Six-ish Questions For ... the Beastie Boys
The Beastie Boys are about to kick off a short, pre-election tour of several swing states (North Carolina, Virginia and Ohio among them), on which they'll be joined by various artists, from Sheryl Crow, Jack Johnson and Norah Jones to David Crosby and Graham Nash. The closest D.C. stop of the Get Out and Vote '08 Tour comes Tuesday at the Richmond Coliseum.
Adam Yauch (aka MCA [aka Nathaniel Hornblower]) called to discuss.
Given your band's politics and those of the artists you'll be performing with, shouldn't you have just called it the Get Out and Vote For Obama in '08 Tour? Is there any question what this is about?
Well, really, the tour is about getting people to go out and vote. Of course, personally, as a human being, I hope that they'll vote for Obama. That's me speaking as an individual. But the purpose of tour is to just get people to go out and have their voices heard.
How much of a difference do you think the tour can make? It's not like the Tibetan Freedom Concerts, where you were trying to draw attention to and raise money for a social-justice cause that was something of a mystery to the masses. I think everybody's pretty well aware that there's a presidential election on Nov. 4.
Traditionally, people in their 20s and 30s often don't bother to get out and vote on election day. That's what statistics show. These elections were very, very close in some of the states, at least when we were planning the tour. So if we influence a handful of people who might not have bothered to go out and vote, it may make somewhat of a difference. We saw what happened in Florida, where a handful of votes really determined the outcome.
You guys can be absolute goofballs sometimes...
...but this presidential election is serious stuff. As those noted social critics De La Soul say: Stakes is high. So do you have to temper those goofball impulses when you're doing these concerts? Or will it be silly business as usual?
Usually you know what situation you're in and what level of stupidity is warranted. Usually, I will stress. We'll see. But all we're really doing is getting out there and hoping to influence a few people to vote. It's not like we're getting out there and presenting a plan for how Obama should run the economy.
Do you vote in every election? Even when it's just for, like, a New York City Council seat?
I should. And I want to start doing that more. But to be completely honest, I haven't. A lot of times, I get caught up working on project and lose track of what's going on. But it's important and I want to do it more.
There I go, doing that "gotcha journalism" thing. You ever considered running for office yourself? You could campaign on a Stop the Knicks From Sucking platform.
(Laughs.) It's certainly something that's crossed my mind. But I don't know, I think at this point in my life, I'm not educated enough about the issues. A lot of my time is spent in the recording studio thinking about quarter notes and eighth notes. I probably have good intentions and have my heart in the right place, but I would have to really know quite a bit more about what's gong on on a lot of levels to be useful.
If you did run, the opposition researchers would have a field day with your past self.
Well, there's the question of whether I could be elected, and then there's the question of whether I'd be useful.
Do you ever wish 1986/1987 never happened?
No, no. I think it was definitely an interesting period of time for us. It was part of the trajectory of the band. There's certainly stuff I wouldn't repeat right now. But it's all part of a learning experience. And it wasn't really harmful. For the most part, it was just basic stupidity, which is healthy at a certain age.
Unless you're AC/DC, in which case: It's always healthy! So what's the band working on now?
We're recording a new record.
With lyrics, or is it another instrumental album?
With lyrics. And most of them are pretty ridiculous, to be completely honest. The politics haven't filtered into the lyrics too much on this particular one.
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