QRO Mag hitched a ride with Brooklyn Hip-Hop/Punk-Pop outfit gONNA gET gOT (http://www.myspace.com/gonnagetgot) to the Philadelphia Expo Center in PA on Saturday, September 12th for the newly named Game Core Convention (http://www.gamecorecon.com/). As part of a day filled with vendors, tournaments, panels, card games, and, of course, video games from nearly every system and genre, gONNA gET gOT were asked to play a set at Game Core’s Sound Bytes Live amongst other artists like MC Lars and YTCracker.
gONNA gET gOT is known for their schizo, multi-genre sound – for crafting twisted rhymes and catchy choruses, pairing high-energy rock/punk sensibilities with a quirky mash-up of hip hop, new wave, and electronic beats. GGG tracks can be super high speed or slow tempo, kicked up or stripped down with honest, often anecdotal lyrics that range from confessional to humorous to raunchy and purely fun. Their most recent incarnation is a three piece comprised of rapper Trip G a.k.a. Triple Jeezy on vocals, rhymes, and guitar, nEPo (G’s former bandmate in The O (http://www.myspace.com/the0beeyatch) currently filling in on bass, and Ry ‘Tha Pillager’ Pilla on drums and beats.
On the ride back home to Brooklyn, Ry took the wheel, nEPo sat shotgun, and G got comfy in the back to talk with QRO about GGG’s origins as The O, their early fame in the U.K., their deal with Mindless Self Indulgence’s record label, their extremely diverse musical tastes (the soundtrack in the car ride alone bounced from Pink Floyd to Mongolian throat singing [?!] to none other than Frankie Valli), and every other trippy, hip hoppy, random thing in between:
QRO: First of all, what songs did you play at Game Core today?
TRIP G: Well, we started with the new intro to our new Mixtapes on Acid Vol. 1, coming soon! We wanted to start with something a little different – you know, we’ve been starting with the same stuff for a long time. And then we segued into some of the old classics: "My Pontiac" from the Bills 4 Skillz Vol. 1 album, then we did some of the old ‘chestnuts’ [G tells QRO this is "kind of an old-school term for beloved tracks!"], "Balls Hit the Bumps", an unreleased track. We played another new one from Mixtapes which is based on the famous Jay-Z "Jigga What" beat, and then there were a lot of [The] O fans there from the early days so we threw in some old O tracks – "Da Burbz" as nEPo calls it…
NEPO: That’s how I talk, yo.
gONNA gET gOT playing "Da Burbz" live @ Game Core Convention in Philadelphia, PA on September 12th, 2009, video by Captain Whiptastic:
TRIP G: (laughs) And then we did some more new stuff from My Microphone, our album from last year, and finished it up with some oldddd ‘chestnuts’, from the first gONNA gET gOT album and the second O album.
QRO: Let’s start from the top – what the hell’s been going on with you guys lately? Mixtapes on Acid, new album, the tour, what’s coming up, what’s going on?
TRIP G: Well, the number one thing is the new album, Mixtapes on Acid Vol. 1. It is a mixtape so it’s not an official gONNA gET gOT release as such – meaning, you know, we’ll be stealing beats from other artists, it’s not completely licensable… But that’s the next thing-
NEPO: Sure you want that all on tape?
RY PILLA: Off the record!
TRIP G: I don’t want ANY of this to get out so far, so… Just kidding. Right now we’re just working on the new album – I mean, it never goes as fast as you’d like, ‘cause it’s a summer album… Summer of ’10!
QRO: (laughs) What kinds of tracks will be on it?
TRIP G: You know,
QRO: Mongolian throat music?
(laughs) [the band was listening to this on the radio on the way to PA]
TRIP G: Mongolian anus flutes… (laughs) When the album’s done we’ll see, but it should be a varied set as usual.
QRO: Awesome. Are you guys planning on playing again sometime soon?
TRIP G: We’re definitely going easy on the live shows because we had a tour planned in January [the Escape the Wintour] but it fell through, so the first thing is to get a new album done, then we’ll go back to hitting hard live, maybe some three, four, five, six month tours…
NEPO: I’ll get back to you on that!
TRIP G: We’re in a good position where about 68% of the band is unemployed so it’s very good for the touring schedules.
QRO: 68%! (laughs) Is there a "Bills 4 Skillz Vol. 2" coming out?
TRIP G: You know, it’s something I’ve toyed with because I have restarted the "Bills 4 Skillz" program…
QRO: Tell us about that, for those of us who are unfamiliar!
TRIP G: For those who don’t know, the "Bills 4 Skillz" (http://bills4skillz.com) program is where gONNA gET gOT fans, or even non-fans (laughs), solicit –
RY PILLA: – give us money!
TRIP G: Yep, you don’t even have to be alive! If you have money or a credit card, you can commission a song from gONNA gET gOT about whatever you want as long as it’s approved, so the first album [Bills 4 Skillz Vol. 1] was a lot of songs from people who paid us to write songs about whatever subject they wanted, and I’ve restarted the program again.
QRO: What year was that?
TRIP G: The original one was like ’06-ish…
RY PILLA: It’s a great stocking stuffer! But for ’10 though, ‘cause it’s going to take about a year, there’s already a backlog…
TRIP G: There’s already three or four that I’m working on, and I know there’s more coming in… There is a rush fee, so if anyone’s interested and you need one quick for your wife or your anniversary, it’s a great present for a girl. I have a lot of people who get a song done for a girl.
QRO: Yeah? That’s awesome. What kinds of things do they ask you to include? Do they send you a picture of the girl?
TRIP G: No, unfortunately, I would much rather sample the girl’s wares – I tell them I need to experience before I write! (laughs)
QRO: Okay, now we have to go back in time to where this crazy mash-up of sound came from, and we can go about it in a number of ways. First, I wanted to ask each of you guys about your musical backgrounds.
TRIP G: Well, I’ve grown up in disparate places – I wasn’t an army brat, but I’ve lived in a lot of places – London, Amsterdam, New Jersey, New York, and I’ve always loved a lot of different styles.
I think it’s partially related to insecurity, though. You know, you’re like, "Wait a minute, the techno crowd doesn’t like me? I gotta get some techno influence! Wait, the death metal crowd doesn’t like me? Gotta add some metal!" It’s a profound insecurity, probably related to some parenting problems I had. So it’s led to that interesting mash of styles…
RY PILLA: And to [The O song] "Anal Thermometer." [the lyrics of the chorus go: "Hey mom, hey mom, hey mom, hey mom, thanks for the anal thermometer" – ‘nuff said]
QRO: (laughs) Okay, who’s next – nEPo?
NEPO: Well, let’s see… I enjoy modern commercial country… No, actually I’d like to murder everyone who’s in that genre. I’m an obsessive Beatles fan, I enjoy a bit of other things…
QRO: (laughs) Where did you start, how did you start playing bass?
NEPO: I actually started playing bass out of necessity because when G and I were beginning our career we needed a bassist, so I figured – I will play the bass! … You’ll have to forgive me, my IQ has been halved by the earliness of this show. Let’s see… I enjoy the Beach Boys, I enjoy sunsets… All sorts of stuff. (laughs)
QRO: Ry, let’s go, how about you?
RY: I started taking drum lessons in like third, fourth, and fifth grade, and then I ‘dropped the sticks’, so to speak, until my early twenties. So yeah, just picked it back up – I’m heavily influenced by a few different genres. I actually learned a lot of my beats from A Tribe Called Quest, things like that. In the early ‘90s, early hip-hop groups came out, like Pharcyde – I was heavily influenced by them. And then the old ‘70s funk/jazz players, James Brown drummers, Bernard Purdie, stuff like that. My sister got me into Pink Floyd, one of the first bands I was really into, and we happened to hear about four of those songs today on the ride [to the convention], so that was cool. And that’s about it – you know, pushin’ forward, pushin’ through.
QRO: Alright, back to you, Mister G…
TRIP G: Finally! (everyone laughs)
QRO: Did hip-hop and rapping become a more important part of your life at some point? When did you start writing your own lyrics and things like that?
gONNA gET gOT’s video for "My Pontiac" from the "Bills 4 Skillz Vol. 1" album:
TRIP G: I think I started real early. I was listening to some of the early LL [Cool J], Beasties [Beastie Boys], Vanilla Ice. Yeah, I started doing it pretty early… (laughter in the background)
NEPO: I don’t think the Vanilla Ice thing will carry as a joke on paper…
QRO: I can put "laughs" in parenthesis!
NEPO: Yes, put "heh, heh, heh." (everyone laughing)
TRIP G: Well, you know… I say it in one of the new songs – I rap, "the first ten years I sucked," and I still think I’m not even where I should be, but I was doing it for a long, long time. I started very young, and I think that’s where some of the mutation of sound comes from. I was always like, "I love the Beatles, I love rap…" But I started getting into it, started doing it. There’s a song on one of The O albums, "White Man at the Ice Cube Show" – we went to some early shows, that was in the early ‘90s probably. Yeah, our parents took us, we were little kids. So yeah, been doing it a long time, loving it a long time. Not one of these fair-weathered MC Hammer fans from the ‘90s who have migrated away!
QRO: So when and how did The O (http://www.myspace.com/the0beeyatch) come together?
TRIP G: Well, I guess the real origins began when nEPo and I were going to school in the ‘90s…
QRO: Did you guys meet in school?
TRIP G: No, we had known each other from one of those celebrity drug rehab centers…
QRO: What! (laughing)
TRIP G: It was us, Gary Coleman, Punky Brewster, that little kid from Eight is Enough, both of the Coreys were there, Corey Feldman and Corey Haim, we were all in the same rehab center in LA… (laughs) So after that we met and ended up going to school together. And the Coreys fell back into it but nEPo and I escaped! Then we started writing songs, playing in bands – we ended up going out to London to study abroad, and before we knew it we signed a deal with EMI Publishing and things took off from there.
QRO: How was that experience – surreal, ridiculous?
TRIP G: Yeah, you know it’s hard to even call it an experience – it was our lives for years. We signed to EMI then we signed to some labels, we recorded a lot of demos and albums in London and Amsterdam, we toured the U.K. It was our growing up in our twenties, it was an amazing time.
NEPO: Yupppp. (laughs) Yeah, we had quite a wild, frenzied experience. We lived in Amsterdam, we recorded, we lived right above the dope store. Yeah, it was a hell of a time.
QRO: How many years were you in the U.K. and Amsterdam?
NEPO: It was probably seven years total.
TRIP G: Yep, if you include a year and a half in Amsterdam. It was an amazing experience. We lived our lives, we had a lot of fun – the touring, the playing, the recording.
The O’s video for "Get Wasted Time," shot in London with Polydor Records:
QRO: And then Seagram’s, the Ginger ale company, bought out Polydor [Records] – is that what happened?
TRIP G: Yeah, that is pretty much what happened. And then our A&R guy got fired, and that was the beginning of the end.
NEPO: They didn’t drop us, though, but everyone we knew was fired, so they basically said, "Look, frankly, you can stay on the label but no one here cares about you, so you can take this pile of money and get out, or you can stay and we’ll ignore you." And… we went for the money. (laughs)
QRO: Is that when you guys went back to Brooklyn, right after that?
TRIP G: Pretty much, we hung around a little while. I think we did the second O album [Mutant Home Demos] for a while in London and then left, and then we finished it in Brooklyn.
QRO: And after that you hooked up with Mindless Self Indulgence’s manager [James Galus]?
TRIP G: Right, in the 2000s – that was the second real big phase of The O, arguably our big popularity. We got signed to Mindless Self Indulgence’s Uppity Cracker label and their manager managed us – that was a whole other exciting phase.
QRO: How long did that last?
NEPO: That was about three years-ish, maybe even less. It felt like four, probably actually two. We opened for Mindless a bunch of times, we tapped into their fan base, it was very good for us – and then the aneurysms and freak-outs came… We got the sense that this wasn’t working out, and we went into phase three. Here’s a bizarre phase which definitely didn’t work out: we tried to be two bands at once with the same people in each band – gONNA gET gOT and nEPo. So we would do shows where it would be the same guys – we’d do a nEPo set with all of my songs, and then do another set where we were gONNA gET gOT, and it was very difficult. Musically we got more and more different and we’d have to rehearse twice as much because we were two bands. And we were talking with a label Carson Daly started and I can’t even remember why it didn’t work out, but mostly because we weren’t functioning well as a band. We can’t be two bands in one band. G’s gotta do his thing, I’ve gotta do my thing…
TRIP G: You don’t have to do your thing! (laughs)
NEPO: … I’m afraid I do.
TRIP G: We had good shows in that era, though! Probably the greatest ever nEPo show was in that era.
NEPO: Yeah, it was at Bar 169. It was packed to the hilt – the cheers, the panties hurled at us, a lot of them were soaking… (everyone laughs) We were good, but we just weren’t happy with it, it just wasn’t right for us. So, you know, we parted amicably, as evidenced by the fact that I’m sitting here… (laughs)
TRIP G: (laughing, then mock shouting) I totally forgot about that, I still want to have some words with you!
NEPO: So then we went into phase four, which is pure solo G and solo nEPo and that is where we remain. Although, it must be said that even during The O, we were very specific to each other – G would do G and nEPo does nEPo… I don’t normally refer to myself in the third person, but in this case… (laughs).
QRO: How would you describe your and G’s styles?
NEPO: I mean, it’s pretty clear when you listen to it. If you listen to something like "Get Wasted Time", it’s very dreamy, weed-drenched harmonies, very melodic, that’s nEPo. G’s always been the hip hopper, more into the punk stuff… So whenever you hear harmonies and whatnot [or as nEPo also called it, ‘dreamy weed pop’], chances are it’s me, and when you hear "YO YO YO!" then it’s bound to be G… (laughs)
QRO: What place did gONNA gET gOT come from, after it branched off from The O?
TRIP G: You know that little bodega by the studio [in Brooklyn]? It was like a block away from there, that’s where it came from. (laughs) I mean [what became gONNA gET gOT] was definitely more of the hip hop side [of The O], as we’ve said, but I think if you look at gONNA gET gOT we went in phases too –
That was the one thing that kind of made it harder for me sometimes, like nEPo never raps himself – he does have rap-ish influences obviously, but sometimes I rap, sometimes I sing, so even when it became gONNA gET gOT there was still kind of that schizophrenia. So it’s like gONNA gET gOT is kind of like an older O.
NEPO: Sans nEPo!
TRIP G: Well obviously not completely, but it’s just that part of The O.
QRO: So you guys split off and there was no nEPo and just you were doing gONNA gET gOT?
TRIP G: I mean he played in the band for a while, in the original gONNA gET gOT.
NEPO: Well I was actually a bridge to the solo gONNA gET gOT. I stayed in the band like a true pal; I actually helped audition my own replacement. You know, this wasn’t one of those, (whiny voice) "I’m leaving and fuck yourself!" type of things, it was. … Well there was a little of that, but… You know, we’re homies.
QRO: Definitely. Aww. And how has the gONNA gET gOT journey been so far? Your songs are on MTV’s Pimp My Ride, you played "Fearless Music," you did [2008 album] My Microphone…
gONNA gET gOT’s video for "I’m Tryin’," featuring footage from the Summer ‘08 "My Microphone" tour:
TRIP G: Oh it’s been very, very disappointing, yeah. I mean we really hoped to be a lot further – nah (laughs). I mean yeah, we’ve had our ups and downs. You know, it’s a rough thing being in a band, it’s like a marriage. There’s the good times, the bad times, but ultimately the horrible divorce must come, and-
NEPO: It’s like a marriage without sex… I guess that’s like a marriage, too…
TRIP G: Once in a while when the guys are really drunk there’s sex – they don’t know it, but… (laughs). But yeah, we have had the ups and downs – it’s funny, my friend Dave T. heard some gONNA gET gOT on Pimp My Ride last week, so it’s still on there.
QRO: Oh yeah? What songs are on it?
TRIP G: "Spank Bank" and "Puppet Terrors." And yeah I still get checks, but the U.S. song publishing has not caught up – I get checks for Greece, England, Ireland… The Greek Irish Republic… The Russian Republic of Greece… Nah, nah (laughs).
RY PILLA: We’re very popular there!
TRIP G: So you know there has been the ups and downs… ’08 I think was a really good year for gONNA gET gOT. We toured in the summer, we played Warped, we played Bamboozle, we were one of the biggest played artists in Hot Topic stores across the country, so that was a good year. But I feel like in truth in ’09 we lost a little momentum. We were ready to go on tour in January [on the Escape the Wintour with Screaming Mechanical Brain and Shiragirl] and when that fell through that cut some of our momentum. We didn’t get Bamboozle, we did get Warped… That didn’t work out because we had this schmoe on bass because nEPo was late, and yeah, yeah, yeah… [everyone laughs; videographer Captain Whiptastic filled in for GGG on bass at Warped last minute] Nah, he did a great job! He happens to be the cameraman [in the van with us right now]. So you know, ’09 has been more about recapturing momentum, and progressing in different ways, too. We’re trying to work on getting more recorded stuff done, bring up the web profile… And our on-the-side homemade kabob business.
QRO: (to Ry) How did you end up in gONNA gET gOT?
RY PILLA: I was duped into it actually…
NEPO: True, he was roofied and he woke up on tour (laughs).
RY PILLA: Right when nEPo left, about two, two and a half years ago. So yeah, now I only do shows for $2,000 a show, so… G’s wallet is getting thinner…
NEPO: 2,000 Nigerian dollars, so it’s actually 50 cents (laughs).
QRO: (to Ry) How has your Triple G experience been?
RY PILLA: It’s been…
QRO: He’s right in the back, don’t say anything bad…
RY PILLA: Aw fuck… (G leans all the way forward from the back row of the van to the front and glares at Ry) It’s been wonderful, wonderrrffullll…
TRIP G: No it’s not, you liar! Oh I mean, well… (laughs).
QRO: Are all of you guys from NYC originally?
NEPO: Well, G and I are both Jersey boys originally…
RY PILLA: I am too, actually.
QRO: You Brooklyn poseurs! (laughs) How has your experience been making music and playing shows in New York City?
gONNA gET gOT playing "Do It Like That" live @ Mercury Lounge, January 7th, 2009, video by Captain Whiptastic:
NEPO: I think New York City is actually remarkably similar to London, like the perfect example is this show we just played. When you get out to the smaller towns, there’s all this enthusiasm, people are really grateful you’re there; they drive miles to see you. In New York City it’s like you can be in the room with them and they won’t turn their head, or they’ll be like, "Fine, I’ll look," and then they’ll be like, "Okay, excuse me, I’m meeting Bono in 10 minutes I gotta go," so people are a little spoiled in all the big cities – same thing in London. When you left London then the enthusiasm was multiplied times 10. But it’s not that I don’t love the city, it’s just that they expect a lot, and… By golly they’ll get it. (laughs)
TRIP G: No need for that type of language!
QRO: G, what do you have to say about NYC?
TRIP G: nEPo’s answer was so rambling I forgot the question! (laughs) New York, it’s great. I mean, it’s true that people are a little jaded, and it’s hard to get good turnouts sometimes because there’s so much going on. But the energy is unlike any place else in the world. If you’re feeding into that energy you can keep moving, you can hear a lot of music…
QRO: Okay so, obviously things have been rough, up and down, even in you guys’ personal lives and things like that… What keeps you pressing on with gONNA gET gOT?
RY PILLA: ‘Cause one day you’re gonna get got!
NEPO: Something the fans might be interested to know is that before it was gONNA gET gOT there was a brief period when G was considering it being ‘The Finger’.
QRO: (laughs) Are you serious?
TRIP G: Yeah, very brief…
NEPO: Yeah, G’s grandmother grossly considered that reference to mean ‘vaginal stimulation’… (everyone laughing) Grandma Ruth! I’m thinking it’s an ‘on your hand’ finger, and immediately her gutter mind leapt to her vagina being stimulated-
TRIP G: (looking totally grossed out) Anyway back to the question here… (Ry still laughing in the background) I think music is all we know. It’s tough times, you know – this is what we know how to do, that’s what we gotta do. And you know, you get older and it’s tough and you’re like, "Why am I doing this?" but I personally think as I’ve said to the band even today, doing music, it affords us being able to drive out to Philly for the day, have a reason to go meet some people, see something interesting – if that wasn’t in our lives, what do we do? We just sit around like a schmoe, you go out, have a drink, you go home, it sucks! We get to meet people and communicate with people and … have sex with people that we all wouldn’t have met… (laughs).
NEPO: A true artist can’t stop doing what they do. I mean, you like doing it and you do it, and when you stop doing it you feel empty and you’re like, "okay, I better keep doing it."
TRIP G: That’s a good cue to ask nEPo when the next nEPo album is coming out!
NEPO: It is… being built… I can’t get into detail but the plan is to… A good allegory for money is this dragon that comes out from the woods every few months and kills a few kids and then goes back, and I’m in the process of slitting the throat of the dragon. And I’m not talking about punching him everyday nine to five; I’m talking about assassinating him and being done with him. And that is possibly going to be soon, and at that point I will be back into nEPo high gear. Chunks of it are written; it’s not a myth! It’s really being made, but just very slowly. (laughs)
QRO: In your own words, what makes gONNA gET gOT different?
gONNA gET gOT playing "Throw Ya Hands Up" live @ Game Core Convention in Philadelphia, PA, September 12th, 2009, video by Captain Whiptastic:
TRIP G: I just think no one quite sounds like gONNA gET gOT, you know, the blend of styles and sounds…
NEPO: I would say, as a gONNA gET gOT fan more than anything – you don’t see hip hop lovers who came out of a Beatles origin, and that makes G one of a kind. I’m unfamiliar with anyone else who’s like that. People might say, "oh the Beatles, yeah, they’re cool," but they didn’t come from that. So G is a true hybrid, from 0 to I’d say 13 he was a straight up pop guy, and into punk. Then Public Enemy came around and next thing you know it’s hip hop, and he’s a meld of the two.
TRIP G: Literally the next day I walked in, I had chains on and stuff, I was like, "Yo nEPo, wassup?" And I even mugged nEPo, I think, right? You were like, "What are you doing?! We’re buddies! I was like, "Yo, gotta be street" (laughs).
QRO: What’s one thing people don’t know about gONNA gET gOT that they should?
TRIP G: That’s a tough one… About me specifically from gONNA gET gOT, about Trip Jeezy – I rapped in a Pepsi commercial in the U.K.
NEPO: C’mon, do the rap! It’s not bad, actually.
TRIP G: … (raps) Lip-smackin’, thirst-quenchin’, great tastin’, motivatin’, cool-buzzin’, high-talkin’, fast-livin’, ever-givin’, cool fizzinnnnnn’… PEPSI! (everyone laughs)
RY PILLA: I had a similar thing with SoBe [the beverage] actually, except I was doing the beatbox for another guy who was rhyming.
QRO: What’s up with you guys and soft drinks? (laughs)
RY PILLA: Yeah, right? Freestyles about guarana and ya’ mama… They loved it, they loved it! They were like, "oh, this is so fresh!" And whatever.
QRO: Why should people buy your merch and come see you play?
I think the look, the sound, it all creates this kind of vibe, this lifestyle… And I think it’s worth money, damn it!
QRO: Anything else you guys want to mention, slash plug?
TRIP G: Go to Bills4Skillz.com (http://bills4skillz.com) – that will forward you to our webstore. [The "Bills 4 Skillz" program is] $499 for a full track, $199 for a verse if you’re an artist. I’ll write a whole song for you or about you, and if you’re a band or an artist and you just want a verse, $199 – I guarantee you’ll get at least 10 to 20 more MySpace plays a day, and there are other parts of the package. And Twitter.com/gONNAgETgOT – you can hear all my fascinating minutiae, hour-by-hour, day-by-day… What I’m thinking as I walk the dog… (laughs).
QRO: Anybody else want to mention anything?
NEPO: Palin 2012! Just joking. (laughs) For the nomination! I support Sarah Palin for the Republican nomination in ‘12. I mean it, it would be so much fun. Obama would win 50 states, he would win Alaska. He would win everywhere.
QRO: (laughs) I thought you had a screw loose for a minute, nEPo.
NEPO: No, I want the weakest candidate to be the Republican. And she is… Retarded.