Adam Yauch

Beastie Boy, baller

In your new movie, Gunnin’ for that #1 Spot, you didn’t direct as Nathaniel Hornblower?
Yes indeed, I did not. [Laughs]

Any particular reason?
Yeah. Basically, I started using that name working on Beastie Boys stuff, and I really started doing it because I thought it seemed weird having one of the band members involved in making—ah, like, because I was doing a lot of pictures of the band and also, like, laying out record covers and directing music videos. It somehow seems incestuous and weird to have a band member doing it. So I started using the other name. And it kinda grew into a whole…thing. But since this was kind of separate from the band it seemed like it made sense not to…

It’s not any relation to the C.S. Forester/Horatio Hornblower series then?
Well, you know—I think it was probably partially inspired by that.

Have you ever considered directing a sea epic?
A sea epic? Yes, actually, I have.

Would it involve the Beastie Boys as pirates or anything?
Probably not, but actually at one point I thought about doing a music video where we were kind of like pirates and we were on some kind of a float, like a boat that was a float in a parade.

That’d be pretty nice…
That would have been pretty retarded, but you know, I would’ve been into it.

Well, that’s all that matters, I guess.
Being retarded or being into it?

Being into it—well, both, I think a little bit of both. That’s the formula I go by, anyway. In the movie, Beasley sort of came off as the natural showman, but I was interested in Jarryd Bayless and Brandon Jennings, I guess, because their styles of play are very opposite. Bayless was very serious, and Jennings was kind of throwing the ball between his legs and being very creative. But they were both like MVPs at the end.
Each of them, I thought, was opposite—their personality and their interview was sort of opposite to their personality in the game. Like, I think with Brandon, he seemed more serious in his interview and more playful during the game. And Jarryd seemed a little lighter during his interview, like a little more—I wouldn’t say playful, but he seemed less intense, and then during the game he looked pretty angry, like pissed, and so that was interesting. And I don’t know, these guys may have other personas that come out at different times. But that was definitely interesting to see.

I read that Brandan was looking to go to Arizona to play with Jarryd, but Jarryd is now going to the NBA. Do you think that would have been the best backcourt in recent memory?
It would have been pretty cool because they’re both… I think they’re both point guards.

Which of the eight spotlighted players in the film would most immediately help the Knicks?
I would like to see Beasley play for the Knicks. I don’t think it’s going to happen, ’cause they have something like the seventh pick, and people are saying they think Beasley is going to go second or first. So I don’t know unless there’s some crazy trades that go on, but I would have loved to see that, just because I feel like Beasley is a really interesting all-around player.

You’re not going to watch the Olympics, I assume?
No, I mean I think I probably will watch the Olympics. I did think it was great that the protests were going on during the torch moving, that people were trying to stop the torch; I thought that was amazing. It’s kind of really intense. I mean, I was glad to see Tibetan people getting out there and demonstrating, but it’s really terrifying what they’re facing to go out and do that. The Chinese government is really cracking down on people, and the real tragedy of the whole thing is that the Chinese government kicked the media out of Tibet when the demonstrations started on March 10. And I think what should have really happened at that point was that the Olympic committee should have just stepped up and said, “No. If you’re going to kick the media out of Tibet then the Olympics is not going to happen in China. If you want to have the Olympics to happen in China, you have to open up and allow the United Nations and international media to witness whatever goes on.”

Do you think this guy Kimbo Slice could benefit from a regimen of Buddhist meditation?
I don’t know who that is…

Oh, he’s this terrifying Ultimate Fighter guy.
Oh, yeah…

Yeah, he beats people up for a living.
Oh, wow.

He’s really good at it.
[Laughs] Yeah, I can’t really bring myself to watch the Ultimate Fighting. I’ve tried before because I thought it would be fun or exciting to watch but… I think I saw somebody’s face get punched off and like, just somebody just got punched over and over again and it looked like their whole face got ripped off of their skull.

Well, Kimbo exploded some guy’s ear on prime-time TV.
I can’t really bring myself to watch this stuff.

America loves the spectacle, I guess.
Yeah. They should bring back that shit with feeding the Jews to the lions—that shit would be hot, right? “On CBS tonight…” Don’t quote me on that, though. I don’t want to see a headline that reads “Adam Yauch says feed the Jews to the lions!” Or if you quote me on it at least put it in context.

Will we ever learn who is hitting the bong in the middle of “Shake Your Rump”?
I don’t even remember. That’s a good question. I do remember it was a big blue bong that we bought for that express purpose. We were in the studio and we made some intern or studio assistant or something go out and buy a bong for us to record that; we were like, “Dude! Go get a big, blue bong!”

Aren’t interns great?
But I don’t remember who actually recorded the sound. We went into the studio and someone stood in front of the mike. I don’t actually think that any weed was burning in it at that moment. I think it was just more for the sound of the bubbles and then you release the thing and it goes… [Whistles]

You conquered rap and kick-started the hipster-mustache renaissance in the interim. Is lite rock the only mountain left to climb?
That’s an interesting thought. Adam Horovitz has always wanted to be the lead singer of a soft-rock band, so we’re trying to back him up on that. Last time I wandered around Williamsburg, like a year ago, it seemed like everybody had a beard—and not just the Hasids. Has that shifted over to a mustache thing? I guess if you’re in Williamsburg ten years from now and everybody is wearing spandex pants and has, like, crazy feathered hair and is all looking like they’re in Poison, then you can blame us.

I probably will.
=We brought it back to, like, 1984.

You guys are usually a few years ahead of trends…
No, definitely behind the curve. I will say one time we were actually ahead of the curve was when we made the “Hey Ladies” video, and you could see that everybody at the record company… It was before the ’70s revival, like, actually kicked in and everybody was still really embarrassed about the ’70s, and when we first showed that to people from the record company, you could see them all kind of squirming in their seats. They probably still had their platform shoes in the back of their closet and these guys were just still getting over it.

Since I won’t likely have you on the phone again anytime soon, I’ll just ask you… In “Intergalactic” you guys memorably cast people off into exile, which made me think of another band of space-bound refugees—the crew of Battlestar Galactica. So I wanted to know it you had any predictions about the final season?
Well, I don’t know it that well. I just know there’s Cylons amongst them but that’s about it.

How crazy is that though, man? They look exactly like us! It’s crazy. We can mate with them, too.
Oh really? I didn’t know that. Well, that’s important information.

Your movie is largely about reputation—like earning the nicknames and Rucker Park. How important do you think reputation is?
On some level it is important, you know, what people think about you, you know what I mean? If you’re going to be a bullshit artist then people are going to know you’re a bullshit artist. I mean, there’s superficial ways to worry about one’s reputation, but I think there’s probably constructive ways to think about it, too. It’s probably good not to spend too much time thinking about it, but if one leads their life in a constructive way, then I’m sure that eventually their reputation will follow somehow.

What do you want your reputation to be or what do you think it is?
I have no idea what it is. I think it probably changes all the time and it probably is different with different people. Hopefully people will say that I wasn’t an asshole [Laughs] or just at least an asshole at the right time, you know, for the right reasons.

That’s about it. You’ve certainly been not an asshole, so thank you very much.
[Laughs] Cool. Thank you.

See more Bold questions