Interview by Rocci Fisch
Fisch interviewed the Beastie Boys — Mike “Mike D” Diamond, Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz, and Adam “MCA” Yauch — on May 31, 1985 in a hotel room Washington, D.C. It was recorded on cassette tape and portions originally aired on ABC News Radio.
The Animated Transcript
Rocci Fisch is now a deputy editor at the WashingtonPost.com.
Ad-Rock: “I wouldn’t be surprised if when we come back from this tour and we start recording our album we have like a song that’s just like a classic hit like The Beatles’ ‘Baby You Can Drive my Car.'”
Mike D: We probably will.
Ad-Rock: Probably. I don’t have a car, but it will probably be something like that.
MCA: But if you had one, then somebody could drive it. She could drive it.
Mike D: Your baby could drive it. I’m sure it wouldn’t be any problem. I could arrange it.
MCA: No problem.
Mike D: No problem, Jamaica.
MCA: We got in last night. We took the bus right after the show.
Rocci Fisch: Where were you last night?
MCA: We nearly got arrested.
Mike D: Yeah. Virginia.
MCA: Listen to this: we’re on the stage playing and we happen to say—can I curse on this or is this like uh—
Rocci Fisch: I’m going to edit it.
MCA: So I said “mother fucker” a couple of times or he said “mother fucker” or something like that. And, ah, some cops went up to Madonna’s manager and said that the second we came off the stage that they were going to arrest us and put us in jail and it was that simple and there were no two ways about it.
Mike D: Like it was really scary ’cause as soon as we came off the stage they grabbed us and said, “Yo, boys. You’re going to prison.”
Ad-Rock: I tried to run away because I didn’t know what was going on and this guy, this cop, like he didn’t hit me that hard, but he like you know hit me in the back of the legs with his club. I mean if we had known in the first place we wouldn’t have done it. But this guy had to go and hit us.
MCA: I never knew that it was illegal to use profanity before this.
Mike D: You know, there’s a way we talk and it includes profanity. We never figured we’d be arrested for it.
Rocci Fisch: What’s it like opening for Madonna?
Mike D: Usually there’s about basically almost a riot breaking out after every show because either the crowd wants to kill us or we have to run from the girls because they mob us.
Ad-Rock: Every single night is definitely really hard work. Harder work than I ever really imagined. We go out there and we just have to win this audience over. They don’t want to see rap music. They don’t want to see the Beastie Boys. They don’t care what we’re doing. They want one thing and one thing only: that’s to see Madonna come on stage. But then we go out there, we work hard, we win them over, and then they get real happy. It’s really kind of cool.
Rocci Fisch: Are you guys the only white rappers?
MCA: It looks that way right now and I’m real surprised at it. Although kids always come up to me after the show and tell me they rap also. But we’re the only ones on vinyl, I imagine.
Rocci Fisch: Someone said today that maybe you’re “rappers for the suburbs.” How do you feel about somebody describing you that way?
Ad-Rock: Well whoever said that is an ignorant moron, because we’re certainly not rap music for the suburbs. Because if he ever listened to our records and knows anything about rap music. That we are soul, hardcore, b-boy music, and we do not play sucker music. Like a Chaka Kahn “I Feel for You” is suburb rap music. They think that anything with someone, you know, saying something in a rhyme is rap music.
Ad-Rock: But that’s certainly not us at all.
Mike D: I’d just like to say, like, these people just don’t realize that when we’re in New York City we’ll go to the worst neighborhood in Queens, play to an entirely black audience with someone like Kurtis Blow for a thousand people. This is not a suburban audience. This is like the hardest core urban audience. The thing that really bothers like white critics won’t like us, because they have this whole preconceived notion of what rap music is: you gotta go out there and be angry and sing about the ghetto. And that’s the only reason for rap music to exist. You know?
Rocci Fisch: How did you get your group name, Beastie Boys?
MCA: It’s from the good old days. We were a hardcore band.
Mike D: Yeah, we were like—I was like what, 14?
Mike D: I was like, 14, 15? That’s when we made our first record. We were all going to high school at the time and that’s how we met.
MCA: At time it was the stupidest name that I could possibly think of. And if you could think of a stupider name I’d probably be pretty impressed now. So lay it on me: can you think of a stupider name than the Beastie Boys?
Rocci Fisch: Not really
MCA: So then that answers your question right there.
Rocci Fisch: What’s def?
MCA: What do you mean?
Rocci Fisch: What do you mean def?
MCA: Def is uh, you know, we are def. I’d say that’s a good answer. We are def.
Ad-Rock: Def in New York is what—is something that’s really good, like us. You know what I mean? Def, like def jam.
Mike D: Kind of like if you put on a James Brown record and you just know that’s def.
MCA: Jam is something that you put on toast.
Ad-Rock: We’re very into breakfast.
Mike D: Yeah, we’re into breakfast a lot.
MCA: It’s like, we like hot butter on our breakfast toast and we also like def jam on it.
“License to Ill”