Tech N9ne Opens Up About "Something Else", Talks "Therapy" Rock EP with Ross Robinson and Wes Borland
Fri, 06 Sep 2013 16:50:04
"I can't stop listening to it," Tech N9ne grins about his new album Something Else. "I resort back to it. I keep it fresh in my mind so I know where I have to go next."
Well, where is one of the greatest living MC's headed next? He's got a rock EP, Therapy, on the horizon for November and a ton of touring ahead, but he laid the groundwork for his biggest and best chapter with a seminal album. Simply put, wherever he goes next will blow minds…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Tech N9ne talks Something Else, discusses the details of his rock EP Therapy with Ross Robinson and Wes Borland, his Five Finger Death Punch collabo, and more!
Did you want Something Else to feel like a journey?
I knew I wanted to have the meteorite theme because the shit scared the hell out of me when I saw it happen over Russia. I was like, "Oh shit, here it comes!" You heard about that meteorite in Russia, right? That scared the hell out of me because I always thought asteroids would be the way the world was going to end in fire. At that moment, I knew I wanted to have an asteroid theme. I put it in my head that I wanted Mark Alford to do all of the narration because he's wonderful. Last Christmas, we did a charity event, and I did Channel 4 with him. He was perfect for it. I wrote a lot of this shit out, and he rewrote a lot of it and he put his twist to it. The album was cohesive after that. The songs were an accident. I didn't think I had everything for the album. I still wanted to do one with Nas. There were a lot of people I wanted to work with like Brotha Lynch Hung. I had songs waiting. When my partner Travis told me I had to put it together one day because our lawyer had called, we had to figure out what the features were going to be so we could get them cleared. Travis was like, "You have to put something together today". It was my first day in the studio, and I thought I had a month to finish! I started putting them together. As I was doing that, I thought, "This is beautiful!" It came together as fire, water, and earth. I put the songs in fire that felt a little darker. Then, I put songs in water that were calm. Actually, there were more songs in water, but I ran out of time. I wouldn't have had time for all of these songs I wanted to do. I had to take songs off like "Party the Pain Away" and give it to iTunes. It worked out so wonderfully though.
You've wanted to do a song with Serj Tankian for a long time. It's really significant the album opens with "Straight Out the Gate".
Totally! A lot of dreams came true on this record from The Doors to Serj. A lot of things came to fruition. To have someone of Serj's caliber give me the thumbs up and say, "Fuck yeah, I want to do this!" That was something. I'm speechless still today. People are steadily discovering this. I'll look at YouTube views or go on RollingStone, and see what they're saying. People are like, "Wow, I just heard this, and it's amazing! Serj and Tech—I always wanted it! It's fucking powerhouse!" I'm smiling from ear-to-ear because it's spreading.
What's it about for you?
When I heard this beat, it was really simple. I knew it was going to be the first song on the album. That's why I called it "Straight Out the Gate". As I began writing the lyrics, it was more E.B.A.H. influenced. Serj is the one who took it political and current events-ish with the words he chose. "We are the darkness but we're leaving" is like we're dying. "We are the gods that are deceiving" could be David Karesh, Jim Jones, The Vatican, or whatever. "We are the painters of blind faith" could be a lot of religious leaders. "We are the children of your rivals" could be Osama's kids. He made it mean something. My shit is powerful all the way through. I'm talking about myself and being good and bad all the time. "Straight Out the Gate"—I'm going to hit you with this power music right now. Mine is pretty simple, but Serj gave it volume.
Where did "Drowning" come from?
I wanted it. I loved it. That was the one I sent to Madonna to redo but nobody responded [Laughs]. I was going deep for collaborations. I sent one to Ozzy Osbourne, but he was too busy doing the Black Sabbath thing. I respected that. With "Drowning", a lot of shit was happening in my love circle. "Drowning" and "I'm Not a Saint" came out. It's like the people around me were blaming me for shit, but I was only offering love. My love turned into, "Oh, that's fucked up Tech!" I'm like, "What do you mean? I'm just trying to help!" I'm drowning in their bullshit. I'm drowning in my own Davy Jones locker. It's killing me inside. I'm suffocating with all of this bullshit around me. You know what I mean?
"Love 2 Dislike Me" stands out with all of those voices.
Dude, somebody said that was the only song they couldn't get with because I wasn't sure what direction I wanted to go. I knew exactly what direction I wanted to go, you fucking weirdos! [Laughs] I wanted it to be a rollercoaster ride. I wanted it to be soft and then hard. I wanted it to be a mindfuck since that's what life is. Life is changeable. Life goes like that. Nothing stays the same. That's a person right there. That was a female friend I was talking about. It's self-explanatory. You talk all of this shit about me, but then you stay. What the fuck are you doing? You must "Love 2 Dislike Me". Get the fuck away from me. How about that? It's just my heart coming out. I don't need that static. It's a beautiful fucking rollercoaster ride man.
What were you into while making Something Else?
I was probably just losing myself in the beats for this album. We listened to the beats over and over, choosing what's going to go where. The things I listen to always stay the same. It's really me being lost in my world and beats so I won't have any outside influence. That's what I do on purpose. I don't want listen to the radio and go, "Oh, that's what they're doing? I want to do something like that". I want to lose myself in my music. I listen to my old shit like All 6's and 7's to see where I was. I think, "I need to go somewhere bigger than this!" It's crazy I achieved because it's a hard task. That was a wonderful album. I recall listening to a lot of the beats and my older music to bring something that's even bigger, better, and more exciting. I did it.
If you were to compare Something Else to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
For this one, I don't know if I said this to you before. My style's more like Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers. It changes so many times. Natural Born Killers would go from being cartoon-esque to black and white to color to fucking crazy ass music. If there's any kind of cinematic shit that had been done over the past few years, Oliver Stone put that in there. That was a fucking roller coaster ride. Right in the midst of them talking in the jail cell, it goes to him as a cartoon character ripping somebody's head off. I'd say Natural Born Killers for sure.
Did you have a good time working with Five Finger Death Punch on "Mama Said Knock You Out"?
It was wonderful. They called me, and I was actually doing a show at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Their studio was like right down the street. I thought, "Fuck it". I went and did that shit. It was a cover of LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out", and I was so happy because once I heard Ivan Moody screaming I knew, "Oh shit, this is going to be hard as fuck!" I changed the words a little bit. They gave me some ideas of what I could say. I was like, "Thank you man!" I went in there and did my shit. I've had so many people come up to me and say, "You and Five Finger, man, I love it!" I was in Canada a couple of days, and everybody was talking about them. I wasn't mad that on the Billboard Top 200 they were #2, and I was like #4 right under them!
What metal have you been into lately?
It's the same as it always is. Slipknot is my top. System of a Down is my second. Then there's shit like Metallica. I love James Hetfield and all of them together. When I'm started to get hyped, it's anything Slipknot or System of a Down and Avenged Sevenfold.
Haven't Metallica been known to warm up to your music?
They'll warm up to "Einstein Tech N9ne". We've been trying to get James on something because there's a connection there.
What's up with the Fred Durst [Limp Bizkit] track?
I talked to him this year somewhere in Denver. Somebody put him on the phone with me, and we made a connection. We're into each other's phones now. On my next release, I'm going to fuck with him. While we're talking about Limp Bizkit, I'm doing an EP coming out November 5 called Therapy, and Wes Borland came and played on a lot of my songs.
That's going to be sick…
It was beautiful I went to Ross Robinson's studio in Venice Beach, and I sat in the sand and wrote from my heard. We recorded everything in his house. I did six songs there, and I did the seventh song yesterday in Kansas City. I want to send it to Ross and see what he thinks. It's fucking amazing to work with Ross Robinson. He's truly a muse. He's a super muse. He brought a lot of shit out of me. Wes was staying in Ross's house for a while as I was doing this. He came and played on damn near everything. He was trying to get some music out. I happened to be the guy down there trying to get some music out so we got some music out together. We're trying to get it all together so it can be the best for the fans. It's totally different from anything Tech N9ne. It has elements of Tech N9ne because it's me. I'm going to be rapping and singing and shit. I hope everybody takes to it.
What's the vibe lyrically?
It's like this man. In the thank you section of Something Else, I said, "I can't wait to see what doors this album opens up for me". So far, it gave me all the content for Therapy. The people who called me "Devil Worshipper" and all of these things are now sucking the dick. I've got a song that goes, "We don't need no head now we're good!" You were dogging us back then. We don't need head now. We got enough head as it is. "Head Now" is one of my favorite songs. There are songs about problems with me and my girl. I dreamt a song out there. Ross came to me in a dream. We were sitting at his control desk and he pointed down at a record, and it said "Hiccup". He looked at me and said, "Hiccup". I woke up, and I had an idea for a song called "Hiccup". I told Ross and Wes. They recorded me doing hiccups and shit. They made a beat around it. I left and went to lunch. I came back, and they had it dude! It was fucking crazy. We just thought it up right there. We did one called "When Demons Come". Everything came from getting recognition from Something Else. That's how my life is. I like my life. "So Much Love" on Something Else had me ready for "When Demons Come". There's so much love you can get lost in this shit. You don't know when something's going to hit. You have to be ready with angels when demons come. Songs like that just came out of me.
To go back, was "Can't Shake It" from Killer a special song for you?
Man, I always tell people that's one of my favorite songs I've ever written. People don't really recognize it or give it props because…I don't know. It's all of me in that song. It's a simple beat, but it's just beautiful. When they say, "Somebody wants to know Tech N9ne, what would you tune them into?" I say, "'Can't Shake It' is me in a nutshell!" I talk about my past and everything. It's so beautiful. I love that song. I listen to it every time I get a chance—no bullshit.
It's a classic.
Thank you so much for recognizing that because people sleep on that fucking song.
What's your favorite Tech N9ne song?