Next month we see the return of Manc rapper Kermit. The former Black Grape and Ruthless Rap Assassins frontman got on the phone to Designer Magazine to talk about his new project Big Dog. With the debut single "Raise The Alarm" and a short tour coming up it looks set to be a busy year for the band.
Q: You've been recording the album halfway up Snowdon. How's it going?
A: Were in this little shepherds cottage. We just got a load of stuff and practically built a studio in there; then we've been working & recording since October last year. We had to get out of Manchester because people always find out where you are, people turn up that you know and they start hanging around and we didn't want any of that. We just wanted to get on with the music.
Q: So you weren't confined to Wales over foot & mouth?
A: Where we are there were loads of sheep and now in just over a week they've virtually all gone. I was reading this article the other week in "Astronomy Now" talking about BSE coming from space. The reason its showing up in England and Wales is because they have this fielding thing where they leave the sheep in the fields for the winter. England and Wales are the only places in Europe where they do that and so that's why scientists reckons that BSE is some space born plague.
I like things like though. You pick out certain things like that and think that's the real fucking shit that's going on in the world. The things that people need to be knowing what's going on. Who gives a fuck what dress Posh Spice is fucking wearing this week? Who gives a fuck who Chris Evans is shagging? But people obviously do.
I personally want to know what's going on in the darker side. There's a flip side to everything man and I like to see what's going on in the flip side. I like to look in the angles, man. Every crease, every corner there's something going on, man. And you've got to check the angles, man. I think like a corner, man, I see everything. There's so much going on and people don't realize.
Q: Has it totally shaped the album then?
A: I don't know about that. I reckon if we'd have done it in Manchester or London it would have taken us longer to do. We'd have felt more pressurized in studio as well. We just hired this cottage, practically lived in it - slept there, ate there, recorded there, played playstation there - we did everything there!!!
Q: Was the stint with B.R.A a stepping stone to it all?
A: No, No, No!!! We were doing this stuff at the time anyway. Right at the beginning I saw Ged (Lynch) and he said he was working with Mark so I just went down there. At the time Ged was playing with St Etienne, Matt was working in his studio and I was doing a lot of work with the Bentley's at the time. It was really hard for us all to get together.
There just came a point where all the tracks were sounding really good so we thought "Hold on a minute", sat down and discussed it and decided to go for it.
Q: You've always had a sparring partner. Does it feel good to be back in your own right?
A: I just thought it was time to do my own thing. I've worked with other people in the past and you always find at first things go well but then there always seems to be fallings out, especially when you've got more than one vocalist vying for attention. I'd had enough of all that ego shit and I just wanted to get on with making some good music. I always compromised and its sad. You don't do certain things because the other person can't relate to where you're going.
Q: "Raise the Alarm" and "Natural Disaster" has got this dark twisted funk going on hasn't it?
A: Do you think so? "Natural Disaster" was one of the first things I wrote when Black Grape split ... blah, blah, blah ... and other things ... just personal things that just poured out of me. It was quite a while ago because there are other tracks which are totally different in there execution and everything. A lot mellower and happier
Q: So you put a lot of yourself into your lyrics then?
A: Oh yeah!! I always have. If your writing lyrics there's no point in scrimping - you write from what you know. Most music nowadays apart from the obvious shit is about lyrics. Talking for me personally I started doing raps and everything years ago but I've started writing songs as well now. Like on this album I'm singing a lot more.
I've pushed myself and that is what is all about. I just wanted to express myself, yer know what I mean. Big Dog is different from anything i've done before because i've been straight while i'm doing and i've enjoyed it more.
Q: You're on Jive Records (home of Steps & Britney Spears), its hip hop and you've got the Black Grape indie connections. What sort of crowd will be into Big Dog?
A: The thing is with Jive is - they always release quality music. Years ago most of the hip-hop albums I had were always Jive album, KRS 1 and all them lot. I think this is the best relationship I've had with a label ever, maybe because I am a bit older and a bit wiser.
I don't know if Westwoods getting into. I keep myself to myself. All I do is record the music and put it out. I don't make my music for anybody in particular - if something sounds good its going down - if something feels good its going down. I go by gut and what feels right. All the tracks are so varied on the album I couldn't say what type of person would listen to the album - just someone who wants to listen to something good.
Q: What's your take on this whole Eminem debate?
A: A long time ago when Eminem did his underground stuff with Rawkus and I liked his first album but everybody's going a bit fucking stupid about it now. Yer know fuck me, the guys just having fun and I can't see what the problem is. People are running round saying he's corrupting our kids..blah, blah, blah...you can't be a good parent if somebody's music is going to corrupt your kid.
Blame the parents - who else is to blame - there the ones fucking up the kids aren't they!!! The parents, the government and religion. Organized religions, blargggggghh - I shit on them!!!!!!!!
I've always been into the political stuff from way back with the Rap Assassins. We were young idealists. If someone's got something to say I'll listen to it. Its something that you've got inside you like learning to ride a bike. Some things affect the way you are forever and you can't take those things out of somebody. Certain things define people for what they are or who you are.
"Raise The Alarm" out April 2nd on Jive Records