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Kottonmouth Kings

D-Loc aka “Shaky Bones”
Johnny Richter
Lou Dog
Brad “Daddy X”
D.J. Bobby B

Since 1994, Kottonmouth Kings have been slamming down and busting out their hybrid of deep beat hip-hop and fiery punk rock. They’re back in Colorado Thursday, October 24, with inflated herb leaves and other stage props in tow, ready to do their thang at the Colorado Springs Music Hall, then perform a follow up show at the Ogden on Friday. After listening to their latest album, “Rollin’ Stoned” and talking with Brad “Daddy X”, the lead spokesman for the group, it’s very apparent that these guys pack more than a bowl, and bring more to the party than just pipes and mics.

In the last eight years, the Kings have molded themselves into savvy businessmen with very clear agendas, passionate beliefs and aggressive work ethics. Four albums, two DVDs, multiple worldwide tours, a record company called Suburban Noize, and a thriving merchandise company is evidence of this. X explains why they became such entrepreneurs, “We started Suburban Noize because of experiences that I’ve had when I was in a punk rock band. I just learned a lot about ‘Do It Yourself’ and being self-empowered. A lot of times artists aren’t self-empowered and maybe they’re at the mercy of the record labels. We try not to be victims. We have a great platform to launch our projects.”

Suburban Noize also empowers other artists through their label, including Tsunami Brothers, Bobby B., Phunk Junkees, Mix Mob, and Shaky Bonez. “We try to make it so we can all do this for a living,” he comments.

X believes their ability to be successful at what they do is also due to the growing number of fans that have gotten addicted to Kottonmouth’s message and music throughout the years, “They really make this possible. So it’s just parlaying that and always giving them new stuff to keep them stimulated and entertained.”

The new album, Rollin’ Stoned, does just that. “Full Throttle” revs you into high gear with Rob Zombie like space age rumblings, that crashes into a type of Suicidal Tendencies attitude driven assault. “4-2-0” comes off in a “insane the membrane” state of mind, while an comedic interlude, “Big Bank”, goes off at the irony in today’s sue crazy society.

One thing about the Kings, they definitely want to continually state that it’s critical we live in the moment and appreciate our surroundings. “Enjoy”, portrays this, and you’ll recognize this message throughout this album and others. X tells us that we should also appreciate the fact that we “live in Colorado. So walking outside and looking at those mountains, getting up and hiking a trail, and just smelling the beautiful air and looking at the trees,” is what we should never take for granted.

“Positive Vibes” is draped in a bowlful of sunny melodies that would have one believe it’s a song based on a very simple concept of skipping through the daisies. But listen closely and you’ll hear a serious story full of enlightenment, written by someone who wants himself and others to take their life in a different, more positive direction. Organically written by Johnny Richter at a time when he was dealing with the woes of a bad relationship, he picked up a pen and guitar and began to release.

X remembers where Johnny was at the time, “It was not a healthy place to be. I’m sure we’ve all been in those relationships, and they can be pretty draining on you. He wrote that hook out of being so bummed out. He just didn’t want to live like that anymore, with every day fighting and tension.” Style wise, “Positive Vibe” stands out in a completely different form versus anything else on the record, more pop harmonies than punk, hip-hop, rock or funk. But this didn’t really matter to the Kings. So X told Johnny it was a Kottonmouth King song like any other, and, “Why not? You wrote it! We’re not going to limit ourselves by saying, ‘oh, this is too this or too that.’ That would not be true and honest to ourselves. If it came from such a pure place, why shouldn’t we share it?”

Plus, it was recorded right around the time that 9/11 hit, so the theme seemed even more fitting. X felt strong enough about the song’s universal message to recite some of the words, “Let the vibes flow. Let the ocean breeze. Mama always told me there’d be days like these. Keep your head right. Just do as you please. Don’t ever interfere with the evil man’s schemes. Keep your heart pure. Conceive your own dreams. Respect your fellow man, the earth and the trees, the air that we breathe to the highest mountain peak. Bring truth from your soul to your mouth when you speak.”

“Float Away” is an escape to a sunny California beached, filled with people swaying to its infections dub harmonies, hanging with friends and making memories, “that money just can’t replace.” Switching gears, “Living in Fear” pulls society up to the spotlight, pointing a finger at those hired to serve and protect, that at times, are taking the law into their hands in the wrong ways. A crash of Sex Pistols, old school skate videos, and rejected punk head moshing goes full throttle on “Sub Noize Rats”, while “Strange Dayz” brings it down in a dirty hip-hop, b-boy fashion, complete with a chorus groove that would brother up with Dungeon Family. The Kings then take us on a sleepy, psychedelic trip down Jolly Lane, on “Tangerine Sky”, with a sweet reggae guitar jingle, slideing into a romping groove that doesn’t leave your head even after the sweet smoke clears.

So to put it bluntly (no pun intended), the styles of Kottonmouth Kings range far and wide across the musical spectrum. To X, part of their style is to not to stick to just one, “We have all kinds of different influences. We don’t restrict ourselves when we’re making a record. I love reggae. I love punk rock…hip-hop, funk, classic rock. I enjoy and appreciate all forms of music, and everyone in the group does. We’re not a conventional band and every song we put on the record sounds a little different from the next song…and every song has its place in the story.”

X is also adamant that their group is and always has been “a reflection of real life and our experiences. Sometimes you have aggressions, you feel angry…we feel all these things. We laugh and have a good time, and some issues are serious to us at times. It’s all about the cycle of experiencing life. Hopefully when they put on a Kottonmouth Kings record, we can make a good impact on someone’s day.”

On “Zero Tolerance”, they portray themselves at the modern day Paul Revere, enlightening people of the facts behind the laws that govern the use of pot while violence never leaves the streets or our TVs. The Kings also put action behind their music by working with the organizations such as the Cannabis Action Network, NORML, or accepting invitations to get involved in efforts to change laws involving the decriminalization of marijuana. This included a show they recently played in Seattle, where people from that state are attempting to pass Initiative 75. X evokes his thoughts of their efforts and the level of tragedies that take place beyond the war on drugs, “It’s just about spreading awareness. We live in a world right now, unfortunately, where we are all living in fear. It seems like we’re on the brink of [a real] war, and there are all these crazy energies out there.”

Yea, no shit. When a person cannot safely get gas or wait for the bus to go to work, there is something really wrong. When someone is arrested for having marijuana, getting sentences that equal or exceed the terms for those who rob, raped, or even murder, or some freak is out there randomly shoot innocent people left and right in broad daylight for days on end, the whole legal system seems pretty skewed.

“We have enough ammunition to blow up this world twenty times over. It’s completely acceptable in today’s society to turn on CNN and watch them testing missiles. You can walk into Wal-Mart and buy a gun, or anywhere pretty much. But a plant, which is completely a gift from our creator…that you plant in the earth – this is somehow demonized as criminal. And you’re a criminal if you decide to interact with that plant. That’s a little out of balance to me and probably the way the creator intended it to be,” he says.

X and his musical mates also look to the original Americans of this land for inspiration in how they lived their life, compared to how our forefathers decided to run this country, “America has a huge karmic debt to pay. The Native Americans, who inhabited North America for tens of thousands of years, never even left a print on this planet and were totally in harmony with the earth. We came, and there was a mass genocide. There’s nothing we can do about today. The damage is done. But as artists, we can acknowledge that these things have happened.”

To further expand on the King’s creative endeavors, they’ve also tipped their toes into movie making. A project starring one of their members, Taxman, is expected to be released in 2003. Directed by independent filmmaker out of Silverlake, California, Ricky Vodka, “does really cutting edge independent films…kind of dark and edgy,” Brad comments. Doug Carrion, who plays guitar for them on tour, plays a hit man hired by the government to assassinate the Taxman. The story involves brain implants and tracking peoples actions, secret government covert operations.

The King’s live shows have become legendary due to their high end production including an actual working bong that fills the stage with it’s massive presence and smoke, inflated pot leaves and other theatrics. X wants those who plan to check out the Springs or Denver gigs that, “until you come to come to a Kottonmouth King show and see the high-energy exchange between us and the audience, only then will you truly understand what a special and amazing thing it is. I’ve rarely seen a fight at [our show]. We’ve got thousands of people slamming, it’s pretty high octane show. We have a very fanatical and loyal following that really supports this band and makes this all possible.”

He continues with an emphatic tone, “The Kottonmouth Kings are just trying to spread a little compassion. It’s all about enjoying and people coming together, people meeting each other, exchanging ideas…we’re all kinda there for the same reason. That’s to celebrate life that particular night. And hopefully it will be an amazing experience that people will take with them. If we can contribute something positive to the world through our music – great. If we can make someone have a good day by coming to our concert, than our day was worthwhile.”

Kottonmouth Kings play Thursday, October 24 at Colorado Music Hall in Colorado Springs, and Friday, October 25 at the Ogden in Denver.


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