Originally published on Swizzle-Stick.com (July 2001)
We were fortunate enough to catch up with the band that should have won VH-1’s Bands on the Run, the San Diego-based Soul Cracker, earlier this week when they returned to Columbus, Ohio. We could spend this time giving you a run down of their past, including the fact that they’ve been together for seven years and have released five CDs. But you either a) already know about that because you’ve spent lots of time at www.soulcracker.com, or b) don’t care and just want to read the dirt that the band has to spill about the show, the other bands, and losing to Flickerstick because of a shady contest.
So, without wasting your time any more, here’s the unedited, uncensored, full story according to Sutton, Beastie, and AP. (Take some time, it’s a long one).
You’ve put out a lot of albums in seven years. Are you trying to do the Kiss thing and put out one a year?
Sutton: We always wanted to do one a year, from the beginning. A lot of bands still do that.
Beastie: I think a lot of times bands get wrapped up in touring they don’t spend a month writing new stuff and recording it.
Sutton With the amount of new bands there are right now, in these times, if you take time off from your tour, people will forgot about you. So you’ve got to be out all the time. We’re hoping to release another album next year.
There are those bands like the Breeders, Weezer, My Bloody Valentine that take years and years between albums.
Beastie But then you’ve got bands like Bob Dylan . . .
Sutton. . . the Chili Peppers, Stone Temple Pilots releasing new music all the time.
I was listening to the new STP CD today. It’s amazing that they are still together considering everything that has gone on.
Sutton Cooler than ever. That new video I just saw, Scott Weiland is my idol now.
Beastie Right now we’re just doing a two-month tour to support the new record. We’ll hit some of the towns we’ve been to before, sure, but right now we’re taking a couple of airplane tour trips. We’ll fly out for one show in particular because somebody really wants us to play.
Sutton We’re taking a week off to go home and do laundry and then we leave in the van for two and a half months.
Have you gotten any offers from any big bands to go out on tour with them?
Sutton After we push this album for two and a half months, that’s the next thing on the agenda, to go out and support a bigger band. Right now we’re all by ourselves out here using local support at every show.
Beastie Which is cool.
Have you run across any support acts on this tour that are just no good?
Beastie Yeah. It’s kind of a toss of the dice sometimes. You don’t get good by not playing out.
Sutton The more acclaim you get, the more responsibilities come along with the band. The bigger your team gets – you build a team of people – the more you find out that you have to participate in every aspect of every decision or else it’s just not going to come out the way you planned. Just today we were like, “Man, we need to be more aware of what bands play before us at shows.” It’s not even a matter of them not being good, it’s just a matter of styles not matching up.
You guys paid your dues by playing lots of shows, eventually getting the chance to open for some bigger named bands.
Sutton The best shows are always opening for a good band. You can’t pull them out to the club by yourself when nobody knows who you are, so you have to ride on somebody’s coat tails if you can . . . or get on a TV show (laughs).
(A few minutes of Fishbone geek talk, discussing which albums are the best (“We all lived in a two-bedroom apartment together and we played ‘Truth and Soul’ non-stop for a whole summer,” says Sutton, Fishbone side projects, etc.)
Beastie I used to emulate every single thing Angelo Moore did on stage. Everything. I wore suspenders with shorts and no underwear. I idolized him. I never had the Mohawk – well, I had a Mohawk for like a day once. He gave me his poetry book and some suspenders and a bunch of ‘Fuck Racism’ stickers.
Sutton And a bunch of really potent pot brownies.
Beastie I put a ‘Fuck Racism’ sticker on our van. I had the van at my parent’s house during Christmas and my grandmother ripped it off either because it said ‘Fuck’ or because she’s a racist, I’m not sure which. I was so pissed off.
How has the Warped Tour been the last few years?
Sutton The Warped Tour is the best environment to be a musician in these days. Every one is having a great time; everyone is working hard, everyone on the Warped Tour cares about their fans. We do too. They are out there meeting people, really meeting people.
Beastie We don’t get paid when we play there. There’s no pretension, no bands think they are big rock stars and are mean to other bands. The bass player and singer for The Ataris were on the main stage and they told everybody to come see us on our tiny little stage.
Sutton You get to know a lot of people and make friends with your idols.
You don’t get any shit from any of the punk rockers because you were on Bands on the Run?
Sutton You know what? All of those dirty punk rock dirty motherfuckers are addicted to Bands on the Run. They love us. Then when they saw us play on the first date of the Warped Tour – everybody came and checked it out – they were like, “Okay, what is this going to be like? What are these guys all about?” And they said the same thing that everybody says to us at every show right now, “I had no idea you sounded like that.”
I don’t think VH-1 really gave people a fair chance to hear you. It seems like every week viewers would see 30-second clips (at most) of you playing the same songs they showed you playing every week.
Sutton The songs they chose to show, people say to us “We had no idea you were this heavy or this good.” It’s kind of a daunting task to go into every town and change people’s minds about you. But we’ve been pretty successful at it so far.
Do you think VH-1 had any sort of agenda? Like maybe they were playing specific songs that would appeal to their demographic?
Sutton They had an agenda to have a hit show.
Beastie We’re pretty high energy and a pretty heavy band. I’m not saying that we’re Pantera or anything but we’re a pretty heavy band and I don’t think VH-1 is the showplace for that type of music.
Sutton We can’t speak about anybodies motivations, but when you have 168 hours of footage about somebody per episode, they can make it so they show somebody in the bathroom the whole time. Or a person can be asleep through a whole episode. They’ve got the footage. They’ve got everything.
They were following you 24 hours a day?
Sutton Yeah. If we were in our room – Beastie and I shared a room because we both smoke – and had the lights out and TV off and were talking to each other, they would come in and turn a light on and film.
Beastie They wouldn’t stop until you were asleep.
Sutton They’d sit outside your door. They have audio everywhere. Everybody is wearing a mike under their t-shirt.
Was it strange the first few days after the show to not have a camera following you around or be wearing a mike?
Sutton It was like “WHOOOO!” I kept patting my back, because I expected to have a mike there, and I kept checking to see if my pack was going to hurt me when I sat down.
Did you ever think a cameraman was hiding in the bushes after you got home?
Sutton I did think that for a few days. I would be like wanting to say something but keeping my mouth closed. Then I’d be like, “Hey, I can say it.”
Beastie Somebody that worked for the show said to beware of separation anxiety.
Sutton I was grateful to be done with it.
The show stopped filming in December but didn’t start airing for a few months. What did you do immediately afterwards? Did you take a break from each other? Start recording?
Sutton Nothing happened for months. We spent all of March, April and May recording the new album.
Did you take every Sunday night off to watch the show?
Sutton No. I got rid of cable three episodes into the show.
Beastie Initially I thought it was really fun to watch the show and have a couple of my best friends over. We thought it was really funny. It got real old real fast.
Sutton I got rid of cable because I didn’t want to accidentally come across it.
Did you do any overnight drives?
Sutton It wasn’t a tour. You stayed in a town for four days in a luxury hotel room, no expenses. They even give you money to eat with every day. And you get to keep all your merch money and spend that however you want. It didn’t happen to us, but if you get too drunk, they drive you. If you get too drunk during the show to load your gear, they’ll do it for you. They’ll tuck you into bed.
Beastie I remember when they were first screen testing us for the show. They asked, “What do you hope to show people with the show?” I said “I want people to understand how hard it is and how you get know sleep and have to dig under the backseat in the van to find enough change for a bean burrito.”
Sutton And it wasn’t like that at all.
Beastie I also said that I wanted people to see the camaraderie that it takes, with this band at least, to get through this shit and the guerilla-style of humor we had to use on each other just to stay normal. And the show was nothing like that.
Sutton We were the only band that had really toured before that. There are fifteen musicians somewhere in America that think that’s what it’s like or are learning that it’s not or are lucky enough to be experiencing it easily still.
You have had it okay on your own, right? You’re not still staying at luxury hotels, but you’re getting by.
Sutton Yeah. We’d be out of town doing what we’re doing if it were a lot worse than it is now. It’s never been this good for us and that’s why we just can’t go home. It’s push, push, push.
Beastie It goes back to some of your earlier questions. There is a mixed reaction from a lot of the viewing audience, but I think that every band member that watches the show appreciates the way we work. We don’t think we’re cool guys that need a lot of attention. We love the attention, but . . .
Sutton Then there are people like the girl who walked in today and was yelling about how much she hated us and loved Flickerstick. It was like, “It’s a fucking game show bitch. God, how could you let this effect your life so much?”
Beastie We didn’t go into it thinking or wanting some lifelong rivalry with some of the bands.
Sutton We wanted some fucking gear.
Did you get anything for coming in second?
Sutton A seventeen-hour commercial for our band. I bet that would cost a hell of a lot more than $100,000. It would probably cost a million.
Beastie It afforded us the opportunity, no matter what people’s reasons are for coming to see us, it brings people out to the shows. My favorite thing now is when we walk up on a stage and you can see a clump of people ready to hate us and I’m like, “No, I know we’re going to change their minds.
Sutton And the great thing about it is that as soon as the cameras stopped rolling, I had stacks of free guitars. I got endorsed. All of us got endorsed so we got the gear. I didn’t get the home studio I was planning on building when we were $3500 up with two days left.
I’ve been reading a lot of places on the Internet where other bands are making fun of the four bands that were on the show but then also saying that they probably would do the show if they had the opportunity.
Sutton You know what? How would you ever know if you’d get another shot besides the one that you’re getting offered right now.
Do you guys listen to music in the van when you tour?
You didn’t hear a lot of background music on the show.
Sutton You weren’t allowed to play music. Then they’d have to license every song. So we played guitar and play our own songs.
What do you like to listen to on the road?
Sutton Right now I’m on a steady diet of the Pixies and the Descendents.
Do you ever fight over what gets played in the van?
Beastie No, we all pretty much have the same tastes.
AP (joining the conversation): We all like King’s X and the Police.
Sutton And (in a British accent) The Beatles. Today we listened to the Clash’s first album.
I know you’ve been asked this a thousand times and will be asked a thousand more, but did you have any idea that the last Battle of the Bands was going to be worth $5000?
Beastie, Sutton, AP No.
AP Not even the producers knew.
Beastie They made that up I believe.
Sutton And then told us about it the next morning.
AP It doesn’t matter whether they made it up or not. Let’s just say that it’s not a documentary; it’s a reality-based TV show. It has a lot more in common with a scripted sitcom than it does with a documentary; just with the way they manipulate reality.
Sutton I think it all makes perfect sense. What kind of hype is there going to be for the last episode because nobody can beat us. And that’s how it was until they told us about the $5000. That kind of sucks but the opportunities that we’ve had as a result of the show are so amazing that you can’t be mad. Everybody does everything for the same basic reasons.
Would you do it again . . .
. . . now that you know how it works?
Beastie It’s been nothing but good for this band to be on television.
Sutton It doesn’t matter what people think of you anyway, at least they’re thinking of you.
Would you want to watch your favorite band if they were on the show? Do you think that I know too much about you just from watching the show?
Sutton I would do it again but I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Isn’t that funny?
Beastie I’m on this fence when I think of other bands doing it. I don’t think you know anything about me. You saw this TV show and you saw very little of me.
Sutton You got to hear 2% of all the things that Beastie said on that tour.
AP Not even 2%.
Sutton A millionth of one percent of all the things that Beastie said on that tour and what people got to hear and Beastie had no control over what percent that was.
Beastie If another band was thinking about doing it, I’d say get your agenda straight. Be there to be a contestant on the game show. Don’t hide any secrets.
AP In retrospect, I’d say don’t even do that. Don’t try.
Beastie Or, the other thing is, act for the camera all day every day. Make sure you’re saying the right things and look the right way. That’s something we didn’t do. Maybe we should have . . . no, we shouldn’t have. I’m glad we were ourselves.
Sutton I’m a big fan of sincerity.
AP I’m proud that we were sincere too but it was destined for us to fail because of our sincerity.
Although you think we only saw a millionth of one percent of what went on, you were shown as being a hard working band.
Sutton We worked every hour of every day until they told us about the $5000 and then we got drunk.
AP I don’t even think we worked that hard up to that point. I think it made us look like we worked harder because none of the other bands were playing the game at all. So any little thing that we did made us look superhuman. It’s funny because if you saw in real life how much promoting we do. Nothing. Never.
Sutton You hire people to do that shit for you.
AP As far as touring goes, we do play 2 shows in a day all the time. We do a tour and play every single night. We’ve been doing it a long time.
Sutton We were so sure that if anybody went into it trying to put up a façade about how they wanted America to view them, America would see through it because there is so much coverage you can’t possibly keep your guard up all of the time. And nobody sees through any of it. That’s the thing I don’t like. You should have seen everybody on their days off. I was getting backrubs from Harlow. Flickerstick wouldn’t leave the hotel rooms, except when the cameras were on. They weren’t going out for nightlife. We saw them at a bar once on a night off and they were just sitting there.
AP Not talking to anybody. Not able to pick up any girls.
In the end it didn’t look like you had any regrets that would cause major commotion when you got home. The other bands, particularly Flickerstick, can’t say the same thing.
Sutton I don’t want to sound like they don’t deserve any of this. They are an incredible band, they are really good. And I should know, I’ve seen them like 40 times now. And they impressed me every single time I’ve seen them.
Did you see the show leading up to where they knocked on your door at 6am to try to fight with you?
Sutton They pussed out on national TV. They were like, “Let’s go kick his ass.” They get there and they are like, “Dude, it’s not cool.” Beastie is like, “Sorry. Whatever.”
Beastie I am sorry if I hurt their feelings. I like to be nice to everybody. I certainly don’t like violence, but if somebody is going to fucking want to fight me, I’ll do it.
Sutton All wounds heal.
Beastie If you want to talk about the TV show, it’s not like its edited week to week. It’s not like they are really following along with what happened. It’s not like there is a story line and they tell you what happened this week. They know who wins and who loses. They have everything they want.
AP They have everything storyboarded out from start to finish before they even start editing.
Beastie So when you see them knocking on my door and it’s all dramatic and it’s like “Is Beastie a jerk for talking shit about the other bands?” I never once said they are not great. They are a great band.
Sutton Or when any two people in our band would have an argument about anything, that argument gets put into a segment between two commercials with every bad thing either person has ever said about each other over the whole tour. They made conversations out of bits and pieces that happened over weeks.
AP There was like 2% of the drama they showed on the show that happened in real life. That was every single event that I can think of where there was conflict they put onto the show. That doesn’t take into account the 10,000 hours of us hanging out.
Beastie What I’m getting at is that when they are working from the finish and then show you the start and they know exactly how they want to do that, they are going to leave things out. Maybe something sympathetic happens that would gain sympathy for us but they’re not going to show that.
AP Like when the other bands talk shit about us.
Beastie One of the things I remember is that I was in the hospital on that tour. They don’t show that. I had strep throat or laryngitis or something. That was the last week.
AP They didn’t show how we were so emotionally distraught about what was going on, would we be able to finish the show. Did they show that? No.
Beastie Rather than showing that I had to go to the hospital, they show me saying “Hard rock versus light rock.”
Sutton Whatever. The shitty thing about all of it is everything we are saying right now is so reality-based TV star cliché. I hate the fact that we’re whining about getting the bad edit because I know everyone has done it since reality-TV started.
Did any of you watch any of the reality shows? Real World? Survivor? Etc.
Beastie I never watched any of them because I didn’t like the whole idea. I remember thinking “Reality television. You’re watching real people.”
Sutton Why don’t you just go do something. Why don’t you go to your friend’s house and watch him. “Hey dude, Bob’s fighting with his girlfriend. Come over.”
AP Ironically, that’s the thing that makes people watch reality TV. They don’t have to wait for a buddy to call. They can set their watch to drama. They don’t have to wait for the wife-beater wearing neighbor to start smacking his wife around cuz you never know when that’s going to happen.
Let me just ask one more question. When VH-1 makes the ‘Bands on the Run’ TV movie, what actors will play you guys?
Sutton Gary Del’Abate is going to play Beastie.
AP Gary Busey is going to play me.
Beastie Gary Cherone is going to play Sutton.
Sutton No. Brandon Lea from Flickerstick is going to be flown in to play me.
Beastie And Herman Ze German from the Scorpions is going to play Bob.
Sutton And then any gay guy can play Ramsey.
Beastie Richard Simmons is going to play the part of Ramsey.
Sutton Just kidding Ramsey. They’ll probably get somebody that is French to play Ramsey. Gerard DePardu.
AP They’ll get that blond guy from that radio show with Phil Hartman . . .
Sutton David Spade?
AP Andy Dick! He’ll play Ramsey.
Sutton That would be so funny.