Founding members of Rap/Metal band, Crazy Town, Epic and Shifty, get reflective and introspective about the state of music today and what the future holds in store for the band.
Back in the year 2000, there wasnâ€™t a bigger hit single than â€œButterflyâ€ by rap/metal band Crazy Town. The single was everywhere as was the band, forging ahead in what was then a brand new sect of music, seamlessly blending rap and metal. Although Crazy Town hasnâ€™t had a hit as big as â€œButterflyâ€ since and officially went on a ten-year hiatus following their follow-up album Darkhorse, the band has now reformed and is back to touring and recording, as well as planning their big come back.
I was fortunate enough to get to sit down with founding members Shifty and Epic to discuss the band’s past as well as what they hope to accomplish in the future as it seems Crazy Town is all set for a well deserved come back.
NRR: When Crazy Town broke up ten years ago, did you ever consider that youâ€™d get back together?
SHIFTY: Yeah, it was basically just some time off that went on for a long time.
NRR: And you just did a whole festival circuit in Europe, including the Download Festival which had all great reviews, anything in particular that stuck out from those shows?
EPIC: Yeah, well the funny thing is that the Download Festival out of all of them…
SHIFTY: Was the smallest crowd out of all the different festivals. I mean we played some pretty bad ass shows.
EPIC: We almost doubled the capacity of the tent area that we were playing, but for us it was our worst show out of all of them. But we knew that the media was going to have the biggest presence at that festival. But I think that out of all the festivals I think that the first one Rock am Ring (Germany) was the best because we didnâ€™t know what would happen.
SHIFTY: We hadnâ€™t played a festival like that in like ten years and we were playing right after Chevelle, which we love that band, so their crowd was pretty big and I was like â€˜all these people are gonna walk away when we come outâ€™.
EPIC: They had like 3,000 people.
SHIFTY: I was just preparing myself. Like itâ€™s cool if we get 500 or 1,000 people to stay as long as we can rock and itâ€™s nice to be back. So I figured weâ€™d build it up. I was just prepared to start at the bottom and then we put up the banner and instead of people walking away, they just kept coming.
EPIC: We ended up playing to about 40,000 or 50,000 people. Got the whole thing on video.
SHIFTY: As far back as you could see we had people. Singing all the lyrics.
EPIC: It was like a main stage sized crowd. Almost. It blew our minds. Yeah. It was unreal. It was great.
SHIFTY: So it was really a great feeling to see that.
EPIC: The way we look at it is that the festivals are, we think, a microcosm of the world and we are dealing with an awareness issue. Once we can get the world aware, as a globe, and just as people living their lives and going and doing their daily shit, the awareness that we were able to do at a festival, where people are doing their daily shit within the festival, a banner comes up and itâ€™s like â€˜oh Iâ€™m going to choose to walk over this way and watch Crazy Town, if we could do that on a real level, get that awareness, I think itâ€™s really what weâ€™re planning for.
SHIFTY: You know weâ€™ve sold the most records in Europe so…
NRR: I know bands like to play the European festivals a lot. Bands like Metallica have tried to do festivals here and it just isnâ€™t the same. Itâ€™s a little more disappointing.
SHIFTY: Yeah it was great.
EPIC: Well and the fan base in Europe is different too because they really appreciate music in a much different way. Iâ€™m not going to say itâ€™s better or worse. Itâ€™s just different because theyâ€™re not as puppeted by the industry. Where as the industry has everybody on puppet strings here in America and they will get you off of what youâ€™re into as soon as possible because they need to get you into the next thing. And people, they just donâ€™t even realize it, that they are being manipulated by it.
NRR: Right, like theyâ€™ll play a song, play a song, play a song and then you donâ€™t hear it anymore.
SHIFTY: Right. Youâ€™re going to listen to the new group that they just put a lot of money into, that theyâ€™re gonna pay radio to play.
NRR: As far as your new album is there a release date for that yet?
EPIC: We have a release season. Basically, distributors they canâ€™t really give you a release date until you turn in the whole record and we still have like three or four more songs that weâ€™re working on, that we havenâ€™t finished. Once we turn it in then we will get a real release date, but weâ€™re looking at end of fall, beginning of winter. Hopefully before the end of the year.
NRR: In some other interviews you said that you donâ€™t really consider yourself a rock band that youâ€™re more of a hip hop act?
EPIC: No. Depends on how you word it. You canâ€™t word it like that. We are the heaviest band in hip hop.
SHIFTY: Weâ€™re definitely a rock band. Weâ€™re just saying that we are like kids that grew up on hip hop that decided to start a rock band. So itâ€™s like weâ€™re coming from a different side of the spectrum.
EPIC: As opposed to kids that started a rock band that want to rap over it.
NRR: Which is kind of happening a lot now. When Crazy Town started doing it , it was just you and like Limp Bizkit, or bands like that, but now band like Falling in Reverse are in the same sort of place…
EPIC: Weâ€™re gonna do a song with Ronnie from Falling in Reverse actually. Heâ€™s a good friend and we did a festival with him and heâ€™s like â€œI wanna do a song with you guys!â€ He gets a lot of hate from the Metal Core scene because of the fact that heâ€™s rapping a little, but I love that.
SHIFTY: I love that heâ€™s just like â€œI donâ€™t care.â€ Heâ€™s like â€œI donâ€™t give a fuck, Iâ€™m gonna have fun.â€
EPIC: He just says â€œIâ€™m gonna do what Iâ€™m gonna do .â€ Well, he comes from hip hop too. Even like Fred (Durst, Limp Bizkit) for instance though and Limp, they were even coming more from the rock side of things and Fred personally, he said to us a couple of weeks ago how much he respected where we came from in hip hop. As opposed to like where they came from. But at the same time we always loved what they did too ya know? Itâ€™s a lot of mutual appreciation going on at the festivals. You know itâ€™s a whole fucking love fest.
NRR: Thatâ€™s always good! Moving on to your new single “Lemonface” it sounded like kind of house music influenced. Are you going in that direction?
EPIC: We donâ€™t call it house.
SHIFTY: I wouldnâ€™t call it house music. Itâ€™s more industrial. Like The Prodigy is a huge influence. It always has been.
EPIC: Not just their music, but everything about them. But the programming.
SHIFTY: And you can go over to Nine Inch Nails and programming. We like a lot of different stuff in music, but definitely I wouldnâ€™t say its just house, but we are influenced by electronic music and definitely like the dub step.
EPIC: And we always have been. If you listen to our first record there was so much programming and electronics on that. To the point that I think if we came out with that album today it would be relevant right now. You know it was kind of like, Iâ€™m not saying it in a bragging way, it was just kind of a little bit ahead of its time back then.
SHIFTY: Thereâ€™s definitely elements of electronic music.
NRR: So obviously Butterfly was your biggest hit. Do you resent the term â€˜One Hit Wonderâ€™?
SHIFTY: I would rather be a one-hit-wonder than not have any hits first of all. And second of all if you look at both as separate entities weâ€™ve both had hits outside of that song. So if you look at his (Epic) history heâ€™s worked on a lot of records that went platinum. I wrote a song for Paul Oakenfold that took it from 150,000 to 1.5 million. So like I had another hit over there. So if you look at Crazy Town we had one hit, but we as songwriters ll we need is one more and thatâ€™s gonna go away. Itâ€™s not like weâ€™re just some band that wrote one good song and weâ€™re never gonna write another one.
EPIC: If you look at my discography youâ€™re gonna see names like Prince, Black Eyed Peas, Plain White Tâ€™s, a lot of artists and it goes beyond and if people arenâ€™t aware then theyâ€™re just gonna judge us by that.
SHIFTY: Together weâ€™re Crazy Town, but separately we are more. Then other thing thatâ€™s cool is that weâ€™re one hit song away from completely destroying that. We believe in our songwriting
NRR: As far as social media do you think it more helpful or more detrimental to the music business right now?
EPIC: Haha… thatâ€™s a good question.
SHIFTY: I think it can go both ways.
EPIC: It depends on who youâ€™re asking. If youâ€™re asking somebody at a major record label, at Warner Brothers, they probably think itâ€™s somewhat detrimental. It kinda cuts them out of the loop. The great thing about social media is it puts the artist directly in touch with their fans so some artists call it a necessary evil that they wish they didnâ€™t have to be a part of. Some embrace it. They think itâ€™s an amazing tool. The truth of the matter is instead of judging it like that we embrace it. Itâ€™s a lot of hard work and the reality is if you want to be a successful recording artist these days … the days of just being dope and being great at your craft or being an amazing guitar player or singer, walking into the label president office and being all half-stoned and grab your guitar and sing an amazing song and they sign you and put you on the road … those days are over. Maybe for one or two people, but these days if youâ€™re gonna be successful as a recording artist you have to stay up late and you have to get up early. And you have to be great at marketing. And you have to be great at social media. You have to be on top of your business and you need to be much more involved in all aspects than ever. And social media is just one amazing part of it, that if you do it right you donâ€™t even have to have a record label.
NRR: Do you miss MTV?
EPIC: I think we all do. Vevo is the new supplier.
SHIFTY: It was so much easier to just go to MTV . It was more like a part of life.
EPIC: It was a cultural thing.
SHIFTY: A lot of people will make new ones (videos) but itâ€™s not like everyone is watching it.
EPIC: It was so cool, like even going to New York, going to Times Square and the building, like where they did TRL and Carson Daily. It was so cool.
NRR: What element of playing music do you enjoy the most?
SHIFTY: I love songwriting. I love the process of making music. I love the gratification of writing a song that Iâ€™m really happy with. I love going out and performing it and watching other people enjoy it.
EPIC: You know itâ€™s funny, what happens is when youâ€™re doing one thing a little too long, itâ€™s like â€œEnough already, time to get on with it.â€ You know youâ€™re in the studio for two months and itâ€™s like â€œOk. Weâ€™re done.â€
SHIFTY: And you go on the road for too long and you go ok, we need to get back and write more songs.
NRR: How long are you on the road for right now?
EPIC: Just a short little run because we are really supposed to be in the studio. These shows were booked. We were going to be on the road all summer, without getting too deep, with a couple of bands that really werenâ€™t going to be the best look for us. And basically our old manager and booking agent…they wanted everybody to make money, they were going to end up making more money than us I think, so we really looked at the situation and were like lets not do it that way. Things have changed, but these shows were kinda booked and itâ€™s a good thing. Coming home from Europe it was nice to get out and do a few more shows.
SHIFTY: Weâ€™re excited. Ya know weâ€™re actually…weâ€™re back. Weâ€™re making a record and we are really learning everyday our power and how weâ€™re going to approach this. And weâ€™re just kinda playing it by ear a little bit. Just making decisions as things come up. We know that the demand for us in six months to a year is gonna be way bigger so weâ€™re not taking the first people that come up to us or are offering us things. Weâ€™re kinda looking at the big picture and to believe in what we do and know that we have to come back for a minute before we are gonna get to the people that we really want.
EPIC: Thereâ€™s a huge wait and see attitude. For a number of reasons. We have to battle through that wait and see attitude. A lot of people want to see â€˜can these guys actually, at this point, have a successful run in Europe?â€™ Yeah. Not only did we have a successful run in Europe we had a stupid, ridiculous, successful run in Europe. And we didnâ€™t throw chairs out of windows and we didnâ€™t self destruct and we were on time and gracious and humble and just in general we are just appreciating things. So itâ€™s like we are not going to be easily knocked off course right now.
NRR: Cuz thatâ€™s what happened on the first Oz Fest?
NRR: How would you define a successful album now that people donâ€™t really go out and buy albums?
SHIFTY: I would define it as a huge amount of people enjoying the record and coming to see our shows. And being drawn back into being a part of Crazy Town and what we do. I donâ€™t expect to have crazy record sales I expect to come back not just make one new record, but put out a new record every couple of years. Be consistent.
EPIC: Really what we want to do is a string of EPâ€™s. That makes more sense in the long run. But, just because weâ€™ve already got in business with a company in Europe they still like to promote and market albums there. Because fans actually still buy CDâ€™s there.
SHIFTY: Which might be good for us because maybe we wouldnâ€™t have done that and maybe we would get paid in a way that we didnâ€™t think we would by record sales over there.
NRR: Anything else youâ€™d like to get out there to your fans?
EPIC: We would like everybody to be in touch with us. It perked people’s ears up when they hear that weâ€™re back and a lot of people that were down from the beginning and loved all our singles, Toxic and Darkside and all that . And then Butterfly blew up and there was this whole other massive amount of people around that look at us as like the â€˜butterfly boysâ€™ and itâ€™s like their life is gonna go on regardless of whether or not we come back and so we think that we make music thatâ€™s relevant and we hear from people every day that say â€œYou have no idea the times that I was going through when those albums came out and lyrically what it meant to me.â€ And we never expected any of that And those people come ut to see us and theyâ€™re right there in the front row. It means a lot to us too. We are not just doing this because we want to cash in. Bottom line is our shitâ€™s gonna be as relevant as it ever has and people will have no clue. If anybody wants to doubt us go ahead and doubt thatâ€™s fine.
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