By Bob Nalbandian
This interview contains strong language
If you haven't yet heard, BODY COUNT have a new record out entitled Violent Demise: The Last Days (available on Virgin Records worldwide), it's packed to the gill with all the aggressive attitude and bone-crushing riffs that have made this band such a huge underground phenomenon in hard-core heavy metal and a reign of terror on corporate, mainstream rock.
In this SHOCKWAVES exclusive interview ICE-T talks about the upcoming BODY COUNT release, his 'solo' career as a rapper, his thriving career as an actor, the state of rock music today, and his recent venture into the ever popular porn industry.
BN: First off, let's talk about the record Violent Demise: The Last Days ...
Is the direction of this record similar to that of the last BC album Born Dead ?
ICE: It's actually closer to the "Cop Killer" album. We kind of brought back the humor of the first album (Cop Killer), like in the song "Mama's Gotta Die Tonight", which was dark humor, like "Evil Dead"....stuff like that. The second album (Born Dead)...I was more in a serious frame of mind, songs like "Born Dead" and "Shallow Grave". This one we kind of lightened up, but the music is hard and fast, and fun, it's music for the pit. The topics have substance but I dealt with it in more of a humorous fashion. So you don't have to take us too seriously; I mean, we're already intimidating enough on stage.
BN: Considering you're a Los Angeles based band, and most of your lyrics have to do with coming out of the streets of South Central L.A., BODY COUNT has become very successful in Europe...
ICE: Yeah. Last year we had far more success worldwide than here in the States. I don't know, Germany is like the #1 Metal country, and BC had a #2 record over there last year. We've toured extensively in Europe. I just think they picked up on the vibe, I mean to them all of us are foreigners, and they just liked the rough and rowdy vibe we were kickin'. We're about to go back over there again this year, we got a big long tour...Israel, Czechoslovakia... All that.
BN: You have a couple new guys in the band...
ICE: Yeah, Mooseman decided he wanted to make some other moves, he had been with us from the start, so we wished him good luck and we got a new bassist. And then we had to deal with the death of Beatmaster V (who passed away from Leukemia last year), which was a hard shot. But V was there for the recording of the album. That's why the album got pushed back for like four months, it really numbs the group when somebody dies. You see a band like Smashing Pumpkins... when one of their band members died, it was like, Bam! get a new guy and back on the road a week later. But, you know, we all grew up together and it was kind of like, out of respect, everyone just had to stop. And then we had to find the right person to fit the vibe of the band. The group is as tight if not tighter because of the two new members; they're really, really trying hard. The drummer we have now, O.T. and bass player, Grizzly... they're kickin' ass!
BN: In the States, it's so rare to see a kick ass metal show like BODY COUNT these days.
ICE: It's different here, you got a lot of different divisions of it. I think the only way you're gonna get to see a good metal show now in the U.S. is to go to a small venue, see the groups that are down there grinding. That's what we did just recently, a small west coast tour where we played 1,000 seaters maximum. It was fun; this type of music, you need people on top of each other.
BN: You also still have your successful "rap" solo project . Has it been difficult juggling both projects?
ICE: Not really. I mean rappin' to me is easy, it's something you can do over a week. As long as I'm around the cats in the hip hop scene, they'll throw me a track and I'll write a rap over it. It's kinda fun and it's something I'll always be able to do. BC is a little harder, we gotta create music from the ground up, it's more of a team effort. But it's fun to be able to do both. I tell people one cleans my pallet for the other, like after I go out on a rap tour I'm like "I can't wait to go out and do some BC shit", and after I'm on the road with BC for a while, I'm like, "It'll be kinda cool to go out and rap". It's like one makes you hungry for the other so whenever you see me onstage I'm always amped.
BN: When West Coast rap first came about with artists like yourself and NWA, it was underground, raw and aggressive. But a lot of the bands today, both rap and rock, have either mellowed out or changed their style and attitude and have become "mainstream" to suit radio and MTV. But still till this day, whether ICE-T plays Rap or plays Metal, you've always kept it aggressive...
ICE: It's always been hard. To me it's all rock. Even rappers say, 'We rock the house'. But when you're dealing with the 'system' in an appropriate manner than you're doing 'pop' music, you're attempting to be popular. When you say "F**k You" or "Kiss My Ass", whether you're rappin' or it's got loud guitars, the shit is rock. Rock started, what, with pianos really...back in the day.
BN: There are some people that say you've "sold out"... shit like "ICE-T started as a rapper and now he's doing metal..." How do you respond to that?
ICE: You know, a lot of people...they're just frustrated with their lives and the easiest thing to say about somebody who's out there doing shit is to say something negative... "Uh, they sold out". Who's selling out ? You know, we're just out there having fun. If I could sing like Luther Vandross, I would make a record like Luther...I swear to God. I'd slam dunk a ball like mutha-f**kin' Shaquille O'Neal if I could, you know? I mean, do what the f**k you can do. When you run into people who are really in touch with themselves, they don't have a problem diggin' what I'm doing. There will always be people saying , "I'm just mad 'cause he did that and now he wants to do this and then he wants to try and act"...Yo, why the f**k not ?! If somebody walks up and says "You wanna be in a movie?"... You're mutha-f**kin' right I do! Just live your life, man. I mean, I'll go out there and do a BC show and listen to Suicidal, Minor Threat, some buck-wild shit sent to me from Jello Biafra from Alternative Tentacles, then I'll hit another button on my disc changer and Sade comes on, and then flip right from that and be listening to E-40. I mean, that's how I'm living. I don't know why people listen to only one style of music, it's kind of boring to me.
BN: Speaking of movies, I've seen several feature films that you've starred in...You are a damn good actor.
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ICE: And I don't have the slightest f**king idea how to act!
Click Here For ICE-T SHOCKWAVES Interview Part 2