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ICP talks about licking "Arse" with Jack White

for Journal Register Newspapers

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The Insane Clown Posse and Jack White are both titans of the Detroit music scene, but they’d met only once before — walking by each other at an airport.

“He was in a hurry,” ICP’s Violent J recalls, “but I told him who I was and he stopped and gave me a warm acknowledgment, and we kind of chatted and then went our ways and that was it.”

But the two have joined forces this month for a “Leck Mich Im Arsch,” a new single on White’s Nashville-based Third Man Records label. Built around a 1782 Mozart piece of the same title (which translates to “Lick Me in the Arse” in English), the song — which comes out as a vinyl 7-inch single on Sept. 13 — features ICP rapping while the Tennessee duo JEFF the Brotherhood plays, with ICP producer Mike E. Clark and guitarist Legs Diamond also contributing.

And while White conceived and produced the track, which was recorded during mid-July at Third Man’s studios in Nashville, Violent J (née Joe Bruce) says the ICP team felt it was “a collaboration in the fullest sense.”

“It was cool because it was definitely his deal, but he took our suggestions and used them to the fullest,” Violent J recalls. “The hardest thing was rapping over that music, ’cause it didn’t sound like a typical rap beat at all, or a loop or anything we’re used to. Once we asked him to kind of bring the drums up and got the basic structure where the rap would go, then it was easy.

“The most respected musician in the world and one of the most hated musicians in the world. We didn’t expect that call, brother.”

Violent J confesses that ICP was a bit disappointed — at first — when the group found out what Jack White had in mind for “Leck Mich Im Arsch.”

“He explained to us the song was basically called ‘Lick My A**,’ and we went, ‘Ah, figures. “Lick My A**” featuring ICP,’” J explains. “We like to think there’s more of a method to our madness. We don’t just do songs with a dumb name. But once (White) explained to us how (Mozart) had a sense of humor and everything, and we saw how excited (White) was about it, that got us fired up, and we really got into it.”

ICP was also curious about what led White to call the group for the song. “I told him, ‘I gotta know — why us?’” Violent J says. “He said, ‘I find myself going to your website and looking at it. Some stuff I think is genius, some stuff I don’t understand at all, but I always find myself going back there and seeing what you’re up to.’

“And he told us that nobody got the kind of reaction he got from his friends in the industry when he told them he was going to do a song with us. He said people were like, ‘What? You’re kidding me.’ That’s what got him excited. His exact quote was, ‘We could’ve done a song with Megadeth and it wouldn’t be as talked-about as us working with you guys.’ That’s crazy awesome.”

The session also yielded a second, ICP-dominated song called “Mountain Girl,” but the duo passed on doing a video for “Leck Mich Im Arsch.”

“We asked if Jack was gonna be in the video and they said no, so we turned it down,” Violent J explains. “We don’t want to confuse people into thinking that’s ICP’s new single off our new album, ’cause we’d do things a little differently if it was just our song.”

ICP has offered to perform the song with the Third Man crew at the MI Fest on Sept. 17 in Brooklyn, Mich. — where White is playing with the Raconteurs and also curating a Third Man stage — and is waiting to hear back.

Meanwhile, ICP — which is mixing its next album, “The Mighty Death Pop,” which is due in early 2012 — is also monitoring the reaction to the White collaboration, which has been polarized, to say the least.

“People seem to be up in arms,” Violent J says. “Some people are straight up mad about it — mad at him, mad at us. It’s not like it’s on his new album or we’re forming a new supergroup; this is a rare 45, a collectible, something different. You have to seek it out to find it. I don’t know why people would be upset at us or at him. It’s just a really cool collaboration.”

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