It is a well-known fact that The Kottonmouth Kings are not shy about their support for the legalization of marijuana, but many don’t know that they are also big supporters of environmental issues such as cleaning up beaches. I got a chance to interview vocalist and founding member Brad “Daddy X” about the band’s love of the green stuff and the issues that are important to them.
So you just had The Green Album come out, correct?
Brad: Ya, well it came out in late October. This is the first big US tour behind it. We do like a small one in November and December and this is like the full coast to coast hit every city kind of thing. We call it extensive. Not extends, but extensive.
Ok, I will make sure I get the right word there! So you have guys have been together for thirteen years now?
Brad: Yeah, longer than most marriages. And definitely longer than most presidents.
Yeah, that’s a good thing. So after thirteen years and ten albums how do you guys manage to stay original? It seems like a lot of bands are just doing cookie cutter type stuff.
Brad: We’ve always been marching to the beat of our own drum since we started this thing. We have our own record label, Suburban Noize Records. Kottonmouth Kings is kind of a weird, bizarre combination — hippies and punk rock. Musically we’re all over the map so it’s always easy to write different types of songs cause one song can be on acoustic guitar, another song can be straight, full hip hop beat, another song can be a full punk song. We really don’t limit ourselves as far as what kind of style… we have a super open-minded fan base that appreciates us and allows us to push the boundaries where we want to push them.
So tell me about the sound of the new album.
Brad: It has more acoustic songs than we had put on in the past, like acoustic bass. We’ll take an acoustic guitar and like layer it with hip hop beats and stuff like that. We try and put nice melodies on them so a lot of those start out with straight up acoustic guitar sitting around the fire and coming up with catchy songs, ya know? People are reacting well to it, it was the number one independent record on the Billboard charts which is a huge accomplishment for us. We put the records out ourselves we produce them ourselves, we don’t bring in any outside producers at all, everything we do is in house, it’s all about… what you get with Kottonmouth Kings, you’re getting the band, it’s not filtered through a producer and this and this, you’re getting directly, that’s how we make it, that’s how you get it. So I think that’s another reason, when you said that’s how we’ve been able to do it. There hasn’t been anyone interfering with the art and the creation of it. It’s the band creating it, it is what it is, in a lot of dimensions and when do that of course, it’s the same group of guys in the studio making the records so there’s gonna be similarities on how it sounds of course but we try to always create and push ourselves as far as the song writing and the production goes.
That’s gotta help, not having the corporate stuff in there.
Brad: Yeah, it’s good old fashioned sex, drugs, and rock and roll stuff.
I read that you guys are donating some of the proceeds from the album to environmental groups?
Brad: Yeah, the theme of the album was “The Green Album,” obviously, we’ve been thinking green our whole career but obviously the whole world is starting to realize the effects of living out of balance with nature and what a mess these people have made of our world basically. You turn on any news channel and you see that. So we decided to pick a couple organizations that were close to us and donate some of the profits from the record to those organizations. The three that we picked, one was the Surfrider Foundation, we grew up in California and the Surfrider Foundation deals with cleaning up the beaches, pollution, stuff like that, anything to do with keeping the oceans clean basically. I used to live a block from the beach and I would say half the year the beaches were closed down because of contamination, sewage spills and stuff, and our DJ, Bobby B almost died, he got an infection, he swallowed ocean water and he was the hospital for two weeks, he had a gnarly operation, he has a big scar all the way across his stomach from drinking polluted ocean water. So that’s just one that personally touches us. The other one is Life Rolls On. It was started by a friend of ours named Jesse who’s a surfer, Jesse Billauer who was 15, he was a pro surfer and was put in a wheelchair in surfing accident at age 15 and he started this organization named after one of our songs, “Life Rolls On.” We also own a clothing company called SRH and we sponsor a lot of extreme athletes, dirt bike riders, surfers, extreme fighters, and believe it or not we come across a lot of spinal cord injuries in doing that so that is an organization dedicated to the research of spinal cord injuries. The third one was Ward 57 and that is a veteran’s hospital in Virginia. A lot of our fans that follow our band and Suburban Noize records, the groups, are in the military and a lot of fans that we see year after year say, “hey, I’m getting shipped off to the Middle East,” and some will come back with one leg and some don’t come back and all and some come back with terrible stories, but, the amputee unit, the ones that get really injured bad go to Ward 57. We’ve been dedicated over the last hand full of years with the kids that come back from the Middle East, we help with their hospital care and stuff like that. It’s juts such a small gesture, ya know, we’re a band, our energies are spent on touring and giving people a good time through our music but anything we can do to give back then we try to do it.
Yeah, if everyone were to give back even just a little the difference would be amazing.
Brad: We try, it just blows my mind how we just spend trillions and trillions of dollars bailing out all these Wall Street companies and banks and auto industry and yet, I’m not even gonna get in to all that…
It does not make any sense…
Brad: The whole thing is just really crazy right now, let’s just put it that way.
So what is this Rip N’ Tear TV thing you guys have?
Brad: Basically, we have the clothing company, SRH, it’s just a way to put that lifestyle in like a little Internet TV show was an idea we had. So it’s just called Rip N’ Tear TV hosted by the Tax Man and you might see videos and you might see some extreme sports stuff and you might see some clowning around. It’s all kind of different stuff, just to pretty much tie all the music and clothing and lifestyle together. It’s just something we do for fun, we don’t take it too serious.
Okay, so you guys obviously advocate for the legalization of marijuana, have you been involved with that politically or have you just kept that at a kind of underground movement?
Brad: We’ve done stuff for the Cannabis Action Network, we’ve done stuff for NORML, I’ve done commercials for NORML, we’ve done shows, the bottom line is we just believe in true personal freedom. Somewhere along the lines in the last century all of a sudden marijuana, a plant, became illegal. It’s just totally bizarre to me that a plant that you could take a seed and water it and watch it grow and someone could come in and bust your door down with a gun and handcuff you and put you in jail for growing a plant. My common sense as a human being it makes no sense at all. We believe in personal freedom, we believe in decriminalization. There’s so many people who enjoy smoking marijuana, more than enjoy taking pharmaceuticals pills or drinking alcohol, or some enjoy all three or some people enjoy none of them. Not all of our fans smoke weed, musically we think we have a lot more to offer than just that, but yeah, it’s something we do enjoy, that we feel passionately about. We think it’s a terrible human rights violation that’s happened to a lot of people for people who want to consume it for personal use. I believe, quite the contrary to Obama that absolutely it can help the economy. How could a hundred million dollar industry not help the economy, that makes absolutely no sense to me, if you tax it. That’s an ignorant comment from a very intelligent man. When you look back at other people’s arguments, “well, it’s illegal,” Well, it was illegal for black people to go into restaurants 30 years ago, they had to ride in the back of the bus 35 years ago, it doesn’t make it right, because ya know, now we have a black man as a president. So it doesn’t make it right, we need to push things forward and we need to update those laws.
Do you think it will happen?
Brad: Ya, I think it will, definitely because you see in California where we’re from, 215, the medicinal marijuana, if you have a 215 card, there’s shops everywhere that you can go in. So it is working. That’s in 15 states across the country have the medicinal marijuana and then Massachusetts has decriminalized, an ounce per person is decriminalized, I’d just like to see it get to that point. Just people who want to recreationally use it or whatever, don’t get hassled and don’t have to live in fear about it. I think we’re getting closer for sure. And I do think it will help the economy. It is a perfect plant, it can help in so many ways for medicinal, you can make fabric, fuel, there’s so many great things that the plant has to offer. Even just hemp, the fact that they don’t let people farm hemp here in America is so bizarre, there’s no THC at all, but they don’t even let them farm hemp because it’s a conflict of interest to the fabric industry like cotton and stuff. They have a monopoly on the market, so there are other things at work here behind the scenes… reasons why this plant is illegal and is has not to do with a lot of common sense or logic. That’s the power of money.
Tell me about your live show.
Brad: It’s the Bring the Noize Tour, we’ve got Big B, who has a new record out as well, Blaze Ya Dead Hommie, Potluck, LaCoka Nostra which is members of House of Pain, ya know, Everlast? He’s playing so they play the old House of Pain songs, we just signed them to Suburban Noize Records. And then we play like a two hour show, we have super high energy and have lots of sing alongs with the crowd, we have a great fan base and following everywhere we go, the know all the songs, they sing the songs, it’s definitely a party, it’s been said that if you don’t want to have a good time at a Kottonmouth Kings show you just don’t want to have a good time. It’s high energy, you’ll sweat, you’ll sing, there’s mellow stuff, it’s definitely a celebration, a good time, we very rarely have any problems at any of our shows. I guess it’s like a punk rock version of the Grateful Dead or something.