The most renowned trio of hip-hop history, Run DMC (Run, Joseph Simmons; DMC, Darryl McDaniels; and Jam Master Jay, Jason Mizell), talks to Guitar Center about their recent induction into RockWalk, creating upcoming albums, and their equipment.
GC: Tell us about your induction to the Rock Walk earlier this year.
RUN: That was very big for us! That was an honor, an unbelievable honor! People come at it so strong! They won't let go of the fact that they think we're the best. It's mind blowing to me!
GC: How's the tour with Aerosmith & Kid Rock going?
RUN: This tour is a real triple headline. We do our show and as we're doing "King of Rock" Kid Rock comes on stage with us. Then we keep the show going with no break and it goes straight into Aerosmith! We go on stage with Aerosmith and do "Walk This Way." It's an unbelievable experience touring with Kid Rock and Aerosmith. It's such a powerful tour. We are doing 3 nights in Boston. 3 nights! 20,000 people a night! Wow! I don't know what Aerosmith or Kid Rock are used to, what they do in one night, but it's amazing to me that this triple headline is doing so much. I told my group, even if Crown Royal would have blown up really big I don't know if we'd be at this place anyway. We went so far into the R&B area, like really making black records, it's amazing to still have this juice sitting on the other side!
We departed from making such pop records for awhile. We put a lot of rock guitar on "Back from Hell." We made a couple of records like "Pause" that were geared toward an R&B type of thing. My mind went into another realm, not trying to follow what the Beastie Boys did anymore. We didn't end up touring with the Beasties and didn't stay in the scene that we had kind of created with the Beasties. They have more of a white following.
GC: Would you say you're back with the rock thing again now?
RUN: I think we're back with our history and the respect never seems to vanish and I'm very thankful for that! What we try to do is stand up to it with a wicked performance with turntables. It seems funny in an environment where we play these rock-type concerts and everybody has a band! Who the hell do I think I am in front of 30,000 Aerosmith fans and Kid Rock fans to have this turntable and do something so unique? We do these performances and we use all the records that have the rock riffs in them, like, "It's Tricky," "Rock Box," "Mary Mary," "Walk This Way" and "King of Rock." It shows the diversity of Run DMC that we can go from all of these black records like "Peter Piper" to making these rock records and being able to go out there and do it in front of this crowd that might not care. So it's been very interesting.
GC: You guys have been touring pretty extensively for years. Do you like performing live as opposed to recording?
RUN: Yeah. I kind of lost the vigor for recording for a while. I didn't really care about it anymore. I put out a new pair of sneakers called the Phat Classics with my brother and they sold like a million pairs! At that point my mind was like, "You know what, I've said enough, I've created enough!" I was ready to say "Forget music!" I'd still do a little bit, like if you would call me for a remix, then I wouldn't mind, but I wasn't going to put my focus on making more Run DMC albums. But then it just seemed like the more I would run from Run DMC saying "It's over, I'm fine." The more opportunities would be coming at me. Opportunities to record, opportunities to do big tours. Spiritually it didn't feel like it was over all of a sudden. It seems like we're getting more offers to do things like this big tour and putting our hands in the RockWalk. I was like, "What the hell is this about?" The more I said "I don't want to do it!" the more people I respect were saying, "What the hell is the matter with you? We want to see you do this!" It's like I have a service that I have to render to the music community. So here I am doing "Walk This Way" and at the end of the show 30,000 people screaming! They're happy so we just give and shut up! For me, I'm out there with my heart having fun, doing it to the best of my ability. I'm thankful that I can give something back and that people love to see those old records played. It's scary!
GC: Are you guys thinking about a new record?
RUN: We've been offered a lot of deals. We're a legendary act that still has punch in us. We're actually not signed because we were able to make ourselves free. And we thank God for that. We're a free act and people are saying, "I want you! I want you! I want you!" It's a great opportunity to be so sought after and free! It's like playing Lotto and knowing you have the numbers. The Lotto is 78 million dollars and you're going to pick 74, 19, 22, 88... and you know for sure it's going to work!
It isn't even about waiting. Remember, I was leaving the music industry. I was happy to move on because we kept getting so may accolades for the old records. Sometimes certain bands don't need to make a new record. That's how I took it. Why can't I be finished like Irvin Johnson and just sell products or something and create another life? Why? That was the question in my mind. Sounds good to me. I feel respected. I feel accomplished. I feel finished. And I don't feel the urge to really try to fight and give out another album. But everybody says give me an album, so I'm considering it.
GC: When you guys write, how do you come up with ideas?
RUN: We have fun and a lot of love and ideas. Jam Master Jay is a great producer and DMC has a magnificent mind for rhyme phrases. We hang around each other and laugh and great things come up in the middle of the room and we grab it and we talk about it. Someone might come up with an idea and it is understood. I'll come to the top of the game plan and say, "This is how you do it Jay." And he's like, "I got you, I got you." He's able to execute it! The bottom line is these are some wonderful guys, some good dudes, my boys. I can't deny their spirit of kindness, honesty, and truthfulness, everything I can respect about a person. It seems like there's no way in the world we can stop saying that about each other because God made us with good hearts. And that's what we live by, those principles. The three guys in Run DMC thank God for blessing us.
GC: Has there been a lot of pressure over the years to change your style?
RUN: Nobody comes to me with that! How are you going to go to someone like Prince and tell him what to do? He's an eccentric man. Who can say, "Prince you should do this?" Think about it. Who can say to Run DMC, "You should do this?" That's a violation. We're not a manufactured group, we're the real thing. We make music, music, music. We've never gone fake. It's not like you can come up to Run and say, "Do what Limp Bizkit is doing." We do whatever we feel like doing. I think that's what artists do. Real artists go and do what they feel they should be doing at that moment, whether it's win or lose.
GC: What do you think are the differences between how Hip Hop records are made today versus the early days?
RUN: I think it's the same thing. I think of Jay-Z and all them boys that I like and I think they're all just trying to make a record that they believe in. I think that there has to be heart in the guitar, heart in the drums, heart in the bass, heart in the scratching. And when that group is making that record, I think it's the same thing I've done beause I think it's all spirit. You put out this great record and people say, "I like that!" That comes from somebody genius enough to capture the heart of millions of people at one time.
GC: What do you see in the future of Hip Hop music?
RUN: I believe there will be a lot of new artists coming out. I saw a young kid on the guitar last night, 11 or 12 years old, during the Kid Rock show with his mother standing at the side of the stage. She let the little boy come on and he played the guitar so wonderfully. It was crazy! I was like, "Look at this kid!" He was killing it, destroying the guitar! I was like, "That's the point of the world." You get to see talents come out of people that are so extraordinary. I think that's what makes the world go round. Look at this creation of God.
GC: Do you guys shop at Guitar Center at all?
RUN: Yeah, of course! It's an amazing place and the best thing is whenever Jay needs anything, he just runs down there and grabs it when we're recording. Jay or Rick Rubin or Larry Smith, all the producers I've worked with. We run down there and pick up whatever we need all the time!
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