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Squirrel / JBJ - guitarist / drummer, Crazy Town
June 29, 2001 - Ozzfest V - Shoreline Amphitheater - Mt View, CA

Crazy Town are a band that have been making the rounds with tunes like "Toxic" as well as a great cover of the Alkaholiks' "Only When I'm Drunk." More recently they scored huge with the more pop-melodious "Butterfly," which is a great song in its own right, but also may have caused a bit of backlash from the harder core fans. Crazy Town appeared at Ozzfest V, and were even put on the main stage, where they put on a great performance. After the show, we got to visit with two of the members - guitarist Craig "Squirrel" Tyler, and drummer James "JBJ" Bradley, Jr. - to talk about the band, their past and future.

K2K: Welcome! We are talking with....
S: Squirrel! Craig Tyler! Crazy Town guitar player. What's up!

K2K: How long have you been with the band now?
S: Well... it's a weird story. I was in a band called 16 Volt. We were getting sued by our old manager. So I was in hell, and I was working with Orgy on "Candy Ass". Jay asked me if I want to come produce some Crazy Town songs. So Jay and I ended up doing "Only When I'm Drunk," "XXX 2000," and "Black Cloud." That's where I met all these guys. We hit it off from that point on and ended up working together from that point on.

K2K: I love 16 Volt. That was one of my favorite bands.
S: That was one of my favorite bands too.

K2K: So what happened?
S: You know... it's the good and band of the industry. We made that record "SuperCoolNothing" and really thought that was our shot. We made the best record we possibly could. I'm still extremely proud of that record. Shortly there after, Slipdisc - that was the indie that we were going to be in Mercury through - went bankrupt, so we no tour support. We were looking for a new label and switching management. Our old manager sued us, or threatened to at the time. We were pretty happening, but nobody could do anything with us. So I was just sitting at home, we couldn't do anything and had this great record, and I went out and did sound for Orgy. We were supposed to play a bunch of shows...

K2K: Were you in Orgy?
S: No, I'm like a sixth member of Orgy. I started doing sound for them after [the] Family Values [tour]. We made that whole thing happen.

K2K: Is 16 Volt going to get back together?
S: 16 Volt is back together. There are a lot of tracks that Mike, John, and I were working on... Eric too. After years and years... for whatever reason, I'm fortunate enough not to be jaded by the process. I've been in bands who have been screwed. I was in Chemlab before I was in 16 Volt. You know what I mean? I was still... if I could make a living playing music, that was all I to do. It was really rough on Eric and he had to reevaluate what he wanted to do. But, after taking time off, he kind of got back to "fuck it. Make music and see what happens." You should hear the new 16 Volt material. I've been trying to get somebody to re-release "SuperCoolNothing" with some new tracks, and there's a lot of new tracks, so we'll see what happens.

K2K: I'm looking forward to that.
S: So am I.

K2K: Are you an actual member of Crazy Town?
S: I am not a "hired guy". Part of my involvement with this is pretty much like when we decided that 16 Volt was done, we've lost the plot and it had been so beaten down... Two days later I ended up going in to produce Crazy Town with Jay, and they were looking at working with me from that point on. I wouldn't do a "hired guy" where... I had to choose do I want to produce or do I want to play. Everyone said, "You can produce records when you're 40 and you can still produce records now. Go play." It was pretty cool to see that everything I had done over the years, when I officially joined Crazy Town - and not just someone helping them get their shit together - it really changed the whole perspective of the way people thought about Crazy Town. It just kind of built. I had done all this cool underground shit, and you think maybe it's just me and all my friends who know about all of this. But people knew and it was cool and it changed all of it.

(We are then joined by Crazy Town's drummer)
K2K: And this is...
S: JBJ, the drummer.
JBJ: What's up!

K2K: Who are the original members in the band now?
S: The band was started by Epic and Shifty about nine or ten years ago. Epic was the producer and he was producing stuff like the Black Eyed Peas, MC Lyte, and all. The Black Eyed Peas actually introduced Jeff and Epic to each other because the Black Eyed Peas knew Shifty and said, "Epic, you really need this kid." On the outskirts, they were doing partying and running around and being crazy kids. They started to do some stuff and when everything went to shit, they decided "Hey, what are we doing? We should really make this Crazy Town thing a priority." This was long before the album was released. It was when they wanted to make Crazy Town a priority is when they started to... JBJ was with Epic and JBJ is one of the greatest drummers of all time.

K2K: You are a monster drummer.
S: His resume dwarfs all of ours. So Epic said, "Come check this out and see if you want to be down. Just come and jam with us." He caught the vibe and to be part of the band. It was started by Epic and Seth, but the six members of Crazy Town are like equal partners.

K2K: So the band is from Los Angeles?
S: Yeah, everyone's basically from L.A. except for me.

K2K: What's the story about... You guys released the record, had a song start to take off... then nothing for a long time. Now you have "Butterfly".
S: We were on tour the whole time. We were hammering tours in Europe and hammering tours in the States. If we would have just come out with "Butterfly" first, we would have just been the "Butterfly" band. People wouldn't have understood how punk this band is and the roots that this band has in really true Hip Hop and underground music. It was intentional. We wanted it to take a long time. We made sure that Columbia was going to do all of its development and try to build a career instead of just a hit single. It's not about "Butterfly", it's about the album "Gift Of Game."

K2K: I don't care as much about "Butterfly", I like the whole album.
S: I think "Butterfly" is a great song. I feel the same way, I don't have a favorite song on the record.

K2K: Where did everyone's nicknames come from?
S: They're all nicknames given to us by other people. It's like Epic used to DJ and all these Hip Hop people would be, "You're epic, dude. You are the epic." It was like, "Who is this white kid with all these skills?" That's where he got his nickname. Trouble? Trouble is trouble. Trouble likes troubled girls. I'm the Squirrel because I always plan ahead. I've been on the road for eleven years. I know that minor things...

K2K: I would have thought it's because you collect nuts or something. (laughs)
S: My nuts are the things I need. I need cigarettes, I need Diet Coke, I need peanut butter. If I had these items...

K2K: Do you horde?
S: I don't horde, but I don't run out. I don't like to borrow from other people. So all of our nicknames came from other people. Shifty Shellshock? He's the shiftiest guy I know.

K2K: The first song was "Toxic"?
S: The first single was "Toxic." We are now resurfacing to radio because in fact of "Butterfly", "Toxic" can get a better shot. That's why we're on the OzzFest. In Europe it's been really well handled. They don't think that we're the "Butterfly band". They've seen on MTV Europe, shows of us playing... shows. The cool thing about "Butterfly", why it did as well as it did is that no one was trying to write a pop song. We were just trying to write a Crazy Town song, something like any other song on the record, that everybody feels and cares about. The realness of it... You know, there's not a lot of "realness" in pop music. There's a lot of very contrived, two-dimensional bullshit and here we are... here comes "Butterfly" hanging to the general, non-avid music listener. They people who only get their music through MTV. The real "middle of the radio dial" people. It just goes to show that real music has a real value and that people will gravitate towards it if they have the option. Think about a 14-year-old girl who buys the record because of "Butterfly" and has N'Sync, Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, and a bunch of other stuff in her record collection. She buys the "Gift Of Game" and she's turned on to something that was something to us, that's nothing like anything else... and hopefully she'll pick out the real music and not some two-dimensional bullshit.

K2K: What is the song about?
S: "Butterfly" is about a girl that Seth met when he was in a really dark time in his life. She's the girl who's in the video. She say through all the drama and bullshit that was going on and saw who Seth was, a really sweet, kind of nice dude. She decided, "I'm going to make him my man. He's the one." Her belief in him gave him the element to become who he is. So it's a gift to her.

K2K: What is "Toxic" about?
S: It's just kind of a serving of who Crazy Town is. We're just a bunch of punk kids who have been making music forever. Nobody tells us what to do. I have all the freedom I have had on any independent record deal that I have ever had. That's the "Gift Of Game" is convincing them that what YOU really want to do is what THEY really want to do.

K2K: "Only When I'm Drunk" is inspired by...
S: There's a band called the Alcoholiks who are really good friends of ours. We did a cover of their song. We played here last April with Tommy Lee at the Fillmore. They came up on stage to play that song with us.

K2K: On the song "Dark Side", are you using a vocoder?
S: Yeah.

K2K: That song has a real Alan Parsons Project sound to it.
S: The whole thing about "Dark Side"... if I could really say that any song on the record defines Crazy Town, it's probably "Dark Side". It's got a realness to old school Hip Hop. Yeah, we've been listening to music and making music for a long time. Now listen to what we've done with it. What you are hearing with us, and what's special about Crazy Town... or any band... is what you are hearing is everything we've grown up on - which is such diverse influences given the age of this generation. We're big fans of Hip Hop. We love punk rock. We love New Wave. These are records that we have.

K2K: Rapcore and Rap Metal. Trend or here to stay?
S: It all goes on good songs. If you write a good song in any style of music.

K2K: But people do jump on bandwagons.
S: There are going to be even more Crazy Town bands coming up now that the label sees how good we did. And that could be a good thing if they believe in people who have talent and let them do what they do. But for us, there's always something that transcends a trend and becomes the band that doesn't just have a couple of hit songs, but becomes a band that you hear about and know and are real about. We want to be a band that has a career like the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

K2K: Epic Mazur... is he related to anyone to Mazur PR?
S: No. His father, Irwin Mazur, is the person who discovered Billy Joel and put a lot of his own money behind believing in Billy Joel when the labels had Elton John and had Paul Simon. They said, "Look, we have singer/songwriters already." That was his dad.

K2K: Who went to high school with Ice Cube?
S: Epic. Epic went to high school with Ice Cube, Divine Styler, and House Of Pain. Divine Styler is a much bigger influence on all of those bands than he gets credit for. He was the one who was ahead of the game when they were all trying to figure it out. Everyone else blew up but Divine Styler.

K2K: What were your early influences?
S: I've always loved Hip Hop music. Every bit of music I've ever made has been rooted in Hip Hop tempos and I love Hip Hop beats. I just always wanted to.... this is the crossover that I had been looking to do. The next fusion for the ten years. I love punk rock. I love bands like Love & Rockets, the Buzzcocks, Minor Threat... but at the same time my favorite record of all time is Public Enemy's "It Takes A Nation." That was a heavy record that had no guitars. For me, as a guitar player and a programmer, I was like, "Whoa! How could you cross these two things over. That would be the heaviest ever." Then the "Judgment Night" soundtrack came out and I thought, "Oh, here it goes." That's been forever to cross these things over. I always thought Hip Hop music was heavy - especially coming from New York. Three o'clock in the morning, walking around in Brooklyn with you and your boys. Define that with what I was doing with guitar is all I ever wanted to do.

(Then taking a moment to talk with JBJ)
K2K: And your influences?
JBJ: My roots are basically in jazz. Miles and "Soultrane". In the 1960s at that time, I was listening to the Beatles, early Beatles and late 60s Beatles. Jimi Hendrix and on and on. I played on one of the biggest selling instrumental singles of the late 1970s - "Feels So Good" with Chuck Mangione, so I'm a party of history too. The second time around I was in Mary's Danish and I've played with the Beastie Boys also so...

K2K: So you're a regular hero then.
JBJ: Well, I'm the senior member of Crazy Town. I'm also a fan of Hip Hop. Public Enemy's "It Takes A Nation" and "Millions Hold Us Back", when I first that... I started listening to it in 1988. I remember in the early 80s when it started. It didn't catch on the first time. Then it started catching on and it's come into what we're doing now. It's amazing.

K2K: So... you guys are getting older here as we're talking... (laughs)
JBJ: We both just started really young but we feel older than our years. At the same time, we feel younger because we've just been rockin' shows forever.

K2K: I remember when I played at a Catholic all-girl high school in my earlier 30s. Some guy commented that "that old dude shouldn't be playing punk rock." It's cool that you guys are older but able to still hit everyone from the young kids all the way up.
S: We have the most eclectic audience. It's not just... I mean, now with "Butterfly" we have a bunch of younger fans. They know the words to every song. But we have 32-year-old fathers and 25-year-old kids who have had hard times, who can relate to what we've gone through. Our audience is Hip Hop kids, rock kids, punk kids... that's the coolest thing.

K2K: Any jazz kids?
JBJ: If they're a friend of mine, they are. (laughs)

K2K: I don't think there are any jazz "kids". I think you have to grow up into it.
S: Yeah.

K2K: You mentioned "Soultrane". I myself love punk rock and free-form jazz. To me, John Coltrane was a bit punk for his day and style.
JBJ: He was doing stuff on the sax then... that Jimi Hendrix would be listening to him. That's where he got influences for his solos. Him and John McLaughlin.
S: Like Thelonius Monk was a punk. All that stuff... The people who were so ahead of the curve and the people who really blew up and looked at, people would be, "That's where it's at. I can't even fathom what he's doing."

K2K: So I was talking to John Tesh... Mr. New Age. Everyone gives him so much crap. Here's a guy who tossed away a million dollar per year career to do what he loved, his own music. That to me is punk.
S: Right. That's a punk move.

K2K: He did the opposite of selling out, he left the money to do what he wanted to do.
S: That's the funny thing. I made this joke about three years ago. I'm doing the same thing and saying the same thing that I've ever said in my entire life, but now people think I know what I'm talking about. It's really the truth. Nothing has changed with us.

K2K: What current bands do you like?
S: Fuse. They broke up. They were from Sweden. They broke up. They were really a brilliant band. Go get the record "The Shape Of Punk To Come". That record was brilliant. If you ask any of us what we like, most of us will have different answers. I love what Radiohead is doing because they are getting away with doing something that is totally self-indulgent and no one tells them what to do.

K2K: It's almost like a new Pink Floyd.
S: In a way it is. That's so cool that they can sell millions of records and do what they want to do.

K2K: Knowing that you all have such diverse backgrounds, it screws up my next question of 'What would someone be surprised to know that you listen to?".
S: New Wave.
JBJ: In my collection, nothing really right now. I listen to the standards. I have this old Galaxy 500 with only an AM radio and a mono speaker. That was what it came with. When all we do is work in the studio and listen to loud music all the time... for me to get in my car and listen to a standards station and have it be in mono... listening to Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett and Tommy Dorsey... I love that shit. Every single part of those songs is a hook. That's what it is.

K2K: In 70s rock, there were a lot of hooks and changes. Songs were actually written and constructed. Now you can put any two chords and beats together and it's called a song. But you don't see anyone crafting. Do you think that will ever come back?
S: It'll come back when something pops up. There wasn't an opportunity to make it. If someone believes that that would transcend something then they'll put it in that position and the public will decide if it's up or down. That's really what it's all about. What is "pop" is a very relative statement. In one hand something is pop and the general public has a chance to hear... what is "pop"-ular. It doesn't mean "verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, verse". That just happens to be what it is in a lot of ways now because that's what the labels are giving you the opportunity to hear now. Who knows.

K2K: Do you think that the current generation has too much of a lacking attention span?
S: I would say that best description of the current generation is the ADD Generation. Everybody has Attention Deficit Disorder... except this motherfuck and me.

K2K: I think it's due to calling every personality quirk a disease.
S: Do you know what that's all about? It's about instead of the government legalizing drugs, they have empowered the pharmaceutical companies to be the new Black Market of our times. They did it on their terms.

K2K: They didn't legalize drugs, but they "legalized drugs."
S: That's exactly what happened. I have an ex-girlfriend who is a genius. She is so great. She went through some therapy, had a tough childhood or whatever. She's on so many fucking pills right now. She's on Xanax or whatever... she gets tired, so they give her Ritalin. I told her, "Look. I don't know who you are anymore, but you need to get off of the shit." All it is is the new drug addict.

K2K: It seems like the catchiest phrase of the day is "What may I prescribe for you today?".
S: It absolutely is. What did people do a hundred years ago? They figured it out.

K2K: How did you get on the OzzFest?
S: We're very fortunate to get a lot of love from the Ozz family. We're very close to Jack and Kelly Osbourne who are two of the kids of Sharon and Ozzy. Sharon has love for us too. She believes in our band. We were on OzzFest last year for a short period of time. We had a real blowout. We had to go home and reevaluate our priorities and what we were all about, what we wanted to do. Sharon was kind enough to not only invite us back, but to put us on the main stage. We get love from this family.

K2K: Favorite place that you've ever played?
S: Favorite place I've played, in Crazy Town, was in Berlin. What I think is the best show we have ever had. It was this year. We played a show there for MTV Europe. There were 32 cameras. We played in the round on a hollow stage. 3,000 kids who were as excited to be there as we were. It was the most amazing rush I have ever had. That was the most amazing Crazy Town show. My favorite town in the States to play in general. I love Detroit. I love New York, it's my hometown. It means a lot and that's where I come from, but Detroit for me is right on.
JBJ: As a Crazy Town show, I'd have to agree with him about Berlin. It was the most amazing thing of us captured live to date. We got some kids loving us there now. My favorite show was in 1978 when I played the Ottowa Bowl with Chuck Mangione. It was 70-piece, was recorded live on record. That was my favorite ever.

K2K: I am getting a feel for your ages now.
(everyone laughs)
S: I was in Detroit at the State Theater in the band called Chemlab. We were opening for White Zombie. It was around 1993 and I'm a kid. This was all I've ever wanted to do. Here I am at the sold-out State Theater. We played our show... rush! Everyone loves it. White Zombie comes on. I'm walking through the crowd thinking, "Oh my God. I made it. I'm doing it. This is what I said I wanted to do. I'm doing it."

K2K: At least you aren't hitting any real down time. You keep going and going.
S: No. I don't "stay there". That's what I meant before by "not being jaded by the process." We are not bitter. We have nothing to be bitter about. I just played a show to 25,000 people. It's all I've ever wanted to do. You get what you wish for. I got what I asked for. I'm very happy about it.

K2K: Are you guys pranksters?
S: Yeah, that's all we were. Shifty was a nasty prankster. We used to play a game called Kadaka. If you have any loose strings coming off of your shorts or pants... we would light them on fire. We used to do that a lot.

K2K: I had that done to my armpit hair.
S: Armpit Kadaka!

K2K: Do you have any wild stories from the road?
JBJ: We got a lot.....
S: We had a slew of girls following us... started in Burmingham, Alabama. No, it started in Charleston, South Carolina.
JBJ: (begins laughing)
S: We could not believe it. It was kind of cool for a couple of days, but for a week... Here we showed up in Myrtle Beach and we've been on the road for five days. Knock, knock. We would try to figure out how to lose them all.

K2K: I am picturing the Cinderella video with the clock dress girls.
JBJ: (laughs)

K2K: Craziest thing a fan has ever done?
S: It's kind of not the right answer to this question, but the craziest thing to me is... How do people know when our plane is landing somewhere? It is bizarre. We show up at a hotel in God knows where. True core fans are there with Crazy Town memorabilia and shit. How the fuck do these people know we were here? The craziest thing a fan has ever done, I don't know if it's crazy, but a fan figure out what hotel we're in and they just come knock on the door. We're at the door and there's people there whom you have never met before in your life.

K2K: Are they naked?
S: They would like to be. And if they're cute, sometimes they end up that way.

K2K: What direction is Crazy Town going in next?
S: I would say that we would push all the parameters further. Make the Hip Hop stuff more Hip Hop. Make the heavy stuff more heavy. Combine the two. It's always going to be Crazy Town.
JBJ: Going back to our time coming up. This album was written the way it was done in the late 1970s. I grew up with A&M, so I know how a record should be written. You stuck with the band. You stuck with it. That's what Columbia did with us. That's a message to the rest of the industry to pick up on the same.

K2K: I mentioned Artist Development to Mercury and was laughed at for the notion of it existing.
S: But on the back page of Billboard magazine, there was an ad about a month ago of Crazy Town. It said, "A zero to a million in 366 days." It described... I think in a lot of ways it was a call out to all the other labels that said, "Artist development still works, motherfuckers... and you wish you had this band on your label and this is how we did it."

K2K: How many videos do you have out?
S: We have three videos out and a live video from Berlin that you could probably find somewhere.

K2K: Will you be releasing that?
S: Yes.

K2K: Future plans?
S: The minute that we get off of this tour, we are making a new record. We have a studio on the bus. That's all we've been working on since January [2001] even though we've been away for a long time. We should have a new single by the end of this year and a new album by next year.

K2K: Don't wait two years next time.
JBJ: Oh, we won't.
S: It's the ADD Generation. They'll forget who we are.

Written by Philip Anderson / In person photos by Philip Anderson and Perlito Godoy

Philip Anderson is a musician, in addition to being a writer/photographer. He has performed as a guitarist/vocalist, as well as songwriter, in several bands over the past 20 years. As a writer and photographer, he has been published by several magazines and in several books, and had his works appear on television.

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