Rock stars back in the day were like, mythical artists. No one knew what they were doing. You couldn’t really get in touch with them. Twitter has really killed that. Do you think that’s a good or bad thing?
KC: In a lot of ways it’s amazing. You’ve just got to limit yourself, because it can get out of hand. I do think it’s a good thing, because these kids really just want to connect with you and chop it up with you. That’s all they really want, and I get it. Coming up, we had our favorite artists, but we would never see them, unless it was at a concert, let alone being able to say something to them. Like with fan-mail, you knew you weren’t getting a response. You were getting some fan-mail shit, like posters and shit. Things have changed so drastically since we were young. It’s an amazing tool. If I had something like this when I was in school, I probably would have been even more inspired. I probably would have had a deal by 17, just off of being inspired.
I noticed this year that a lot of my heroes and people that I look up to are deceased. I was just really inspired by Kurt Cobain's life and his story and his music. I just felt really empty at that point in my life.
The rock album was definitely a risk. Did you have any major doubts?
KC: Yes. I had a long-ass period of writer’s block. It’s never happened to me, ever. Well, it has in small pieces—like I can’t finish a verse or some shit. Usually I write fast, but this time it happened full-on. I couldn’t make a song to save my life for, like, at least four or five months.
DDG: Joe asked me earlier if there was a point where it was, like, “Let’s scrap everything.” I never got that from you. Even though you were having writer’s block, it never seemed like you were, like, “Nah. I’m not going to do this.”
KC: Oh, no. I know myself. I was like, “It’ll happen when it’ll happen. The stars will line up just right. The chakras will be where they need to be, and I’ll just totally be in it.” After that little streak we just started banging out shit, because I started to learn little tricks with the guitar and was really inspired. I just started listening to a lot of songs that I liked with beautiful melodies, just to get my mind going.
Cudi you went to Kurt Cobain’s house. I saw the pictures. It seemed like you were really soaking in that moment on the bench. What was that like for you?
KC: I’ll say this; I noticed this year that a lot of my heroes and people that I look up to are deceased. I was just really inspired by the man’s life and his story and his music. I just felt really empty at that point in my life, at that low point. I don’t know, man. Something told me, “Just go there, and sit there.” It was really eerie. It was sad. It was something that I always wanted to do, when I got the chance to do it, and I was happy about that. But it was just really, really sad. I don’t really like talking about that. I don’t really like talking about him in the press that much. People know he’s an inspiration, and let’s just keep it at that. That man has a family, and I don’t want to disrespect anybody. I’m somebody who is a fan and is inspired by his life and inspired to turn my shit around.
When did you decide to cover the song “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”
KC: My boy Cage put me on to a lot of his videos. Cage has been, like, my outlet to rock and roll, on the low. Any questions I have, I just turn to Cage, and he would put me on. He put me on to Nirvana’s “Unplugged” session. I remember that was the song that stuck out the most and hit me the most, but then I did some research, and I found out it was a cover of Lead Belly. And I was like, “Whoa. Who the fuck is Lead Belly?” And I did all this research, and I listened to all his songs and shit. I was just absorbing everything, and I was like, “Man. I’m really feeling the tune. I feel like we should touch this. Like, we should try to put our own spin to it.” It was like, instantly. When I heard it and I saw it, I was like, “I want to do something like this.”
It’s a very heavy song.
KC: And I’ve thought about this, too, because my lyrics are so dark, and Dot’s life is so, like, amazing [Laughs.]. I do all these like, really evil, dark songs, and Dot’s a part of it by default. He’s like, “Man, really, I’m happy. Damn. Cudi’s the one with the problems.” [Laughs.]
DDG: Cudi put me on to Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged session, and it was the last song that he performed live. So when he told me about the history behind it, it was amazing. It’s like, it’s history. It’s African-American history.
KC: It’s rock and roll history.
KC: Because nobody’s really touched that since then.
DDG: It was just amazing. His vocals, covering the song, were unmatched.
KC: Yeah. Nobody could do it like him, and that’s why—for a long time—there was some debate as to whether or not we should even do it, because it’s not like we were trying to outdo them. Nirvana? One of the greatest bands ever? You can’t outdo them. But I realized in the past year, “Hey, there is a Kid Cudi sound. Let me fucking push it. Let me Kid-Cudi-ize whatever I could get my fucking hands on.” That was my way of putting my own spin on it, because I connected with those lyrics in such a way.
Are you guys aware that critics may gravatate to that cover when it comes out?
DDG: Yeah, absolutely.
KC: We know that there could be some backlash or people saying that we shouldn’t have done it, but at the same time, you know, Fuck it. We don’t mean any disrespect. And like Dot said, that’s African-American history right there. I think it’s only fitting. We’re just two black guys doing rock and roll [Laughs.].
DDG: That should have been the name of the album [All laugh].
KC: [Singing] “Two black guys doing rock and roll, the new album, Christmas edition.”