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Joel answers questions about the MDP
album exclusively for this website.
The interview took place with
WG (Web Guy) in Joel's backyard.

WG:  Okay, let's talk through the album. Firstly, 'These Kids'.. What instruments are on it and who plays what?

JT:  I play the guitar, the picking guitar and I play the bass on it, which is a synth bass, on the original one there's also a bit of keys, keyboard..grand piano. I'm just hitting a few notes in sync with the bass line and beatbox. So it's pretty much guitar, bass and beatbox.

WG:  And the strings were added?

JT:  Yeah the strings were added later.

WG:  Tim's rap, it's pretty long and fast, was he able to do that in one full take, or did he have to do it in sections?

JT:  I'm trying to remember.. it was three years ago. Yeah the technique he would have used. I think he just rapped as much as he could a few times and grabbed the best bits sort of thing.

WG:  On the one of the last times you sing 'nobody knows' where you go up and change the melody, which is real hook, was that you're idea?

JT:  I just thought I'd try something different in there because it needed something. I wanted to chuck a lead solo in but when I just put the lead guitar in, it sounded a bit empty without something leading in to it. So I just..okay I'll do abig note, you know..it sounded a bit cheesy..(laughs)

WG:  No it's really lifts there.. next track is 'FunkUup'.. who does the rap on that?

JT:  Tim and Chris

WG:  Yeah, but I'm trying to tell which is which, it's not always easy.

JT:  Okay, well Tim is first and Chris is second.

WG:  On a song like that, where do you start? Do you start with their lyrics and do they write together?

JT:  I start with the guitar riff, then I put synth drums on it like and acoustic drum sound to give it that old school, real sound to it. Then I played a bass guitar over it, then just formatted the song then got those guys to put their raps over it, and then I put a beat box over it in the end.

WG:  And when they write a lyric do they write together, do they physically sit down together and write together or do they just come with different sections?

JT:  They just go off and get into their own, like zone and rap. they put on a beat and then just start rapping. Then they'll come back and do it both ways. They'll go through their lyrics. we're a family and we don't care about critising each other, they'll take each others advice and take the best stuff and work it in together.

WG:  Okay, 'Knock You Out', which came first, the song or the boxer? (referring to Anthony Mundine who raps on this track)

JT:  Well the way that started was Mark (Holden, Joel's manager) was at a celebrity grand prix and his race partner was Anthony Mundine and Mark showed him some of our demos and Anthony liked it and said he'd like to do a song with the boys.
So while I was in the studio, working on the album, I though, what would be good for Anthony Mundine and I thought Eye of The Tiger, you know, boxing. So I laid down the guitar, put the (Joel sounds out the beatbox riff he did) the voice bass, put that on it and then (again Joel demonstrates the beatbox beat) the beat. Then they put their raps down and Chris and Tim wrote Mundine a verse. He came in the studio and looked at it. He laughed, you know he liked it and then he dropped it in, in one day and then he came back in the next week and put his overlays down and it was sweet. that was the song.

WG:  Did Tim or Chris put Anthony's part down first for him to follow?

JT:  No, they just rapped it for him and then gave him the lyrics and he mad his own flow with it.

WG:  Now 'Respect' , one of my favourite tracks. I notice there are two other writers credited on that, how do they fit into it?

JT:  Yeah, Brian and Murphy, we met them through Gary Deleo who was recording our demos. We just started doing beats together because they're musicians. We wanted to do a song with them. Murphy was going to rap on it but didn't happen, but he and Brian came up with the piano for Respect and then i put the bass and the beatbox on it, so that one's a bit of a collaboration

WG:  That piano riff is really strong particulary with the string line that goes with it, was that your idea?

JT:  Yeah!

WG:  Works really well.

JT:  Thanks, man!

WG:  Right, 'Scatbox' how much of that was improvised with Mr Axle Grease (Axle Whitehead is a co-writer of Scatbox)

JT:  All Axle's solos, that's all improvised hey! Yeah that song just sort of came along, because there's so much improvisation, so we thought we'd get a basic form for it, which is that bass line (Joel again starts beatboxing the bass line and the beats.. seemed to be enjoying himself too!) he put his vocals to it and then I put on the beat box .. (he's off demonstrating again) . We went for a drum and bass, jungle mix, dance thing (he laughs and then, of course starts demonstrating by beatboxing again.. it's very entertaining interviewing Joel). It really worked well together, the first time we heard it back in the studio we were really impressed with it.It didn't take that long to record it actually. then Axle came back the next day and put all his scat solo stuff on it. I wanted to muck around and put a bit of scat on it in a Barry white type of voice cause I can't do all that (Joel now starts scatting) so I just went 'Oh yeah, diddlily bop bo' just mucking around. Then i put vocal trumpet (which he demonstrates) Yeah, it all just came together, man, and then towards the end we wanted to make it more of a House pattern so we just went (you guessed it, he's beatboxing again and it's impossible to describe all the noises that are coming out of this person sitting in front of me but when you play the song again you'll get the drift) so we finished it off techno style and then just out. And he does his little thing at the end "wah wah' I can't do it (Joel has a little laugh at his attempt)

WG:  How long did you actually spend recording the album?

JT:  It was pretty quick, man. We spent about a month the first time and then went back in for another month..so a couple of months.

WG:   Is your beatbox stuff hard to record? I mean capturing the sound.

JT:  Yeah it is hard to mic it the proper way to get the sound you want. I've just got to go out and try every mic and see what sounds best, what records the best for each sound.

WG:  I've noticed other beatboxers really rely on the closeness of the mic, that they actually need a mic to make their sounds, whereas you seem to be able to make the sounds just yourself. Is that just from practice, to project the sounds?

JT:  Yeah, well when you beatbox at parties people have got to be able to hear ya. so I've always been a volume beatboxer, I've got a lot of volume. But I get a bit lazy sometimes...need to do a bit of swimming to get fit.(Joel has a laugh at this but I'm not sure if he's joking or not)

WG:   'Lady'. It's kinda a change of pace to the rest, was there a main writer for that?

JT:  Yeah, Chris, we thought we'd let that be Chris's song because he's more of a ladies man. Tim's not as pretty as Chris.

WG:  That'll get back 

JT:  (laughing) Don't put that on the website. (sorry Joel, couldn't leave that out) So I just laid the beat down for it, with more of a latin style guitar with a club sort of beat. Then I put the bass down and we got Gary Pinto the lead singer of CDB doing backing vocals.

WG:  'Behind Bars' How did that come about, did Rebekah (Lavauney) come to you or did you go to her?

JT:  That's her song, she wrote that. we wanted to do a song with her and Mark talked to her and she was up for it. she had a song she wanted to do with us. She came to the studio while we were recording the album and we came up with the song that day. I was just sitting there playing the guitar, having a break from recording. She started singing it and I started working out some chords to it that would float. So I started beatboxing and playing the guitar and it was sounding good so we recorded it. She came in a dropped her vocals. It was originally her song but she wanted the guys point of view about a friend being in jail so she got Tim and Chris to rap on it, and that's the song mate.

WG:  And it works.. 'Hip Hop' has got another write, a C. Macavoy and 'Brisbane City' has got a J. Macavoy. so who are they and how do they fit in?

JT:  Okay, they're like unofficial members of MDP. we've been making beats with those guys for ages, their like old friends. Cody can play the didgeridoo really good and I was going to do a didg/beat box track which sounds awesome together but we'll proably do that on the next album because we didn't get a chance to get them down to Sydney. Cody came up with a guitar riff for 'Hip Hop' and said I could use it, so I played it in the studio and put the drums to it and the bass and Tim and Chris came up with the mad chorus and they dropped their raps and that's the song, man. it's just about hiphop and how it's part of our everyday lives - yeah what hiphop is.

WG:  'Up in the Studio' is obviously a bit of thumbing your nose, so did you get a bit of a hard time from people about what you were trying to do and where you were heading?

JT:  There were just a lot of other rappers who thought we weren't going to make it. So this song was just to the 'haters' out there to let them know we were actually recording now, in the studio as the song says.

WG:  'The Real JT' that's just you I gather, it's credited to just you.

JT:  The real JT? There's another writer on that who did all the work basically (Joel has a laugh) That's Gary Deleo who recorded our demos. That's not really my track i just agreed to do it, to show mark. he liked it so it's on the album unfortunately (Joel is finding this pretty funny)

WG:  It's fairly bizarre, it's not a structured song as such.

JT:  Yeah, it's not a song, that's the thing. it's just a beatbox skit bizarre freaky thing. How it happened we'd just finished in the studio and Gary said 'Just quickly before you go just drop some stuff, you know anything, just some voices, just go crazy". so i just dropped all these crazy voices over this beat and just got two minutes of absolute crap but we somehow turned it into something. Definitely weird.

WG:  Yeah, I was wondering about that one because it's left of centre that one. (we both laugh). now the second mix of 'These Kids' has got an extra verse. was that written at the same time as the original one or is that something that came later?

JT:  That was something written later. It was something that Tim wanted to express and he thought he could do it a better way, put a better flow on it and I reckon it sounded good.

WG:  Well the whole album is sounding good and thanks for going though all that with us. Before we finish, you up for a few other odd questions?.

JT:  Sure

WG:  Who were your main musical influences?

JT:  Oh mate...heaps. Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears. (laughs) .No I grew up listening to BB King, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Hendix, Carlos Santana, Tu Pac Shakur, Dr Dre, Ice Cube... lots of them.

WG:  Where are you up to in thinking about touring?

JT:  We're going to be touring in February. We'll be doing our first show, I think at the Byron Bay Blues Festival. We're going to go into rehearsal studio December 6th to 23rd. We'll put together a good show and then we'll be touring right through until may

WG:  The hard part for you is that because you beatbox, play guitar and sing, the tricky bit will be how to best do that in a live situation..other than cloning yourself.

JT:  Oh yeah, didn't think of that, thanks mate.

WG:  You're welcome

JT:  I'll go to the lab now.

 

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