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By Gabriella,
August '98

Right on the heels of Run-DMC, some fifteen years ago, the Beastie Boys stormed the charts with their cool rock-rap blend -- a groundbreaking novelty in the ’80s. Now, four years after the Beastie Boys’ last album, Ill Communication, the Boy Wonders are at it again with the same cheeky attitude that enchanted crowds from the start.

Journalists call them the holy terrors because the Boys insist on being interviewed as a trio. It’s their way of making sure it doesn’t get too serious. If one of them gets caught up in a real conversation, the others rescue him in a hurry. Even stars have to fight for their right to party. Adam Horovitz (aka King Adrock), Adam Yauch (aka MCA) and Michael Diamond (aka Mike D) simply refuse to grow up. The role of the loudmouthed Brooklyn brats is certainly not something of the past. Rather, for them, it’s past, present and future.

The creation of their new album and fifth release to date, Hello Nasty kept them holed up for three years in seven different recording studios, six of them in their hometown of New York... but as they claim, it was never really finished...

NY Rock: Three years and seven recording studios are quite a bit...

King Adrock:

Of course we only recorded the basic tracks there. The studios were something like living rooms for us. It was a cool and relaxed atmosphere for work but they didn't give us a lot of technical, professional possibilities. So we worked over them in our own studio.

Mike D:

We love to travel with our equipment. We show up with our equipment and our stuff, build it up and start playing until they kick us out.

NY Rock:

So what made legends like the Beastie Boys adopt and integrate other musical styles into Hello Nasty? Why not play it safe and avoid alienating fans?

Mike D:

We spent so much time in the studio that we weren't in touch with the things that happened around us, not what's going on in the music scene and not what other people think about our music. We didn't even hear other opinions; we were rather reclusive.

You know, there is nothing planned on the album, we didn't plan anything. All you hear are different sounds, sounds we experimented with, nothing else. Maybe that's our problem: we were so far removed from everything, it was like being underground, really underground, like in a hole in the ground. Our rehearsal room is in fact underground, a basement room with no fresh air and it smells pretty bad in there and we ate the same stuff all the time, rice and eggs, kind of a local speciality in that area. Well, maybe that's the reason why we're not fresh anymore, ha ha ha.

NY Rock:

So how do you work; how do the songs come to life?

Mike D:

"Putting Shame in Your Game" is an excellent example. We had a great electronic beat, then we put layer upon layer of sound on it and ended up with an old school song. Unfortunately, we didn't like the result. Well, we were rather disappointed about the way it turned out, so we started to take the layers of sound away again and ended up with exactly the same beats we had in the first place. That's how we work. We are playing with sounds until they fit -- or they don't fit.

NY Rock:

You included a lot of female vocals such as that of Brooke Williams, Jill Cuniff and Miho Hatori. Why did you take this approach?

Mike D:

Because they sing far better than we do [laughs].

MCA:

There are different reasons for different songs. One reason was that we recorded so many songs, an unbelievable amount of songs, and for some songs we just couldn't come up with lyrics. Our minds were blank. So we went and played the songs to Jill (from Luscious Jackson) and asked her if she had any ideas. With Brook it kinda worked the same.

NY Rock:

Adam Horovitz had a rather large role in the recording of Hello Nasty. Rumors had it that you were far too busy with your own projects and left most of the work to Adam...

King Adrock:

That really is just a rumor. It's true that a lot of the samples are samples I created on my keyboard at home, but that still doesn't mean I wrote all the songs. We all worked on the album.

NY Rock:

The British press claimed that Hello Nasty contains three tracks written by Puff Daddy and that he should have lent you his voice for some vocal tracks...

King Adrock:

The truth is that, in fact, those are three full-length Puff Daddy albums but we hid them in the basement. At the moment he's sitting next door, writing a couple of new songs for us.

MCA:

We met him once at the Knicks stadium in New York. Some guy came up and asked us if he could take a picture. A little while later, Rolling Stone printed the photo with the subtitle "The Beastie Boys and Puff Daddy hang out together."

Mike D:

Don't believe what you read about us, especially not in the NME. If it would be true what they wrote about us, then Puff Daddy would have produced our album and I would be dead, 6 feet under, but I'm feeling particularly alive.

NY Rock:

Your label, Grand Royal, is exemplary and offers a wide variety of artists from different genres. For example, you signed Liquid Liquid, Noise Addict, Buffalo Daughter, Luscious Jackson and Sean Lennon, just to name a few. What's been the impetus behind signing such distinct acts?

Mike D:

Some of the artists we knew and liked and offered them a contract, but there are also bands like Buffalo Daughter; we didn't know them but we really liked their music, so we signed them.

MCA:

Of course the distribution is a completely different chapter. You can sign a lot of different artists on a label but the distribution doesn't happen this way. We have to find the right distributors for all the acts. That's why some of them run through indies and some through majors. It depends on the music and what is best for the artist and it seems to work out.

More Beastie Boys on NY Rock:
Tibetan Freedom Concerts, Oct '97
World Beat Column, Aug '98
World Beat Column, Jul '98

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