Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 11:41 a.m.
Brad "Daddy" X has long earned his reputation as the voice of Placentia "rip-hop" crew the Kottonmouth Kings, but before the vocalist would spend most of his career rapping about weed, his roots were in punk rock. Years ago, in a different period of his career, he fronted punk bands Doggy Style and Humble Gods. During the Doggy Style era, he was apparently straight-edge, an idea that sounds patently WTF now. With that in mind, X Pistols is sort of a throwback for the vocalist. The Dirtball of KMK, plus Eddie and Joe Tatar of OG OC punks D.I. joined Brad X to make a record that runs roughshod with wild, Suicidal Tendencies-style aggression and is smitten with the archetypal punk themes of rebellion and anxiety.
Shoot to Kill, X Pistols' debut, comes out on Jan. 18. In advance of the release, Brad X dished on how the project came about and what he finds appealing about punk in the first place. Hit below for a stream of "Wild Side" from the new record.
OC Weekly (Reyan Ali): How did the idea for X Pistols come up?
Brad X: Traditionally, Kottonmouth Kings have always had a little bit of punk rock thrown into our blend. Every time we make records, we'll go in and do a handful of punk-rock songs. We created this hybrid called rip-hop, where we mix hip-hop and punk rock. Sometimes, we do straight punk songs. I've been working with the Tatar brothers, the guys from D.I. from Orange County, and they've been coming in the studio, working on Kottonmouth Kings records with me. We just went on a tear and started recording songs that were really coming out good. It's more just for fun than anything. I got my start playing in punk-rock bands back in the day in Orange County. It's a passion of mine. Dirtball, who is a member of the Kottonmouth Kings, had never really done punk rock before, but he's a very intricate, quick rhymer. When I heard him doing his style over punk rock, that kind of blew my mind. "Dude, we've got to do a whole album of this." I guided him through it, and he just caught on fire. We did 18 songs and had a great time doing it. It was taking all of my favorite elements of punk-rock influences and putting our own twist on it. We've really had a great time.
What's the greatest different between the Kottonmouth Kings and X Pistols?
X Pistols is just straight-ahead, full-throttle. It's a full-blown punk record. [With] Kottonmouth Kings' records, when we make our records, the foundation of them are usually in beats and hip-hop. We'll sprinkle in some punk rock and acoustic stuff, but the majority of it is beat-driven. X Pistols is a full band. We have some of the other stuff in there, but the main force is just straight SoCal hardcore.
What attracted you to punk rock in the first place?
Initially, what attracted me to punk rock was the energy of it. More than anything, it was just about the lyrics and the whole philosophy of questioning things, questioning everything around you, questioning the things you've been taught, reevaluating everything from history to religion to personal things and the government. That kind of opened my mind to start questioning and wanting to learn--wanting to research history, research organized religions, the kind of things we've been taught. [As this] institutionalized learning we go through is coming up, and I'm learning which stuff made the most sense to me as I became a young man and trying to find my own answers to things that weren't quite making sense to me . . . It just expanded my horizons as an individual and made me want to get out and see the world and learn. As far as the actual music itself, it was the energy. I like the riffs, the simplicity and the driving force behind it.
In another interview, you mentioned you were interested in capturing T.S.O.L., Black Flag, Wasted Youth and other SoCal hardcore bands in X Pistols. Why this style as opposed to ska-punk, pop-punk or any other type of music in the genre? What do you enjoy about this type of punk versus those others?
For me, it's the golden era of punk rock. Depending on what their age is and where they come from, everyone has what they call their own [golden era]. I have my own golden era of hip-hop, like the late '80s, early '90s: Beastie Boys, N.W.A, Public Enemy. Within punk rock, my favorite era was bands with Minor Threat, T.S.O.L., Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Suicidal Tendencies--the early '80s. Music and art is all subjective to the person's opinion and influence. That's just my personal favorite period.
Nu metal is one of those genres that combines rock music with rap lyrics, and it has a prominent share of detractors. What is it about the combination of punk music and hip-hop lyrics in X Pistols that makes it work?
To me, you make your own rules. Punk rock also is about breaking the rules and not being pigeonholed or labeled. We're just having a great time doing it. Whatever you want to label it as, it is. To me, it's a record we love. We didn't set out to form a band and put this album out. We just started making songs and were having a blast doing 'em, and now we're releasing 'em. You just do what feels right to you as an individual. That's the great thing about music, art, culture and film or whatever. There's no right or wrong. People have different spins and takes, and that's what makes this world such a great place--all the different styles. I'm not trying to do what anyone else has done. I'm trying to do my own thing.
"Trapped in a Maze" and "Suffocation," two of the songs on the record, focus on the idea of being trapped in uncomfortable situations. Why is anxiety a theme in X Pistols' music?
Those songs in particular, there's just the pressures we find ourselves in, day-to-day, just trying to figure out, 'Wow, how am I going to keep the lights on? How am I going to get money for food? How am I going to get pay rent?' We're all in a constant struggle to try to keep our heads above water. The songs are about survival and that struggle when your back is against the wall, and you're facing adversity. Sometimes, anxiety comes with that, feeling like you have no options. It's basically just about the struggle to survive.
Some X Pistols songs are hostile toward cops. "Beware" is about being pulled over and chased by police, and another song is called "I Hate Pigs." What kind of impression about cops do you want people to take away from your songs?
People will have their impressions from their experiences with police. I have some really good friends that are police, but then I've been pulled over and harassed and I've dealt with cops that are assholes that have given me bad experiences. When somebody's job is to make your life miserable and threaten to take away your personal freedom, throw you in a cage and put handcuffs and chains on you, there's a certain amount of uncomfortable power that comes with that position. I think there's a general fear of police because they can fuck your life up. You try to live righteous and live by the code, but I can't lie to you and tell you that I'm comfortable around police in certain situations. By the same token, there are some great cops, and I understand why we need police, but sometimes, they abuse their power.
Overall, do you want the band's opinion of cops to lie in the middle, or do you want to show off the side that cops are tough people to deal with?
Like I said, I've had some terrible experiences with police, and I've had some okay experiences with police, so when you've got handcuffs on your wrists and there's some guy power-tripping on you and throwing you in the back of his car, you probably don't like the man that's doing that to you. It's a natural human reaction. But I've had some great experiences. As a matter of fact, Kottonmouth Kings have friends and fans that are cops that come out to our shows, and they are great people. People are people, but sometimes, they maybe misuse the power given to them and it's more [about] the ones that misuse their power. They're human beings. I think we should all treat each other with respect and kindness and compassion. In the ideal world, that's the kind of world I'd like to live in.
What kind of long-term plans do you have for X Pistols? Is there any touring in store for the band?
We definitely want to do live shows with the band and do some touring. Really, there's not some huge, grand scheme other than, 'Yeah, it would fun to get out and do some shows.' We've only played live once outside the rehearsal studio, and it's fun. We can't wait to get out and play. This might be the one and only X Pistols record; it might be the first of many. I just haven't really looked that far into it. I just know that we had a great time making this record. We're proud of it and can't wait to share it with people.