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J. Anthony Granelli: Yeah, there is a seriously spiritual message in their thing. I've always found that.

Adam Yauch: Yeah. So that totally affected my music. 'Cause when I was 15-16 years old, I was going to see those bands every night, like Bad Brains and Minor Threat. That's what mainly affected my way of thinking about music. Then I forgot about it for a bunch of years. I went and got drunk and made some stupid music. (laughter) But... nothin' wrong with that! No regrets there. It's not anything "bad." It was "stupid," but it was fun bein' "stupid." Nothin' wrong with bein' "stupid." (laughs)

Amy Green: On the latest album, you stand alone with more solo raps than ever before and say things that are very personal. There is a quality of talking about your own path and the idea of a "path" in general. Saying things that are important to you. Did you make a clear decision to step forward on your own?

Adam Yauch: I've just been building up my confidence in doing that over the last few albums. On Paul's Boutique, there's a song where I am starting to say what I'm feeling spiritually. It's called "A Year and a Day," but the lyrics to that song aren't on the lyric sheet and I'm using a real distorted mic, so it's not really clear. And I got a lot of positive feedback from people. I was kind of taking a big risk for myself doing that, just in terms of my own confidence, but I got a lot of positivity on that. Then there were a lot of positive lyrics on "Check Your Head." That kind of thing goes back and forth: when I hear that people are into it, it makes me feel more confident. So, that's kind of the route it's been going.

Amy Green: It's interesting the way you appear to be opening up in that way, while at the same time, this tremendous tidal wave of commercial success is happening and you are riding on that. You must have all kinds of crazy, different energy, a lot of aggression coming at you. I read that you're going around "incognito" a lot.

Adam Yauch: That's just tryin' to have a good time, you know? Everybody loves a good disguise now an' then! (laughter)

Amy Green: That's just for fun?

Adam Yauch: Yep. (Laughs) Actually, you can learn a huge amount about yourself and other people by being in disguise. It's actually an amazing thing. We were just doing it as a goof, but you put on some outfit and it totally affects the way people perceive you. In turn, by the way that people perceive you and act differently toward you, it makes you act differently towards them. Throw on a cowboy hat and some cowboy boots or some other look and it makes you really understand yourself and the way people act a lot better. We would put on some stupid disguises and go out to a night club and just talk to people and goof around, and you learn so much—how much people have set ideas about you or how much you have set ideas about yourself.

Amy Green: You don't feel like you have to protect yourself or hold back from being out the world? Defend yourself?

Adam Yauch: Sometimes I'm not able to really communicate with a lot of people openly, because it takes so much. Especially when you're doing a gig or something, you have a huge amount of attention focused on you. Everybody is there and they are all excited about it. You go on stage and put out all your energy doing a performance, and then come back and there are fifty or sixty people that just need five minutes of your time. And sometimes, you just gotta' totally shut down, because you don't have that kind of energy to put out. It is an issue that I'm dealing with in myself lately, getting over a kind of guilt factor in my mind of not being able to always give people what they want, specifically.

Amy Green: Oh, that's okay....(laughter) It seems that bodhisattva vow and path have something to do with going beyond the idea of what you think you should do to be a good person, and into doing what is actually appropriate for you to do. That helps others.

Adam Yauch: Yeah. It's just understanding exactly what "bodhisattva" and "path" are, I think. Because, the bottom line, I think, of the bodhisattva path is doing what most benefits the totality of the universe, of all that is. And when you put yourself out there in a way that you aren't really functional, then that is not going to most benefit the universe. You know, it's just trying to get a feel, in your heart, for what's going to most benefit the interconnectedness of all that is.

Amy Green: Well said!

Adam Yauch: [Looks around, looks behind him.] Where did THAT come from? (laughs)

Jerry Granelli: Keep that! Keep that!

Adam Yauch: I do think that's an important issue. It's something that I think about. I think that's what a lot of "wrathful deities" are about; that sometimes, if there's a little kid going to stick his hand in the oven and he is going to get burned, you gotta' scream at him or smack him, or something. But, you're not doing it out of anger. You're doing it out of love. That's the thing to keep track of: the motivation behind what you are putting out. If my motivation is clear, what I'm saying is, "I can't talk to you right now. I don't have time to do that." My motivation isn't to be rude to that person. That's the key.

I do think that is a misconception of what the bodhisattva vow is. Because a lot of people just mess themselves up by feeling like they have to "do" stuff for other people, all of the time, even when that's not working for them personally. They have to include themselves in that overall picture of benefitting everyone. They have to include themselves as "beings", and know that by being in their strongest place, that that is how they can most benefit the universe, most of the time. Being a bodhisattva is about strengthening yourself, so you can go on. Benefit where the benefit is needed. Come from a strong place in yourself and you really help people.

Amy Green: Have you met many people who identified themselves to you as Buddhists, or people who have tuned into that thinking particularly?

Adam Yauch: Especially since we've been writing a lot of more positive lyrics and the music is going in a real positive direction, I wind up meeting a lot of really incredible people. Sometimes I'll meet kids who'll say, "Yeah! My mom is a Buddhist. I was raised as a Buddhist. I was raised in this Tibetan community," or whatever. Some people just say that they like the lyrics, or that the lyrics strike them well. That feels good. That's like the biggest compliment in the world; that just makes me feel like cryin'. Sometimes, when people come up to me and tell me that the lyrics, somehow, helped them or made them feel good, it's just like, "Damn..." [looks down, pauses, obviously moved] What was the question again? (laughs)

Amy Green: Do you see a lot of suffering? There's numbed, white people style suffering, probably around you. Rap came out of a more physical, violent suffering. The ghetto. Very immediate kind of suffering...



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