The Bellbottom Base Squad
photo by Anna Hester-Minne
by drew West
photo by Anna Hester-Minne
The millennium is upon us. So what's the new music movement? J-Dog Divine would have you believe it's bellbottoms, afros, and lowriders. That's the image the Bellbottom Base Squad is sending out with their strange blend of rap and acid-rock. The debut single, "Bigger than a Hurricane," packs a mean punch, with samples from Iron Butterfly, Jimi Hendrix, 2 Live Crew, and Cypress Hill. The video on M2 is guaranteed to produce eye sores. "We're equal parts fashion and music," says J-Dog Divine from the set of their second video, "Power to the People." I decided to get down to the brass tacks about the details of their ten million dollar deal with Maverick Records and a definitive answer to the question plaguing the music industry: Why?!?!?!?
It's really quite simple. The world wants to return to the free spirit of the Sixties. Even network television is doing a series about the Sixties. The time is just right.
But ten million dollars for what could be a flash in the pan?
You can't tell me that if someone offered you that kind of money that you wouldn't do it. We went from living on ramen noodles and red beans and rice to being superstars! We all actually own cars now!
OK, that's tolerable, but why the fashion?
Popular music always has a sense of fashion to it. It's inescapable. We figured why let it be an issue confined to the fashion pages of magazines. So we use it to our advantage. Free designer clothes are still free.
So did you go into the video for "Bigger than a Hurricane" with a specific look in mind?
Nah. I just wanted to my new car in it. The director came up with the rest.
Well, it's certainly shocking, that's for sure.
I like the rotoscoping scenes the best.
They remind me of the images in Heavy Metal .
That was the goal.
So how did you get started? Acid-rock and rap just weren't things I thought were easily combined.
They aren't really, but there are a lot of people doing similar things, but they usually only do a track or two. It's really the ultimate cross-over for the youth of today whose parents raised them on Jimi Hendrix.
How much did the licensing fees cost you guys? Every track has at least three or four elements that are easily recognizable.
That's really the main reason for the high sum of money we got. It had to be paid somehow, so we asked that the cost be built into the deal.
We still walked away with a pretty penny.
How much are the videos running?
Who knows? We're working on "Power to the People" at the moment. It's going to be all 3D rendering. They're mapping our faces out at the moment. Next we have to lip-synch to the words so they have facial expressions. They claim it's going to cut down the time and cost, but I doubt it.
So what's on the agenda in the coming months?
We're starting a world tour in May that's going to last around a year and a half. That's the only drawback. We all just got cars and we aren't going to be able to use them.
I've got to know. Exactly how big are the bellbottoms you're wearing in the press photo?
Thirty-six inches at the bottom and they're skin tight up top!
That's absurd! My waist isn't even that big!
That's the point.
If you guys start a resurgence of Sixties fashion, I'm coming after you with a shotgun!
[laughs] Too late. The wave is already rising!
He's right. Everywhere I go I'm seeing more and more people wandering the streets with bellbottoms. Though I can't help wondering out-loud if it isn't just a huge marketing ploy to test the gullibility of the press. "Does it matter?" asks J-Dog. I guess not. The Bellbottom Bass Squad is catchy. Every beat, rhythm, rap, rhyme, and melody keeps your body moving for seventy minutes straight. Ten million dollars just can't be wrong!