Q&A with Lazerbeak: Music, Munchies and LAVA BANGERS
by Colin Peters (Journalism), published February 22nd 2012
photos by Ashley Tanasiychuk (Physical Education)
Behind five furiously bouncing emcees that make up Minneapolis hip-hop collective Doomtree, stands Lazerbeak – rocking with equal fervor. The super producer creates in-your-face beats for the Doomtree, for P.O.S. and Sims, solo material and a project with Mike Mictlan called Hand Over Fist. Only months after the release of Doomtree’s critically acclaimed No Kings, Lazerbeak released his second solo record, LAVA BANGERS. Tastemakers sat down with Lazerbeak before Doomtree’s raucous show at the Middle East to discuss his new album and his favorite foods.
Tastemakers Magazine (TMM): So this is Tastemakers Magazine and you put out a food and drink recipe with your preorder package.
TMM: So, what’s your favorite taste?
L: What’s my favorite taste? I like Budweiser beer quite a bit. I really like Dominoes pizza. That’s the thing on the road that I crave. I love ordering a Dominoes pizza back home and watching a movie with the wife.
TMM: What exactly is a ‘Lava Banger’?
L: Lava banger is just a name we came up for my beats based on the terminology of fire and uses of fire in rap music, hot flames and whatnot. My old band The Plastic Constellations — we were on tour about five years ago and it just came up. We were just joking around and it somehow stuck. I remember at my bachelor party I had like a list of things I had to do and I had to say “Lava bangers for life.” For like an hour, I had to finish any sentence with “Lava bangers for life,” and after that it really stuck. That’s just a term used to describe a Lazerbeak beat. It’s just a total knocker.
TMM: So you’ve been making them for a while. What prompted the actual album; the full LAVA BANGERS experience?
L: Actually, I had always been kind of against instrumental hip-hop records. Or, at least, I didn’t want to make one because I thought there were so many of them out there and so many of them were boring and what not. And I just always assumed my beats were best with rappers on them. But, Plain Ole Bill, like when I was making Legend Recognize Legend, which was like my pop singing album, at that point I was hanging out with Plain Ole Bill and he was like ‘You know what,’ because I was worried that people were going to think that I had gone soft or whatever, ‘We should just hit them with another record that shows you still know how to make bangers.’ He said he would help me and it would be cool. It wouldn’t be like five-minute sprawling loops, it would be really quick. I said, ‘Okay, let’s give it a shot,’ then he came on board and helped kind of executive produce it and it came together. So that was like a year and a half ago maybe. We started talking about it and of course everything takes forever. But it came together pretty quick actually. So yea, then I kind of gave into the idea and was like ‘Yea this could be easy.’ We had a lot of fun. We drank a lot of beers. We had like 150 beats that we had to whittle down and figure out transitions and shit so that took a little while but it was all fun stuff.
TMM: How has it been touring with the album? Haven’t you been opening the Doomtree sets with your own stuff?
L: Yea, so every night there’ll be an opener and then I’ll go up and kind of do a ten-minute…almost like a cleansing or whatever. I play like a ten minute block of about four of the songs on there just to kind of get people warmed up and then introduce everybody and bring everyone on stage. It’s been awesome. I think it’s helping sell records on the road, too. But it’s been nice to just kind of set the pace or whatever. And then also, just to give people a chance to see actually what I’m doing up there as opposed to just kind of being hid behind everybody. In those ten minutes you get a pretty good idea of what I’m doing and then we run into the whole set.
TMM: Tell me about the occupational hazards of playing so frequently, I see you have your fingers taped up.
L: I split my middle fingers. I hit those pads pretty hard. I don’t need to. It doesn’t make it louder or anything but I’m coming from playing in rock bands and we move around a lot. When I started figuring out how to play live with rap, the only thing I knew to feel comfortable was to move around a lot. Because of that, I hit those pads pretty hard. Over time, they split open on tour. If it’s just one show here and there it’s fine, but after like three or four in a row it’s not fun. I’ve got gauze and gaffe tape and that helps pad it.
TMM: Last question: I always put future interviews on Facebook and see if there are any solid questions. This is the best question I got for your interview. I’m going to read it to you verbatim. (Question submitted by Max Melby)
“It’s not secret that dude’s got a dichotomous set of tastebuds. How does one develop a taste for something as crispy sweet as Mike’s Hard Cranberry and something as savage as LAVA BANGER Nachos at the same time?”
L: (Laughs) You know, it’s been a lot of years kind of developing the palate. Mike’s Hard Raspberry, to be clear. I don’t fuck with the Cranberry. I’ll drink the Cranberry but Mike’s Hard Raspberry is what I’m really going for. I just talked to our management today and they put a pack together to try to get me a solid endorsement deal with Mike’s Hard Raspberry. I’m already putting it out there. Even if they could just send me a case every week on the road and I’d drink it onstage, that makes total sense to me. I don’t know why, but that shit on ice is like the most refreshing…. Our rider just has beer on it. So I drink a lot of beer and I get burnt out on it. So, Mike’s Hard Raspberry, very refreshing! And LAVA BANGER Nachos is like the spicy to the refreshing cool of Mike’s Hard Raspberry. That’s a recipe that my mom always made at Super Bowl parties. It’s typical Midwestern, just like a brick of Velveeta cheese and chili. I tweaked it, added some heat to it and it’s fairly addictive.
TMM: Sounds good.
L: You’ve got the card! You should really make it. It’s not that expensive….you should make it!
For all interested, here’s the recipe:
1 can of Firehouse Chili
1 jar of hot salsa
½ jar of drained jalapeños
1 large brick of Velveeta cheese
(add hot sauce to taste)
Cut cheese into cubes and put into crock-pot on HIGH.
Add all other ingredients once cheese has partially melted.
Stir often until cheese has fully melted.
Turn to LOW and enjoy with your favorite tortilla chips.