Legendary punks share epic tales of rock star life
The iconic rap trio, Beastie Boys, debuted their Beastie Boys Stories last night at the Tower Theater in Philadelphia. The short run ends at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, April 8-10, and is being directed by filmmaker Spike Jonze. Based on the New York Times bestseller, Beastie Boys Book, the show chronicles the adventures of three white punks from New York City who flipped the music industry on its head during the MTV era with the raucous and defiant sounds of suburban hip hop.
Discovered in the early 1980s by NYU students Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons of Def Jam Recordings, the band exploded onto the rap scene and tore up the left for dead generation, Gen X, with their raw party energy. They put out monster hit after monster hit over decades with songs like Intergalactic, Sabotage, You Got To Fight For Your Right To Party, Brass Monkey, and No Sleep Till Brooklyn.
The Grammy-winning, multi-platinum band would go on to sell over 50 million records during their reign and stopped performing only upon the death of its lead singer Adam “MCA” Yauch in 2012.
October 2018, the band’s remaining members, Adam ‘Ad-Rock’ Horovitz and Mike “Mike D” Diamond, released the Beastie Boys Book as a tribute to good times they had with Yauch.
At SXSW last month, they talked with former Rolling Stone editor Nathan Brackett who followed the band closely during their rise to stardom.
Diamond and Horovitz joked about Brackett’s close relationship with the band, “He’s like Adam Yauch’s cousin.”
“Neighbor,” Brackett corrected them as he explained to the audience how the band was notorious for exaggerating the truth.
Diamond defended the band, “First off these journalists have a different relationship with reality than the band does. They’re caught up in their bubble of fact-checking. We’re just doing our thing.” Horovitz laughed, “We were like, why not be funny.” Diamond added, “They did not realize the quality of stuff they had on those tapes. Nobody gets us. We would go off on tangents about dressing up like Bat-woman or whatever and a lot of these things were unappreciated.” Horovitz agreed, “We were dropping jewels on these people and they just really didn’t understand.”
Commenting on what it was like to write the book, Horovitz said, “It was a lot of harder than you’d think to sit down and write stuff, or to write something that’s interesting, or written well. But it was fun. Also, because we’re not playing shows now, it was nice to have this daily thing to just write and write and think about the fun times that we had. It kept me in the band that I loved.”
Diamond added, “There are so many things we did as a band together so to be able to have this time to actually bring that to life a little bit, (we felt truly grateful). I had the great luxury of being with my two best friends for decades making music. (When making music), you could always press play and listen to where you’re at so there was always this gratification aspect. When you’re writing there’s no press play. Nobody is like, oh that was cool. With writing, you look at it the next morning over coffee and you’re like does this suck or is this good?”
In responding to whether there was anything they left out of the book that they wish they had included, Horovitz said, “Well, we actually have this whole other book called Funny To Us. There’s just the three of us together for so many weeks, and months, and years, and traveling all over the place. We encountered so many super weird people, and it’s not that funny to anyone else. But to us it’s funny. We’re probably never going to put that book out but to us it’s funny!” Diamond added, “There’s literally 150 pages of Funny To Us.”
With tales of music executives settling scores and keeping scores, and concerts gone awry with the band barely escaping in the middle of sets, Beastie Boys Stories is destined to be a hit with fans.