Interview: Kottonmouth Kings

KOTTONMOUTH KINGS
interview by james wright


“Maximize each and every day [you’re alive], enjoy and respect the people around you, your planet and these amazing gifts such as music.” Smirks KMK frontman Brad X. Obviously this man has nothing but joy for the way his band has evolved in the past seven years. Starting off in southern California playing shows then to starting their own label to release records the Kottonmouth have always done everything their way without compromise. Taking parts from all types of music the Kottonmouth Kings touch on pop, punk, rock and hip-hop. KMK is truly music without borders. Now with the release of the 4th full-length record, “Rolling Stoned” the Kottonmouth Kings are prepared to take things over the top. Modern Fix was fortunate enough to sit down with KMK mastermind Brad “Daddy” X to talk about the new album, “Rolling Stoned”, their relationship with Capital Records and why KMK is all about spreading peace, love and the high life.

Let’s talk about the time in between this release and “High Society”. You’ve been pretty busy with the B-sides record, “Hidden Stash 2”, and the DVD, “Dopeumentary”.
Well, “Hidden Stash 2” started out as a B-sides record but most of it ended up being new material. That was like a whole new record really. With Kottonmouth Kings it has been seven years of non-stop evolving cycle of recording and touring. This new record, “Rolling Stoned” was recorded in between our “Hidden Stash 2” and “High Society” albums when we weren’t touring. We’ve tried to put out about an album a year because we’re always writing new material. We take a little studio out with us while we’re on the road so we’re constantly writing.

This album is pretty diverse for the kings this time around. There are a couple of acoustic type ballads and a few rock songs.
Well we hope each and every record we make is different from the last one we make, otherwise there would be no point to making new music. With “Rolling Stoned” we had a little bit more time to record and we didn’t want to restrict ourselves at all so when we wanted to record some acoustic material we just did it and it came out great. We did some more punk stuff and we just tried to make a record without boundaries and in doing that this record took on a life of it’s own. When we make our records we try not to limit or restrict ourselves in which direction we wanna go but we just wanna make sure everything is together with the lyrics and the beats, so that it’s tight.

Do you hope you do well on radio this time around?
Well hope is a really funny word and I have hope that a day will come when this world will not have any weapons or wars. Do we hope we get radio play with this record? I think we write eclectic enough music to be on the radio and that we stand for a lot of things that the world probably needs to hear right now. If we’re not on the radio then the underground is still going to hear it and so will the people cause we’ll be out there playing shows no matter what. Maybe people wouldn’t understand us if we had radio play anyways ya’ know? We make our records for ourselves and like-minded individuals that understand what we’re all about. This record could get out there and be heard by a million people or 100,000 could hear it but I think that’s kind of beyond our control. Right now radio is a whole different thing because in America there are three major corporations that own all the stations and dictate what gets played. There are very few stations left that get to pick what they want to play and then you have record companies buying commercial space in order to get their artists songs played. It all comes down to how much Capital Records wants to spend to get Kottonmouth Kings on the radio.

I thought Capital Records really dropped the ball when they didn’t release, ‘On The Run’ from “Hidden Stash 2″as a single. With everything going in the world at that time like the September 11th attacks I just think that song was exactly what the world needed to start the healing process.
That kind of cracks into another whole can of worms my friend. Its like this, we have our own label called Suburban Noize Records and if you look at the history of KMK you’ll see songs all the way from ‘Dogs Life’ to ‘Spies’ which has a punk rock vibe feel to it. We have always had very diverse records but we have a record deal with Capital Records, who put out our albums in conjunction with our own label and we’re with a label that has absolutely no comprehension of what Kottonmouth Kings are about. We’re like such a sore thumb over there at Capital Records because we’re not like Radiohead or Cold Play or any of the stuff they understand or promote. They really have no idea what the fuck to do with us! Alternative radio thinks we’re too rap and Rap radio thinks we’re too Alternative! The bottom line is we make the records that we wanna make and hopefully someday we’ll align ourselves with a label or radio that will embrace us for what we are. We can’t change what we are.

It must be a horrible place to be when you sell enough records so the label can’t drop you but at the same time you don’t sell enough for them to make you a priority.
It’s a terrible place to be. Put it this way, we’ve shot three videos for this album, we’re about to go on tour for a two-month tour and we’ve paid for everything! We can’t even get a phone call back from these fuckers! They won’t even pick up the phone and call us! In one aspect its like thank-god we’re so self-empowered that we’re not dependant on our label but we are partners with them and to do it on the level we wanna do this at is just not possible without them willing to work with us. If you gotta pull teeth just to get somebody at the label to support your record then you’re just working with the wrong people ya’ know what I mean?

Well the way I’d see it is you guys consistently sell 100,000 to 150,000 records on our own with no radio support or video on MTV. I would look at that, and a decent company should, look at those figures and say, “Let’s push this over the top.”
That’s what we would think because we’ve sold almost a million records without any of their help. We’ve sold 800,000 records on our own and when I say that I don’t mean Capital has never done anything for us because that’s not true but this is our third record under and we’ve been under three different presidents for the company. The president who signed us was amazing and absolutely understood what we we’re about and he also signed the Beastie Boys and Nirvana. So now here we are with our third president and each time there is a shift in power we get further and further from them. Every time there is a management shift it’s been a bad experience for us but obviously our momentum is not going to be stopped by that. We had people over at Capital that didn’t even want us to make this record and instead of embracing us we’ve got these bozos up in the Capital tower telling us they’re not going to put this record out unless we work with a certain producer or write a certain way. The only people than can make a Kottonmouth Kings record are the Kottonmouth Kings those guys just want to chase everybody else’s tail so they can make money and stroke their own cocks. Our fans are what validates our music and people come out to shows and support the band. I guarantee that in the future whether we’re putting out our records out on our own label, Suburban Noize, or partnered with another label it will be with someone who understands the Kottonmouth Kings.

Kottonmouth Kings have always been really vocal about their love of marijuana and you’ve put strong efforts in to help the legalization movement. Care to explain your side of things to those who may not think it should be legal?
Everyone out there is entitled to have their own opinions on whether they agree or disagree and Kottonmouth Kings are definitely a pro-marijuana band but we’re also pro-freedom band. We’re all about freedom of choice because there are guys who are in Kottonmouth Kings who don’t even smoke herb and there are people who smoke a lot of herb. What it’s all about is living in a world where you have the freedom to choose. We living in a world now where we watch the news and see the military machine is cranking out missiles and weapons of mass destruction and that is completely acceptable yet a plant that grows naturally isn’t? We’re all creations of the creator and that plant is a creation of god where as bombs, guns and tanks are creations of man. If a cop busts through my front door with a gun because a guy is sitting on my couch smoking some herb, a fucking plant man, who’s the real criminal? The creator would think that the guy forcing all this brutality onto others is the fucking criminal ya’ know? To me it’s all about balance and just living in harmony with nature and one another. Somehow things have gotten all twisted and now you can buy a gun in any K-Mart or Walmart but a plant is illegal? That to me is insanity.

I’m thankful that here in Canada guns are illegal. I can honestly say I’ve never even seen a gun up close and in-person.
Yea’ man! To me things are just a little out of balance with what the creator intended that’s all. I don’t think the plant is a criminal because it’s just a plant! Alcohol and cigarettes are completely acceptable but a plant isn’t? To me that to me just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

So then is music your best way to get your message across to people?
The message at the end of the day is just enjoy life. Maximize each and every day, enjoy and respect the people around you, your planet and these amazing gifts such as music. We’ve seen through people like Bob Marley and John Lennon that have made music a medium. In life you’re either walking the path of the righteous or you’re walking the path of the wicked and the wicked people in the world have probably never heard a Bob Marley song so you’re never going to change those people. We’re not trying to change those people either and we’re not out there to do anything else than express our opinions and if people can relate to that then killer. We know we’re not going to change the world but people can have an amazing night at a Kottonmouth Kings show that they can remember and the exchange of our music to the audience is an amazing experience. It’s all about about spreading peace and love.

What can we expect to see from Kottonmouth Kings and the Suburban Noize family in 2003?
Well we just had Pakelika just finished his album, “Another Cult Classic”, which Bobby B. produced and that should be out in 2003. Dj Bobby B. has a couple records out like, “99 Rips Beyond” and D-Loc has a Dj record entitled, “Dj Shakey Bones” and now they have a record together called “The Tsunami Brothers” which is just scratching and cool Dj stuff. We have the Mix Mob record, which just came out and we have the Judge’s debut record that is almost finished. The Judge’s album is just phenomenal.

What about the Corporate Avenger? His album, “Freedom Is A State of Mind” was incredible and definitely one of the most underrated albums of last year.
Corporate Avenger was definitely a special record but we don’t have a million dollars so we can only do what we’re able to do. That is definitely an important record and at the end of the day it’s not about units sold but rather the art being perpetrated and I think that record will have a long lasting self life for years to come. Corporate Avenger is in the studio now working on a new record and they wanted to move it into another direction by doing a full band record. Kottonmouth Kings are in the process of recording a live album on this upcoming tour doing all the classic tracks live and that will be out 4/20/03 so check it out in April. That for us will kind of be like a greatest hits album and we’ll be doing a song in every city. After that we have a follow-up to the “Dopeumentary” DVD called, “Stoners Reeking Havoc” which will be out by the time you read this. Finally on this tour we’re shooting a documentary called, “Rolling Stoned” which will have all the videos for ‘Full Throttle’, ‘Positive Vibes’ and ‘Endless Highway’ along with a documentary. That should be out in spring or summer 2003.

Right on! Thank-you so much man as it was definitely a pleasure.
Thanks James. Take care bro’.