Beatweek Magazine’s 92nd Issue highlights:
• Black Eyed Peas cover story interview: new album The Beginning, upcoming Super Bowl performance and more
• Hands on with the Geocaching app
• Interviews with Carly Smithson and Boots Riley
• Reviews of iPad dockable stereos and batteries
• much more!
Read this issue now
by Bill Palmer
If the Black Eyed Peas are applying for the title of “Biggest biggest band in the world” in 2011, they’ve set up that campaign nicely with a newly released album called The Beginning which picks up where their landmark previous record The E.N.D. left off – and they’re gearing up for a Super Bowl halftime performance in February which positions them as the first modern act to receive that honor in years. Co-founder Apl.de.ap talks with Beatweek about how the new album was born on the road, what they have (and don’t have) planned for the Super Bowl, and more about the world of the Black Eyed Peas.
Four years went by between your previous two albums. But now between The E.N.D. and The Beginning, it’s been barely a year and a half. What led to that where you guys said let’s get something out there quicker this time?
It was a natural progression, being inspired by going out and seeing what’s out there, me and Will had been DJing every night on tour. Sometimes when we DJ we try to create new songs just for that night, and those tracks we ended up using them for this album. So we’re always inspired by what’s going on and new stuff. We bring our laptops and set stuff up in the hotel room with our mics, and try to keep fresh.
Is this the first time you guys have laid the groundwork for an album while you were on the road?
We’ve done that in earlier years. From Elephunk through Monkey Business we did that. And then also The Duchess, Fergie’s album, we also did that. The John Lennon Bus was with us on tour, when we’d get a break we’d all jump in there.
Are you guys just having some fun with your album names, The E.N.D. and then The Beginning?
Every ending got a new beginning, you know? For this album we implemented a lot of technology into it. In the U.S. there’s not a lot of music stores anymore to sell music. It’s all through the internet and media, and that’s the beginning of new technology. So we tried use a lot of that technology with this new album.
As far as The Time (Dirty Bit), I think you guys are the only ones who can take an eighties pop song like “I Had The Time Of My Life” and completely rework it into an electronic hip hop song and have it work. Where did you guys come up with the idea for that?
You had a feeling that you were going to have a good time that night, so the next day you reminisce back that you had the time of your life. We also picked that song because of the settings of going out, having a good time, having the time of your life, especially with the music industry and the economy right now, and we’re still supported by our Peabodies and still touring and doing what we love and doing great. The song just came about like sometimes when you go out to DJ, we like to create something new. It’s one of those songs like Barbara Streisand, with a dope beat after it, you know? It’s like an instrumental. So we were influenced by those type of songs, going to these dance festivals and going to underground electro clubs, and then put our Black Eyed Peas twist to it.
Can you help us out as far as the Black Eyed Peas definition of the term “dirty bit”?
It’s saying the beginning in a different way. It’s going back to the beginning, and dirty bit is eight bit, and that’s how technology started. So dirty bit, going back to the beginning when you used to play Atari and those graphics.
I’m hearing that your 2011 tour is going to have most of the shows at stadiums instead of arenas. Is that the case?
Yeah, there’s definitely a lot more stadium shows this time around.
What’s different about seeing you guys in an outdoor stadium?
First of all, a lot more people can attend. We like to add a lot of production in our shows these days and we need a lot of space. A lot of technology that we try to use, you can’t really use indoors, so it’s better for us to do the stadiums.
Speaking of stadiums, it’s just been announced that you’ll be playing in the stadium in Dallas for the Super Bowl halftime show. How long have you guys known about that?
There’s been a lot of talk going two months back, but it’s just recently been put down on paper that we’re actually doing it. I thought Oprah was big, but the Super Bowl is gonna be an amazing experience knowing a lot of greats have played there, from Prince to Rolling Stones. It’s just sheer crazy to share that stage with the greats.
When I go to Dolphins games you guys are always up on the Jumbotron doing the “Fins up” and all that stuff. So you guys are actual football fans, right?
Yeah definitely. We like going to them. We go crazy at the VIP lounges and like acting the fool. We enjoy the energy of the people and watching the game live is so exciting. So it’s definitely a privilege to play.
The last three or four Super Bowl acts have all been living legends. They’ve been playing it safe and everyone knows why, because of the situation with the censors. Is it safe to say, can you guys guarantee there will be no wardrobe malfunctions this time around?
Well I’ve been working out lately, so I might want to show a little bit of muscles. No I’m just kidding, I’m just kidding. If none of the rigs from the scoreboard or my jetpack doesn’t run out of gas, I think we’re alright. We learned not to do that from past performances that we’ve witnessed.
Are you really gonna bust out a jetpack at the Super Bowl?
(Laughs) Well we’ve got something really special, but I don’t want really want to give it away right now.
I know your focus right now is on the Peas and on The Beginning, but all four of you each have your own things going on. As we get into 2011, what should be look for from the world of Apl?
I’m actually coming out with a mixtape that’s produced by me and DJ Ammo, and it’s mixed with some of my solo stuff, some of the Peas stuff, and some of the stuff I like. Definitely look for my mixtape coming out soon. I’m also building an Apl school in Philippines, which I bought forty laptops and I bought a building Philippines and I’m gonna put them in there, and hired three teachers.
We always see you with the mohawk. Is it difficult to maintain?
I’ve gotten used to it by now. We’ve got groomers on the road, so that makes it easier. I’ve actually learned how to do it on my own too. So it’s pretty easy to maintain. Sometimes if I don’t want to do nothing with it, I call it the faux hawk (laughs).
Have you decided what the next single is going to be, or do you have some candidates in mind?
My candidate would be Just Can’t Get Enough. It’s a different tempo and it’s also paying homage to the ladies. It’s a love song and it’s got a nice melody to it. So I think it would be a great different taste for our listeners.
But that’s not decided?
Yeah, everybody’s got theirs. We’ve got to still pick it.
“We are everywhere,” jokes Taboo in reference to the fact that he’s on the phone with me just minutes after his Black Eyed Peas have finished performing on back-to-back television shows on the same morning. But the hip hop quartet does in fact seem to be everywhere these days, having recently pulled off the rare feat of scoring the #1 album and #1 single on both the iTunes and Billboard charts.
When you’ve having one of these crazy days like the one you’ve having, with performances and interviews all over town, do you enjoy those days and feed off of it or does it wear you down?
As soon as we hit the stage and we see all the peabodies coming out and supporting the Peas, it brings us to life whether we got three hours of sleep or whether we’ve had eight hours of sleep, the fact is that we are performers and we love to be amongst the peers and the people who support the Peas. So we’re excited. We’re happy to be back together as a foursome. We all did individual projects, but now to be doing the Black Eyed Peas experience for the next three years or whatever it is, it’s going to be amazing.
You went four years in between album releases this time, as opposed to sometimes only a year apart in the past. How is it different when you come back together and it’s been that long since you’ve worked on an album together?
Within the time period that Fergie did The Duchess, and will.i.am did Yes We Can and Songs About Girls, and I did Street Fighter, and Apl did Subject: I Love You, we’ve always been involved in each project. We were on Fergie’s record on the song called Hands Up, and then we were involved with the Yes We Can campaign because we were doing the Democratic National Convention, so we’ve always been in each other’s lives, and it was a natural progression for us to be back into the studio because it was like we never left.
On the day that The E.N.D. debuted at number one in iTunes, you also had the number one and number two singles in iTunes. We all knew the album would do well, but did you imagine you’d have that kind of chart dominance right out of the gate?
We were just excited to be back in the public eye as a foursome, because we all want to share the Black Eyed Pea experience around the world, but to have such a great appreciation here in the States, which we’ve never really had that kind of reception, we’ve always went overseas and built a foundation on creating an international movement.
And now to have Boom Boom Pow come out straight out of the gate, it dominated everything, and we didn’t expect it to be so humungous. And now we have I Gotta Feeling. So it’s good to be home and have that love and appreciation from our own people here in the States.
We know this isn’t your last album. Is there any symbolism in putting the phrase “The End” in the same of your album?
“The E.N.D.” is the end of an era as far as conventional ways of selling music. Before, here in the States we used to have Sam Goody and Virgin Megastore and Tower Records. We don’t have that no more. So the days of going to get a tangible CD and having that in your hand, now you go to Best Buy and Target to get those type of CDs. And now everything is online. You have iTunes and all these different programs on the internet that will take you into a different way of looking at promoting your record, and how to get your record out there. It’s not just about having a CD no more, it’s also about creating components on the internet or on our site dipdive.com so that we’re not just giving people the CD, we’re actually creating opportunities for people to remix songs and to upload different ideas and content.
It’s also the end of the rumors and misconceptions that the Black Eyed Peas were breaking up, or that we’d broken up, because we’d done solo individual projects. It’s also the end of, possibly, this is the last physical CD for any group, let alone a Black Eyed Peas CD. Because four years from now, we don’t know what it could be.
So you think it’s realistic that your next release in 2013 could be just iTunes and MP3? Do you think all of your fans will be willing to go digital by then?
It’s one thing to just have a CD and need to live with that CD, but what if you were able to take those fifteen songs, and then you got ten songs the next month that you couldn’t have on the CD? And then we just keep on giving you new material and keeping it fresh and reinventing the song. Like with Boom Boom Pow, the Boom Boom Pow Invasion had about five different remixes off the same song.
It’s not too often you see a band like yours that has all four members taking turns on lead vocals. When you’re in the studio, is that a democratic process where you say “you take this part, I’ll take that part”?
It all depends. For example there’s a song called Rockin To The Beat on our new album, and it’s only “Rockin to the beat,” that’s all it says at the beginning, and then there’s only my verse. So I wrote that verse, and Will was “we gotta keep this like this, no more verses, just you rock this song and we’ll just have this hook at the beginning and let the music play.”
And then you have other songs like Out Of My Head where Fergie’s talking about being tipsy and all that stuff, and she brought that to the table, like “I want to play this character.” Or else Will will come up with Now Generation, and he’ll lay down the hook, and Fergie will come in and write something. It’s a collaborative effort. We all get a piece of different songs, and some songs are directed toward already having a formula, and some songs everybody brings their own idea and we compromise.
You guys are going to be touring with U2 for some dates in the fall. Are you looking forward to that?
I’m so excited, man. It’s an opportunity for us to be on tour with one of the greatest bands to ever step on stage in the history of music, U2, and what Bono has done as a humanitarian, he’s an inspiration to us and the group is a great inspiration. We’re signed to the same record label, so we’ve been fans of U2 and friends with U2, so we’re excited.
Any chance of any on-stage collaborations with them?
Right now we don’t really have anything planned, but who knows? Maybe throughout the tour we’ll come up with something.
Learn more at BlackEyedPeas.com