As standard bearers of the East Coast hardcore scene in the early 1980s, Bad Brains were partly responsible for helping the Beastie Boys first get into the recording studio.
As standard bearers of the East Coast hardcore scene in the early 1980s, Bad Brains were partly responsible for helping the Beastie Boys first get into the recording studio. In recent months, one of the Boys has returned the favor: Adam Yauch has produced a new Bad Brains album, "Build a Nation," which arrives this week via Megaforce.
"Build a Nation" was recorded with the classic Bad Brains lineup of enigmatic singer H.R., guitarist Dr. Know, bassist Darryl Jenifer and drummer Earl Hudson. For Yauch, producing the record was a labor of love. Bad Brains were one of the groups, he says, that shaped the Beastie Boys' early hardcore years. "Those guys are really of a different caliber in terms of their songwriting and musicianship. We always used to throw songs together and play a little bit, but they were really intense musicians," he says.
With that in mind, Yauch went into "Build a Nation" with a plan. "I kind of felt like I knew the way they should sound, because I grew up listening to them, going to see them when they first came up to New York from [Washington] D.C. and were playing CBGB and Max's [Kansas City]," he says. "My feeling was that the ROIR tape [Bad Brains' self-titled debut record, released on cassette only] really sounded right -- a lot of the stuff after felt to me like people were trying to clean them up and make them sound more palatable for radio. So I guess I sat around thinking, 'Man, if I could just get in there.'"
Jenifer agreed, and when he and Dr. Know got together to lay down early riffs in his Woodstock, N.Y., studio, they aimed "to show fans who we are. Bad Brains has always experimented, forging ahead in terms of riffs and searching for unique ways to approach rock music, but we said this time we're going to take it back to the way we used to kick it," he says.