Marijuana graduated from being just a garden variety intoxicant in the Kottonmouth Kings' world a long-ass time ago. Instead, the self-ordained “rip-hop” outfit from Placentia have spent their decade-plus-long career exalting the plant as if it were some kind of transcendental manna made to be constantly worshiped. Their undying adoration for weed has spawned a discography packed with punny record titles (1998's Royal Highness, 2002's Rollin' Stoned, 2005's Joint Venture, and 2008's The Green Album) and songs dedicated to the subject (“Gone Git High,” “All About the Weed,” “Pack Your Bowls,” and “Bong Tokin' Alcoholics”).
There is more to the Kings than just odes to Sweet Mary J (they can get pretty damn introspective at times), but their unapologetic immersion in stoner culture has become the group's calling card. This Friday, Dec. 17, the Kings play one of their seasonal “Jingle Bowls” shows at Grove of Anaheim with (hed) p.e. and Big B, making it an opportune time to call frontman Brad “Daddy X” Xavier to speak about the band's most beloved subject. (By the way, attendees to the Grove show are encouraged to bring along non-perishable food items for donation to local food banks).
OC Weekly (Reyan Ali): Why dedicate the band's aesthetic to weed in the first place?
Daddy X: I think it's something we all had in common when we got together. We enjoy smoking herb and making music. As we grew and evolved as a group, and it's symbolic of personal freedom–the stuff that we love and feel strongly about. It's a plant, so we believe in nature as well. We also think that prohibition needs to end in this country. There's so many great benefits that come from the plant: medical, medicinal, clothing and fuel. The notion of outlawing a plant seems a little bizarre to us.
What are a few of your favorite things to do while stoned?
If you ask each guy in the band, you will probably hear something different–but making music is essential. I love smoking some herb in the studio, and focusing on making my music. Being outdoors is great to me, whether you're surfing, camping or hiking.
In a past interview, you mentioned Half Baked as one of your favorite stoner flicks. Would you say that one is at the top of your list?
Man, that's really a tough one. I don't know if it's the best–it's definitely a great one, but action or science fiction movies can take on lives of their own when you're stoned, you know?
What movies in particular?
I like, uh, man–[fields response from KMK member/producer DJ Bobby B] “Bobby, what would you say are some good stoner movies that you like to watch when you're baked?”
Bobby B: Half Baked, the Dave Chappelle movie.
[Pause and chatter]
Daddy X: He actually said, “We're too stoned to come up with a good answer.”
How about the best records to listen to while stoned?
Daddy X:I would definitely say anything by Bob Marley. I love listening to the Beatles when I'm stoned. I've been really tripping into a lot of the Beatles recently. [Speaks to Bobby B again] Bobby B, he's asking, “What are the three best records to listen to when you're stoned?” [Pauses]
I think Diggin' in the Crates, kind of like a mix CD Bobby B did.
Bobbie B: Bob Marley and Ambient Translations.
What's your worst ever weed-related experience?
Daddy X: [Laughs] Jail in Kansas City would probably be up there. Getting our bus raided in Cleveland, would have to be another one. Also, the time this guy up in Portland brought these pot brownies out and we ate them. I don't know what was in them, but I'm pretty sure I got some sort of hallucinogenic [drug slipped in there]. I swear to God, we were stoned for two days straight. [Rapper/KMK comrade] Big B wouldn't come out of the van. We've had some funny experiences, but going to jail would probably be at the top of the list of my worst ones.
What's your favorite weed-related food item?
As we've been touring, a lot of our fans come bearing gifts. We were just up in Oregon again last month. This was a different time [from the pot brownies story]. Someone brought us this weed lasagna–a full tray of lasagna cooked in weed. They had caramel corn, every single thing you could think of to cook. I've been blown away at how expansive the cannabis culinary [field] has been–it's going crazy right now. We just went up to Northern California, and I'm not joking, people were pulling up with trunkloads, even pounds of weed. It was harvest time when we went and it has been bountiful this year.
Do the Kottonmouth Kings sell anything in the way of weed paraphernalia, like bongs or weed grinders?
Yeah, throughout the years we've done licensing deals on stuff: rolling papers, grinders, everything. Obviously, it treads into an area where we've just done it as licensing and not manufacturing, since it's not necessarily our business. We try to just stay focused on our music. There have been Kottonmouth Kings bongs, vaporizers, papers, and probably everything else you can think of.
Last year, you mentioned that you were working on a script on for a Kottonmouth Kings stoner movie. Is that project still underway?
We're filming it in March. It's a stoner comedy and we've actually been working hard on it. Look for a release in late summer of 2011. We have a couple of stars aligned. We've got some really good people working with us on it from the movie side of things–because that's an arena we've never stepped into. We're anxiously looking to take the Kottonmouth Kings to the next level. As far as doing the stoner comedy, it's kind of like what Cheech and Chong did. The script has really taken on a great life of its own. At the end of the day, we want to have a good time with this.
If you were forced to trade the Kings' focus on weed for any other subject, what would the replacement be?
I would just say positive, loving energy, man.
What in the world do you find better than weed?
Are you ever concerned that since the Kings write about weed so much, it overshadows the rest of the band's music and limits people's ability to see it for anything else?
I think that happens. It definitely makes it easier to write off. “They're just a stoner band. All they write and sing about is weed.” They've got a point. [Laughs] We sing a lot about weed, and you can't deny that. But I think there are levels of depth to the Kottonmouth Kings' songwriting and production. The fans and people who come to the concerts love the music. As far as critics, the press and the mainstream media, if they dismiss Kottonmouth Kings as a novelty act, then that's fine, too. The bottom line is, we make the music for ourselves and the people who like the music. After 15 years, we're still standing strong with 17 albums out. Everywhere we go in this country and this world, people come out to see our band. The Kottonmouth Kings is definitely not a critics' favorite, and we don't get a lot of love from the media, but we get a lot of love from the people. At the end, that's who we do it for anyway.