Antimc is Matt Alsberg backed up live by Them Jeans and Desert Eagle. He recently returned from a Chinese tour with frequent tourmate Busdriver. He speaks now while waiting for L.A. RECORD to finish a burrito.
What was it like getting off the plane in China?
A relief! We were supposed to go a couple of days earlier, but Busdriver had problems in Canada on the CSS tour because of work permits, and he was banned from Canada for a year.
How do you celebrate that occasion?
It’s a bummer because Canada is a useful country! We were supposed to fly Vancouver to Shanghai, and they ended up kicking Bus out of the country and they never told me—we ended up flying home and I had to go find him. They were like, ‘You’re getting on the first thing smoking back to L.A.’ So we had to wait thirty hours to leave. And by the time we got to China, it was amazing. It’s like—get off the plane and holy shit, you’re in China! The dude who brought us over warned us to never say ‘Falun Gong’ or ‘Free Tibet’—he was like, ‘If you wanna play that game, I can’t do anything for you.’ It hits you when you get off the plane—it’s a total communist autocracy. But it was cool we were the first like indie-nerdy rap group to ever set foot in China.
Were they ready for you?
There are so many expats there—we had a really good crowd every night! But the Chinese themselves don’t fuck with American music. They explained it to us. J-pop rules Asia, and Koreans take from J-pop, and Chinese take from the Koreans, and at every generation it gets more and more sappy. Chinese pop is so watered-down and bubblegum. The week or two before we had come, Eric Clapton played for like 30,000 expats—there’s so many people. So much money in that country. A lot of western media doesn’t get through the filter, so the press was like, ‘These guys are hot and huge in America!’ Bus was doing interviews for the Chinese equivalent of Rolling Stone.
How were the opening bands?
The first night in Beijing we played with a small jazz quintet who did instrumental covers of rap songs—like Kanye’s ‘Heard ‘Em Say’ with a piano solo in the middle. And then there was a group called BEIJING LIVE HIP-HOP EXPERIENCE.
I hope you got t-shirts.
It was a concept thing. The best night was Nanjing. We played with a weird Chinese equivalent of NOFX, and the promoter girl—her band played, which were almost like the Chinese equivalent of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and then we played. The coolest weird kooky night. A good time.
Why is the Dodge Charger God’s gift to touring rap acts?
It’s fast! And rap acts are small, right? We put on a show—me and Busdriver and a bunch of shit on stage that all fits in that big spacious trunk, and there’s room to just stretch out. A tour van you worry about flipping over and gas mileage—that Dodge Charger—mmm! You pull up to the venue, you look like you about something! They don’t even know you’re the opener’s opener! We’ve toured in weird cars—we did the Islands tour in a PT Cruiser. We rent from a certain place that’s hook-up city! We always get the dude who’s like, ‘Go ahead—pick what you want, dogg!’ We walk in renting a Neon and walk out with like a Cavalier. The rental-car guardian angel—paying $14 a day for a Mercedes—that’s cool! Whatever!
What other tour tips do you have?
One of the things about tour tips is they never actually work. My only constant on tour is I always pack swim trunks and a sleeping bag. You never know—you could end up at a water park. Those few minutes of respite are so valuable. You don’t wanna be screwed. And a sleeping bag because you never know where you’ll end up sleeping, and you might not wanna borrow blankets—you could get one with smallpox.
How did you make a mixtape that goes from the Screamers to Aceyalone?
I lived in L.A. my whole life—I’m one of the few actual L.A. natives—and my dad was in the music business in L.A. So everything from Laurel Canyon to hair metal to gangsta rap—that was all my soundtrack growing up. When it was time to make the mix, I wanted to get it all down—this is all the shit I’m into. It’s almost a good companion piece to the record. There’s so much good music in L.A. and so many great bands and it’s always overlooked. People think it’s a vacuum of pop culture—always with the dollar sign at the end of it. The twelve-year period I was most L.A. wigged-out—going to Unity, Funky Circle, Brown Rice, Barbeque, all that hip-hop stuff—never trying to talk to a white girl—that was so formative to my teenage years, from like 8th grade until the time I graduated college. The only time I listened to something that wasn’t rap was when I was listening for samples to make a rap song with. And as I pulled out of that—I got to music before that, like Uplift Mofo Party Plan and Suicidal Tendencies’ Join The Army, all that shit—and I realized the music of the city—if you live here and you’ve kind of been around—it shapes you! It’s beautiful—it’s incredible! L.A. in a way has folk music—it has a folk tale musicians tell, and it doesn’t have to be acoustic. N.W.A. are as much folk musicians as Neil Young or David Crosby or even Red Hot Chili Peppers—whether or not you like that new direction, that sound is such a unique L.A. artifact. Or Suicidal Tendencies is so unique—that could only come from L.A. I wanted to show that being from here, you could be into so much—so many things—but it all comes down to a certain vibe.
Is there any common thing?
Without sounding like I’m fucking Robin Leach or something—doing music, I’ve been to Rome and Paris and London and there’s no city like L.A. As big as it is, we almost live piled up—if you’re rich, you can’t get to your house without driving and seeing some poor people. You can’t get life done without seeing a lot of different things. What I think happens with a lot of young L.A. rappers—if you live in the hoodiest hood of L.A., you look north and see the Hollywood hills and you want that. Everybody sort of wants everybody else’s life. The streetwear scene—rich kids wanna dress like cholos. Things like that are so unique to L.A.—it’s a beautiful thing, it’s a sad thing, but there’s so much going on here. New York people might not believe it but it’s got all the cosmopolitan flavor of London or New York or Paris, and it’s a backwater that shouldn’t be here—it’s the middle of the desert! It’s the most unique city in the world and I love it! We’re romantic people—Hollywood, boleros, many romantic things tied together. Even the name of the city is romantic—Our Lady Of The Angels!
What’s your favorite L.A. book?
The wigged-out hip-hop dude says It’s Not About A Salary! That’s L.A. rap in a nutshell—what went right and what went wrong. But there is no L.A. book—like the city, there is no one L.A. The City of Quartz idea—there’s not one L.A. There’s so many L.A.s. The more L.A.s you see, the more you fall in love with the city. Subtitle introduced me to Cali De Witt, and Cali introduced me to a whole other L.A.—you meet people and they pull you into their thing, and you fall deeper in love! I was so into this Project Blowed rap pseudo-hustler thing—making beats in my parents’ living room—and all of a sudden I’m hanging with Anthony Anzalone, like ‘Dude, what’s all this shit, yo?’ But it’s all about the same energy—there’s no difference in energy between L.A. rock bands and L.A. rap bands.
How come you didn’t end up all Sunset Strip spandex?
I want to! When I was in Westcoast Workforce with Subtitle, I was like, ‘Dude, your image should be the new Hollywood bad boys!’ Roll up on Harleys with tight jeans and spandex and a bottle of vodka—strippers on the back of the motorcycle—because L.A. needs that! There’s gotta be that scene happening! That’s one thing the city lost—that weird ‘We’re the tamed bad-asses—bad-asses still but we’re getting so paid!’ Gangsta rap originally had the same vibe, but it’s so fucking neutered. But I was riding for that image, and Subtitle was like, ‘No. Hell no. We are not about to be the Vince Neil and Tommy Lee of rap!’ I’d just read The Dirt—‘What if we rolled up to a rap show on Harleys? Or the Dr. Feelgood hearse?’
There’s still time.
I only look old—I don’t feel old. I would love that.
Have you ever hung out with Al Franken?
You seen the picture! I took that picture but I didn’t shake his hand because Bus and I were in the Charger at the time. I was like, ‘Yo, douchebag! Stand next to that broad so I can take your picture!’ It’s pretty awesome—he’s bathed in light. I hope he’s using it for campaign merchandise.
What was the most chilling feedback you received after being a ‘do’ in Vice?
The most chilling feedback that there was any feedback at all—whoaaaaaaaa! I was hoping they’d photoshop my face over that orangutan they shaved to have sex with in Thailand.
That’s an interesting thing to hope for.
That’s a sick story. But I never looked away from 2girls1cup either.
What’s that say about you?
I’m just not shocked. And I knew it was fake. I’m a cynic. I grew up in Van Nuys—the porno capital of the world. My friend Les lived in the same building as Randy West and Sindee Williams—Gangbang In The Fat Lane. When I was in high school, she grabbed my cock in the hallway! And of course I’m not aroused by this 700-pound behemoth grabbing my weiner, and she looks at Les and goes, ‘Aw, he must be gay.’
ANTIMC PLAYS FRI., DEC. 21, WITH BUSDRIVER AND DAEDELUS AT THE TROUBADOUR, 9081 SANTA MONICA BLVD., HOLLYWOOD. 8 PM / $10-$12 / ALL AGES. WWW.TROUBADOUR.COM.