Interview: Bad Brains
On June 25, 2007, Bad Brains played a show on a yacht on the Hudson River. Repeat: on June 25, a totally reunited Bad Brains-- the four black dudes from D.C. who made their name as arguably the fastest, hardest, and best band in the predominantly white hardcore scene of the late 70s and early 80s; a band that features the word "cum" in the title of one of its most famous songs-- played a show on a freakin' yacht. The acceptance of punk into the canon it once rebelled against is a strange phenomenon.
But how did Bad Brains get to be on a yacht, playing their music for a tightly packed crowd of old and new fans this past June? Most literally, they were invited by New York City's Rocks Off Concert Cruise Series. To get the broader explanation, the one that takes things like history, local scenes, and personal evolution into account, we spoke with Bad Brains bassist Darryl Jenifer a couple days after the show.
Pitchfork: What was it like performing on the yacht?
Darryl Jenifer: Pretty weird. I was just trying to keep from getting seasick. I get seasick kind of easy. It's a real surreal situation, you know. You're on a boat and everything's moving, you're doing your thing. I couldn't hardly stand. Plus I had a couple of shots of Patron. And I was feeling kind of wild for some reason, a little claustrophobic. I was kicking my shit. I felt like the ceiling was touching the top of my head, and I had these weird wristbands on to keep me cool. But it was fun. Surreal is really what it was because I was talking to this friend of mine, and I saw the city passing by and I was like, "Whoa, this is cool. I've never really been out here on this river looking at the city from this perspective." And then I went down, had a couple of beers, and went on stage, and it was like another whole dimension. Next thing you know we were back at the dock.
Pitchfork: Was it like an alternate reality punk club, in a way, because it was so small and cramped?
DJ: Yeah, it was very strange. When we went to come on, I could've been anywhere; there were too many people. What I saw was what I usually see: a lot of people crowding around. And then when we finished I was like, "We're back?" and they were like "Yeah, the ship's back in." And I was like, "Wow." It was cool.