Sometimes exile from the mainstream is a good thing. For Detroit, MI hip hop duo Twiztid, lurking in the shadows with a unique brand of horror-themed music has paid off with a career spanning seventeen years, a slew of billboard 200 charted albums, and a massively devoted fan base. The journey to success is never easy, and like many other artists, Twiztid has withstood trials and tribulations along the way. Refusing to give up and give in to compliance, the group triumph with bigger plans for the future. Recently we sat down with one-half of the madmen, Jamie Madrox, for a personal look at the crazy ride of Twiztid, their quest to challenge themselves as artists, horror movies, and more.
CrypticRock.com - Twiztid has been going strong for seventeen years now and has released nine full-length albums. Your sound is a unique blend of hardcore hip hop with horror themed topics, better known to many as horrorcore. In retrospective, how would you describe the ride the group has been on?
Jamie Madrox - It has been somewhat of a roller coaster. When we first started off all we wanted to do was have someone to listen to us. Everyone seeks that audience of someone who would be interested in what they do. It has literally grown. We have had our ups and downs and it has been a learning process, but we are still here and still kicking ass. I am happy and I am proud.
CrypticRock.com - You should be proud, the group has received a great deal of success. The genre is not the most popular within mainstream hip hop, but there has been a fair share of great horrorcore groups like Gravediggaz, Insane Clown Posse, and of course yourselves. What do you think has been the key to Twiztid’s success and longevity?
Jamie Madrox - I think maybe it is what you said. It is because it is not an overall popular thing. Popularity is awesome but at the same time it has an expiration date and becomes more of a trend. Time has shown us all that trends come and go. When something is not so mainstream and is more underground it has more of a shelf life and longer life span. I think that is one of the things we have experienced as well as Insane Clown Posse and the rest of the guys doing this kind of thing. You have to actually look for it. It is not like you turn on the radio and it is right there, you have to actually seek it out.
CrypticRock.com - That is a great point. With fans like that, if people are looking for something, they are obviously going to be dedicated to it for a long time because they are passionate about it.
Jamie Madrox - Absolutely, that is one thing I am eternally grateful for as well as my brother Paul. We are overly grateful of our fanbase. We actually call them our family for the dedication they show us and stand behind us in all that we do.
CrypticRock.com - Totally, prior to Twiztid, yourself and Paul were part of House of Krazees for three years. What was some of the most important things you learned with that project that you took with you into Twiztid?
Jamie Madrox - I guess, basically, we were developing our abilities as far as how to rap. Even to this day we are still learning. I never want to be that guy who feels like they know it all, because I know I do not; for me to say I do would be absolutely absurd. It was a learning process, much like everything. That was probably the beginning of that roller coaster ride that we just talked about. There have been a lot of ups and downs. We like to take notice of stuff and learn, where other people may not give a shit and just look for the microphone, stage, fame, or whatever. We actually pay attention to things and learn so we can perfect what we do.
CrypticRock.com - That definitely shows with each passing record. As far as the sound of Twiztid you mix that horror theme into things. What inspired you to go that route with your sound?
Jamie Madrox - I think, ever since we were kids, we are just totally into horror movies. One of our favorites was Evil Dead II (1987). The Evil Dead (1981) was just kind of like the commercial for part two for us. We would watch it, I could not even tell you how many summers in a row, and be terrified. We loved that, the fact that we were terrified. We were all about comic books and the horror theme. We wanted to be able to have something bigger and better than life; entertainment, something to take you away from the norm. That was our escape, we would just sit down in front of the TV and be terrified. We loved it and could not wait to do it again. I have to say that has to be something with it.
CrypticRock.com - That is great that you were so passionate about it. Now, you recently released a free download of 4 The Fam Volume 2 back in March. The album featured a mix of new tracks from Dark Lotus and yourselves, among others. Was this something you had in the works for a while and what was the process like of getting it together?
Jamie Madrox - It was kind of different. We actually did it in the vein of how a mix tape is supposedly done. We took our lyrics and put it to other people’s beats. The other mix tapes that we heard are all from scratch production. It was a different process and it was kind of cool. It was like getting to be a DJ so to speak. It was fun and different because that is not our style. It is refreshing every now and then to try something different from what we do.
CrypticRock.com - It sounds like a different experience opposed to what you are used to. What made you decide to make it free to the public?
Jamie Madrox - It was more or less a thank you to everybody. When we did our venture off into independent, so to speak, the fact that so many people stayed true to us and did not turn their back on us. It was mine and Paul’s way of saying thank you. Here is a full hour plus of music, it is the least we can do, enjoy yourself and thank you. You have been with us through everything and hopefully you will be with us through everything else.
CrypticRock.com - That is a great way of saying thank you. You recently released a video for the song “Sick Man” off your 2013 EP. The video is very well put together and has some classic horror actors like Kane Hodder and Sid Haig in it. What was the concept and production like for that?
Jamie Madrox - The concept behind the video was we wanted to go back and take everything to square one and show that there is something out there that is grabbing random people and turning them into something very spooky, creepy, and dark. The character who Kane Hodder plays, who is sick man, is one of the first turned like a vampire. Sid Haig’s character is the guy behind the scenes pulling all the strings. He is basically the father, he is the head vampire, and he can turn you. Kane’s character is recruiting more people for Sid’s evil plot but we do not know what that is yet (laughs). We have a part two coming out for it. We are laying the ground work for it. The production was awesome. We had Tate who was featured on Faceoff for make-up; he is great, his work is phenomenal. Those guys are ubber professional, but at the same time they are laid back and chill. Kane Hodder is Jason Vorhees, that is who he is. Just hanging out with him and having him just kick it with you like you are one of the guys, that is pretty fucking cool to me. Sid Haig, we respect him, he is a seasoned veteran when it comes to horror. It is Captain Spaulding, how the fuck can you not love it!
CrypticRock.com - That is great to hear there will be a sequel to it. It is like a mini movie. You do not see many artists do that anymore with their music videos.
Jamie Madrox - We try to. We always wanted to do that. It was one of those things we did not want to go and do something we have already done. We are always trying to push the envelope in the respect that we want to do something that is new and fresh. Now a day, everything has been done, but for us that was something different. It was a blast and I cannot wait to do the part two for it. It may not be for a year or so, but expect it to be just as awesome if not more awesome.
On set set of “Sick Man” video shoot
CrypticRock.com - As you said, you always like to try to push the envelope and Twiztid has kept themselves busy releasing new material year after year. How important is it for you to continue coming up with new ideas, and is it difficult to keep them coming as quickly as you do?
Jamie Madrox - It is very important for us and bands or acts like us because of not having that plateau of being this mainstream thing constantly shoved down your throat. The fact that you do not have that, you have to work double and triple time sometimes just to stay relevant and current in our public’s eye. We may not be in the mainstream or the wide scopes public eye, but to our fans, to stay relevant to them and make sure they know we are still out there doing it. I want to say it is not difficult coming up with things so quickly, but every now and then we run into a creative wall. My brother and I have this energy about us that we work well off each other. He will say something and I will add to it, next thing I know we have a song. I will be humming something and he will say stop and ask what I was just doing. Next thing you know we are doing a break for a song or we have a concept. I am thankful that we can do that, we still work well together. I do not want to say it is hard to come up with stuff, but to say every time that happens, probably not. More times than not we always make it work. We always do everything we can to make it as fresh as it can be.
CrypticRock.com - That is something really special that you have found that chemistry with one another. That is something many artists look for their entire career.
Jamie Madrox - For sure, that would have to suck. That would be a very uncomfortable situation. Him and I, we get in there, fool around, and to have that chemistry and work as well as we do off one another is definitely a blessing.
CrypticRock.com - It sure is. Being part of a niche area of hip hop, when you look at the progression of mainstream hip hop since the golden age during the 1990′s, what is your opinion of the state of hip hop today?
Jamie Madrox - There are a lot of people out there doing it. What I will say is because of technology, whatever kind of music you do, a thirteen year old kid for example can make a song on his computer with some stuff he bought from Guitar Center, upload it to iTunes or YouTube, and by the afternoon be an internet sensation. That is something that all the people before them never had that luxury. I call that a luxury because for the people which used to be in the trenches handing out flyers and trying to promote things, this digital age is literally a luxury. There is no other way to put it. Having that kind of changes the game.
CrypticRock.com - That is absolutely right and a very interesting point you make. The younger generation may just expect that to be the norm where the older generation in their 30′s grew up in a time where this was not available yet. They understand and appreciate it where younger generations may just expect it.
Jamie Madrox - Absolutely, you had to work for it.
CrypticRock.com - As far as music in general, a lot of things now seem to be disposable regardless of quality because there is this level of instant gratification and not many people sink their teeth into something as they used to.
Jamie Madrox - That is because we have seen, as people, how quickly something is here today and gone tomorrow. People are a little stand-offish when it comes to really standing behind something. They want to stand behind a product or music they know will be here. Nothing sucks more than falling in love with something and it being taken away. I love the McRib and every time I fall in love with it, they take it away! It is one of those things, people want to believe something is going to be around. We have seen so many times, artists come and go with the trends and fashions.
Crypticrock.com - That is a testament to the longevity of Twiztid. Withstanding almost two decades is really amazing. What are some of your musical influences?
Jamie Madrox - Of our group, I am more the guy who listens to rock and metal music. I do appreciate hip hop, most of the hip hop and rap I listen to is the older stuff. I do like to check out some of the new artists. A lot of my influences are Kiss and Mötley Crüe. I love the idea of growing up seeing something and being intrigued by it. Thinking wow look at these guys, they are bigger than life, they are cool looking, and they sound awesome. It is captivating, I like something that can draw me in and tell me there is a whole world of imagination and awesomeness waiting for you. I think that is something that was a really big influence for me.
CrypticRock.com - The theatricals and imagination behind music is great. It is clear you are influenced by horror films. CrypticRock.com covers music and horror films. What are some of your favorite horror films?
Jamie Madrox - Oh shit, I am a kid of the 1980′s and there is a lot of weird shit I like. Off the top of my head I like Creepshow. I love George Romero and Stephen King. I love John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) and Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007), but I grew up on Carpenter’s Halloween I and II. Night of the Demons (1988), that movie is just fucking awesome to me, there is just something about it. Part II and III kind of fell by the waist side but Part I, I can just put that on and it is still as good today to me as the first time I saw it. Last but not least, Friday The 13th, there are a few of them throughout the series. They have their ups and downs, they start getting good around Friday the 13th Part III (1982). It is the first time Jason gets his hockey mask and that is always a cool thing.
CrypticRock.com - You mentioned some great horror. Night of The Demons is such a great film. It has such a dark gritty atmosphere to it. It was one of those horror films that only a few niche people knew about it and it probably should have been more popular than what it was.
Jamie Madrox - You know what is kind of neat and crazy at the same time, that kind of describes Twiztid. One of those things that a select few people know about it; like that movie and not enough people appreciate it. It is because we love it and we feel more people should appreciate it. That is how a lot of people feel about Twiztid.
CrypticRock.com - That is a good comparison for sure. Now fast forward to modern horror films. What is your opinion of all the remakes and CGI?
Jamie Madrox - I think the CGI, I have to admit, to a director it is cool because now they can really tell the story and show what they really wanted to show. I still respect the golden age of horror where they literally had to do it themselves. They had to figure it out and be mathematical in the respect if someone had to bust through a window they really had to have someone bust through a window. They really had to do stunts, all the respect to that. I think it is really cool with CGI because they can do some really awesome shit now. That has to be a godsend to movies, even George Lucas went back with Star Wars (1977) and did things he wanted to do but he could not do it originally.
CrypticRock.com - That is a very good point. It seems that we are in a time where the CGI is better and being used a little more tastefully then the early 2000′s. There were times where it looked absolutely absurd in movies, but it is getting used much better now.
Jamie Madrox - You are right. There was a time where people were new to it, abused it, and went overboard with it. They are more refined with it now; only using it when it needed to be. With remakes, I think it is cool. In my opinion, what it is doing is giving a franchise a new breath of life. It took my brother to explain this to me because I am purist when it comes to stuff like that. He told me you do not understand, this movie is now dated, for a new generation coming up they cannot relate to the fashions or technology for example. If you watch Bates Motel now, Norman Bates has earbuds and he is listening to an iPod. If you watch Psycho 1-4 it is timely, he is watching television and radio and there is no iPod. It is a refresh and breath of fresh air giving it more longevity to the future.