2017, Features, Interviews — March 29, 2017 at 7:30 am

Ernie C of Body Count

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“Twenty five years ago we wrote ‘Cop Killer’ and we were young and thinking we were going to change the world, so twenty five years later we’re basically writing the same stuff. Over the years musicians have lost their voice, their scream and put into the music the way the people really feel, the outrage of the people should be in the music. So we still try to put that in our music.”

From Release: The wait is finally over, as ICE-T’s BODY COUNT is back and more vicious than ever. Their highly-anticipated new, full-length album, Bloodlust, is set for a March 31st release via Century Media Records. BODY COUNT, the gangster-metal collective that made music fearsome to mainstream America, their renegade track Cop Killer sending politicians, parents and law enforcement officials into a proverbial tailspin when it was released unto the world a quarter-century ago. That’s not to say Ice-T and BODY COUNT have been silent over the past 25 years, but as Ice is quick to point out, you can’t start a movement if people aren’t willing to move.

On a warm day at home in Los Angeles Ernie C gave us a call to talk about the new Body Count album ‘Bloodlust’, creating music, special guests, messages, touring, Law & Order, and much more…

Why was now the right time for a new Body Count album?
Well you know it’s just timing, as a matter of fact in America it’s twenty five years since the first record came out so twenty five years later we’re coming out with a new record, so I thought that’s kind of ironic that this record is coming out. It’s just timing. We did ‘Manslaughter’ and before ‘Manslaughter’ we took eight years off before that to kind of grieve from losing members of the band and we did ‘Manslaughter and after being gone eight years and coming back and being well received like that it was great. So then we toured the US and the next year we toured Europe and then last summer we had some time off so we just decided to write another record, it just felt like we wanted to write records, this band’s been playing so we got together to write a record and this record kind of reflects upon the growth of the band.

Did you set out to do anything differently this time around with ‘Bloodlust’?
No not really we just wanted to play, like with ‘Manslaughter’ we added Juan on the guitar so the band was still kind of new, on this record we wanted to make it tighter and more musical than the last record, so that’s always been the thing we try to do on purpose, just show musicianship on this record, that’s why we covered a Slayer song just to show musicianship because they’re good musicians.

I was going to ask, what was it like shredding to some Slayer?
Oh it was a lot of fun, we play the song that Ice and Slayer did in our live set so we just wanted it because they cover the Exploited song so we just wanted to cover a Slayer song itself, not Slayer covering a song so Slayer covering a song and we’re covering Slayer covering a song, so we just decided to do our own cover of Slayer *laughs* so we picked the right song and ‘Reign In Blood’ and when you hear the notes at the beginning people automatically know what it is so that was an easy song to choose to do.

So how do the tracks come together with Body Count, are you writing music over Ice’s lyrics or is it vice versa?
No we always write the music first, you know I’ve been writing music with Ice since 1982 and we always write the music first and he writes the lyrics onto the music, he may change things around or make the verses longer but it’s always the music, he gets inspired from the music.

What is a typical writing session like for a Body Count song?
We all sit down and play, the way we did the last two records we rented a house because he might be in the city or in Arizona, we rented a house and we stayed together and then every morning around ten o’clock we go to rehearsal and we’re there all day long and he sits there and we have a mic set up and he tries some ideas, he might not have the lyrics but he’ll just go through the melodies or what he wants and then we’ll change it around, we’ll slide back and forth take out guitars, add guitars, we’ll do it right there. So we basically wrote the skeleton of the record in six weeks.

So when you’re sitting there and you come out with a song like ‘No Lives Matter’ that is so melodic and just ridiculously good, how do you feel when it comes out for the first time?
That song came out really good, Will Putney is our record producer, we like that kid a lot he makes us sound really good. When I heard the song when we put it all together it sounded really cool, I thought it was a good sound for us and he captured it really well what we were trying to do.

There are some kick ass special guests on the record like Max Cavalera, Randy Blythe and Dave Mustaine, do you approach these guys or do they come to you?
Everyone always asks about them and they think it’s some big master scheme from the record company or the managers and all this kind of stuff and actually we’ve known Dave from the eighties when I was a messenger delivering packages and had a 9-5 job, I met Dave’s manager and met Dave later on and said “I know this guy Ice-T who’s a rapper he’s my friend” and he was going to put us on a Megadeth album but it just never happened so him and Ice were talking on Twitter back and forth and while we were in Arizona writing the record Ice says to Dave “would you like to be on the record?” he said “send over a track” so we sent over ‘Civil War’ to Dave and we get it back with him putting those lyrics on it which is great the first person you hear when you turn on that record is Dave, he’s the first voice you hear on a Body Count record and kinda set the tone for it and then he put a guitar solo on it and we were like ‘wow this is really cool’ so that’s how Dave ended up on the record. Max we did a show in Arizona, he lives in Arizona so he came to the show and he’s on stage singing with us and he’s backstage with us and we said “we’re here writing a record why don’t you come down tomorrow and hang with us?” So he came down and he had a cassette player with that song that he’s on the record, he wrote that song and he brought a cassette to our rehearsal and we learnt it from the cassette *laughs* and he hopped on the song. Then Randy, Randy is my friend and what Randy and I have in common is we both quit drinking years ago and we get together and talk about that and I’m taking to him on the phone and I said “Hey we’re doing a record would you like to be on it?” he said “Yeah sure, send over a track.” So it was just that simple, no lawyers, no managers, no record company we just sent the track to people that were there when we were in the recording process because when we started the record we had no idea that we were going to get anyone on this record, we didn’t go out and try to find Dave or find Max or anything like that.

Body Count has never been backwards in coming forwards, how important to you is it to get these messages out through your songs?
Twenty five years ago we wrote ‘Cop Killer’ and we were young and thinking we were going to change the world, so twenty five years later we’re basically writing the same stuff. Over the years musicians have lost their voice, their scream and put into the music the way the people really feel, the outrage of the people should be in the music. So we still try to put that in our music.

What I’ve always loved about Body Count is that no one sounds like you, there have been imitators but Body Count will always be the original, how is it being an innovator in music?
You know we just do what we do, it’s a mixture of a lot of different stuff from Led Zeppelin, to punk music, to Hendrix, to R&B, so it’s humbling when you get the young kids coming up and saying “you influence us” and it’s like “Really?” that’s really cool, and we’re still trying to become a better band that’s the catch about it, we’re still striving to be better.

You know I have to ask, any chance we’ll see you guys in Australia anytime soon?
We’re trying to work that out so we can be there within the cycle of this record. Somewhere along this cycle we will be there because we’re doing a lot of press for Australia and we haven’t been there in a long while and people are excited to have us there so it’s gonna happen.

As you said it’s been a long time since you were here, what do you remember about that last tour here?
Oh we played ‘Big Day Out’ and it was a long time ago, we did some smaller club dates after that but I remember the Big Day Out, we played with Lou Reed he played with us and it was a lot of fun, I remember we always have a great time coming there and we were drinking this drink called ‘Illusion’ and I don’t remember what it was but we drank a whole lot of them *laughs*. We had a good time and drank and lot of Illusions *laughs*.

You’ve been a part of Body Count since day one. Sure a lot has changed but let’s look at the other side, what’s the one thing you would say has stayed the same within your time in the band?
We’ve lost three members, the members have always changed but the thing that’s been consistent, Ice’s voice, I mean he’s always been consistent that’s always been the one consistent thing he’s always been able to write the right lyrics at the right time.

As a player how do you feel you’ve progressed as a player over the last twenty five years?
Let’s see, I don’t know, I still practise every day but it’s a slow process, on the outside people notice looking at you you get better but I still practise. I guess I’m better? I don’t know… I still play ‘Jungle Boogie’ and there’s so much I’m still trying to learn.

OK, so why wasn’t there a cover of ‘Jungle Boogie’ on the album instead of Slayer?
*laughs* You don’t even want to start on that one. We could do it. You know we used to have a band, and originals band and doing sound check we used to do funk songs, we used to do ‘Rollercoaster’, played all Isley Brothers songs, we played that in our sound check and people would walk in and say “This is Body Count?” *laughs*. We played ‘Who’s That Lady?’ during sound check you know? *laughs*

It’s been 25 years since the release of your debut album, what do you remember from that time releasing it?
I just remember everything was like haywire like it is now, it was the same kind of haywiredness you know? Like nobody knows what’s going on, and we put that song out because people were getting beat by the cops but we saw people getting beat by the cops all the time because we were from there, but when Rodney King got recorded doing it and then everyone was like ‘oh no this can’t go on’ it’s kind of like it is now, nobody knows what’s going on and exactly what’s up and what’s down and just kind of similar stuff going on *laughs* it’s just different now. We’ve got the President of this country that’s haywire, he’s more haywire than anybody. He got in office and went off on your leader didn’t he? *laughs* he called him and started cursing him out.

What I remember is that they banned your album here with ‘Cop Killer’ on it and had to go to New Zealand to get a copy of it…
Yeah that has to do with politics itself one more time, it has nothing to do with the music because we played that song a year before anybody got it on the radar of the politicians, once it got on the radar of the politicians here in America and it was an election year I don’t know why it was banned in other places it was basically a song about the LAPD and they took it across the words because at the beginning of the song Ice says “This goes out to some friends of mine, the LAPD” you know? *laughs* So I don’t know how everyone made it into their own personal song maybe all the cops around the world knew they were doing wrong so they banned it everywhere.

Lastly let’s look ahead to the future, finish this sentence for me, by the end of 2017 Body Count want to…
Tour and continue to play.

And be in Australia…
Yes! We would love to be in Australia, it’s just Ice’s schedule right now with Law & Order and it’s just hard to get there right now, but we will get there.

I do find it amusing and always have that Ice Motherfuckin’ T is the guy in Body Count and also on Law & Order, I don’t know how he balances the two?
Yeah because he’s barely acting on there, he’s just being himself on there and they just make it into the character. The funniest thing is that we toured with Avenged Sevenfold after we did ‘Manslaughter’ and some of the kids would come back stage and would do a meet and greet and with them and say “hey the guy from Law & Order he has a band now that’s really cool” and I’m like “no no no no” *laughs*. Everyone thought he was that guy because he’s been on there sixteen years and these kids were like twenty five, twenty seven and they just know him from Law & Order, they don’t know the whole get down, they just know him from Law & Order.

That’s what should be on the posters for the tours man ‘Come and see Ice-T from TV’s Law & Order’…
*laughs* It was kind of funny, they’re saying ‘That Cop Killer song, we like that song you should put it out” *laughs* it’s like “We have put it out… before you were born” *laughs*. But, they knew every song from YouTube, so on this record we’re doing a video for every song.

That’s true because back in 1992 there was no internet and technology is much different now, how is that going to help the band progress?
Well it helps people to see the visual of the band, the band is a lot of fun we don’t stand around and stand in front of the mic and pose, we’re running around and having a lot of fun and I think when you get into theatrics of a show you kind of lose that and you have to stand there at this exact time because explosions are going off and this and that, and it’s good to have a spontaneous show once in a while. We like to play, we don’t have any backing tracks we just play, so it’s changed but we want to do the videos for every song just so people can see how visual the band is.

So we’ve had ‘No Lives Matter’, and ‘Ski Mask Way’, what’s next?
‘Ski Mask Way’ and then we have a video for ‘Here I Go Again’ it’s about a psycho killer murderer and Ice is in it and it’s really bloody and brutal, it’s like a horror movie, we were going to use and we had Halloween recorded but John Carpenter wanted so much money it was like he was trying to do another film or something from how much he trying to license that song for *laughs* so we had to drop it. So that video is really good.  We’ve got four videos done already, we’ve got an animation video which is good.

Of course I’ve heard the album start to finish and it just flows perfectly, it’s like you put it together as a story and I think it’s amazing…
You know what? I’m glad you listened to it like that because our record is sequenced and it’s exactly like you said “You put it together like a story” I’ll be using that because that is quite true because we put it together from beginning to end, Dave sets the warning at the beginning of ‘Civil War’ and it takes you through a ride, so you’re exactly right, you noticed that. That’s great.

 

Essential Information

From: Los Angeles, CA, USA

Band members: Ice-T – vocals, Ernie C – lead guitar, backing vocals, Sean E Sean – sampler, backing vocals, Vincent Price – bass, backing vocals, Ill Will – drums, Juan of the Dead – rhythm guitar, backing vocals

Website:  http://www.bodycountband.com

Forthcoming release: Bloodlust – (March 31 – Century Media / Sony Music Australia) – Check out our review HERE

 

 

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