Words by Rebecca Silverstein
Music has power. It is a key part of all of our lives whether we seek it out, create it ourselves, or have done as little as walk into a store or go to a high school dance. Music is powerful and can generate memories in all of us-memories we wouldn't remember without that certain song.
I remember the first time I really started listening to the Beastie Boys. Growing up in suburbia Texas, I was pretty late in the game. I had heard them before but it wasn't until '94 when I took a trip to California and heard Ill Communication on loop, dozens of times over, as I was riding shotgun in a car with the guy I knew I was in love with (I was 14). He had a hot black Camaro and we just drove...to Target and Mervyn's. He sang along and I just sat there-pretending I knew the words but really just mumbling. But that did it-I was hooked. And I'll never forget those errands we ran together.
So when I received the opportunity to chat with the trio before they headlined a special benefit concert, hosted by Moby, for the Institute for Music and Neurological Function (IMNF) in NYC last night, I immediately agreed, even though I had no idea what one had to do with the other.
Apparently Mike's (Diamond/Mike D) friend's dad is a board member for the Institute, which is how the three were approached to headline the event. The IMNF, according to the press release, is founded on the idea that music has unique powers to heal, rehabilitate, and inspire, and "we can use music therapy to restore and improve our physical, emotional, and neurological health." I don't doubt that.
Decades in the game, these three pioneered a sound of hip-hop that has not failed them, and has not failed their fans. Recent Grammy winners for their instrumental album Mix Up, a mission to fill the instrumentals with vocals is next. To do this, the guys have handed the job off to other vocalists and are letting them create lyrics. Jarvis Cocker and Snoop Dogg have both turned in spoken words for the album, and MIA has created a song as well.
The next Beastie Boys album with all new and original material will probably be out sometime next year, as according to them, they are either "a fifth, or a third" of the way through.
Yauch also disclosed that his first film from recently announced Oscilloscope Production, his film company, is going to be released in a few months. It follows the lives of top high school basketball players and is based around an Allstar game that happened in New York in Rucker Park about a year and a half ago. The documentary, Gunning for that Number One Spot, will time its release with this year's NBA draft.
It's pretty well known that getting Mike, Adam "MCA" Yauch, and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz together for an interview, opens doors for random outbursts and a journey from point A to point Z in three seconds flat. This interview was, however, one of the greatest moments of my life. They don't take things too seriously-this is obvious-and dance around questions to no end. They do the greatest job of straying from the question, and that's what I love most. Sometimes.
Ad Rock: Usually someone has to ask us [for them to agree to promote a certain charity]. That's the main criteria. So we were asked to do this one, which was nice, because we don't get asked out a lot...that's a different problem of ours.
Mike D: Jdate has helped...It was important that A) [The IMNF] doesn't usually get that much attention and B) [The IMNF] is helping people-not people who have a lot of means...Hopefully we have a positive effect.
Ad-Rock: I figure any effect is a positive effect. That's my take.
MCA: Would be cool if we could have somebody freestyle who couldn't event talk.
Ad Rock: Braindead freestyle rapping?
Was Moby involved from the beginning?
Mike D: I think he's been involved, ongoing, with these events. Say in other years they've had big names like...Marvin Hamlish (laughing).
Ad-Rock: Why are you laughing?
MCA: Don't laugh at Marvin Hamlish he's been in the game a long time.
Mike D: I thought he was involved in the theme for Star Wars but I don't think he had anything to do with it.
MCA: Don't run up on Marvin he's a much bigger name in the industry than us.
Mike D: That's why I'm laughing!
MCA: I know Marvin.
Mike D: Was he down with Star Wars?
MCA: I don't think so.
Mike D: We could do a collabo with him though. Star Wars aligns...
(Ed note: Terminal 5 is an interesting venue. It's a pretty new building that I haven't had the privilege of seeing a show at yet (I've heard the sound here is pretty bad, too...). It was just me, along with the three other writers, who were seated in a tiny room with the Beastie Boys in the back.)
Mike D: What is up with these crazy industrial rooms with one chandelier?
Ad-Rock: They're trying to warm it up is my theory.
Mike D: If you want me, if I could interject for a minute and I could write the copy. Lets say this is a boutique hotel. It would be... what they're doing is adding baroque-oak-oak touches to a stark modern interior. So anyone in the boutique hotel business wants something written for their website, email me and I'm available on Boutique Hotels.
MCA: Dot com.
Mike D: Also, I've done a few theme restaurants.
MCA: Dot com.
Mike D: I don't know if you've heard of...familiar with Mideval Times? Just saying. Technically I'm not on the masthead but behind the scenes I've consulted and I can tell you its one of the most successful...I mean that thing took off like wildfire. One of the most successful theme launches in the history of the theme restaurant business.
I like to throw in the fact that I'm from Texas any chance I get...it really fit in incredibly well while talking about the amazing Mideval Times in Dallas. This led to...
Ad- Rock: I went to a Rodeo Bar outside of San Antonio. It was weird, there was an actual rodeo in the bar, with a horse inside. Not a mechanical horse, actual live animals.
Cue to Texas Politics!
MCA: Im rooting for Obama.
Mike D: I didn't realize myself until the primaries hit that im in the Obama camp.
MCA: I blew it, I actually registered in the independent camp and it got too close to the primaries and I was like, Ahhh!
Mike D: I am actually registered in California and I filled out the thing for the absentee ballot and it never got to me. Trying to scam me out of the vote. Schwarzenegger. Probably didn't invest in Mideval Times. I thought he would help me out a little here.
Who are some of the other artists collaborating with you on your next album?
MCA: Big names. Mariah Carey. Paula Abdul.
(Mike D laughing, turning red.)
Ad-Rock: Are you texting me right now? Mike what are you doing?
Mike D: Do you have your phone?
Ad-Rock: That's rude...do I look at my phone or yours? (Looks at phone) Clarence Witherspoon? That's what's so funny? Who is Clarence Witherspoon? From the Knicks, yes?
Mike D: He is coming out of retirement. Doesn't play basketball anymore, he's a hell of a singer...with a name like that he probably sings like a bird.
Ad-Rock: Big guy. Didn't help the team much, though.
Mike D: No, made no difference.
Ad-Rock: I'm impressed. If we could get Clarence Witherspoon to write for our album, that could get a whole sports angle too.
A little later, while discussing more of Mix Up...
Ad Rock: Maybe we could if see Trent Tucker and Ronaldo Black could do it. Get John Starks involved?
Mike D: Along with uh, word up. Larry Blackman.
Fantastic evening with the boys, turned men, who are actually still boys. The Beastie Boys will always be one of my favorites and I'm really looking forward to hearing this completely new album hit the sound waves. I'm also looking forward to them launching a comedy tour...