Interview with Tech N9ne | By Ridge Briel
It’s an honor to interview one of the hardest working rappers in the game; how is everything going in terms of your new albums that you’re working on?
Well, right now I’m in the studio writing for my new collabos album that will be called Strangeulation, like how Strange Music has the industry in a chokehold. Still moving and grooving, you know?
While your music has been generally accepted among the metal community before, thanks to using metal guitar tones and dark, sinister overtones. What inspired you to go ahead after all that time to make a full fledged metal themed EP?
As you know, the name of Strange Music was inspired by The Doors. I’m a big Doors fan, without Jim Morrison, without Robby Krieger, without Jon Densmore, without Ray Manzarek rest his soul, I would have never called this Strange Music. We are all a strange individual in the hood. We’ve always had that rock energy; the first song “Tormented” on our first release Anghellic has a rock overtone to it. A lot of our music throughout the years, such as “Riot Maker” [from Everready (The Religion)] has a rock edge. For years I’ve been promising my fans the K.A.B.O.S.H. album, which stands for “Killing America’s Belief On Society’s Hoods,” because there was no belief that niggas can rock out like this [laughs]. I never did it because the band we were going to use had some problems at the time, so we put it on the backburner. So I did Therapy as an appetizer and if people like it, I will get together with the band and make a full album. I’ve been planning to do this for over a decade. The idea for Therapy was always there, but the way we did it with producer Ross Robinson on Venice Beach was a change of scenery and an overall change in atmosphere. It’s the change I needed to make this EP truly different from the “rock-ish” stuff I’ve done before. Thank you to everybody that was involved and Ross Robinson for getting those seven songs out of me, because I love them and everyone does too!
You put out so much material every year, about two or three releases a year, and it’s just so damn… good! The quality of your delivery, lyrical content, and production is astounding. How do you do it?
I write it like I want to hear it man. I don’t want to just throw anything out there. When people think about EPs these days, they think that I’m just rushing music out there, but it’s more like I’m giving you honest music to quench your thirst from Tech N9ne. I don’t rush anything.
I think it’s awesome that you made this amazing EP, most artists just gimmick the hell out of it by placing fake guitars over beats, but you actually have people like Wes Borland and Sammy Siegler performing the instruments. How did those collaborations come about?
That’s all Ross man! We went to Ross’ house and Wes had moved in for a bit, he was getting some songs out at the same time I was doing it, and we linked. Sammy came over because Ross called him and he said “yeah I’ll play!” Even Alfredo Ortiz from Beastie Boys came through and it all worked out. A couple of bass players came through and also did some work as well. It was wonderful.
Therapy has turned into one of my all time favorites from your catalog, but honestly Everready still tops that list.
Yeah, honestly Everready was my personal favorite album I’ve done until Something Else. I liked Something Else because I threw in a mixture of old and new, like elements from Anghellic and from K.O.D., but Everready is hard to beat!
All of your songs are honestly great, but every track on that album was an instant classic!
Oh I know, believe me! Songs like “The Beast,” “Riot Maker,” “My World” with Brotha Lynch Hung and Dalima…
One of my favorites is easily “Bout Ta Bubble.”
Hell yeah that song is great! “Come Gangsta” is one of my personal favorite tracks, it’s crazy! But it doesn’t top “The Rain,” that one has my kids on there. Can’t beat that!
Since that song, I haven’t seen any other collaborations with your children on your albums. What do they think of your career as an established independent hip-hop artist? Will they be in any future collaborations?
They love me to death, they love that their daddy is Tech N9ne. Alyia is going to an all girl’s college right now, she’s 19, they’re growing up! Dante, my son, has just started rapping himself, so he’s working on that. Reign[bow] just made cheerleader 9th grade, she says she wants her 16 bars, so we will see!
To pick a favorite song (which was hard), I would have to say it is “Hiccup.” What’s the background of that particular track?
Wow, it’s crazy you picked that one because it came to me in a dream. Ross Robinson was in my dream, sitting at his desk in front of his monitor at his studio. He pointed down at a black record cover that had these bold white letters that said ‘Hiccup.’ I woke up and I put the idea of the drums in my little Dictaphone recorder. When I went to the studio the next day, Wes [Borland] was there, as was Sid Wilson and DJ Starscream [from Slipknot]. I told Ross about the dream for the idea and he said “Show me.” I was a little nervous but I busted it out right in front of them, then I thought “Okay I’m a little embarrassed, I’m going to go up the street and have lunch.” I came back an hour later and they had the skeleton of the beat waiting for me. I just went out there and wrote what was on my mind, I was watching CNN earlier and I was seeing a lot of things that were disturbing me, like the whole Amanda Berry and Charles Ramsey situation. There was also that whole Vatican cover up about the priests touching the little boys; there are messed up things in this world. So I just wrote about all of this and it became an explosion.
I personally liked it because I thought it had a similar tempo like the track “Check Yo Temperature” from the album K.O.D. So tell me a little bit about your upcoming album Special Effects. What’s the story behind the title, what are some tracks, and whom might you be collaborating with?
That idea is far away from here at the moment. I just came up with the title because after doing all this, everyone knows that I can do this, I’m good at what I’m doing. So now it’s time to start playing with the beats, start playing with the lyrics, putting special effects on them. We want to see what sort of weird style will come up from this. So far I only have one beat I got from Seven when I was on tour. The problem I’m having now is that a lot of the stuff for the new collabos album sounds like it should be on Special Effects, and I hope and pray that I will retain the ability I have to compose a raw and hard track. Coming off of Therapy EP, we will have a lot to prove.
So what you’re saying is that Special Effects will be more experimental as compared to your previous efforts?
Possibly, I never know until the beats start telling me what to do. All I know is that I’m taking a different approach than before; I’m going in blind with this one. I never have an idea when I approach my work, I work with the beats. The initial idea for Something Else was that I wanted beats from outside my realm, and look how that turned out. The track “Rock-A-Bye” has a rocking chair in it. But that unknown is what makes it more exciting for me.
It’s interesting that you talk about your song writing technique like that, I interviewed Chino Moreno [Deftones] and he lets the music tell him what to do, as compared to having a pre-conceived notion as to what to write about.
I love the Deftones! They were on the track “If I Could” from my album All 6’s and 7’s as a matter of fact. Stephen [Carpenter] and Chino are my boys. Last time they came through and played at The Voodoo, I got a picture with them and hung out, really cool guys man! I think that’s why we clicked in music because we let the melody and rhythm come first before the words.
One thing that I thought was awesome was when you signed Brotha Lynch Hung. I’m from Sac and I grew up with his music, among other artists. I know he performed with you when you came through Sac; how did you guys come together for the contract and has he accepted the extension following the conclusion of the horror trilogy?
I was a fan, and still am, of his music. After we did the track “My World” from Everready (The Religion), I turned to my partner Travis and said “We gotta sign this muthafucka!” He’s good at telling a story and taking us through a journey, with his music and his videos through the mind of Mannibal Lecter and The Coathanga Strangla.
So what news is there you can share about the upcoming collabos album Strangeulation? Any tentative release date?
The tentative release date is March 20… something. 23rd? 27th? I don’t know, I’m just the music guy, Travis handles that stuff [laughs]. There’s going to be 15 songs on this record and I plan to have it done by the end of January.
Are there any other projects that you’re working on, or tours in the upcoming months ahead? I know you just completed one of the most extensive tours in hip-hop history.
For now, as far as tours go, I’m chilling. I’m going to be shooting some videos, and there is some TV talk that I can’t go into now, but it’s happening.
Thanks for the interview Tech, it’s been a real pleasure. And I have to thank you on behalf of the world for introducing the Caribou Lou drink idea to all of us.
Speaking on that, it will be in stores soon.
Wait, what’s this about now?
Yeahhhhh [laughs]. We won the battle with Caribou Coffee, they didn’t want us to use the word caribou, like they made it up or something. I ain’t supposed to be talking about this, but we won. I ain’t supposed to be bragging about this, but we won. I couldn’t believe that I had to fight for something I came up with. We don’t even drink coffee in the hood, I know I didn’t. We couldn’t afford no coffee [laughs]. They were talking about coming out in 1992, man I didn’t know about them muthafuckas. But anyway, I ain’t supposed to be talking about it, but you can print whatever the hell I say [laughs].
Any last words for the fans and metalheads?
Really take it in and see what went into this. It’s my heart, my feelings, a lot of personal things on there. There’s anger, sexual feelings, heart-felt stuff, it’s all in there. I wrote down what I felt, that’s half the battle for me. I hope you all enjoy it. I hope it’s as therapeutic for the listeners as well as it was to me.