What do you get when you mix the Grateful Dead with Hip Hop? You get a brand new type of Jam Band Hip Hop that comes straight from the hippy haven, San Francisco. With drummer Jay Lane from Primus and Furthur and lyricists like Zach Mose, Chris Burger, Mic Blake, and KingpinRowski. This group is definitely a force to be reckoned with.
On Sunday the 27th of August, their van tour came through Santa Cruz. They took the stage at 9PM at Moe's Alley Blues Club. The venue is one of the most laid back and awesome little bars I have ever been too. This was a perfect place to showcase the pure talent that these professional musicians brought to the table. The fact that the show was held on a Sunday was a hindrance. I think that more people would of been in attendance if the show were held on a Saturday or even on a Wednesday. Sunday didn't seem to be the greatest of choices. Other than that the show pretty much went as you could expect. The set began with a great jam session of all of the backing band lead by Jay Lane himself on drums. Zach, Mic, and C.B. joined the group and tore the place apart. They played all of their Grateful Dead live hip hop remixes and showcased tremendous talent. The thing that I most respected about them was that they preformed as if they were in front of a larger crowd. This was a fun and professional show that hit on every groove wire in my body. You would almost just jump up and dance all over the floor. Heck, its just like the drunken stoned hesh head said at the bar "Dammit, this is the place to be tonight!"
So I sat down with Jay Lane (Drums), Chris Burger (C.B./Vocals), Mic Blake (Vocals), and Zachariah Mose (Iron Monk/Vocals) of Band of Brotherz and asked them about their group, past groups, and legalizing marijuana.
What is Band of Brotherz?
Jay: This is the only band that you can get Jerry and Jah in the same night. That is a quote from a fan, Jerry and Jah in the same night. That's it.
What do you think of Band of Brothers being called a super-group?
C.B.: Well most of our past projects were doing great live shows.
Jay: Yeah, Alphabet Soup was an improvisational live band and it took a long time to find the right people from other bands and groups that could really make this thing work live.
Zach: We did this thing backwards, we started with the studio thing and then progressed into the live thing. It took a while to really find the right members. Were combining everything to really get that recorded sound on stage. You take the Alien Technology, the Bong Hits, the Tofu, you take everything that we have and roll it up in a Sonic Burrito. Its an experience and that is what we are trying to bring. Its like the dirty dozen, we have all played in the game. We are all like bad boys, maybe not with the commercial success. We played an intricate part in the music of the 90's with Hip Hop. Jay was doing it big with Freaky Executives and Primus.
Jay: Hell, Michael Franti used to come sit in with us.
Zach: Its like, to me, Band of Brothers is like Voltron coming together.
What made you want to remix the Grateful Dead?
Jay: Well long story short, we used to be in a group called Alphabet Soup together. We were all kinda feeling each other over the years and we kinda stayed in touch. Even though Alphabet Soup wasn't really happening. I got the gig with Rat-Dog, then fast-forward like 17 years. We had been talking about doing some hip-hop versions of Grateful Dead tunes.
C.B.: We also sat in with Rat-Dog.
Jay: Yeah, C.B. sat in a few times with Rat-Dog at the Beacon Theater in New York. Then we were chopping it up with Bob (Weir) about doing some new stuff and he was really interested. So he said go ahead and sample a bunch of stuff, you have my permission. It really took off when Zach (Iron Monk) took the first eight bars of 'Franklin's Tower' off of the Blues for Allah CD (Grateful Dead) and put a real nice hook over it. He laid some real nice verses on there. I was like woah that is some really new music. So 'The River Song,' that is the one that has been played on satellite radio lately. Phil (Lesh) loves what we are doing because it keeps his music relevant. We are exposing Grateful Dead music to a crowd that wouldn't normally hear this kind of music.
Mic: Most of us didn't grow up listening to the Grateful Dead.
Zach: I grew up in Berkeley, so you know its around. When the Dead come to town I got hippies outside my house asking for bananas or food you know. But I never really got into the music thing. I sat in with Rat-Dog at this festival, this folk music festival and I got up and did my thing. It was nothing anyone expected, same thing happened with this remix. Jay and I were going back and forth trading files on the computer. Getting it really going on till like 5 in the morning every day.
Obviously a lot of your lyrics are politically motivated. Jay, you are a marijuana activist. With the legalization of marijuana being on the ballot in November, how do you feel about it?
Jay: Its a big thing within this group!
Zach: The last show we played, prop 19 sent a representative from Rob Robinson. We extended our hand, and said 'you know if you have someone that wants to get the word out then have someone come through.' So we had Prop 19 right there next to our Merch table, you could register to vote and get information on us right there. Legalize it and I will advertise it.
Jay: But its funny, within the group we have different views.
C.B.: Personally, yeah I want herb to be legal. You don't have to smoke it, I'm wearing it on my skin. Its a deep muscle rub.
Mic: Yeah you know, I would like to see it decriminalized. I don't necessarily know if I want to see it on the shelves at Wal-Mart. But im a California boy you know, I like Wine, Women, and Weed.
C.B. We all have different views but you know that is all part of the music.
Mic: I've got my card in my wallet right now.
So who do you look up too now? Musically?
Zach: (points up) Jah! Come on, you know the answer! Bob Marley! Its where all reggae music has come from. Any music including Woodie Guthrie and John Coltrane and then when I got older The Grateful Dead and anyone that can come up with some shit. Screamin' Jay Hawkins is like a comedian of a musician. He has a song called 'Portrait of a Man' and it has the most deep beautiful lyrics that can bring a tear to your eye. Remember diamonds come from the dirt. Really though its mostly Bob Marley.
C.B.: For me I would have to say, KRS-One, Jimi Hendrix, and Steve Kimock.
Zach (Laughing): That is Jimi Hendrix right there!
Jay: I am looking up to Gogol Bordello nowadays. They are kinda where we want to go as far as world awareness.
C.B.: Manu Chao!
Zach: Oh, if we are dropping new bands. I like Balkan Beat-box. They are the shit!
Mic: For me I would have to go with Carolina Chocolate Drops, they are killing me softly right now.