Q&A: Everlast Talks House of Pain's Reunion, Whether New Songs Are Coming, and Why He Prefers Dropkick Murphys to Flogging Molly.
When we first caught wind of tomorrow night's House of Pain reunion show at South Side Music Hall, we weren't sure whether to be shocked or bemused. Let's face it: The group hasn't had anything close to a big radio hit in nearly 20 years now. And, last we'd heard of Everlast, he was working on, of all things, a country album.
Just as happens every time Vanilla Ice performs at Trees, word of the House of Pain show had us asking ourselves whether the strength of one decades-old pseudo-novelty rap hit could possibly be enough to carry a whole show.
So we decided to go right to the source, and ask House of Pain emcee Everlast, aka Whitey Ford, just why in God's name his group is reuniting, whether they're working on new material, and if he has any memories of touring with former Dallas hip-hop group Hydroponic Sound System.
See his answers in our full Q&A with him, posted for your reading pleasure after the jump.
Why is the time right now, in 2011, for a House of Pain reunion tour?
Just because we're having some fun. We're doing this thing with a live band, and whatnot. It's almost like coming full circle, a little bit, for me to be like 'Yeah, I started here, I can bring it right back around to here.' To complete that circle and to start a new one.
Twenty years after the debut album, have your views on 'hooliganism' changed at all? And how might that affect your future output as House of Pain? Can fans expect the same brand of shenanigans from your live shows?
I've never made the same record twice, and as far as 'hooliganism' and 'shenanigans,' that sounds like young man's sports to me. I've been there, done that. I've been the loud motherfucker running all around the planet doing crazy shit and having fun. I'm still out for having fun and making good music -- that's really all it's about for me.
So it sounds like you guys have matured a bit.
I mean it's been 20 years, so I hope so. If not, then we're in a lot of trouble. I'm a parent now, so if I haven't matured, then my kid is in a lot of trouble.
"Jump Around" appeared on VH1's Best One-Hit Wonders of All-Time list a few years back. How does the group view a distinction like that? Do you view it as an honor or do you guys feel like you had -- or maybe even still have -- more hits in you?
Technically speaking, those kinds of things are based on Top 40 records, and, technically speaking, we may have had another record or two crack the Top 40. But that song overshadowed so much of what we did. I think, personally, our third album was our best album. As an emcee and an artist, after we made "Jump Around" and that album was so successful, my only goal was to go in other directions. I wasn't trying to start a formula, making the same album again and again and again, because there were a lot of bands that were guilty of that. Music for me has always been about exploration. Just the benefit of "Jump Around" being so huge was that it afforded you some luxuries -- your bills were paid and all this, so you could fuck around. I always took it as success gives you the freedom to fail occasionally.
So is that to say your new stuff might be perceived as "risky" to fans of your older material?
It depends on what record you're talking about. I'm just finishing up an Everlast record right now, and me and Danny and [Lethal] are talking about doing a House of Pain record. My opinion of it is, basically, if we can make a good record, then I'm on board. If we don't, then it will never see the light of day. I have a feeling that there will probably be a new record in the next year or so, though.
Talk a little about how La Coka Nostra -- what it is, how it came to be, and whether its formation had anything to do with House of Pain reuniting.
It was definitely part of the equation of how we came to start doing some shows as House of Pain again. La Coka Nostra was started by Danny [Boy of House of Pain] and Slaine, originally. Later, Slaine asked me to be on a song of his and I hadn't actually rapped on anything in awhile. I just went to the studio and had a really good time doing it on his record, rocking it with him on his song. Like, a week later, Ill Bill [of Non Phixion] came into town and we were hanging out at [DJ] Lethal's. Lethal threw out a crazy beat and, the next thing we know, we had recorded that song, "Fuck Tony Montana." We wound up doing a couple songs that week, and we didn't know what to do with it. We all would have put them on our individual records, but none of that felt right. Danny Boy kind of had this La Coka Nostra thing going with Slaine already, so we just kind of jumped on board. The entire first year that group, all we did was put out free music on the Internet. It was the fans that kept it going; if nobody cared we wouldn't have made a record. A lot of people reacted to it, so we continued to make music, and it was fun. Me and Danny and Lethal were involved, so it was kind of sort of like old, but new at the same time. The vibes were good and a few offers came across to do a House of Pain show here and there, and one thing lead to another. At the end of the day, it's a part of who I am. It's not something I don't ever want to acknowledge. If we can have fun performing under that banner, I'm all for it. The reason we stopped in the first place is because it got to a point where it wasn't fun anymore.
Our blog recently re-ran a piece from 2001 about a local hip-hop group called Hydroponic Sound System that mentioned they had toured with you guys. Do you remember anything about the group or that tour?
I can't say that I do. There's been so many tours and so many bands...sometimes you do shows with cats, and you don't ever really see them or their act because you show up late. I just can't recall. I remember a group called Mad Flava. I think they were from Dallas. I remember the whole Deep Ellum thing, and all that. It doesn't sound familiar right off the top of my head, but I've smoked a lot of dope.
Audiences will come for "Jump Around," but will stay because_________?
They'll stay because I'm not going to play that until the very end! No, because it's going to rock. We're doing it completely live. There is a DJ within the band, but all the instruments are getting played live or, if it is not something that's getting played live, then it's being DJ'd live. We're doing a bunch of old classics, we're doing some covers, I might slip an Everlast song or two in -- you never know. One thing I can say is it's going to have range. The one thing about me is I'm not a one-trick pony.
You often refer to yourself as Whitey Ford. Were you a big Yankees fan growing up?
Number one, I've been a Yankees fan all my life, and he's one of the classic Yankees. He's of Irish descent. He's one of the greatest left-handers to ever pitch in the game of baseball. But the reason I took it on is because, in hip-hop, you got to keep putting a new face on things. The turnover in hip-hop is very quick, so it's almost like you've got to keep reinventing on the daily. There was a time in the late '90s there where it was like every rapper had his rapper name and then his Italian Mafioso gangster name, and it was kind of like, "What is that about?" In a tongue-in-cheek, funny sort of way I just one day said in a sentence something like "Whitey Ford sings the blues," and it was like a fire ignited in my brain. It was like, "That's what I'm calling this album! There you go, there's the new alias." And it fit. It was one of those things that just clicks. It was a tribute to the man, and also just a super cool fucking name.
Dropkick Murphys or Flogging Molly?
Personally, I'd probably go Dropkick Murphys but that's 90 percent because I don't know as much Flogging Molly songs. Maybe I do, and I'm attributing some of their songs to the Dropkick Murphys. Either way, it's get drunk, and fucking fight or have fun party music, so it's all good with me.