Do you think the Beastie Boys changed the world?
[Laughs.] Yeah! I never thought of it in those words. What was incredible about them is, I’ll say this—that was the first vinyl record that I bought that defined me. Before that, I had bought a couple other records that I was listening to, just because they were popular. And that one was more than that.
It was like a major moment in my life. It was a record about partying and being silly or whatever but what I realized later, was that the thing I was so excited about is they were breaking down barriers and stereotypes and I think they were doing so unintentionally, like they were almost unconscious of it. Because they came from punk rock, they come from a place in New York where everything was kind of, like, mixed.
I didn’t know it at the time but I know it now because having worked with Rick, I’ll occasionally ask about stories from back then or how this happened or how that happened. It’s incredible. The guy is a piece of history just walking around and to be able to just pull these stories out of him once in a while and hear him talk about how my favorite music of all time was made. There’s nothing else cooler.
Rick Rubin is pretty legendary in the game.
Rick and I produced the last three records together. It’s funny seeing Rick get into hip-hop mode. To put it in perspective, the reason Rick is such a good match for us is that our intention with our records, is to pull all our different ideas, genres, and eras that we like to listen to, and make it our own thing.
It’s not ripping off these things, it’s just an expression of who we are as six guys who’ve been listening to all that crazy shit we listen to. And Rick not only understands every little specific reference point that we give him because he likes the same shit, but he also has done a lot of those records.
He’s made records in those styles, from Run-DMC to Metallica to Johnny Cash. So he can tell us specific techniques in the studio of how to inspire that kind of performance, and how to get that sound from a part of a song. Jumping forward then, sometimes Rick will get into hip-hop mode. You can hear the gears turning in his head.
Like, “Okay, lets do some beat drops in this song” and we’ll do some stuff and he’ll say, “Change this snare like this and do the drop here. Oh, I like that drop because of that reason, and this one should sound like that one.” It’s like a computer, like, he pulls up that folder and just pops out the file. It’s amazing to watch and it’s fun because when you, as an artist, achieve it on your own and impress him, it’s even more satisfying than just impressing yourself.