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Vanilla Ice: The Ice Is Right
By Jake Austen


(From Roctober #24, 1999)

If sandwiched between Vanilla Fudge and Vanity 6 in your music collection is a certain lyrical poet with a penchant for slicing like a Ninja and cutting like a razor blade, then you have a problem. No, your problem isn't owning a Vanilla Ice record; that's your saving grace. Your dilemma is that life's too short to listen to Vanilla Fudge. On the other hand, listening to the artist born Rob Van Winkle on Halloween, 1967, will no doubt enrich your days on this earth.

Instantly upon exploding onto the charts in 1990, Ice deservedly entered our cultural heritage. Though he was branded a one hit wonder by some, oh what a hit! "Ice Ice Baby," an irresistible, boastful rap based around the Queen/Bowie "Under Pressure" hook. Though ego-centric rap songs with no theme other than the prowess of the M.C. in bed, in battle and on the microphone have been the staple of the genre since Hip Hop began, due to a number of factors, this one went on to be the first rap super-mega hit. Those factors made Vanilla Ice a superstar (a very wealthy superstar), but unfortunately they also set him up to be stigmatized, ridiculed, and the subject of a To The Extreme backlash.

The first factor contributing to the success was, of course, the fact that he was rapper who was white. This in itself was no guarantee of success, just ask White Knight, YBT, Metal MC, Tairrie B., Blood of Abraham or hundreds of others. But certainly his race opened doors that wouldn't jar for Black artists. The foundation of any zillion-selling pop act is pre-pubescent girls, and most middle American moms were more comfortable with their 12-year-old daughter's over-her-bed poster being V.I. in an American Flag outfit, instead of L.L. Cool J, stripped to waist, sweating and grabbing his crotch (both popular posters in their day). More important than him being white, however, was his being super good looking and white. Vanilla's fashion model looks, mixed with his pleasant cockiness, made him a teen dream.

Vanilla Ice was quickly dubbed the Elvis of Rap, and though that kind of superstar status was a compliment, its subtext branded him as the pillager of Black culture who reaped the rewards while the innovators struggled. What is always left out of that thesis is simple market dynamics. Though Little Richard and Chuck Berry certainly would have appealed to a number of middle American white girls (the demographic spending the money to propel a singer to jumbo star status), most of them find Elvis (and Ice) more appealing, and giving an African American the same chances wouldn't yield similar results. Pop music success isn't meritorious based on music quality, it's the total package. And from 1990-1991, Ice was the total package.

Making the race issues more problematic, though, were Ice's youthful, shameless appropriations of Black culture. Unlike the NY Jewish intellectual Beastie Boys, whose rap records were always postmodern spoofs of the absurdity of Hip Hop's hyper-violent, misogonyst themes, Ice was in a simplistic and naive way, situating himself in the Black Hip Hop world where he had been performing prior to his breakthrough. The DJs and dancers that made up the VIP (Vanilla Ice Posse) were all Black, and his dynamic stage show consisted of the Iceman and crew performing variations on moves from Black Fraternity Step shows (also the source of the "Ice Ice Baby" chant). Though the Black Greek system might claim ownership of these moves, it was undeniable that when Vanilla Ice, a good dancer, performed the moves, it was dynamic, solid entertainment, and thus, he chose a good source to draw from. When he performed on Saturday Night Live those moves made his performance one of the most exciting ones on that show in years.

Another factor in the success was the undeniable charms of the single. While the hook in itself was great, the appropriation of the Queen/Bowie hook was far from the most blatant, un-artistic sample on radio at the time. Hammer, who opened the Rap/Pop crossover door for Vanilla Ice, took the chorus from the perennially popular "Superfreak," originally aimed at young Black radio, and gave it back to young Black radio. "Under Pressure," however, was a hit with mature British audiences, and was therefore a song unrecognizable to Ice's audience, re-contextualized with (obviously) a great deal of success.

But whatever your views on sampling, in addition to the hook, it was Ice's rhyme voice and style that made the record. First and foremost, you could hear the words. Ice's enunciation and clarity of vocals put it over with audiences, perhaps opening an argument for him being the Chuck Berry of Rap. What the listeners were able to make out in the audible rhymes was an endless parade of ridiculously joyful similes ("flow like a harpoon," "wax a chump like a candle," "killing your brain like a poisonous mushroom") and a cartoon version of Ghetto Player life that somehow managed to sound wholesome while describing crack dealers, gunfire, and street girls, "wearing less than bikinis." As Ice negotiates this world like an invincible James Bond keeping his cool and hair flowing, plenty of beats and breaks abound, perfect for the kind of dancing the V.I.P. demonstrated so well in the bargain budget #1 music video. It was a great song, and though Ice was naive in insisting that it would have been as big a hit for a Black artist as well (he sincerely pleads to an indignant D-Nice in Spin that "Nice Nice Baby" would have went platinum), it probably could have been a moderate success for anyone. As a first single though, "Ice Ice Baby" was a hard act to follow, setting him up for a massive backlash when he couldn't replicate its sales.

A factor that also seriously contributed to Ice's massive success was the marketing savvy behind the record. Tommy Quon, owner of City Lights, the Dallas club where Ice started, saw gold in M.C. Vanilla (as he was known originally) and put the wheels in motion. He invested just the right amount of money (everything seemed kind of cheap, but never too cheap) on recording, promotion, touring, videos and records (Quon financed the original release of Ice's first album, co-released by him and Ichiban records, see "Iceography" for details). And when big labels became interested in Ice, instead of selling the contract outright for cash -- like Sam Phillips did with Elvis -- Quon went with a label, SBK, that would allow him to stay on in a management position. In shrewd moves, no single was widely released, so everyone had to buy the full length, "To The Extreme" album, and no vinyl was widely released, so everyone had to buy the more expensive CD (the first #1 album without a vinyl counterpart).

Most significantly for Ice, the management went "to the extreme" in conflicting directions with their star, and both would shorten his reign. To give him more street credibility, a bio was fabricated that had Ice growing up not in Dallas, but on the Miami streets, and much of his legitimate "street" past, (performing at Black clubs, breakdancing, being stabbed) was amplified and transported East, where he inexplicably went to school with the much older Luke Campbell of 2 Live Crew. His achievements in his fave pastime, motocross racing, were also exaggerated. At the same time that they were making him harder, they softened his image up with elaborate glitter outfits and spectacular bizarre colorful couture. The All-American angle was parlayed into dolls, an appearance in the kids' movie, "Teenage Mutant Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze" (in which he performed, "Ninja Rap" featuring the chant, "Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go!") and even his own feature film vehicle, "Cool As Ice".

While Vanilla Ice now puts down the glittery outfits he once wore, and associates them with being under management's control, in truth, at the time Vanilla Ice was a shining star whose joyful ego burned like a road flare. Those outfits made perfect sense, and more importantly, his runway looks allowed him to actually pull them off. However, management's decision to fabricate a biography proved to be more damaging. As the catty media often does after putting someone on top of the mountain, they were looking for an opening to knock his ass off, and the "lies" gave them an opportunity. Perhaps the biggest injustice that Vanilla Ice suffered was a public willing to crucify him on issues of authenticity. If there is any realm where authenticity is meaningless, or at the very least, should take a back seat to playful historical creativity, it's pop music. Why would it possibly matter where Vanilla Ice was from, and if he was really a street tough? He sang about being a Ninja and a sniper, his two favorite themes, but likely he was neither of those, and assumedly no one believed he was. Only recently with the gangsta rap star shooting deaths and the Black Metal church burnings and murders have musicians been held up to a standard of living their lyrics, and I think the general populace would concur that those aren't actually good things.

In fact, to condemn young Vanilla Ice as a liar is to miss the point of the magic of the offstage Vanilla Ice. He wasn't a savvy player, he was a simple, cocky kid who told stories to the press sometimes the way you would brag in the locker room. Rolling Stone took him to task for purporting to have made up the line, "Chillin' like Bob Dylan," and gave empirical evidence to the contrary, when they should have been heralding his embodiment of American youth, with the hubris of invincibility that goes with it. He was the ultimate high school hunk, half captain of the football team, half greaser punk on a motorcycle in the parking lot. He was Dylan and Brandon, Fonzie and Richie, Archie and Reggie simultaneously. Instead of celebrating him, however, he was basically run out of town on a rail.

Actually, if it was a train he was on he was riding in a private luxury car. Though his follow-up live record and soundtrack didn't do too well, and though his movie opened to empty theaters, he had made plenty of money, and was living very comfortably. Though he would surface in the media every few years in a blurb here or there, it was usually in a negative light. His house got robbed of lots of jewelry; Suge Knight threatened to kill him if he didn't sign over some of his royalties; he used to tour the world, now he owns a store. (Actually, his store, specializing in equipment for one of Ice's passions, Extreme Sports, is worth noting because it represents one of his lasting legacies. Vanilla Ice solidified the word "extreme' into American vernacular, and if 10 million plus copies of "To The Extreme" didn't sell, Extreme Sports might go by another name.) But through it all, unlike some of his contemporaries, he never became financially destitute. However, other problems arose.

He broke ties with Quon and continued his music career, but troubles stalled it. Though his 1994 "hard" record, "Mindblowin'" had a heavy marijuana theme (popular in Hip Hop at the time), it was harder drugs that were taking their toll on Rob. He survived a suicide attempt and a drug overdose, and after hitting bottom, he got himself together, went to therapy, got on medication, gave up the drugs (except pot, of course), found God, got married, had a kid (Dusti Rain), got tattooed, and started getting into Rock. He had a Grunge band called Picking Scabs playing the Florida club scene. But what really might redefine Ice's persona in the public eye is his latest Universal album, "Hard to Swallow," and the accompanying tour. Produced by Korn's engineer Ross Robinson, this album contains the kind of Metallic guitar with Hip Hop bass music played by Korn, Rage Against The Machine, and their ilk, with Ice's vocals rapped and screamed over the powerful dirge.. Though this isn't my favorite kind of music, I think this is far superior to Korn, just on the basis of actually having personality. Musically, there's nothing on the album that doesn't have some hook to it, and several of the songs are pretty great. What's most interesting about the album, though, is not what's different about it from his old stuff, but what's similar.

The most striking difference in lyrical content is that some songs are really personal and revealing, most notably, "Scars," a bitter hate note to his deadbeat dad, and an oath to his own kid to do a better job. Balancing out the heavy stuff though, are a number of songs that have identical lyrical structure, boastful content and even the similes of yore ("I spreads butter like Parkay/Real smooth with the flow when I parlay"). Applied to this new type of music it's refreshing, and though there's a low Ninja factor here, there's plenty of snipers! And though his blunt, straightforward confessional stuff, while more meaningful and personal, is arguably as simple as his boasts, there are actually some truly intelligent passages on this album. One is a brilliant regurgitation of every negative epithet that's ever been thrown Vanilla Ice's way, just for being Vanilla Ice, including a stunning, profanity laced, bile burnt rant against the Iceman. The track is deftly titled, "Fuck Me." And though it may be viewed as many as a "novelty," the hardcore remake of "Ice Ice Baby" (played down by Ice in this interview, but recently released as a video) to me boldly claims unashamed ownership of his past. All in all, it's an album worth hearing.

I had no idea, however, who would like this album. Would it be kids who like Korn? Could it be his old fans who like rap? Would anyone give him a chance? Much to my surprise, when I arrived at his show at House Of Blues in Chicago with my assistant, Kristen, the place was packed! And the crowd consisted almost entirely of high school age kids who were pumped to see Ice, and who loved his new music. As the full, hardcore band played, accompanied by DJ Zero on turntables and a second MC toasting, Vanilla Ice negotiated the stage with a grace unusual for this genre, and exploded through his new album's material. The kids went nuts. They sang along with lyrics, moshed to their hearts content, and in a poignant moment, inspired by the opening strains of Ice's ganja epic, "Zig Zag Stories," a skinny kid fought his way to the front to hand Ice a doobie. Graciously taking it, Ice looked through his pocket for matches, and then the magic happened. Like Veronica dropping a handkerchief in an Archie comic to get the boys to dive for it, two dozen eager 16-year-old female arms instantly jutted stageward, lighter's in hand, hoping their dream man would pick theirs. Ice took one from a girl, thanked her (inaudibly amidst the booming Skate Rock), lit up, strutted the stage, and then went to go find the girl to return her lighter! That was a nice touch. Another interesting aspect was seeing the now Christian Vanilla Ice riff on the Garth Brooks "Empty The Evian Bottle on The Audience" bit. Ice did it in a motion suggesting a catholic priest anointing with holy water.

The highlight of the show, though, was when Ice, reading the audience, sent the band off stage and did an old school Hip Hop vignette with just his DJ, including a human beat box bit, a scratching demonstration, and a full run through of, "Ice Ice Baby" with a DAT of the original tracks. Before the latter, the band started to come out to accompany him on the Hard version, but he waved them back, sure that the crowd wanted some old school. And the kids did. If there was any doubt that these fans were the kids who loved him when they were tots it was removed when, at one point they started chanting, "Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go!"

As we left the show, exhausted and satisfied, it seemed every kid, many of them with punk makeup and skate gear, had bought a T-shirt. Ironically the #1 record in the country at the time was Offspring's "Pretty Fly For A White Guy," the ludicrous, though catchy, indictment of the Norman Mailer's White Negro (for the Hip Hop generation). As if a song about white kids acting Black sung by a guy who wore cornrows wasn't absurd enough, the singer actually acts like white kids today would buy a Vanilla Ice CD by mistake, because they wouldn't know how to buy a real Black Gangsta Rap CD. The obvious inaccuracy is that, of course, the majority of Rap CDs are bought by whites, even Master P, Ice Cube and Geto Boys, not just Fresh Prince, believe it or not. The true irony however, is that judging from the crowd we saw, a really fly white guy would own the new Vanilla Ice -- it's got far more cred than The Offspring.

Roctober spoke to Vanilla Ice by phone the day following the concert.

Roctober: Hi, is this Vanilla Ice?

Vanilla Ice: (in mellow voice) It's Rob.

Roctober: We really enjoyed the show last night. Today we went into the archives and watched some old videos, and even though I'm as big a fan of the old stuff as anyone, I'd have to say that I think what you're doing now is more you.

Vanilla Ice: That's true. Totally. A lot of people were saying to me, "You know, you should've started out like this." It goes back to playing the puppet role with the record company and stuff. See I started out as a hip hop artist, you know opening for Ice T and Stetsasonic and Mix A Lot.

I've heard you saying that a lot in recent interviews. You talk about the puppet thing...

That's what I was saying. I was influenced by the money, basically to be put in this position of like a novelty act. It enables me now to do what I want.

You're saying that, but I don't hear that on the record. It really seems to me that, obviously your subject matter is deeper now, but you really stay pretty true to the same kind of lyrical structure and lyrics that you always had.

Right.

Especially when you come on with your "Too Cold" track, which uses the "Ice Ice Baby" lyrics. My reading of that is you're not ashamed of any of your past. You're not telling people to dismiss any of that.

That's the reason I didn't change my name, too.

Exactly. Then why are you trying to distance yourself, as far as saying that wasn't you...

I'm not trying to distance myself and I'm not running from anything or hiding from anything. If you see a distance it's because I've been a distance. I've been through a lot of personal changes and "Too Cold" on that record is the least most important song on there. It was just meant to be an album filler track and I had different lyrics written to that and I was just fucking around in there and I did, "Ice Ice Baby" lyrics and Ross and them were into it and said "It fits perfect, it's killer. You gotta do it." And I'm like "Really?!" And so we never really meant for that to get so much attention but we put out this college sampler that had like 5 tracks on it and I think it was that song and maybe, "Living" which were the only 2 tracks on there that they could play on the radio, and it's a trip because they chose that sort of like a single, but there's never even been a single released off this record yet. Now it's got like 35 adds across the country on that song, but that was not intended. The other songs are much more important.

I think you putting that track on the album is important because to me it really had you saying that you aren't ashamed. Which, you shouldn't be. Everybody is a little embarrassed to look at themselves when they were in their late teens, early twenties.

Sure, like Everlast. Remember the bolo that he had?

Well, I think his old girlfriend is fronting Alternative Rock bands now, but she had that first record, Tairrie B, "Power Of A Woman," remember that? She was trying to be the Rap Madonna.

Yeah. See what I'm saying? Even Alanis Morrisette, you know. They were able to get away from that cause their first attempt was ...

Low. Under the radar.

And mine was like huge. How the hell you gonna get away from that?

Is there anything from back then that you are embarrassed about, really? I mean like, do you...

I don't know about if I would use the word embarrassed, I would use maybe just...um...some things I regret.

Do you really? Specifically, what do you regret...the Ninja Turtle movie?

Yeah, just some of the cheesy things I took the money for and ...

But that all-ages show last night, it was really obvious that it was kids who must have been 1st graders or so when you hit, and the Turtles and all that stuff must have originally got them hooked. I read somewhere you said that you think your current fans coming to the clubs are people that were in high school when the first tracks came out, but...

That was before, but see now it's different because I didn't know what to expect with this new album. You gotta understand, I was still performing, I've been performing up till this point, (material from the album) "Mind Blowing" So, it was true at that point but now I see a whole new crowd coming out as well. But you can't base every show on last night. It's a mixture. You know, you got that crowd, and then you got like, when we played Atlanta, we played Orlando, you know, this full on hard core, body piercing tattooed crowd that's just like a White Zombie show or something.

And what about your movie? You don't like that anymore?

Oh, I like the movie. I'm not ashamed of anything. That's why I said I wouldn't use the word ashamed. I would just say regret. I wasn't meant to be this novelty act. And I was kind of...

But novelty act, that's just a perception. You were a great performer who...

You know what I'm saying a novelty act is.

Yeah, I think that's how you were perceived, but I don't think...

That's what I was turned into that by my record company. And I was upset about that whole thing because I was going along with it, yeah, getting paid and, yeah, selling lots of records, but at the same time, you know, I thought it was about money and I didn't know until '94 that it wasn't about money because I tried to commit suicide and I had millions of dollars in the bank. I had a million dollar home and car and boat and I couldn't find any happiness. So at that point I said, "Wow, man. It's really not about the money. You know, fuck all these material things. I was dumb and young, 19. It was like winning the lottery, so I was just playing a puppet. But you gotta understand, for 3 years before that I was no puppet, and I was doing my thing, and my thing was hip hop and it was all Black audience, it was for all Black crowd. And then all of a sudden when I signed with SBK after I left Ichiban records out of Atlanta, that's when the shit hit the fan and then they turned it into pop.

When you were a kid you were a breakdancer. What was your best move??

Oh man, I used to pop, I used to fuckin' spin on my head, everything. I can't do any of that no more. (laughs)

Could you windmill?

Yeah, I windmilled, sure....

Well, you know, some people couldn't.

Well, that's what was cool about it is everybody couldn't. That's funny (laughs)

I'm thinking about making this article pretty in depth, I'm gonna go through a lot of different sources and piece together your history and I just want to clarify some things that I've seen different in different places. First off, is everything in your book, Ice By Ice, right on?

My book is full of shit, I don't have a book.

You didn't write that?

I didn't write that book. That's another thing that I regret. That book was written by my ex-manager, Tommy Quon, and I was paid to have this label on it, "authorized," because there was like 6 or 7 books out before that says unauthorized right on the cover, meaning that it's bullshit right away. And so they paid me, I believe it was like $850,000 just to have that label and they printed the book. And it's full of shit. I read the book myself and I'm like "God, how could you fuckin do that to me?" I trusted this asshole..

OK, so you can't go by any of that stuff?

No way. You can't go by any of the old bios either because that was fabricated by Elaine Shock industries, and Tommy Quon as well. I had to do this big investigative thing because I went overseas, I came back and people were asking me these weird questions and I couldn't understand them and then they said, "well, your story is not matching with your bio," and I said "What bio?" and they pulled one out and I read it and I said, "Who wrote this? Where'd you get this from?" And I had to hire these investigators to find out where the fuck this came from and nobody would really fess up to it and then it boiled down to it was my ex-manager and Elaine Shock, put out these fake bios on me and shit, but the damage was already done. I was already labeled like a liar, you know, and I read this other thing that said something about I went to school with Luther Campbell and I grew up in the ghetto of Miami. I grew up in Dallas, I never denied that, I've never lied, Never fuckin would I.

Hey I'm...

No listen, It's like to read these things it's fucking kind of upsetting cause the damage is already done and as far as Luther Campbell, he's like - If people would put 2 and 2 together, he's like 10, 15 years older than me.

So, you didn't grow up in Florida at all?

No man, I grew up in Dallas, Texas.

And so all that stuff in the book about like car dealerships and what not, like your stepfather owning a car dealership?

That's bullshit. My stepfather was a fuckin salesman at a car dealership. (laughs) [Actually I was mistaken, the book only says his father worked at a dealership. A follow up interview to this one, done by Michael Lucas {to be serialized in MAXIMUMROCKNROLL} confirmed many other facts reported in the book. I'm sure Ice didn't write it, since he says he didn't, but apparently Tommy Quon, being familiar with Ice's real story, and not anxious to have more facts uncovered as fabrications, kept most of the book factual, only all out lying about the Miami stuff. -Editor]

You've found religion, you're saved, right?

Yes.

Now, do you have any problems with, like violent lyrics or anything? Do you see that as a conflict between lyrical content and your religion?

No problem with that at all. I believe that we're all victims. I think most of these people on this planet are going to go to heaven anyway because we're all victims, man. We're born into this society, you know. It's impossible to live by the Bible without sin so I mean, it's not that we should go sin or anything, it's just saying that, you know, we don't need to wear a mask because of some kind of religion...I don't believe in religion, first of all. Religion to me is, like, man made. The word Catholic, the word Methodist, and all this stuff. They don't even exist in the Bible. So that tells you that they're man made.

But you do believe in scripture?

Some of it. I believe the Bible's been manipulated, because first of all, it had to be interpreted and it was written in a different language and it was thousands of years before Christopher Columbus even crossed the ocean to see if there was another land mass out there and then they had to interpret what the people on that island were saying and then they had to rewrite the Bible. It's just there's so many years that are lost there and if you look at anything that man has ever done, nothing's been perfect, so why would the Bible be perfect after it's been rewritten so many times? And you look at King James version, he used to cut people's heads off if they didn't renounce their religion to them. in Roman days, if you weren't renounced Catholic they'd throw you to the lions. It was all forced. And now we're all victims of today's society, and everything. I mean I can go in real deep, but (laughs) I don't know if you want to go there.

We can change the subject. When you were on Ichiban, did you deal with any of their Blue's guys? Were you ever playing any shows warming up for Clarence Carter doing "Strokin'?"

No, you mean any of their acts? No, uh-uh. I didn't see any of them.

I know there was so much money, at that time, and it's so difficult to keep up relationships, but was there anyone that you were working with back then, Tommy Quon obviously no, but anyone else that you were working with back then that you're still tight with, still working with?

Man, I had a lot of people stab me in the back.

Obviously, that happens when you got that much money involved.

Yeah it's weird how it changed a lot of things. That's why I told you it ended up just to be not important to me at all. I thought that's what made the world go round. I have a few friends that are around.

I noticed that John Bush, who was your road manager from the beginning (Bush managed Quon's club, City Lights, where Ice got "discovered") is still your road manager, and that's great that you could keep up that relationship. Is there anyone musically that you're still working with that you were working with back then?

Musically, Zero, my DJ and Rod J.

What did Zero do on your old tracks? How far back does he go with you?

He was right there in the beginning. He's always been one of my DJ's. I've had like 3 or 4 and from him, Earthquake and D-Shay and um...Earthquake beat up D-Shay so that wasn't gonna work, so Earthquake was my DJ for a while, and Zero was there before all of them, when we were really trying to get a deal in like '85, '86.

Were you in high school with him?

Not in the same high school, but we were in high school, yeah.

I know this is getting out of the realm of your profession, but where'd you get your daughter's name, Dusti Rain? How'd you come up with that?

Well, my life was cloudy at that time and the rain came and washed it all away. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

How'd you get that spelling, though, of Dusti? Is that you or your wife?

Wife.

Last night I noticed when you started to go into your "Ice Ice Baby," the band starts to come out. Do you usually not do it just with the DAT? Were they coming out cause you usually go into the hard version?

Yeah! You notice that, huh?! (laughs)

But you read the crowd, that you thought they'd want to go old school like that so you kept it.

Exactly!

Well, it was real nice, it was nice also that you went old old school, with the beat box stuff.

Last night I was just having some fun. I really had a good time.

You move really well on the stage, even for this hardcore type music, you definitely carry yourself in a really visual way. But do you miss being able to do the kind of dances you guys do back then, having the opportunity to kind of use those talents?

Yeah because this takes so much out of me, now. The energy that I have to deliver in the verses and stuff as opposed to before. I'm so out of breath that I can't do it. But some times I'll break dance on stage, I'll spin or do something crazy.

That was something when the high school kid last night started chanting "Go Ninja Go Ninja Go!" Has that been happening?

(laughs) Not really.

What do you think about that?

I just laugh at it man, I know that I had a huge impact...

They love you, it's incredible. Those kids, they're not being ironic in the least. I think the way it's working is that they loved you then cause they were little kids and cause some of your stuff got aimed towards them and now that you're playing the kind of music they like now, they're just on you! I mean, they're not being ironic or nostalgic or anything. It's just love.

It's a trip man. I'm being blessed right now. And that's why I know there's God. It's not because some religion told me to. It's cause I've had personal experiences, that just couldn't be anything other. It's gotta be God, man. I'm being blessed.

Let me just ask you this, I know this is stepping out a little far, but in interviews now you constantly use the word "puppet," talking about how (the record company) was controlling you. Do you have anything against puppets, normal puppets, cause I know a lot of people hate puppets.

Huh?

People just hate puppets.

No man. Scott Evil, my bass player, the guy with all the tattoos across his back and stuff, I never knew he was like this, but we had like a little puppet on the tour bus, and he, like, killed it, man. He freaked out. Dude he's like really, "No I hate that shit. No I can't even fuckin even deal with it dude." And he was serious. And I was like "What?!" He was having a real hard time with it.

But what about you?

I don't have a problem with a puppet, man. Not at all.

You just made the puppet community very happy.

I'm just using it as an expression, somebody pulling your strings.

So you're birthday's Halloween?

I'm not superstitious. My birthday's Halloween.

You got any really good Halloween stories?

Oh yeah.

Gimme one or two.

(laughs) I'll give you one and then you'll...

That'll be the end all.

(laughs) Yeah. This is it. Alright so I was in Wembley arena (in England) doing a concert and there was this chick that came out in the front. She was really beautiful. She had a trench coat on, a black trench coat and she was opening it up and flashing us. You know, beautiful body and everything and we all saw it and we were like, "Yeaahh!" She was at the next show doing the same thing. Then she was at the next show and the next show and the next show all through England and then we had to go to America to do 3 concerts in America. She was at all 3 of those and then we had to fly to Japan and she was on the airplane, on the way to Japan, screaming in the middle of the flight, "He's my destiny. I gotta have him!" I turned around and it's her and everybody's thinking the plane's gonna crash or something. And she's screaming. It was the weirdest thing ever, man. We get off the plane and I go to the hotel. I check in the hotel. About 2 O'clock that morning I get a knock on my door and somebody slid a hard copy Satanic Bible underneath my door with a message to me written in it. And I picked it up and saw it. I didn't read the message. I threw it down real quick, I was like "Holy shit," and I looked out in the hallway and there was no one there. The next night we had 2 guards up there at the elevator, we didn't know it was even her at this point, and she came up the fire escape and did the same thing, and you know the little lights all down the hall? She knocked 'em out with a stick, and she slid two books underneath my door and the security guards caught her. Then we hear her screaming and yelling out in the hallway and everyone comes out cause we're all on the same floor. We all came out of our rooms, and we're standing around her. She's on her knees in the middle of the hallway, and...I never thought this existed until I saw it myself...this chick was totally possessed, man. Possessed by the Devil. Her voice completely changed and she said, I remember, she just went (in devil voice) "He is my destiny! I've got to have him," and all this shit. We all kind of backed up for a minute and go, "What the fuck?" And then she just snapped out of it and she would just start bawling and tears were coming out and she was crying and she was saying "Please help me. This is not what I want to be. This is not me. Please help me." And then she would snap back into the other one and say, "He is my destiny. You will not stand in my way." Oh, my god, dude. It was so fucking frightening I had nightmares. I just got over them about 2 years ago. Since then, they found out that her parents were Satanic and her grandparents were Satanic and so on and so on. They had sent her and they had paid for all the trip and everything, to come out and convert me, to get me to preach to my fans because of my birthday, which is Hallows Eve, which is a Satanic holiday, the biggest Satanic holiday.

Wow. So you do believe in the Devil?

I do believe in Satan, hell yeah.

While we're on the negative, just because I don't want to be inaccurate anywhere, what drugs were you doing?

Ecstasy, cocaine, heroin...

Were you shooting up...

A little bit.

(Awkward pause, followed by quick change of subject) What, right now, do you see as the goals you have? What's really important to you outside of your family?

Goals. That's good because I don't see anything in the future. I just kind of take it day by day., but I do set goals. Just to get back home to my family is a goal right now because I know that I'm pretty busy for the next year or so. And ride some motocross, , I just want to win, like, a local championship again. What are my goals, man? Just to keep expressing myself musically with people enjoying and showing up at the shows. It's all a great reward to see what's going on right now. I had no idea 2 years ago, 3 years ago, that I would be here right now.

You keep selling these shows out, you definitely have fans, but if this record sells 200,000 or 300,000, some people are gonna act like it's a failure.

Right. I don't judge this record by how many it sells. I judge the success of this record by what I've personally achieved off of it. And I don't care if it sells 10 or 100 million. I'm really just glad to have a record deal and be able to express myself, because what I've got off this record is a total triumph and it's incredible. It's a blessing from God because it's major therapy. Some of these subjects I was tapping into contained a lot of anger and anxiety that I've had trapped up in me for a long time and couldn't get away from. It can spoil your whole mood constantly, just remembering things. I've been a pretty private person, I've never really opened up to anybody. And now I've released these demons inside of me, I really feel like I haven't released all of them, cause we did the record only in a month and a half, I feel like I scratched the surface. I feel like I'm ready to make another record. But this record, it was really like therapy. Now I can perform the songs without reliving them. And I feel free.

Do you think you had ADD?

I do have ADD. I've had it my whole life.

Did you just find that out or have you always known it?

No I haven't always known it, I've always known that something was different about me, big time, my whole entire life because I never could find myself. It's really weird. I don't look at it like it's a plus in my life. I look at it like it's almost a disease. I really can't stand it. And now that I've gotten on this drug and my shrink has diagnosed me with it, see I have the worst type of ADD. Maybe regular ADD can be used in a more positive way, but mine, I have HDADD, which is a Hyperactive Attention Deficiency Disorder. They put me on Ritalin at first which is how they discovered this, and it just completely rebounded. It made me worse. So they got me on this stuff called Aderil which helps me just completely focus and see things in a better way and not make judgments without thinking about them cause that's been a hang-up my whole life, is having that shit. It's gotten me in a lot of trouble.

What doe you mean exactly by the lyric "You got me crazy like Prozac?"

Exactly, cause crazy people take Prozac, right?

OK, I couldn't figure it out, cause Prozac is sedative though?

Yeah.

So, you just associate Prozac with crazy people?

Not really, they're not crazy. I know lots of people, they're not just completely normal, but they take Prozac.

It confused me a little because crazy like Ritalin is closer to what you guys do. You know, jumping around like you're fucking hopped up on stimulants.

Yeah, that would work to.

To me, Prozac would mellow you out, and you're certainly not mellow on this record.

That's what Prozac does for you, you get crazy and you need Prozac. Crazy, like people on Prozac.

Hey, I'm just trying to go through these lyrics.

No pressure. (laughs)

Anything else you want people to know?

Oh, man, it sounds like you covered it, bro.

I just have to say, it's really interesting how you have such a humble, grounded demeanor when we're talking right now, but your stage persona and on your new record you hit that incredible, ego-tripping, superstar, braggadocio vibe. You really pull that off.

I've had a lot of practice. (laughs)