The Beastie Boys were a hardcore band in 1981, with John Berry on guitar and Kate Schellenbach on drums. Adam Horovitz had not yet joined. We were part of the same circle, kids in gifted-and-talented high schools running around NYC late at night. I took many photos of the band, as I did of any band we met or saw play, in this early stage. I am a little relieved I can't take credit for that much of the writing... though as I read it, I feel the tone of the times: constraints of that times' very grown-up TV and pop music scenes, the joy of being absurd and mixing things up that were part of hip hop the way it had to evolve before this digital era. The boss Grandmaster Flash, and gigs by Treacherous Three at a basement reggae club, were just around the corner but punk was here (possibly just across the ocean... we were always asking British bands about the riots) and now. Looking back reminds me how totally confusing it all was, even in its midst. None of us knew what to make of it even as we created the scene, and as kids, we were not really supposed to be there.
As I go through the boxes, I am surprised again and again. Nostalgia has morphed everything and as I review the papers, they change again. For one thing, I am having trouble believing we were that silly, but there it is, in black and white.
Boys will be Beastie, an interview from Decline of Art #2, 1981
|I did the photos on this sid|
A: We don't believe in music.
M: We only lift weights.
A: Off the record, my mother was a hamster.
Us: What do you think of N.Y. audiences compared to N.Y. audiences?
K: Well, I think -- yeah.
M: Best in the world, because you can insult them yet they think they are being complimented.
K: My mother is in the Health and Racquet Club.
A: Hyper admonitory synthesism of monitory confusement within a statement.
Us: What is your favorite T.V. show?
A: Bill Boggs.
M: Phil Donohue.
K: Tom Snyder.
J: I hate my fucking self.
Us: What is your favorite restaurant?
K: La Rompa.
A: Uncle Wong.
M: Lord of the Chickens.
J: Enough embarrassment for one night. (John leaves)
Throughout the interview Adam and Kate were far too eager to write on Michael's head and Michael was squirting Windex at my head.
Us: AACKH, DISGUSTING. What are your musical influences?
A: Pink Floyd.
K: Larry's hair.
M: the Mills Brothers and The 4 Freshmen.
A: Off the record, my father smelled of elderberries.
M: Honestly, I am upset.
Us: Why, Michael, why are you upset?
M: Because I wish to abate this nonsense which is plaguing this society.
Us: What do you think of Crass' ideas?
A: Los muchachos son mui stupido?
K: Das ist miene bruder.
M: Ta mere est le beurre.
Us: What do you think of Act II Haircutters?
K: Budgie rocks da house.*
Us: What do you think of these awful riots in N.Y.?
Us: What is your favorite radio station?
A: Dub-ya Dub-ya....
M: WKRP in Cincinnati.
Us: That was really funny Michael.
K: WPAT, the place to relax.
A: My favorite color is red no blue.
K: Adam steals all his jokes from Monty Python. What time is it?
M: Marvy Marker.
A: Kate only said that because she loves Budgie because he kissed her.
Us: Do you like to carry on?
K: The third OI compilation LP and they thank Noise the show on the back! **
A: Michael, you're a dick. Stop that or I'll chop your peny off and hang it from the tallest yardarm.
M: (Pollywog imitation) Are you going to see T.S.O.L. tonight? They're from Boston! (by Michael with his shaved head, dancing madly).
A: I'm Big Bank and I'm the chief of the tribe that went down in the hall of fame.
(Adam lights up a three foot cigar)
Us: Do you remember when Brian Brain threw bananas at the audience?
A: And chicken.
M: No I remember I feel on my hootie on a banana peel afterwards when I was dancing afterwards.
(Michael continues to stick his fingers up his nose and talks to an imaginary John on the telephone.) I love you, I love you. I love you. I love you. I love youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu.
A. Michael continues to babble on incoherently and continues to dance madly.
* Budgie was the drummer for Siouxie and the Banshees, who had just played in NY, and also featured in that same issue of Decline of Art with an even more nonsensical article but really first class photos by me.
** Noise the Show was Tim Sommers' radio show on NYU's station. Two blessed hours a day, M-F, if I remember rightly, and the only place we heard the records we wanted to buy. The Beastie Boys had played a live gig on the show and a recording of that was circulated widely on cassette before their first EP, Pollywog Stew, came out on Rat Cage Records.