April 8, 1999. There I was with Da White Bitch at Tramps to see Vanilla Ice -- one of the biggest pop culture icons of our time -- rock the house in support of his new album Hard to Swallow (see review in Backwash #12). And we were set to interview the man himself. After running some errands with our friend Brett who arranged things (we had to pick up flour and a hair dryer for Ice, he had some secret plans) we boarded the tour bus and sat down for a friendly conversation.
Do you get the same questions in these interviews?
All the time.
Does it get annoying?
No. I understand because it's basically what everybody wants to know.
How have you enjoyed touring so far?
Love it. I had no idea what to expect with the new sound and everything. And to see so many come out and embrace it, it's just a blessing.
All the fans are responsive?
Totally. It's like this underground, body-piercing, tattoo-type crowd. It's really great. It's more of an authentic crowd. It's more of a crowd that's gonna be there tomorrow instead of show up today and next year they see someone else.
How's it been touring and being away from your 18-month-old daughter?
Hard. Real hard. I miss her to death. That's the worst thing about being out here. She's back in Dallas? No I live in Miami. Twelve years. I'm from Dallas. I've lived in Miami 12 years.
Does she watch Teletubbies?
Occasionally. She's goes more crazy on Barney. Do you go crazy on Barney? Me? I go crazy all right.
What kind of music do you listen to today?
Pantera, Slayer, Rammstein.
How'd you set about writing songs for the new album?
Well I just got together with Ross [producer Ross Robinson] and we had really no idea what to expect, what we were going to come up with, how the album was going to turn out or any of that. We went up to Indigo Ranch where Korn, Limp Bizkit, Sepultura, and Deftones all did their records. Basically we stayed up there for a month and a half and did the record. We just really got to really know each other really deep. Ross is a rare breed, he's got a huge heart, very spiritual, just a real person. A lot of people I meet these days wear these masks, they're fake fucks you know, just whatever-type people. This guy is real. In the short amount of time I knew him I felt real comfortable around him so I opened up to him about things you wouldn't talk about with everyday people. When I started writing lyrics a lot of it contained a lot of anger, anxiety, a lot of aggressions, stress, family problems. That's the real side of me, that's the shit I remember that stained my brain that's been trapped in me. In the past few years I haven't had too many happy moments to be honest with you. Once he saw the direction I was going with that he matched the intensity that I was delivering and that's how come the record came out dark. We didn't have that intention, but that's what happened.
What about the decision to remake Ice Ice Baby?
I did that because I wanted to let people know that I'm facing my adversity and the same reason I kept the name, you know I'm not running from anything. Everything in my past is just that Ñ in the past. I look at it like your grandmother pulls out old pictures of you you're embarrassed about and you're like "Grandma put those pictures up!" Well I kinda look at my old stuff like that. Now I'm stronger and look at it as entertainment and what a huge impact whether positive or negative I had, but during the time the negative stuff was just killing me. I mean it almost killed me, I mean I tried to commit suicide in '94, heavily on drugs, having to escape reality, life sucked. A lot of people thought I was living this famous life, huge ego, but it really wasn't the case. I wouldn't wish my life on anybody. I've never to this day enjoyed any of my success. I would've turned around and gave it all back if I would've seen the consequences of it all. It's amazing because in 1990 I had two record deals on the table. Before those two records came about I was on Ichibon Records and I played for an all-black audience. I was opening for Ice-T, Stetsasonic, Public Enemy, EPMD, and in '90 I had the two deals, one for Def Jam for $30,000. Hank Shockley was going to produce my album, Public Enemy was going to appear on my record. And I had another deal with SBK to cross my hip hop record to the pop market for $1.5 million. So I took the money. I was 19 years old, three car payments behind on my 5.0, living in an apartment with 3 other guys, couldn't even pay my share of the rent. It was like winning the lottery over night. I didn't see the consequences. The consequences being turned into a novelty act. Something I was very uncomfortable with. Something I didn't want to be. Didn't know it was going to happen. And it was too late once it hit to turn anything around. So I had to ride it out and roll with the punches. And that's what led to tons of criticism. Now you have these groups like 'N Sync, Backstreet Boys Ñ they're designed to be a novelty act. When I started out I was not designed to be that way. When you listen to my record, you could tell it was a hip hop record. It was not a pop record. The image is what crossed it over and made the music acceptable. Maybe because I'm white or whatever. But it happened. The music was always real. The record company completely treated me as a puppet with the image, but the music I had control of, except a few songs like I Love You and those extra songs they had to fill in for that album. But other than that, Ice Ice Baby, Play That Funky Music, Fantasy, and all that shit, that was real. But the image just got so fuckin' played out. I mean, just beyond what I could see when I signed. So I went through the drugs, '94 tried to kill myself Ñ and in '94 I had millions of dollars in the bank, but here I am on the floor and my friends are dumping buckets of cold water on me and I'm puking blood, I really wanted out. I would've gave everything back to go back to that one moment when I signed and gone with Def Jam because I really believe that would've given me more credibility. I wouldn't have been some pop-fuckin'- novelty teenie-bopper act. You gotta understand, I'm sitting here lying in front of the camera, "You should stay in school" because I'm a role model Ñ I'm a fuckin' dropout! How can I sit there and tell kids to stay in school? "And you should always do the right thing!" And I fuckin' sold drugs, I'm a piece of shit, I was in jail. What the fuck do you want me to be? So I never felt like any kind of role model. So here I am acting. Everything to this point has been an act. It's all fabricated. It's all been staged, from the clothes to everything. They're pulling the strings and I'm going along with it. And I was getting paid tremendously. And I guess that's the one positive thing that came out of all of this, I'm not one of these artists who blew all their money, I saved a lot of it. So here I am in '94 with millions of dollars in the bank trying to die.
How'd you turn things around after '94?
Well, I eliminated the whole crowd I was running with, like all my friends I grew up with. It was hard 'cause all of a sudden I was alone on the planet, no friends, nuthin'. I had to go to my shrink, got on some anti-depressants, which helped me out. Through time, and some help with my A.D.D, I'm focused now, I don't say shit without knowing the consequence. I know what I'm saying, I can clearly be myself instead of getting on the American Music Awards and telling people to kiss my white ass Ñ which was a huge mistake. Young and dumb. With the energy that you spit on me, I'll spit on you twice. I was furious, very bad temper, anger. It was me. Now I'm a complete different person knowing who I am and how to deal with it. Thank God for today's shrinks and medicine. Einstein had it, and they look at it like that's what fueled me, instead of sitting the couch waiting for things to happen for me, I went out and got it. They say that's where the A.D.D helped me. But I look at it like it's been a disease and it's fuckin' hurt me my whole life. But I've learned to deal with it and I feel much better today. And I've totally been blessed not just musically, but my family, my baby. It's like the best thing that's ever happened to me. So now I focus on them and I know what my life's all about.
When did you first start dancing?
I started break dancing around 14, 15. I had too many motorcross wrecks, I can't break dance no more. My knees are shot.
When you got together with the Bloodhound Gang, was that when you first thought about making a comeback?
I didn't know who they were or anything. Then Monte, a friend of mine, calls me up and says, "I got this band. I want to see if you want to do something with them." And I was like, what have I got to lose? What the fuck. So I did it, and we got a great response from it.
You were born on Halloween. Is that your favorite holiday?
No. I mean, I guess it is because it's my birthday. But I've got good moments and bad moments because of it. Halloween is Hallow's Eve as well, which is a satanic holiday. I had this one girl show up at Wembley Arena completely nude with this trench coat on and flashing me her stuff. And she followed the whole tour around England, she came to America, followed the tour there. Did the same thing there. Very beautiful. Came all the way to Japan with us. On the flight to Japan she starts screaming freaking everybody out. Everybody thinks the plane's gonna crash. She's on the floor, I turn around, she's looking me right in my eyes, and she goes, "I must have you you're my destiny! Aaaaah!" She's screaming and crying. I just turned around and think God that's weird. Get off the plane, she gets arrested, I go to my hotel. First night in the hotel, knock, knock, knock on the door, look out, no one's there. Two satanic bibles were slid under my door with a message written to me. Next night all the lights outside in the hallway were smashed, slid another one under the door. Still didn't know what was up. This time the security stays at the elevator. Didn't know who it was at this point, what was going on or anything. It was really weird. Same thing, she comes up the fire escape (we didn't know it was her at this point, but it was her) she knocks on the door, slides the thing under the door, she runs away, notices the security guards are there, she went into this complete different character, just "You are my destiny!" It was some voice that no girl can make. She was possessed by the devil. It was very serious, and very scary. People laugh about it but it was no laughing matter. I had nightmares for three years, had to get counseling over it. I've never witnessed anything like this in my life. One night I woke up choking my girlfriend 'cause I thought it was her. Another night I woke up with bloody knuckles. I hit my bedpost freaking out thinking she was coming to get me. And I found out that she would snap out of it and start crying and tears were coming out of her and she would start gushing and she was like, "I'm sorry I don't want to be this it's not me and then I can't help it I have no aaarrghh YOU ARE MY DESTINY I MUST HAVE YOU!" She was looking right in my eyes man. And it was so scary I ran back to my room and shit. They arrested her. They took her down for vandalizing the hotel and everything. They found out her whole story. Her parents were satanic. Her grandparents were satanic. So it passed down from generation to generation. She was from Ireland or something and they had put her on a mission to convert me to Satanism because my birthday was Halloween. So that's why I have mixed emotions about that being my favorite holiday.
So do you make pumpkin pie birthday cake?
Do you believe in aliens?
Yes I do. I believe we are aliens. I've taken a lot of slack for that.
Why are we aliens?
Why? Because of the facts. Forget the rumors, forget everything you've heard, forget what the bible says, look at the facts. Listen to this Ñ fact #1, simple as a pimple, millions of years ago dinosaurs roamed this planet. Neanderthal man was the first human bone found. Not one human bone fragment found anywhere in the entire dinosaur period all the way up until they're extinct. We did not exist in there. We were not even on this planet. The first human bone fragment was found after the Ice Age Ñ which was when the meteorites hit the planet. One meteorite's out in Arizona, it's huge, 20 miles wide. It's a tourist attraction. There's one out in Ireland out in the coast. Five meteorites hit this planet at the same time which the caused the extinction of the dinosaurs which caused the cloud of dust around the planet for over a hundred years which caused the Ice Age 'cause there was no sun. Then you have the first human bone fragment found in a glacier. That's it. Where did we come from? Simple as a pimple. That's a fact. It's not fiction. It's not a rumor. It's not a theory. It's a fact. We were just not here. And I believe if you look at how far we came in a 100 years. 100 years ago we didn't have cars, 50 years ago we didn't even have television. Imagine if we came from a planet that was right now 4 million years from right now. If we took us, where we are at right now, and we were still existing 4 millions years from now what we would be able to accomplish. We're already traveling to the moon. Mars will be nuthin'. We'll be going to moons for lunch. Space stations traveling at the speed of light. Four million years?!?
Do you think alien sightings now are people from the future who time travel backwards?
I don't know about all that. That's a little too deep for me. All I do is kinda study the facts. Another fact is that you got the huge hieroglyphics that were written in fields in Egypt back about the same time man was first put here. They were huge, miles wide, and they were communicating to someone above. Well there was no helicopters, air balloons. I'm talkin' about things like Stonehenge. The minerals and stuff in Stonehenge stones did not even come from that area. So not only can they not figure out how they stood them up, but how they got from the other side of the world to this one spot. They can't figure it out. I'm talkin' about shit that happened thousands of years ago. They were communicating with someone above. I'm really fascinated with it. I'm totally into it. I've really studied a lot of that stuff. Hieroglyphics will tell you that they had the sun god, the one who taught people to be civilized, which a lot of people call Lucifer because he took slaves and built cities. And that's what you have today. I believe there is a heaven, there is a god, there is a hell, there is a Christ. But I believe God can be an alien too. It's only a label. And God, alien, Buddha, whatever. The Higher Power. Someone that created us. We didn't come from a grain of sand. The theory of evolution was completely abolished when they found out that we have DNA. You can't take sperm from a man and put it in a female ape and impregnate it. It doesn't work 'cause we all have our own codes. We were invented.
Can you imagine if it did work?
Sasquatch! When DNA was found, that completely ruined that evolution theory. That's why it hasn't been proven because it doesn't exist, it's just a theory. But I'm not trying to make anyone believe my story, it's just mass confusion out there. Make up your own opinion about your own thing. I'm just telling you about what I study and my facts. ¥
At this point, Vanilla had to get ready for the big show. He could've gone on and on and on some more but then he would've been late getting on stage and that would not have made the folks waiting inside too happy. And no one wants a bunch of unhappy moshers. Unhappy moshers lead to ruthless shoving and punching and stomping and head injury and paralysis and law suits and torn suits but you should never wear a suit to a Vanilla Ice concert anyway.