Interview with Eric Bobo
[Conducted in November 2002]
Beastiemania.com has recently had the pleasure of interviewing Eric Bobo, percussionist for the Beastie Boys during the years surrounding Ill Communication and most recently with the hip hop group Cypress Hill.
The Beastie Boys have had a handful of drummers/percussionists through the years: Kate Schellenbach, Michael Diamond, Alfredo Ortiz, Amery "AWOL" Smith, and of course yourself. In your opinion how these people all compare and how do they differ?
First of all, each of the drummer/percussionists added their own little flavor to the mix. Kate, who was their original drummer back in their punk rock days, is a solid drummer. Playing with Luscious Jackson, she played with more groove. AWOL, to me, is one of the premier punk rock drummers. He is a very solid player. Mike D is more of a funky groove drummer. Alfredo Ortiz was a drummer first before really getting into percussion. I think that he's done a good job taking over for me. Another person that has been grossly overlooked is Juanito Vasquez, who played percussion on Check Your Head and is the one that I had replaced. He was a good percussionist and a real funny guy. He passed away a few years back.
You've recorded with both Cypress Hill as well as the Beastie Boys. Cypress Hill has been ultra productive releasing one album right after another with a short interval in between (usually spent on the road touring). However, with the Beastie Boys the wait is longer between albums. How would you explain the difference there? Is the writing/creating/recording process similar or different between the two acts?
The Beasties have always taken time between albums, though some people would agree that it can be too long. Cypress has taken up to 2 years between albums because of the amount of touring that we do, but lately that time has decreased to about a year and a half. The similarities are pretty close as far as the recording process goes. When it's hip-hop stuff, the beat comes first then the lyrics. When it's stuff with the band, alot of the songs come out of jamming. The Beasties aren't as big of a touring force as they once were, but when they tour, they go all out. The shortest amount of time that the Beasties completed a record was 6 months for Ill Communication. Our chemistry was so good at that time, music was just flowing. I do think that if any group could come back after such a long layoff, the Beastie Boys can!!
When is the Eric Bobo solo album due for release? Any guest appearances on it?
My solo album will finally see the light of day in 2003. This has been a project that has been very dear to me and has taken a bunch of time to try and complete. I'm very excited about it and I do plan to tour after it's release. I can't really say which guest artists will be on it because nothing is concrete, but I do have alot of interested musicians that want to be a part of it. I would love to have the B-Boys on it. It would be a reunion of sorts since it's been a while since we've played together. I will keep you all posted on its progress.