What inspired the change in your music from electronic to more live based to now back to more electronic?
Griffin: To go to a more live based music was inspired by that fact that it was just me and DJ Zero doing shows that were either all DAT or trying to run the sequencers live. And I don't really feel like I'm one of those guys that is cut out to be the front man of a band, I really don't like performing. I think I almost had a complex about it, and I didn't feel like our show was particularly entertaining. I was real happy with my records but as far as the live show, I thought that it kind of sucked. You know, two guys with a two turn tables and a DAT deck: "Oooh Hoo! Big Deal...very entertaining." Right about the same time I made the acquaintance of the guys that I've ended up playing with. I was also very into the early to mid-seventies electric fusion jazz, and I realized that I wanted to try to incorporate that into my trip. Now if I'm sitting around here popping on a CD lately, it's going to be something like Pole, Pan Sonic, the new Neotropic album. That is the type of thing I've been listening to these days and I've been thinking that I've got all this gear here, maybe I should be trying to do some music like that for awhile.
What is your opinion on the current state of popular music.
Griffin: You know, there are good things out there but you've really got to look for them. I was watching a Destiny's Child concert and I was thinking: "Who thinks this is music?" It's just the most tuneless music. It doesn't go anywhere, it has no dynamics, there is no up or down it's just this shouting all the way through. What is supposed to be so fucking good about this except that these girls hardly have any clothes on? I don't get it. It's an easy target though, all of the mass marketed Britney Spears whatevers. It's easy to poke fun at. What bugs me more is that the state of so-called alternative music has grown to be so mainstream.
Are you still interested in hip-hop?
Griffin: Not too much. I still buy stuff, I'm just amazed at how unoriginal some of it is. There are things I read these rave reviews about and I ask myself, "What the hell is so good about this?" Cypress Hill put out a live album not to long ago, and don't get me wrong, I've always loved their music--I really like those guys a lot--but I got the album and was like, "What is this supposed to be, Kid Rock?" That is one transition which I don't like at all: the distorted guitars and what not. The idea of trying to be a rock band doing hip-hop totally leaves me cold. There is too much of that crap going on. There is also too much of that whole trend of doing tunes that are just thinly veiled remakes. They're not even remakes, the tunes are just built around samples of other songs and the end result is nothing new or original. Of course this has been going on for a long time.
I think it's gotten to point in its life cycle where the artists are now sampling things that were soulless to begin with, so now you have this situation where almost every album in the top 100 are just big production numbers.
Griffin: I agree, there is way too much of that technical production with no real content at all. Especially when you get into the top 100 with the boy bands and all that. It's like it is deliberately aimed at really young kids. Which is okay for the kids, but when it crosses over it's not.
A lot of people like Beck and Moby get credited with originating the hybrid of electronics and hip hop with some of the more traditional forms of music. In your case it's jazz, do you feel like you've a hand in originating that kind of experimentation?
Griffin: I don't know. Just about everything I've done are ideas that I've taken from someone else. I always get inspired by other musicians to put things together. I'm pretty aware that I'm not the only one doing a particular thing at any given time. I subscribe to the feeling that there are these ideas that spring up and I just try to add my own originality to them. I wouldn't really consider myself the source of anything. For instance in the mid-'80s I was a big fan of Ministry and Public Enemy. On my first EP, the general plan was to make an EP that covered both of those bases. Make it a dance floor record that had a more industrial edge to it. They were ideas that were already floating around out there and I was trying to put them together in a way that other people hadn't thought of yet. I'm keenly aware of not wanting to jump on a bandwagon or doing something that someone else has done. So in that sense it does spur me to come up with some original ideas occasionally. It would be really hard to point to some trend, in this instance hip-hop with jazz-fusion, that I could take credit for.
Aside from music, what inspiration do you draw from for your storytelling and beat poet delivery?
Griffin: Just reading a lot. I get ideas from my favorite authors. "The Killer Inside Me" is taken from a Jim Thompson book.
Tell me about "Dali's Handgun."
Griffin: You know, that is just a filler track. My friends always program that track on CD players because everybody hates that tune.
[At this point I confess my love for the song.]
Griffin: It was put together really simply. I have a big book called The Autobiography of Surrealism, it's a lot of surrealist poets and writers. I just went through a lot of these poems and took out random phrases from the original writings that seemed like cool ideas to apply to a handgun. The choice of trying to center it around the theme of a handgun seemed appropriate because all of the imagery is so loaded. You can read things into it that wasn't there when it was put together.
Do you have a favorite MC 900ft Jesus album?
Griffin: I'm actually happy with all three of them. What's always perplexed me is most people that will express a preference always tell me they like the first one best. I really do not get that. There is a lot I like about it. I put out the EP and a couple of months later I wound up with a record deal dropping into my lap so I had to write all of the material in the space of a month or so. There are so many things that are just half-assed finished about that record, for instance I didn't get a chance to work through my ideas for the lyrics and the piano player wasn't really what I had envisioned. Whereas with Welcome to My Dream and One Step Ahead of the Spider I had all of the time and resources I needed to work all of the ideas through to where I thought they were finished. So I was a lot happier with those two.
What was your reaction to sudden fame?
Griffin: It's a weird thing. I have an unlisted number now, and I've been thinking about putting it back in the book just because I don't want to pay for it anymore. But I've never really had a problem with fame. I've been around the Dallas music scene for 20 years and people just treat me like some goober that they have known for a long time. It is weird to do an MC 900ft Jesus web search and find that there is so much going on elsewhere. It's like living in two different worlds. We go out on tour and do really well on the West Coast, the North East, and of course here in Texas. One day I was checking into the Chateau Marmont, and I wasn't even in LA for a show, and some guy came up to me and asked if I was MC 900ft Jesus. I was totally amazed that someone would recognize me. My life outside of Texas is so different. My love life is like that too, because generally women in Dallas won't give me the time of day. But, if I go somewhere else, the contrast is hilarious.
Do you still enjoy living in Texas with all of the obvious associations?
Griffin: Um...I actually bought a house here six years ago. Prior to that I was just on the verge of getting the hell out of Dallas because I felt like I was ready for a change of scenery. I grew up as an army brat, so I moved every two or three years. I went to three different high schools, one Germany, one in Belgium, and one in Virginia. Then I went to Cincinnati. And then moved to Dallas and I've been here for 20 years. It was very new experience for me to live somewhere and develop these long-term friendships and go through stages in my life all in one place. I reached a point where I was done with it, then my friend wanted to sell his house. It was a building that I had always liked and I just happened to have enough money to swing the deal so I decided to buy it. Now I've come full circle and I'm really ready for a change of scenery, but I've got no particular place that I need to go. Doing this type of work, you can live anywhere.
Is it true that "The City Sleeps" has received some bad press from the Firemen's Association?
Griffin: Yeah. Although you never know how much the record company's publicity department is behind all that. I've got a copy of a video news report in Baltimore. I guess it was a slow news day. "The City Sleeps" was the most requested song on this alternative DC radio station, WHFS, and a TV reporter decided to do a story on it and took a copy of it [the video] over to a Fire Marshall. DC had a lot of arson fires going on in the city at this time. There wasn't really a point to the story other than perhaps the song should be banned. It was cool to get that kind reaction to something.
Have you ever considered producing another artist's record?
Griffin: I'd like to get into that and film scores at some point. I think I would really enjoy it.
You get to take five albums with you into the afterlife...what are they?
Griffin: In no particular order:
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