The Beastie Boys don’t mind if their fans still want to fi ght for their right to party. Just don’t expect the group to join them.
“We haven’t played ‘(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)’ in probably, like, 20 years or something,” says Adam “MCA” Yauch, who’s currently on the road with fellow Beasties Mike “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz and, again, not playing the Top 10 1987 hit that turned the white rap pioneers into mainstream stars.
“We tried rehearsing it a couple times, thinking it might be fun to do it, but it just feels so ... stupid,” Yauch adds with a laugh. “It has it’s place. It’s funny. We made it as a goof. It’s one of those ‘Smokin’ in the Boy’s Room’ type of songs.
“But for some reason, playing it live always feels ridiculous. It just is what it is, y’know?”
And there’s no doubt the Beasties have taken more ambitious musical paths since then, from 1989’s avant rap album “Paul’s Boutique” to this year’s “The Mix-Up,” the trio’s first-ever all-instrumental album. There have been plenty of radio hits — “Hey Ladies,” “Sabotage,” “Intergalactic” — but alongside a variety of sonic and stylistic experiments that have established the Beasties’ substantial creative cred.
Yauch, 43, says there’s been no blueprint for this artistic course. “We just start making music each time and see where it goes,” he explains. “The Mix-Up” was much the same way, in fact.
“We didn’t start out with that as a plan, exactly,” Yauch says. “We just started recording ... with the instruments. We started playing at the beginning, coming up with ideas by improvising, and the stuff was sounding kinda cool. It just sounded like a lot of it would work instrumentally.
“At some point, we just talked about keeping it that way, and it worked out.”
“The Mix-Up” did give Yauch, Diamond and Horovitz — along with collaborators such as Detroit-born keyboardist Money Mark (ne Ramos-Nishita) — a chance to flex musical muscles other than their mouths. The group members have actually been playing for a long time and started out as a punk rock group in 1979 in Brooklyn before focusing on rap. Their albums have always included some playing, however, and Yauch says the Beasties are a far more accomplished instrumental outfit these days.
“I think we know how to play together better,” he says. “We have similar tastes in music, and we kinda grew up listening to the same records. And I think over the years we’ve really learned not to over play, which is a real danger when it comes to playing music.”
Fans are getting a chance to hear that growth on the Beasties’ current tour, which in most cities features twonight stands — one show focusing on rap, with a more hit-laden repertoire, and the other, dubbed “A Gala Event,” performed entirely on instruments and running deeper into B-sides and album tracks. The group is also re-arranging some of its favorites for the latter show; Yauch says they’re playing “Root Down,” a track from 1994’s “Ill Communication” that sampled jazz organist Jimmy Smith’s “Root Down (and Get It),” in a manner that’s closer to that source than the group’s recorded version.
“It’s fun,” Yauch says of the tour. “It’s fun going back and forth and doing the different shows. We talked
about doing all-instrumental shows, but I think we got afraid that might get a little daunting for us or the audience. You’re always gonna get the guy in the front row yelling (for) ‘No Sleep ‘til Brooklyn!’
“So we put in a bunch of songs, but we’re playing them — we’re rhyming with the instruments.”
Yauch says the Beasties are contemplating some after-lives for “The Mix-Up.” The group has been traveling the world with a Super 8 camera, filming throughout the tour.
“We’re talking about cutting it together into a full-length film that kinda goes the length of the album,” he reports.
The group is also planning a vocal version of the album and is “talking to some different artists who might do kinda like remixes and put vocals on it. It would be kind of like a different version of the album, with a bunch of people guesting on it.” Among those contact so far are M.I.A., Lily Allen and Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker, and Yauch says rapper Snoop Dogg might also be on the list.
“It’ll be interesting to see what they do the stuff,” he says.
While that’s going on, however, the Beasties plan to return to the studio after the tour wraps up on Saturday. It might be for a rap album — the Beasties’ first since 2004’s “To the 5 Boroughs” — or it could take the trio somewhere else entirely.
“There’s no plan or anything,” Yauch says. “We’ll just kind of go in and mess around, see what happens, like we always do.”
The Beastie Boys perform at 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday (Sept. 24-25) at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Monday’s show is sold out. Tickets for Tuesday’s “A Gala Event: Beastie Boys Instrumental” are $65 and $50. Call (313) 961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.
Send your thoughts and comments to