While they were on a tour with Abstract Tribe Unique, we got a chance to hang out with Swollen Members, who had just finished rocking the show. The two were quite drunk, which made this interview twice as much fun. Read on…
HHS: Who owns your label, Battle Axe?
Madchild: I do, but I have to take a leak though! Ha Ha Ha… Give me a second and we’ll do the interview.
(Nature calls, and Madchild returns)
HHS: Give me the origin of Swollen Members, how did you guys hook up?
Madchild: Basically, we hooked up in 1996, but we didn’t start recording to late ’96 and early ’97.
HHS: So how did you come up with the name Swollen Members? It’s a great name…
Madchild: We were drunk one night at Denny’s after a club, with our partner Moka Only (who is now on Battle Axe Records), and we were like, “What should we call ourselves? Let’s call ourselves The Fat Dicks” and we started laughing, and he was like, “Let’s call ourselves Swollen Members,” and we were like, “Oh shit, that shit is dope”, because it’s like meaning we have a fat crew.
HHS: So it’s more than meaning you have fat dicks.
Madchild: Nah, it has nothing to do with having a fat dick, it has to do with being a fat crew, that’s it. I mean, my shit is all good though, don’t get me wrong. (Laughs). Don’t get me wrong, this fucking shit is swollen! Women!
HHS: Back to Battle Axe, how did you start your own label up? Where did you get the funding and the confidence to say, “Fuck it, I’m going to do this myself!”
Madchild: Basically, when we started the group, our attitude was like, “Okay, we’re going to put our first 12″ out ourselves, we’re not going to fuck with any major labels.” So we needed to come up with a name for a record company that was going to put out our record, so we came up with Battle Axe Records. As time progressed, we decided that because we were doing really well with our twelve-inches, so we wanted to put out other people we believe in. As far as where the money came from, that was just me hustling to make it happen.
HHS: What is the whole premise behind Battle Axe? On a lot of the compilations you incorporate a lot of fantasy artwork - where does all of that come from? That’s not a typical “hip-hop” image….
Madchild: It’s definitely not something that was thought out before it happened, it just sort of happened. Like dark imagery and abstract expressionism, that could come from within you know? We’re not going to project a lifestyle we don’t live, so we reached within, and came out with the type of music that we do. It was never premeditated, like we sat down and said, “Okay, let’s do some shit that’s gonna talk about skeletons and dungeons and dragons!” We just made music, and that’s how it came out. I guess that’s just where our heads are at, whether it’s that we have creative minds, or big imaginations, or…. We never thought about it, it just kinda came out.
HHS: Do you ever get criticized for incorporating that kind of shit in your rhymes?
Madchild: No way Jose! We’re Swollen Members, sucka pimp! (Laughs)
Prevail: We also drink copious amounts of alcohol.
Madchild: Lots of alcohol! (Laughs)
HHS: How much alcohol have you had this evening?
Madchild: I had like eight beers, some Jagermiester, and a rum and Coke.
HHS: Okay, I have to catch up. Now when you first came out, I assumed you were from the west coast….
Prevail: We are from the west coast, but the west coast of Canada.
HHS: You started to work closely with a lot of west coast underground artists….
Madchild: We are west coast artists!
Prevail: We have made a lot of connections between the two of us, and we have a lot of friends and family down there.
Madchild: We owe a lot of what we did to Evidence of Dilated Peoples, that’s like our family. They hooked us up with a lot of people.
HHS: Okay, so as far as the whole Dilated connection…
Madchild: (grabs Pizzo and puts him in a headlock). Hahaha! This is a hip-hop connection right here! Is that what it’s for?
HHS: Uh, no this is for HipHopSite.Com.
Madchild: Oh yeah! These guys give us mad love, Prev! They sell a lot of units!
HHS: So how did this Dilated connection come about? It’s obvious it isn’t some dick-riding shit because Evidence was doing beats for you guys way before they even blew up….
Prevail: We met Dilated at the B-Boy Summit in 1996, and we knew who they were already because they had that bangin’ cut on that Immortal compilation. Yeah, “The Next Chapter” and “The End Of The Time” was my cut! So, we introduced ourselves, and Ev played us some beats in his car, and the rest is history. Without them, Swollen Members wouldn’t be what it is right now.
HHS: Now, I noticed that….
Madchild: Can you close this motherfuckin’ diz-oor, before I get arrested in Nevada for smoking a J?
HHS: So does this connection with Dilated somehow explain your choice of producers, such as Alchemist, etc…
Prevail: The whole thing was a domino effect. Madchild hooked up with Del a long time ago, and Del came to Vancouver to record some tracks. Then we did some tracks with Tony Da Skitzo and Mr. Brady from Southern California, and things fell into place from there. Then we hooked up with Dilated â€“ Ev hooked us up with Son Doobie, we hooked up with Rhettmatic and Babu â€“ we were just lucky enough to hook up with a lot of people at a point when we were coming together and those cats helped us out.
Madchild: Close this motherfuckin’ diz-oor, before I get arrested in Nevada for smoking a J! What?
HHS: Okay, so Dilated is on Capitol now, Alchemist is doing heavy work with Mobb Deep, Kool G. Rap, Big Daddy Kane, etc. Does that make it harder to collaborate with those artists now, because they have moved on to big things, and you guys are still on the indy tip?
Prevail: Oh yeah, but we are still paying our dues, and we recognize that. As a group coming out of where we are coming from and being lucky enough to be able to come to the states and rock shows â€“ I’ll be honest, a lot of Canadian groups don’t get to do that. We take everything hand in hand, step by step. Realizing that Evidence, Iris, and Babu took those steps to get where they are now, we have to take those steps now.
Madchild: Yeah! Plus I’m Polish and Irish!
Prevail: Plus I’m Dutch, Irish, and Black!
Madchild: And Black! And I’m a honkey!
HHS: Alright. White rap. So you got the new album coming out….
Prevail: The nude album. That’s the triple X rated version coming out in April!
HHS: So are you gonna have swollen members on the cover for real?
Prevail: Not nude, no.
HHS: Okay, so it’s called “Bad Dreams” right? How will “Bad Dreams” differ from “Balance”
Madchild: (In his best Wu-Tang impression) Can I answer this one? Can I answer this one? Domination, baby! You know what I’m sayin? No for real, this is more of an experienced album. We’ve learned to do choruses, we don’t have as many guest appearances, we speak on different topics throughout the songs. At the same time, we still will keep everyone from the first album happy, but we’re more experienced now.
Prevail: When we did “Balance”, it took us a couple of years to put together. Mad Child and I came together as two solo emcees, and we were friends before we started this project. On “Balance” we were trying to figure out what we could bring to the table, now we have this album, and you can see that we’ve grown together, because we’ve done shows together, and have become closer friends, more like brothers. It’s an album where we have songs come together more the way that we want them to, and….
Madchild: Plus, I’m Polish and Irish.
Prevail: And plus I’m Dutch and Black.
Madchild and Prevail: Ghost, Rae what’s up with ya’ll…. Ahhhhh!!!
HHS: Yeah, okay. So who is doing beats on the new album?
Madchild: Evidence, Alchemist, Joey Chavez, Rob The Viking, Sean Ski, and Kemo.
PHHS: And you are re-releasing “Balance” too, right? Now there were two versions, the European version and the U.S. version, and both had different tracks, so is the re-release of “Balance” going to have the unreleased tracks on it?
Madchild: Three months after “Bad Dreams” and we haven’t told anyone this, you’re getting it first, Pizzo. We are going to put out an album called “Monsters In The Closet”, which will be all of our unreleased tracks, including all the shit that was on the “Balance” Europe album. Including the Madchild solo song, “Against All Odds” and Prev’s “Should Of”. We’re not going to advertise it or anything, we’re just going to put it out.
HHS: Back to Battle Axe… you guys have a gang of projects coming out on the label. What’s in store for the next year?
Madchild: We have eleven albums coming out this year. We got Buc Fifty, Mr. Brady, LMNO, Abstract Rude, Kemo Break Beats, Joey Chavez instrumentals, two Swollen Members albums, Moka Only’s “Lime Green”. Then we got “Codename Scorpion”, which is Moka Only, Prevail, and Abstract Rude. Then we got Lyrics…
Madchild: Oh whoops! End of interview.
(Groupies enter the room, and the collective focus of Madchild, Prevail, and Pizzo is suddenly turned.)
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