Billboard: Bad Brains to rock the “Nation” with Beastie Boy Adam Yauch

Billboard — As standard bearers of the East Coast hardcore scene in the early 1980s, Bad Brains were partly responsible for helping the Beastie Boys first get into the recording studio. As previously reported, one of the Boys is returning the favor, as a long-awaited Bad Brains record produced by the Beasties’ Adam Yauch will see the light of day this summer

“Build a Nation,” recorded with the classic Bad Brains lineup of enigmatic singer H.R., guitarist Dr. Know, bassist Darryl Jenifer and drummer Earl Hudson, is slated for a late May/early June release on Megaforce Records, Billboard can exclusively reveal.

For Yauch, producing the record was a labor of love. Bad Brains were one of the groups, he says, that shaped the Beastie Boys’ early hardcore years. “Those guys are really of a different caliber in terms of their songwriting and musicianship. We always used to throw songs together and play a little bit, but they were really intense musicians,” he tells Billboard.

With that in mind, Yauch went into “Build a Nation” with a plan. “I kind of felt like I knew the way they should sound, because I grew up listening to them, going to see them when they first came up to New York from [Washington] D.C. and were playing CBGB and Max’s [Kansas City],” he says. “My feeling was that the ROIR tape [Bad Brains’ self-titled debut record, released on cassette only] really sounded right-a lot of the stuff after felt to me like people were trying to clean them up and make them sound more palatable for radio. So I guess I sat around thinking, ‘Man, if I could just get in there.'”

Jenifer agreed, and when he and Dr. Know got together to lay down early riffs in his Woodstock, N.Y., studio, they aimed “to show fans who we are. Bad Brains has always experimented, forging ahead in terms of riffs and searching for unique ways to approach rock music, but we said this time we’re going to take it back to the way we used to kick it,” he says.

The two camps nearly worked together a decade ago. According to Yauch, Bad Brains were in negotiations to release a record on the Beastie Boys’ now-defunct Grand Royal label, but Madonna’s label Maverick Records stepped up “and offered them a whole bunch of money, and I understood they had to go that route.” (That record, 1995’s “God of Love,” was more reggae-oriented than its predecessors.)

But in 2002, Yauch found himself talking again with Jenifer, who mentioned that the band had been mulling new material. Yauch offered use of his studio, and the reunion was born. “For some reason or another it kept circling above the airport [since then],” Yauch says. But with vocals and overdubs now complete, it’s finally ready to go.

Beastie Boys and Bad Brains will appear at the Sasquatch Festival, to be held May 26-27 at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Wash.

Bad Brains will play some live dates this summer too, but “we’re not looking for 30-date tours,” Jenifer says. “We’re looking at dates in New York and San Francisco, to ease our way into doing this. There’s no mystery in our dysfunction, but we’re not a band. We’re like troubadours out there to give peace and love, and we’re very serious about wanting people to feel it.”

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About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official BruceSpringsteen.net, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more. View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

One response to “Billboard: Bad Brains to rock the “Nation” with Beastie Boy Adam Yauch

  • Jimmy Saal

    Hey Jeff – congrats on getting the exclusive story! I love the Bad Brains and can’t wait to hear the new record. I went to college in Richmond, VA in the early 80’s and they used to come thru pretty often. My favorite memory is one show where all the hardcore knuckleheads packed the joint ready to rock and Bad Brains came out and played an all reggae set. Folks were pissed, but they didn’t care. Now that’s punk!

    cheers-
    Jimmy

    Like

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