SXSW Music Keynote: Beastie Boys
Ad-Rock and Mike D remain funny to us, too
By Thomas Fawcett,
9:15AM, Sat. Mar. 16, 2019
“This is a comedy festival, right?”
So cracked Adam Horovitz after he and fellow Beastie Boy Michael Diamond spent the opening 10 minutes of a keynote conversation at the Convention Center on Friday deflecting any lucid question by friend and moderator Nathan Brackett. Those included opportunities to riff on Cam’Ron, their idea of opening the keynote with a live dog act, and the fact that journalists don’t appreciate the absurd (and oft-invented) jewels they drop in interviews.
After sharing more than 30 years making music together with the late Adam “MCA” Yauch, who died of cancer in 2012, these two lifelong friends just want to make each other laugh. In fact, they claim to have a companion piece to their Beastie Boys Book.
“We actually have a whole other book called Funny to Us,” Ad-Rock quipped. “The three of us were together for so many days, and weeks, and months, and years traveling all over the place, and you encounter so many super weird people, but it’s not that funny to anybody else. We’re probably never gonna put that book out, but it’s funny … to us.”
Their free-flowing New York Times bestseller sprawled to nearly 600 pages because it’s not just about the group, but all of their collective influences.
“We were somehow lucky enough to be these kids who grew up in New York City in this crazy time when all of this different music and art and fashion was happening in this totally random and chaotic way all around us,” Mike D explained. “We got to bear witness and just sponge all that up, and we couldn’t really tell our story without giving that context. You have punk rock, New Wave, post-punk, No Wave, then rap, and salsa music, jazz, literally within a 15-block radius. I don’t think any other city in the world was like that at that time.”
The pair heaped love and praise on Yauch, who they credit with much of the group’s most creative ideas, including the 360-degree photo concept for the Paul’s Boutique album cover, the infrared camera work for the “So What’cha Want” video, and the beat for “Paul Revere.”