The first time I heard the Beastie Boys was on the one-hour bus ride to school when I was 10. The bus had a tape deck, and the bus driver — a portly woman named Shirley — would play her own music, or cassettes we brought from home if they were profanity free. The 30 or so kids on board ranged between kindergarten and grade 12, and we lived in an isolated part of Vancouver Island. This was usually a recipe for, in retrospect, crap. I usually just listened to my mixtapes on my Walkman, but sometimes my batteries would die mid-ride and I’d have to listen to Wilson Phillips or Bryan Adams.
One day a kid named Corey brought a tape that sounded more different, more foreign and more awful than anything I’d heard in my sheltered musical existence. It was a bunch of flutes and incoherent screaming (the swearing wasn’t audible that way, at least), and it grated my underexposed musical nerves. The song was “Sure Shot.” The album was Ill Communication.
A few years later, we moved to the city, and my brother and I began a mission to catch up on 14-ish years of not having normal access — radio, tv, record stores, or concerts — to what the rest of the world might have been listening to. He bought Paul’s Boutique, Liscenced to Ill, and Ill Communication, and whether I started to like Beatie Boys that time around because everything my brother did was cool is irrelevant. The screaming and the flutes were awesome, and I screamed along quite happily. Since then, MCA, Ad Rock, and Mike D have been one of a handful of bands whose music consistently hits my brain right in the sweet spot; it’s fun, it’s upbeat, it’s authentic, and it’s got a funky beat that I can bug out to. They were one of those bands that I couldn’t not like.
Talking about them now in past tense sucks, and Adam Yauch’s death last month is the only celebrity death I’ve felt sincerely sad about. It might not have the same gravity in the music community to some as Whitney Houston or Levon Helm, but Beastie Boys are the only band I’ve loved who were still just as prolific last year as they were 30 years ago; they were rhymin’ and stealin’ when I was two, and opening a restaurant with Ted Danson when I was 27. I feel sad knowing that I won’t hear another new album from them or see them in concert again (pretty sure they’ll buck the hologram trend), because even this late in the band’s career, those things were probably going to happen.
As a music magazine focused on smaller, independent local acts, community is at the heart of it all. The community, no matter how big or small, lost an inspiring and unique musician, and I wanted to pay my respect.
With the passing of one funky dude though, it’s heartwarming to look forward to summer and the heaps of talent in this issue rocking out in our community.
Our Summer Festival Preview prepares you for big events in Vancouver and at Calgary’s Sled Island (which some of us crazy folks at CiTR and Discorder will be reporting live from, so stay tuned!). The nifty, homemade Music Waste spread will guide you through the festival’s dozens of shows this year. We have four great features on Young Pacific, Capitol 6, Beekeeper, and cover artists Needles//Pins. So sit down, tuck in, and get to know the people in your musical neighbourhood a little better.
Read on and stay rad,