Kottonmouth Kings - The Hemp Files
3D’s Nina Bertok takes a hit from Brad X’s bong, whilst talking about Kottonmouth Kings’ return to Australia, their next album and X’s side project in film.
It’s taken some time for the stars to align but finally Orange County’s most famous weed-loving hip hop punks Kottonmouth Kings are heading over to Australia for a special “thunder down under” tour, according to frontman Brad X.
"We’ve just finished our Bring Da Noize tour on the back of The Green Album ,” he says. “The line-up was amazing with people like Big B, La Coka Nostra, Ill Bill, Slaine, Everlast, DannyBoy and DJ Lethal. The shows have been great but we’ve had an incredibly intense schedule this year. But, you know, none of that matters when you see the crowds that still come to our shows 13 years later. I feel proud that I can say our group has been able to draw so many different types of people to the shows, from punk kids, to hip hop dudes, to hippies to metalheads – all of them together, man.”
Fronting one of the most inclusive bands in music has meant that Brad X’s own record label Suburban Noize has attracted interest from high profile artists as diverse as Jada Pinkett Smith’s band Wicked Wisdom to Sen Dog of Cypress Hill. Embracing the underground is what this man is all about.
“People want to work with us because they can see that this label wants to help them further their careers,” Brad X claims. “It’s a tight-knit community, everybody looks out for one another. But it’s not just about signing somebody up and then baby-sitting them for the rest of the way, you get nowhere like that. The artists on Suburban Noize are encouraged to be as DIY as possible by running their own MySpace page and being in control of their own business. For our artists to be successful they have to be in charge most of the time. We will help them with the marketing and promotion but they have to have a strong business sense too. The label doesn’t have a criteria, there’s no set format, but they have to have something already going on and, of course, they have to be able to play nice in the sandbox with the other kids.”
The same ethic can be found behind Brad’s own group. At the core of Kottonmouth Kings is autonomy and self-empowerment, the very reason the vocalist claims the group is still around to this day.
“Our motto is not to be at the mercy of other people, we’re only still doing this because we’ve always had complete freedom from other people trying to water our shit down. It’s a lot of work and headaches, and a lot of energy goes into it. Some bands are more comfortable having someone else taking care of their business for them and just want to concentrate on the music-making aspect and being creative, and that’s cool. But I think that the bands that stick around in the end are the ones that take shit into their own hands and look after their own business. That’s what works for us. We’ve never had a filter. I mean, we’re a white rap group singing about weed, I think that’s about as liberating as you can get. As far as purists are concerned, as much as one person may absolutely hate us, there is another person out there that loves our stuff just as much. It’s pretty hilarious when you think about it, that the current trend in music is that you have to abide by these ridiculous rules of genre. Just the fact that there are rules you’ve got to follow is ridiculous in itself. It’s a load of crap because punk-rock was all about breaking the rules in the first place, right-”
And the band’s latest release, Green Album, is a 20-track opus that does just that, combining just about every genre known to man, including rapcore, hardcore, Latin rap, reggae and alternative rock.
“I love the whole process of making a record, I always have,” Brad X says. “Going in and coming up with an idea for a song and then being able to bring it to life is the ultimate – when you turn a thought into a physical, living, breathing thing. The Green Album is our tenth studio album and a pretty good documentation of where we are right now as a band. We’ve gone through all the shit that comes with being in a band – the addiction, trouble with the law, people dying, all of it, but we also feel we have a personal responsibility to keep going with the Kings.”
Following on from this is yet another installation in the Kottonmouth Kings’ Hidden Stash series – a collection of collaborations, B-sides, and songs included in soundtracks that the group will release in the coming months, according to the vocalist.
“I’m actually just wrapping up Volume Four right now. This one will be a double disc with about 40 songs on it as well as a full-length DVD called The Lost Adventures of Kottonmouth Kings, which will feature random stuff like music skits and our trip to Australia next month. I’m also developing a movie script right now, which is a stoner kind of comedy movie. It’s based around the government trying to legalise weed to help the failing economy and the Kottonmouth Kings are voted as the best people to be spokespersons about legalising it. But it turns out that the government is using weed as a form of mind-control, a substance to transform the people into sheep basically. We’re hoping for a release date in late 2010 so we’ve got a lot of things going on at the moment. I’m very excited about all of it.”
WHO: Kottonmouth Kings
WHAT: Play Gaelic Club
WHEN: Thursday 7 May