The Beastie Boys: All Growns Up (Relix Revisited)
On Tuesday the Beastie Boys released their latest studio album, Hot Sauce Committee Part 2. Today we look back to December 2007 / January 2008 and this Relix cover story exploring their instrumental recording, The Mix-Up.
Somehow, I just knew this was gonna happen. I mean, it had to. Of course it was going to.
After waiting for more than an hour for the Beastie Boys to amble into a spare dressing room backstage at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom, the 20 minutes allotted for the first interview for this cover story have been reduced to ten, and after Mike D and MCA spend the first few minutes going over the night’s setlist—and with label execs waiting to speak with the band before they take the stage in roughly 35 minutes, or so we’re told—the three wiseacres that comprise the Beastie Boys are pretty much impossible to reign in.
They’re in the middle of their trademark interview shtick: One riffs, while the others think up witty retorts. Meanwhile, the interviewing journalist—me—struggles to glean a usable quote from the stream-of-consciousness babbling, and of course there aren’t many. Well, that’s not true. It’s just that most of it has nothing to do with music, the group or its new album, The Mix Up. And to some degree, that’s okay.
Somehow, that tag-team wisecracking—an almost identical version of which you could have easily caught on MTV News in the mid ‘80s—has landed them on the topic of communication. Adam “MCA” Yauch dryly explains that the Beasties are exploring primitive means of communication of late—you know, semaphore, smoke signals—before Mike D (originally Michael Diamond) notes that he’s thinking about building a system of pneumatic tubes under Manhattan through which he, MCA and Adam “Ad Rock” Horovitz could send notes to one another.
MCA: I’ve actually been tunneling. Did I not tell you about that? I’m doing a bigger tunnel so we can climb in.
Mike D: That’s a great idea. So, to go to O-Scope [the band’s New York studio], instead of me having to walk, I could just pneumatic tube?
MCA: Yeah. Your wife will put you in the tube and drop you in.
Mike D: Why do I need Tamra to do it?
MCA: You can’t put yourself in the tube, because you gotta put yourself inside the thing.
Ad Rock: You could do it, because you could get in and pull the thing closed, and that would trigger the push.
Mike D: I don’t know. It could be dangerous, because what if Davis [his son] does that to Skylar [his other son], and all of sudden he didn’t want to be in the studio?
Ad Rock: I could send my cat into the studio.
See, here’s the thing about interviewing the Beastie Boys: They’re sort of like the Bo Jackson of music. If Bo played both baseball and football professionally, then the Beastie Boys interview and create music professionally. The whole question-and-answer process for them is like a game of free-word association, a chance for them to sharpen their wit. One thing’s for sure: When they’re being interviewed together, you’re not going to get them to answer many serious questions let alone answer seriously. So when I begin to grin and laugh at how unwilling they are to be interviewed—“Somehow, I just knew this was gonna happen”—they of course cartoonishly defend their banter:
Ad Rock: This is some hot shit, though.
Mike D: This is quality brainstorming.
MCA: Someone’s gonna get paid behind all these ideas.
Mike D: We’re inventing shit—on your time.
Ad Rock: We’re helping you, not just with this magazine, but with your personal life.
MCA: What you need to do is leave here and patent these ideas before we do.
Mike D: I’m gonna give you an advance on my book before it even hits the market. And that right there gives you the edge.
Of course I’ve asked for this. Well, sort of. The book Mike D is referring to is the scoring-chicks manual he mentioned a few minutes ago after I attempted to broach the subject of how life as the Beastie Boys has changed for them now that they’re in their 40s (MCA’s 42, Mike’s 41 and Adam’s 40). Foolish question in hindsight but here’s what I got:
Mike D: So you want to know how we romance a woman? What the keys to success are? I’m actually publishing a book on the topic, because I do know some of the secrets, and I’m gonna unlock those.
MCA: It’s called Mike D’s Secrets to Porn.
Mike D: Yeah, just for the men and women who want to get intimate with that special someone and they just haven’t been able to connect. I’m just enabling—enabling the connect.
Ad Rock: How has life changed for us, sexually? I’m not having any problems. I’m good. I thought, after 40, you never know. But I’m good.
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Crystal Bowersox stops by Relix to perform a song from her new album, All That For This.
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