Wednesday, July 9 ,2014. The day I attended my first Mayhem Festival.
I had already been familiar with the Idaho Center in Nampa as an outdoor venue, when I came out to Warped Tour 2011 in mid-August of that year. Specifically, I remembered how hot and sunburned I became at the end of that day, and how the skin on the back of my neck was peeling off for weeks after the festival (what could be more metal than that?). Vowing not to repeat the past, I brought a small bottle of sunscreen just for this new occasion and applied it sporadically throughout the day. No peeling this time, thank goodness!
I originally heard about Mad Dukez and Fresh Kils last year when they opened for Blueprint on his Bend But Don’t Break tour and they blew me away. I had heard about them in passing but seeing their live show made all of the difference. Hip hop through and through, they had no problem getting the crowd moving and hyped and prepared for Blueprint to take stage which is sometimes hard to do for hip hop shows at the Shredder.
The venue usually puts on metal shows, is covered in old metal show flyers, headless mannequins, odd dolls, a half pipe and is located in a back corner of 10th street just far enough from downtown for it to be difficult to find.
When I heard they were coming back this way, I jumped at the chance to talk with them about their new project Gettin Gatsby, heres what they had to say.
Welcome back to Boise guys! The first show was a lot of fun.
Kils- Thanks for having us. We had a total blast here. It was really funny. We pulled up before the sound guy got here and it had this middle of nowhere vibe when we pulled up because its kind of an off street. Were like, this cant be the right place right? And then I was like, its called the Shredder, okay its called the Shredder, thats so Teenage Ninja Turtles but it cant be. Then I come in and theres a fuckin half pipe and shit and I’m like its the Shredder. Its way cool man.
OM- Last year was you guys’ first tour together?
Kils- Not only was it our first tour together it was like our third time together. Period. It was actually the third time we’d hung out, and we had an EP and were on the road with Blueprint.
Zeds Dead’s Altered States Tour is going to be here in Boise this Sunday at the Knitting Factory with Green Lantern and Branchez. Their live show for this tour is going to be completely out of this world. With 3D lighting, it is said to give the illusion of infinite depth and the most advanced speakers on the market now.
Zeds Dead consists of Dylan Mamid, or DC, and Zach Rapp-Rovan, or Hooks. The name, Zeds Dead, comes from a scene in a classic Quentin Tarantino movie, Pulp Fiction & is a funky mix of their initials. Their sound and energy is without a doubt hip hop influenced which gives this dubstep duo a wide range of sound. You can also hear the progression of electro-house, glitch and Drum and Bass in their always transforming dynamics.
Zeds Dead’s Latest EP Hot Sauce is nothing like you have ever heard from them before and I could not be happier about it. The link for the stream and purchase is here.
The Chicago duo Houses will be at the Neurolux this Thursday, October 3rd to grace us with their beautifully dreamy electro-pop. Dexter Tortoriello triumphed over personal road blocks like drug addiction and the like before he started working at a local Apple store in Chicago where he met Megan Messina. The two started seeing one another and what we now know as Houses was eventually created. Their album Winter (A Return to Spring) is full of smooth, slow swaying instrumentals, coupled with heavy reverberated vocals that completely pull you into the foggy world that is HOUSE. With each smooth melancholy release this group excels in creating their own place in the music world.
Houses is currently on tour promoting their latest album A Quiet Darkness. This album was inspired by the California’s Highway 10 and the abandoned houses and desert along the way. Samples for the album were taken from Desert Center, California and other ghost towns around that area and closer to Arizona. In an interview with Huffington post, Tortoriello explains the process,”We finished the record at Sonic Ranch studios, which is a beautifully isolated studio on a pecan farm in El Paso, Texas, and then afterwards moved to L.A. The album from start to finish travelled quite a bit and saw many different incarnations in each location, each of which brought the songs into new directions.”
Reaching for something cinematic, taking you with them through their journey in the desert. This is not an album you should not soon forget or a concert that you should miss.
Come to the Neurolux this Thursday. The show starts at 7pm, being opened by Amp Live and Lamont Kohner. Ten dollars at the door, eight dollars in advance at the record exchange.
On the 30th of April, 2013 Boise band The Blaqks kicked down my door and rocked out in my apartment. Danny Blaqk, Jonny Blaqk, and Derell Blaqk worked out acoustic versions of a couple of their songs mere moments before coming in and talking with me about broken relationships, the local music scene in Boise, and the future…
Danko Jones rolled into Boise, Idaho opening up for Volbeat at the Revolution Concert House on March 19th, 2013 pumped full of angst and rock n’ roll. They are currently supporting their 2012 release Rock N’ Roll is Black and Blue. Danko Jones was prepared to pump up the crowd and give it their all. From start to finish Danko rocked the Revolution by playing crowd favorites like; First Date, Full of Regret, and Just a Beautiful Day. The Canadian Trio that consists of Danko Jones – Vocals/Guitar, John Calabrese – Bass, and Atom Willard – Drums paid respect to those rock n’ roll/metalheads like Randy Rhoads, Dimebag Darrell, Bon Scott, and Ronnie James Dio just to name a few, that have past away over the years that put the crowd in an uproar. The band was as tight as ever stopping to intro songs that might be a little too much for a child who just happened to be in the audience. With their high energy Danko is not one to be missed when they come rolling into your town.
Denny Spinks of All Things Metal spoke with Danko about the tour, the music, and the differences between Europe and North America. You can check out the interview here. You can also check out photos from the show here.
Swedish band Avatar was in Boise, Idaho on March 8th, 2013 at the Knitting Factory. I had the opportunity to talk to vocalist Johannes Eckerström about the album Black Waltz, Touring, Fans, The Side Show aspect, and more. You can listen to the full interview here and check out photos from the show here.
Recently called “The Cigarette Burn Rap King,” Sadistik has made a name and place for himself all his own. His recent release, “Flowers For My Father,” is a beautifully eclectic mixture of songs leaving you with a vivid image of him as a person and an artist. With instrumentals from arguably some of the best producers out right now, Blue Sky Black Death, Emancipator, and Kno of Cunninlynguists, this album was bound to be classic.
Sadistik: My name is Cody. The internet calls me Sadistik.
Orora: Was music always something you wanted to do for a living, because I read that you wanted to be a doctor at one time.
Sadistik: I was planning on going to graduate school for psychology. I was applying to some PHD programs for that and I had already gotten into the interview process for that but at that time is when my video for Search For Some Beautiful came out.
Sadistik:I was kind of in this fucked up depression, and a crossroads. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to push music or go to school so I went to one of these PHD program interviews. People flew in from all over and we were sitting at this round table before we got interviewed and all anyody could talk about was school, academic things, and psychology and I felt really bored and deflated immediately being there, so I didn’t feel like I wanted to do it yet, but I have never really had many jobs. I have had a job for maybe a couple months and then its just music.
Orora: You call yourself ‘cerebral’ could you elaborate?
Sadistik: As a person and an artist I am very cerebral. I get buried in my head a lot. It’s kind of a strength and a weakness. Obviously it is what creates my music, and sometimes it’s like you can just think yourself into a fuckin circle. I don’t know, all of the greatest thinkers I admire end up going out of their fuckin minds eventually so maybe that’s not a good thing to be.
Orora: I thought that it was an interesting way to describe yourself.
Orora: Your father passed away in 2007 and you have referred to him as your best friend. Was music or a career in music something he supported?
Sadistik: He supported my music but he died right before he got to see anything happen. So, I have rapped since I was like 14 and I was fuckin terrible for a really long time. Probably the best ever now so its cool, but….
Orora: No big deal. Haha!
Sadistik: Nah im not serious. He died right before The Balancing Act came out so he knew I was working on something and it was important to me. Things like that but he had no idea that I would do anything with it. He always supported me in whatever I wanted.
Orora: That’s really great.
Orora: Unfortunately, three years after you father passed, your friend Micheal Larson, or as we all know him, Eyedea, passed away. You addressed this clearly in Micheal in Flowers For My Father . Was this album your way of coping?
Sadistik: Yeah, somewhat. Especially my dad dying, I don’t talk about it directly much on my album. Its more the mood and the vibe and the art. Everything kind of tied together was my way of trying to craft what’s in my head or explain it or make like a little mosaic of it. I don’t know if that makes sense. It’s not like me sitting her and going, “I’m sad because I lost this person in my life. Let me write about it.” It’s more like there is this anchor in you that you don’t always have to think about the anchor you just feel it. That just came out in my writing. I am saying abstract things I am sorry. I don’t know if these hand gestures are going to be in there.
Orora: Hahaha! No It is totally okay. I think that is why people enjoy your music, because it is not direct, it’s poetic.
Sadistik: Direct is so boring sometimes. There are enough Sugar Rays in the world you know.
Orora: In another interview you describe your hometown, Yakama, Washington, as “a terrible place” because of the violence etcetera there. Do you think that that had some effect on your style as an artist?
Sadistik: I was being a little excessive when I said it was terrible. It is not a place I would raise my kids or anything like that but I don’t want to pretend that I came up from some big struggle or anything like that. I saw ugly things but for the most part I am an over privileged white male. I am not pretending to be part of that kind of struggle. It was ugly. There is lot of racial tension. There is a lot of just separation of people and small mindedness and things like that. I don’t know how much it really effected my music though. I feel like if I grew up in Wyoming or whatever, as long as I was exposed to the same art at the same time I probably would have came out pretty similar.
Orora: What art would that be?
Sadistik: It grew from like 4th grade listening from Coolio and Snoop Dogg to my tastes in rap refining until today. I am still finding, and kind of obsessing about hip hop. I have kind of added more things that I appreciate more. I have become a lot more obsessed with film. Just reading more books, taking in more stuff. Taking the time to read about painters and crazy people. I have a lot of time on my hands because I don’t have a job and I get bored easy. Art is very inspiring to me if it hits right so I put a lot of energy into it.
Orora: You talk about starting listening to Coolio and Snoop, was hip hop something you latched onto early on?
Sadistik: Yeah, yeah I was obsessed. Most people would assume, or lump me in with the Aesop Rocks or the Atmosphers or the Eyedeas, and think that that was my big influence, even though some of those people might have influenced me one way or another later on, I am a rap fan. I am not one of those kids who, oh I hated rap until I stumbled on somebody who made it white and then all of the sudden I liked it. I grew up loving really hard core west coast gangster rap. Three 6 Mafia’s Chapter Two album made me want to start making music and made me want to try to make beats. I was really into G shit. Everyone is always like, “ this emotional sad rapper guy,” and they just assume I’m listening to this piano song. No I’m listening to E-40 and, yeah I was talking to DJ Abilities today and I was telling him hey you have to listen to this Too Short song. Its called Cuss Words It is like 8 minutes. He is rapping the whole time, there is no hook, and its super hard. He’s name dropping Ronald Reagan. That show how old it is. The beat sounds really current. Shit like that. I love rap.
Orora: I would say that your lyrics themselves are very poetic. Is your writing style for your poetry a lot like your process for your albums?
Sadistik: No its different. I am working on a poetry book on the side and I am way more insecure about it than my music. It is way more vulnerable to me. Not because I think people will react badly to it, to be blunt if I wrote something amazing or if I wrote something average as hell I would probably get the same response. Give or take. For it actually to be good I am kind of insecure about it. I don’t do any rhyming or anything like that, which some people message me telling me “I cant wait for the book, are you rhyming in it?” No, I am rhyming way too much. I don’t want to rhyme. I am not so accustomed to it. It is more me experimenting. Its like giving someone a paintbrush and, I don’t know. I am really inspired by Sylvia Plath and Dylan Thomas. They are probably my favorite poets. I use a lot of references to them. On the cover of my album, the girl drowning has a tattoo on her arm from a Dylan Thomas poem that I had tattooed up my arm for my dad. Little things like that I try to tie in.
Orora: So when can we expect to be able to see your poetry book?
Sadistik: I am almost done with it. I could probably just write it in a couple weeks if I just buckled down *cough* and stayed sober. I have just been so in a zone with music that I just haven’t slowed down. I actually just finished Flowers For My Father pretty shortly before it came out. It’s not like I was sitting on it for a long time. I was working on it for two years. Snow White was the last song I made on it and I made that last minute, and asked, “please include that, I really like this song.” While we are doing on all the bullshit to get ready for the release I started again. This last month maybe. I started immediately going to the same producers and being like, “I want more, I want to go in this direction,” and I am already about four songs into it.
Orora: Into a new album?
Sadistik: Yeah. I have just been in such a groove that I haven’t been wanting to write poetry. I bet when I go to Europe I will. When I was in Europe last time I was writing a lot of poetry.
Orora: Well thank you for doing this interview man. Looking forward to the show.
Sitting down to do this interview was instantly intimidating. I have been listening to Living Legends and following their individual careers for as long as I can remember and to top it off they were sitting down to dinner as I got there.
The Grouch and Eligh originally started making music together as the group Living Legends and continue to make music and travel together into their solo careers. Heres what they had to say about their journeys to where they are now and the state of hip hop.
Orora Munroe: When you guys first started rapping, did you ever think that you would get as big as you have?
Grouch: Well, we always hoped that it would. We actually started as solo artists before Living Legends and then we did the big group thing and that seemed to take off well with everybody, so we just used that as a platform and always maintained our solo careers. We just went at it nonstop. I do expect it to get bigger. We put a lot of work into [it].
OM: So, you took Mystic Journeymen, the Three Melancholy gypsies and you [Grouch], and those groups eventually came together and formed Living Legends. What made you guys decide to take that jump and create something new?
Eligh: Well, that’s not exactly correct. It’s way more detailed and strange.
OM: Fill us in!
E:Well, Scarub, Murs and I were together as Three Melancholy Gypsies in high school. Everybody left high school and kind of went their separate ways. We had another crew in L.A called Log Cabin, which is a bunch of people kind of like Living Legends. Like 9 or 10 people and we made a whole album together and kind of everybody dissipated and separated and I ended up moving up to the Bay on a random occurrence. I met Grouch through a cousin of mine, and Grouch was already friends with Mystic Journeymen, and those three had already met Murs through some other random occurrence so they knew each other. I didn’t know Murs knew them, or they knew Murs and all the sudden I realized, “Dude, you know Murs? I went to high school with him. We started rapping together.” It was just weird coincidences like that. If you want to call it that.
OM: Nice! That worked out nicely.
G: Yeah, it just kept rolling after that. Scarub came in later and a couple other guys.
OM: You guys do a lot of your own production on your own albums as well as others’ and MC of course. How did you get your hands into production?
E:I guess for me, the same time I started writing was the same time I started taking pieces of loops on tapes and going back and forth and making them into longer loops, and I have always liked both at the same time, so it happened at the same time. I didn’t actually learn how to make a beat on a machine until I met him [Grouch] and he showed me how to use an SR10, which is a keyboard sampler. From there I just fell in love. Still to this day, when I’m done rapping, I want to be scoring movies and working with music in that way. That’s my passion still.
G:I started wanting to produce and make beats before rapping. I had this old sampler called an Insonic Mirage. It’s a keyboard. For people that make beats today, they will never understand how limited we were back then. Right now, you have a computer and you want to make beats, you can record as long as you want, any kind of sound. The samplers we had back then, my sampler would sample for 2.5 seconds total. That means you have to make a beats out of only 2.5 seconds of sound so we would get record players and spin them with our fingers as fast as we could so that we could get the longest amount of audio into the machine, and then we would chop those pieces up and make beats out of them.
I have always wanted to be a producer but then a friend of mine convinced me to be a rapper as well and it just went from there.
OM: What’s both of your opinion about the direction of hip hop right now as a whole–the scene, the sound and how it’s changed?
G:I think hip hop is dope. Right now, it is fresh. There are so many good rappers. There are so many bad rappers. Everybody can play the game. Whoever wants to play can play the game. I think that’s cool. A lot of new rappers that are popular that I don’t like and there’s a couple that I really like, like Kendrick Lamar’s stuff, a lot. Its cool. Its in a good state to me. I think especially right now with Kendrick Lamar and a few other rappers out there, people who are actually saying stuff in their music are starting to be popular again. That’s how I feel like it used to be in the Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul days. Maybe that’s coming back. Where its not just about more superficial things.
E:I agree with him on the Kendrick Lamar aspect, and in some ways, I feel like it’s the same thing as its always been. There’s good rappers, there’s bad rappers. There’s good music, there’s bad music. It’s just more people are doing it now. So there’s more bad and more good, more period. I’m happy with it as well. It’s an open market
OM: You guys like some of the stuff that is coming out. What are your top albums in 2012?
G:The Kendrick Lamar album is hands down my favorite album of 2012. I like the Flying Lotus, I like Fiona Apple’s album, a lot of stuff, I just can’t think of it all right now.
E: Pretty much mirroring the same. Kendrick Lamar is definitely number one.
G:I forgot. Number two is Frank Ocean for me.
E:Frank Ocean, yeah. He and I have a lot of the same tastes and like a lot of the same stuff. Gina Spector’s new album, you should check that out. She is awesome. Those are my favorite albums this year.
OM: From the beginning, you guys have been pretty ambitious and you all have made names for yourself. What advice would you give a new MC starting from nowhere?
E:Make as much music as you can and practice performing and doing shows, because people don’t know how to perform now. That’s my biggest thing about kids now. They don’t know how to perform. They think it’s just [that] you’re supposed to rap over their own lyrics and let the song play and just rap over it. Walk around with their head down, looking backward, behind you; it’s not a good show. Learn how to perform.
G: Don’t do what everybody else is doing.
E: Yeah! Don’t do what everybody else is doing. Do you. Do something different. Different is good. I would just say do something to change some shit. I don’t wanna hear the same shit over and over.
OM: Heroes in the Healing of a Nation came out last year with Zion I. How would you say your styles and sound have changed since your first album with them in 2006?
G:I would say the first one is a little bit more, just a little bit harder than the second one, but the second one has its moments. Check it out: the sound is big, its bumpin, its slappin.
OM: I would like to talk about the GreyCrow album. Coming back to your music after getting clean, where was your head at for this album?
E:Grey Crow was my first solo album after getting clean, but my head space is all over that album. That’s the thing about what he does and what I do. We talk about what’s going on, period. That’s my main, its therapy. That’s what it is, and that album had a lot of messages about being clean, and I felt like I wanted to talk about that a lot. I talked about going backwards and kind of tracing my steps on how I started using drugs in the first place and running that whole line of a life story.
OM: Did you expect to impact other people’s lives in that album?
E: There is always a goal. That is the best thing that can come out of an album for me is to help somebody. Help somebody get through something or realize something, that’s a big bonus, but at the time, it’s just spilling your guts.
OM: Do you have any advice for someone who may be dealing with an addiction of their own?
E:My advice to someone that wants to stop, that’s the only people I can give advice to because other people, they don’t want to hear it. For me, I had to go to rehab because I couldn’t stop what I was doing on my own. I tried, it was too hard. I needed to go to rehab. I needed structure. I needed to surrender to someone helping me. So, that was the first step, and then I started going to 12-step meetings, NA meetings, that was huge for me. I still go to meetings now. My biggest advice would be to completely surrender.
OM: What was it like working with Amp Live on the Therapy at 3 album?
E:So great, so great. One of the fastest albums I have ever made. It went so quick because I didn’t have to worry about production. He would give me a beat, and every beat he gave me we used. It wasn’t like he gave me a beat and I’m like, “Aahhh I don’t like that one. Give me another one.” It was just like bam, bam, bam, bam, and just knocking songs out. That was really just mindless writing is what I call it, writing without my mind in the way. It’s kind of like spilling, spilling, spilling and really hearing what I am saying later. It was really cool to not have to worry about the beats. I just picked them and I wrote. To have someone else handle all of the production for once was great.
OM: I was here for your show last year as well, and the show of course was dope. How do you guys switch shows up every year and what can you tell your fans to expect this time around?
G: Well, for the How the Grouch Stole Christmas run, I just try to put together so that it is entertaining for the people. Last year we brought Zion I, Grouch and Eligh, which was cool because we have all worked together before, but we have never had a project together, so I thought that was going to be big. It was a cool idea because we all like working together, and to combine it onstage was super fun. This year, Prof caught my attention because he is a very good performer and I knew that Mr. Fab was a good performer already as well. I didn’t really have any magic Z&G&E things to pull out of my hat, so I just wanted to make it so that whoever comes to see the show, they leave saying, “I saw three very good performances.” Regardless of if they heard of the people before or if they were fans before they got there. I feel that no one can deny that everybody that goes on this tour and steps on stage is a great performer. That was my thought behind this year. It’s always a little bit different. Sometimes I want to bring up and coming younger people, like Los Rakas I brought one time, and Fashawn I brought when he was just coming up. Prof is on his way up, Fab is one of the greatest freestylers that I know and he incorporates that into his show. I wanted that to be a part of this year. A lot of things go into it.
E:It gets brought every time.
G: Make sure I’m a part of it every time, that’s what he says.
G: I try to make it so that its not just G & E every time because I know he wants to go and I want to bring him, but maybe it will be G & E every year.
G:Or maybe working on a Z & G & E album.
E:Yeah! That’s what I’m talkin about.
G:We’ll see what happens.
You heard it! A possible Z & G & E album in the works in the future!