I'm happy, dude. Every day is a new conquest. We're really pushing to
get the music out to support this tour with the Black Eyed Peas and our
own tour. We couldn't be happier.
two years since your last album Heavy. What have you been up to?
in the lab for probably 22 out of those 24 months. This is such an incredible
album. It's a roller-coaster ride of great things happening for us. We
had to come home and reconnect with the family. We had to get our heads
back and start making music that was our signature sound. We just started
recording and we didn't stop until we felt we had recorded the best product
completely satisfied with the new album Black Magic?
When I speak about getting back to our signature sound, it's Madchild
and I getting back to the abstract, lyrical expressionism and Rob getting
back to the high-energy, uptempo beats with that dark fluid that we always
try to have in our projects.
album, Heavy, was a departure from the signature sound. Were you disappointed
in the fans' response to Heavy?
It was definitely
a departure from what we would classically do. It's a project we stand
behind 100%. We couldn't have made Black Magic without making Heavy. We
learned a lot about not only about ourselves as individuals but also about
what Swollen Members stands for and should stand for. Never again will
we sacrifice our artistic integrity. We stopped making music for ourselves
on the last album and we'll never do that again.
sounds like it's there on Black Magic.
is. Swollen was on a great ride through Canada. When we got back from
tour, Madchild called me the next morning and he said, Are you ready to
go to the studio? We have to record another album. "Black Magic"
was the first song we recorded. As soon as I put the pen down, I knew
we were back. Mad had already laid his verse on it. We both felt that
we were back to where we needed to be.
your inspiration for "Black Magic"?
It was the
hunger coming back, the fire, the desire. When you put Mad, Rob (the Viking)
and I together, the energy comes out and we push each other to be creative.
On this album in particular, we had the opportunity to work in Bryan Adams'
studio, The Wearhouse in Vancouver. We finished the rest of the project
at Battleaxe Studios. It allowed us to bring in a children's choir. We
brought in an opera singer, a pianist, a cellist and a flutist. That really
opened up Rob's energy in production and I think that made Mad and I step
up ten-fold lyrically. We also had a more complete vision of how we wanted
our songs to sound instead of just putting lyrics on a beat.
you want fans to take away from Black Magic?
to be able to convey our dark, lyrical expressionism over high-tempo,
melodic beats. We didn't want slow beats. We wanted people to be energized
by the beats and still grasp the lyrics.
it working with Rob the Viking this time around?
so much over the last few years from working with Evidence and peeking
over Alchemist's shoulder. On our MySpace page, we list our musical influences
and they're all over the board. I know Rob was really expanding his musical
repertoire over the last few years as Mad and I were, and it really shows
in his production.
clarify, is Rob an official member of Swollen Members now?
He is. A
lot of that decision was because he paid his dues and he showed his true
colors on the first tour across Canada. He was our merchandiser. He was
out there slanging tee's. We wanted to put him out there on the road with
us and see how his energy worked with ours. A lot can change on the road.
He really proved himself. We're a triangle. That's the strength of Swollen
Moka Only no longer a member?
good. We wish Moka all the best. He wanted to pursue a solo career. I've
known Moka for quite a number of years and he's always been a creative,
forward-thinking, solo individual. He has so many talents from singing
to rapping to instrument playing. He picks up a trumpet and plays like
he's been playing for 35 years. He wanted to explore his creative boundaries
and we encouraged him to do that and it's all good. Now that it's back
to the three of us, we feel that Swollen is back to its real strengths.
Everything works out for everybody in the best way possible. It all happens
for a reason.
seems like it's split into two different sides with completely different
vibes. Was that a conscious decision?
I don't even
think we realized it when we were doing it, but you hear the tape playing
at the beginning, Rob was like, That's a great thing to put at the beginning
of the album. Then people were saying that it really embodies that we
went back to our style while being forward and progressive. We still have
that classic, old-school feel to it. I think that's what that really embodies.
It's become symbolical for what Black Magic is.
it working with Ghostface on "Weight"?
amazing. He's someone we have respected and looked up to for many, many
years. He was amazingly supportive of us during the tour. He shouted us
out every night and rocked our t-shirts. He killed his verse on "Weight."
He really went to bat for us and we tip our hats off to him.
a group from Canada to sound cohesive with Ghost?
I think it's
indicative of the era we grew up in. We're definitely true heads and the
mutual respect there is pretty evident. Evidence from Dilated Peoples
has really been by our side from the get-go. The introductions he's made
for us and the bugs he's put in people's ears about Swollen Members, we
can't say enough about him and we're grateful for what he's done. We also
keep building relationships with people like Ghost and Casual. We love
making music with our friends and we hope to continue building friendships
with people like that.
has a lot of different styles, from "Deep End" to "Fuel
Injected." What's your favorite style?
For me, the
standout track is "Black Magic." I think the reason for that
is because it is the jump-off and it allowed us to do songs with artists
like Casual. It also allowed our confidence to grow. We push each other
to compete to the best of our abilities. Then you have songs like "Go
to Sleep" which is a 180 from "Torture." That's what this
album really embodies to me. There's a lot of honesty. We're talking about
the good times we've had over the years while talking about the struggles.
I don't think we've ever done that as competently as we have on Black
album for the fans or yourselves?
album, we were making what we thought people wanted to hear. We realized
from hearing from our fans that that wasn't what they wanted to hear.
They want to hear Swollen Members at their best. Black Magic was for us
but at the same time we knew our fans would embrace it. People who like
us also like Sum 41 and Avril Lavigne. We're making music that our old
fans can embrace again but also that our new fans can listen to and say,
This is unique.
loyal fans from your first album, Balance, stayed with you through everything?
feel that they have. We have an amazing fan-base. We always say that when
people go to a Swollen Members show, they show up as fans and leave as
friends and family. The energy that they give us when we step on stage
is unbelievable. We try to really connect, chill afterwards, kick it,
freestyle, have a couple drinks, sign things and just get into the memories.
We've been lucky because our fans are honest. They tell us what they feel
and what they don't feel. We take all that information for when we go
back into the studio to work on the next project. We look at the feedback
during the show to see what directions we need to go.
a Swollen Members live show like?
on the Black Magic tour and check it out on our site. I also keep a blog
on our MySpace. We get on stage and we live for that. It all goes hand-in-hand.
The hunger's back and we're putting that energy on stage and we're so
thankful that our friends and family stuck by us and are allowing us to
get back into making the music we love and believe in.
style can be all over the place at times. Where do you get your inspiration
I read a
lot and Mad watches a lot of cinema. We push each other to keep our creativity
going. We feed off a lot from life. You get a lot of honesty in our music.
I think this is our most honest album.
done a lot of collaborations, from Del the Funky Homosapien to Saukrates.
Who's been your favorite?
rank on the same plane, but the best advice I got in studio was from Son
Doobie. I had to record a track at 8am before I went to work. I remember
Son saying to me, Every time you deliver a line, act like it's the first
line in your verse. Keep that energy going through the whole verse and
it will make all the difference. As soon as he said that, it all clicked.
I really took that one to heart.
Son Doobie doing now?
still out there. He's always putting out music. He's going to always be
putting out projects. He's rocking it 24-7.
your role in Battleaxe Records?
I guess my
role would be the ambassador. I'm the people person. I'm the guy who keeps
it smooth with the people. Mad handles the business. I'm the ambassador,
used to be a lot of releases coming off Battleaxe. What's going on?
focus is on Swollen Members and getting Black Magic out to as many people
the TVT distribution deal go down?
To set it
off, TVT is an amazing hook-up for us. The story is great. We were playing
at the South by Southwest festival in Austin. We walked into The Towers
of London and we met this dude and three or four beers later, we started
talking about distribution. It's natural. There's no red tape around it
and no bullshit. It's just people who enjoy getting music out there. They're
doing Ying Yang Twins, Lil Jon and Pitbull. The ball just started rolling
and I know they're going to do everything they can to get our project
out there. The beautiful thing is we maintain artistic freedom and integrity.
Swollen Members is so focused right now. We have so much more music to
get out. When we get to hotels we pull the beds off and put them against
the wall and make a studio in the corner so we can make our demos and
keep the juices flowing and stay creative while we're on tour.
the challenges in getting your music out to fans in the States?
such a worldwide entity now. What we're building in the US is an incredible
movement. We call it the Swollen Army. They're dedicated soldiers and
they're great about putting the music in the people's ears and letting
them know what's up. We have 56 shows in the US on this tour. We're not
stopping until we get it out there. We're doing MTV2, the video is going
to start playing soon, we have MTVU, Fuse is running a special on us and
a lot of this is due to TVT. Swollen has a great work ethic and we realize
this isn't an easy climb, but we're focused on making it happen. We're
going to be the first Canadian rap group to make our stamp in the States.
That's my word.
for a solo record?
No, not right
now. We're focusing on Swollen Members.
you want to say to everybody?
Thank you for your patience and for allowing us to get back into the mode
of creating pure music. And cop Black Magic!