Daddy X: Wow, that is going back pretty far. Doggy Style was a punk band we started in high school. We wound up doing it for a few years and toured the country a handful of times. We started adding in elements of hip-hop back then. We got plenty of bottles thrown at us for trying it, but we loved it. That is definitely the roots of rip-hop - mixing punk and hip-hop. There were many years between the Kottonmouth Kings and those days, so there was no connection or evolution from Doggy Style to Kottonmouth Kings.
Are all those songs about smoking weed because you really enjoy it, or is there a legal aspect to it, as well? I know you're deeply involved with NORML.
The songs and theme of weed in Kottonmouth Kings' music is for the love of weed. It was a common thread that brought us all together when we started as a group, 15 years ago. As the years have passed, we became more politically active in the movement. As we toured the country, we saw firsthand how many people's lives and families were being torn apart from these unjust drug laws. We are a music group that entertains millions of fans worldwide, but there is a social responsibility to react to injustice. We get involved when we can (rallies, causes, fundraisers, etc.), and our drummer, Lou, is assistant director of the L.A. NORML chapter. We have a great time making music and performing shows. We are lucky enough to travel from state to state and get involved in the different movements. We believe in true personal freedom, nature's law. We don't feel that a plant is a crime.
How do you find new things to say about smoking weed?
That is a funny question - I often ask myself how many different ways we can write about weed. It gets comical that there [are] so many angles. Believe it or not, Kottonmouth Kings do write about a wide array of topics: life, family, love, death, hope, positive attitudes, etc. I guess the listener would have to approach the music with an open mind and open heart.
Do you chafe against those who see Kottonmouth Kings as a one-note band?
I don't think any group chooses their audience. I think the audience chooses them. We are grateful that we have such a loyal fanbase that allows us to make records that are multidimensional. We don't put any energy to people who have negative opinions and comments about what we do. We focus on making music that we enjoy and records that challenge us to grow. People don't understand that the Kottonmouth Kings is a true independent group, and we handle every aspect of our business from our website to producing our own records, videos, merchandise, songwriting - everything from the ground up. We lay every brick of the Kottonmouth Kings' castle. There is a lot of energy, blood, sweat, tears and love that go into everything we do. So, no, we don't have time for the haters and naysayers.
Once again, we transcend any labels. We stand apart from any other group or style. We have created our own sound and style. To lump it into such a limited label (rap rock) would be silly as KMK is beyond labels. We are outcasts and underdogs; the true black sheep of the music industry. That is why we are still standing strong 15 years later: because of innovation and originality!
Kottonmouth Kings have been playing the Lawrence/KC area for years, going back to playing the Crossing. Why such an affinity for the Midwest?
We love the people in the Midwest. It is the heart and soul of our country. The people have always made us feel right at home here. We also love the barbecue and great food. Some of our best shows have been in the Midwest. The people know how to party!
Speaking of touring, it seems that both Kottonmouth Kings and other artists on your Suburban Noize label have a strong connection to Psychopathic Records. How'd that come to be?
I think there are three really strong independent labels: Psychopathic, Suburban Noize and Strange Music. We all work together on different levels. We are all different and respect each other's uniqueness and hustle. It is great to have allies because this is a cutthroat business. I go way back with ICP to when we were labelmates on Hollywood Records. Violent J has been a great mentor to me and has taught me a lot about running my own business.
Anything you'd like people to know about the band that I may not have asked about?
We have a single dropping on iTunes on 4/20 called "Hold It In." It is the first song off of the new Kottonmouth Kings album, Mile High, that drops in August. We have an animated cartoon called Stonetown that also premieres on 4/20 this year. All the Kings have new EPs coming out. We also give away a free song every week on the Kottonmouth Kings site called the "Nugg of the Week."