Beastie Boys‘ Michael ‘Mike D’ Diamond and Adam ‘Ad-Rock’ Horovitz discussed the loss of their third member Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch, their battles with bankruptcy and more in an extensive new interview.
The pair spoke to The Observer to promote their forthcoming Beastie Boys Book, and described the loss of Yauch, who died of cancer in 2012, as “a tremendously sad thing”.
Addressing the task of writing about their bandmate’s death, Diamond said: “It’s really hard. It’s a tremendously sad thing. We never anticipated experiencing this incredible loss of our friend and partner dying, and dying the way he did. It’s still sad.
“What can you possibly write beyond that? What can you write about that period of time? It’s this weird transition. They’re that person but they’re not the person they were…All you can say is, yes, you miss this person.”
The extensive interview looked back at the rap trio’s entire history, including a point at which the band were broke and barely speaking to each other following the release of their debut album ‘Licensed To Ill’ in 1986.
The band clashed with Russell Simmons of their label Def-Jam, who was trying to coerce them into returning from the studio. “Russell was like, if you don’t go in the studio, then I’m not paying you,” Diamond said. “His calculation was that we would all be like, ‘Oh we want our millions. OK, Russell we’re going to do it.’ But we were all immediately, ‘Fuck you.’”
“Had it not worked out, had we broken up in ’87 – and we never got paid by Rick and Russell and Def Jam – it wouldn’t be fine,” Horovitz added.
Horovitz and Diamond also described bouncing back after the initial commercial failure of their now-acclaimed second album ‘Paul’s Boutique’ in 1989.
“That was a bummer. We didn’t pause on it for a long time, we didn’t go through therapy, but it was weird. And because it was a bust, we didn’t go on tour. So we just started making ‘Check Your Head’ at my apartment,” said Diamond.
Elsewhere in the interview, Horovitz described their music as “weird. It’s not pop. I don’t know why so many people buy our records.”
Diamond, meanwhile, said that they’re aiming to split from conventional tones of music writing. “All these books are terribly serious,” he said. “But when you’re in a band, so much of the time, honestly, it’s an absurd comedy.”
The two have announced a short book tour in honour of the upcoming release of their new memoir, which includes a UK date.