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DEATH GRIPS. THE FIRST INTERVIEW.

JUNE 21, 2011 GOONIE


12 COMMENTS

The man who is striving to solve a problem defined by existing knowledge and tech
nique is not just looking around. He knows what he wants to achieve, and he desi
gns his instruments and directs his thoughts accordingly.
Thomas Kuhn

In his somewhat controversial 1962 book, The Structure of Scientific Revolution,


Kuhn re-defined the evolution of science, much to the chagrin of several contem
poraries, as a series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent
revolutions . These revolutions, he claimed, became the tradition-shattering compl
ements to the tradition-bound activity of normal science. In effect, as a result
of these revolutions, one conceptual world view is replaced by another. This was t
he basis for a phrase he coined, called Paradigm Shift .

We are currently witnessing a massive Paradigm Shift in the music game, and it s h
eavily focused in the multitude of name-rearranging genres that have sprung fort
h from what used to be called that darn Rap Music .

In a world, and what s more, in an industry that s now made almost entirely of self
promotion, it s kind of refreshing to see an honest punk movement in hip hop final
ly get a boot through the mainstream s fucking door.

Kimya Dawson s making albums and touring with Aesop Rock. Some skater kids from Fa
irfax dropped a couple videos and went apeshit on Jimmy Fallon and are now playi
ng all over the world.

And then this little thing called Death Grips just happened to come along.

A while back, I saw a little late night tweet from Nasa about something called D
eath Grips being his favorite shit not on his label. A couple days later, I caug
ht a link to Guillotine .

Honestly, when I caught the link, and the video popped up, I thought of that Why
Must I Cry video Ottie always made me watch when I was hungover. Never judge a b
ook by it s cover my friend, even in the video age. ESPECIALLY in the video age. T
hings are not what they seem. We are at war.

If Odd Future s overtly simplistic, thumping shock and awe tactics are being toute

d by the near-dead industrial goons as the new golden scions of an already under
way movement, then Death Grips are the dust fiends catching tags in the alley, w
aiting for the show to let out so they can snatch some breezies or chains for sp
ort, whichever comes first.

If Yonkers is The Truth , as is all the rage of phrasing with the kids these days,
Guillotine is Martin Luther s Theses nailed to the church door, refusing to accept
anything but their own conscience.

Death Grips are the teeth first seen by flesh from the unseen dangers swimming s
ilent in the unknown depths below. It s already too late. The dagger is sunk.

Describing their own sound as Raw. Raw like wet pennies. Post-Christian, Post-Sat
an , the project known as Death Grips formally got under way on December 21st, 201
0.

Accidentally, possibly intuitively says the anonymous respondent to our interview


questions, we recorded Full Moon (Death Classic) on the night of Winter Solstice
in December that coincided with a full moon. It was the first time since 1638 tha
t the Solstice and a lunar eclipse had occurred simultaneously.

They ve been moving in planned synchronicity with lunar cycles since, recording th
e video for it on Super Bowl Sunday (three days after a new moon) and releasing
it on the eve of the Perigee or Super Moon in March.

Moving in mysterious ways seems to be the norm for these Sacramento-based cats,
who seemingly came out of nowhere with a full frontal audio and video assault on
the industry at large. Proudly DIY, they are currently in talks to get Exmilit
ary, the first release from the crew, put out on vinyl as quickly as possible. T
he seminal release dropped this winter to almost unilaterally rave reviews from
across the music journalism spectrum. That in itself isn t really anything in this
day and age, but they ve remained somewhat elusive, with no particular interest i
n really separating their collectivized notion as Death Grips, nor in becoming t
he next Twitter phenomenon.
When asked about the internet chatter of this being something from the dude that
drums for Hella, they did want to clear one thing up:

This is NOT a Zach Hill

side project .

Zach was neighbors with Ride (the main MC )and they both love black metal and shi
t so they started trading tapes and hanging out. the respondent answered. Apparen
tly, Zach came on board last December in a collaborative role as a kind of drumm

er/co-producer/beatmaker kind of thing.

We fuck with him cuz he makes shit slap and has ideas, says the anonymous responde
nt, Members of Death Grips aren t concerned with people knowing them by name. The o
nly name that matters is Death Grips and the music itself. Everyone is in our gr
oup.

A keen understanding of life s brutality is the key to their idealogical art movem
ent. When asked about anything specific influencing their latest work, they simp
ly responded Poverty and Bass.
They cite human nature, deceit, sex and death as some of their earliest inspiratio
ns. They ve also taken cues from musicians like Nyogthaeblisz and Lil B The Basedgo
d, and artists like Sasha Grey and Chris Burden, who once described his work as
the acting out of an idea, the materialization of the idea .

In particular, they are quite fond of Burden s 1985 installation, Samson . The artis
t describes it as simply a museum installation consisting of a 100 ton jack conne
cted to a gear box and a turnstile. The 100-ton jack pushes two large timbers ag
ainst the bearing walls of the museum. Each visitor to the exhibition must pass
through the turnstile in order to see the exhibition. Each input on the turnstil
e ever so slightly expands the jack, and ultimately, if enough people visit the
exhibition, Samson could theoretically destroy the building. Like a glacier its
powerful movement is imperceptible to the naked eye. This sculptural installatio
n subverts the notion of the sanctity of the museum (the shed that houses art).

In their video for Culture Shock , a lone tombstone stands with a video screen seem
ingly embedded in it, playing a fuzzy, gyrating, pulsing image. Upon closer insp
ection, it s a close up of two people having sex, focused on the penetration. It
seems as though a low budget remake of Bjork s Pagan Poetry video, but equally as
effective through the sheer power of the music.

That s a conceptual memorial to sexual conservatism or cultural conservatism in gen


eral, was the reply, We believe in embracing self-expression in all forms and a co
llective conscious overriding the denial of actual human nature and fear based s
ociety.

On a Greyhound layover in Fresno once, I sat in the pedestrian mall in downtown


on a spring afternoon and watched a hobo clean and trim his nails while a plainl
y dressed youth minister repeatedly and passionately shouted selected bible pass
ages about Worldly Ways to the noon hour passers-by making their way to or from lu
nch meetings. I see the same conviction in Ride s presentation of his lyrics in th
e handful of videos that Flatlander has directed for the group.

And in listening to the album, the intensity should not be mistaken for simply a
nger. It s non-chalant. It s HELLA versatile. It can do you better than you can, but

it s a damning of self before others. It s fire and brimstone without the necessity
of God. It s a dirty bum cleaning his cuticles before going to the mission for a
meal. They may be high on drugs, throwing CD s out of Camry windows on their way t
o The Klink, not really giving two flying fucks what you think. Make no bones ab
out it though, these cats are on a mission.
It goes it goes it goes it goes it goes it goes it goes it goes
Death Grips.

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