the country… and having this… I’ll tell you dreams do come true. No one ever would’ve imagined that this would have been our reality. We are definitely grateful and feel blessed to have this opportunity. We also feel that we create our own reality too and we put a lot of time and hard work into making this all happen. Especially from all the angles that we handle. We have our own label, our own merchandising company, we have SRH Productions, which is our management, we do all of our own marketing, we make our own records and it’s very consuming. Whatever it is you do, just ultimately… when you are self-empowered by doing it for yourself, it’s a hell of a lot better than working for someone and having someone tell you what to do and having to punch a clock. I’m not saying that that’s bad either because sometimes that’s just reality. I’ve had to punch many fucking clocks and deliver way too many pizzas to not know how fucking lucky I am right now.
I mentioned earlier, the departure of Saint Vicious. I’ve read a lot on the Internet, but nothing seems very clear. Was it an amicable split?
BDX: Yeah, well Saint’s working on his own stuff. Obviously, we hit a fork in the road where we were going into different directions. That stuff happens, that’s life sometimes. Sometimes marriages don’t work out. Sometimes a lot of things don’t work out. We got to a point creatively and personally where we were just going into different directions in life. As far as details and that, we don’t wash our dirty laundry outside of our camp and that’s all that people really need to know. We all decided it would be best if Saint pursued his solo career and we continued on. Johnny Richter is back. Johnny Richter wasn’t on the Royal Highness record, but he is an original Kottonmouth King. He’s back and he’s firing. Everyone is happy and moving in a positive direction. Saint is an incredibly talented dude. I have a lot of love for Saint as an individual and a human being and I wish him the best.
You mentioned earlier that you have this self-contained creative control, how did that work out with Capitol?
BDX: When we went into the deal, we had complete creative control. We produced all our own records on our own terms. Capitol pretty much distributes our records. We have 100% creative control over everything that we do. When you are working with the realities of marketing a record, and shooting videos and doing all those things that you do to run this business, we try not to put Capitol in the position of being our enemy, because by no means are they our enemy. We openly engaged ourselves in a relationship with Capitol Records so they are our partners. We work with them. We work together. We have complete creative control on the creative end and we work together on marketing the record. They do a great job for us and they’ve been there for us. They have really stuck by us and let us do our own thing and supported us. It’s killer. When we first went to Capitol, we had Gary Hersh as president there (he was the one who signed us) and he had a real vision for Suburban Noize as a label. And then there was a changing of the guards and a new regime came in. And with that, a whole new lot of people. A lot of bands get dropped in that situation, but because we were empowered and continued to market our own records, we were able to maintain ourselves and keep our heads above water so by the time they got the building back in order, the timing just happened to work out that they stuck behind the Kottonmouth Kings and they are still behind us.
It’s a very special thing for a band in this industry to retain such creative control on a major label.
BDX: It is a very special thing. No.1, we were in a fortunate position when we started this out that we knew we were going to put this record out on Suburban Noize. I personally have had some bad experiences with major labels, being signed to them with Humble Gods, and when they pull the rug out from underneath you… I just didn’t want to be put in the position where I was left with my dick in my hand again. We had learned from the school of hard knocks, that we were going to be self-empowered and in control of our own destiny. And hopefully we will make the most of the position we are in. And ultimately if it succeeds or fails, it’s on us. At least we did it our way. And to us, it’s already a success. Success is all about the journey, not the destination. The fact that we’ve seen the world, toured the country a bunch of times, and made amazing records with people that we love… that’s a success already.
1998 Royal Highness (Suburban Noize Records)
2000 High Society (Suburban Noize Records)
2001 Hidden Stash II: The Kream of the Krop (Suburban Noize Records)
2002 Rollin’ Stoned (Suburban Noize Records)
2004 Fire It Up (Suburban Noize Records)
2005 Kottonmouth Kings (Suburban Noize Records)
2006 Koast to Koast (Suburban Noize Records)
2007 Cloud Nine (Suburban Noize Records)
2008 The Green Album (Suburban Noize Records)
2010 Long Live the Kings (Suburban Noize Records)
2011 Sunrise Sessions (Suburban Noize Records)