Kottonmouth Komrades

Music, marijuana and one bands battle for your civil liberties

CORPORATE AVENGER: Yeah, but deep down inside, it hurts. It's mass racism—alternative is for the white kids, urban is for the black kids. And not putting "Kottonmouth Kings" on the record is like subscribing to that mentality. White and black? They are just words. What do they mean? I am not white. I'm a Basque, Viking and Celtic warrior. I have roots. My tree has roots. I have a bloodline composed of beautiful cultures that were wiped out by Christianity.

Suddenly, the conversation is interrupted by a horn honking long and hard, coming from a car right beside the van. Traffic has slowed to a standstill, and the man behind the wheel is furiously focusing his frustration on the car in front of him, which is piloted by an elderly couple. The guy just won't let up off the horn.

"Look at this!" says Brad X in a high squeal. "Look at that guy, man! Road rage! At those old people, dude! Oh, my God! I love that he's honking at the old people. He's pissed! He's gonna pull up alongside the old people. Look at him! I love that! The guy thinks he's actually gonna go somewhere! That's the funniest part!"

Back at Capitol Records, the band disperses, its workday over. It's after dark. But Brad X and Corporate Avenger aren't ready to call it a day. Dogboy, one of the other Suburban Noize artists, is mixing some tracks at Can-Am Studios, the San Fernando Valley recording complex made famous by the years when it was music-making headquarters for Death Row Records. They can't resist paying a visit. During the drive up the 101, the Kottonmouth Kings' single "Peace Not Greed" comes on the radio. Brad X turns it up, but not too loud.

"That's killer," he says softly, with palpable satisfaction. "An old punk like Jack Grisham is singing, 'abolish government' and 'peace through power' and 'legalize weed' on KROQ right now. We really have come a long way."

They drive on wordlessly for a while, the frenetic outrageousness of the song somehow bringing an air of sweet reminiscence into the car. "But on the other hand," Brad X continues, picking up his thought when the song ends, "not all the changes have been good. Punk was angry, it was frustrated, but there was a lot of intelligence behind a lot of those bands. Then it turned into this knuckleheaded, violent outlet or something. Now it seems that people are into music—into everything—for all these crazy, purely materialistic reasons. We get further and further away from the advancing of the soul."

Hours later, well past midnight, Brad X and Corporate Avenger sit behind a massive, blinking mixing board at Can-Am Studios, listening intently while Dogboy asks for feedback on a reggae-tinged song. "Can we hear what it sounds like, muting the vocals, letting the instrumental bop for a minute—just to let the track breathe a bit?" Brad X asks the engineer. A few knobs are twisted and it is done, and after listening for a bit, Brad nods his approval.

"I don't take any of this for granted," he says suddenly. "Not at this stage, after all the years of scraping by."

"This is the job we always wanted," agrees Corporate Avenger. "We've always been making music, but never the way we get to make it now."

"And this may all be gone next month or six months from now," Brad says. "So why not, while we have the opportunity, take advantage of it?"

"Yep," says Corporate Avenger. "I hear ya."

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