Shortly before he was due to meet and greet the fans who had paid for the Majik Ninja Entertainment VIP experience at the X-Ray Arcade in Cudahy, Wisconsin, our man Mike Milenko had a quick chat with one half of ‘The Demented Duo,’ Jamie Madrox of Twiztid.
The band consists of Jamie, Paul ‘Monoxide’ and most recently the addition of drummer Drayven. They have 12 studio albums under their belt and dozens more EP’s, compilations and side projects including guest appearances and a popular comic book featuring illustrated versions of themselves, not to mention the running of their highly successful record label; MNE (Majik Ninja Entertainment.) featuring established artists alongside up and coming acts in the rap scene.
Mike caught up with Madrox, as he was still energised from the fans’ ecstatic reception to the Generation Nightmare tour; another addition to the MNE trophy cabinet.
M: You’ve just finished performing for The Vans Warped 25th Anniversary Tour, that must have been amazing?
J: Yeah it was. The last show Twiztid performed at was in San Francisco, California on 21st July. It was awesome to be invited back. The first time we went on the cross country tour earlier this year, it was amazing and we felt like we became part of the Vans Warped Tour family, so when they actually invited us back one more time to celebrate the end of it, man, we felt honoured, it was just an amazing feeling.
M: With your new album ‘Generation Nightmare, we see you’re constantly evolving your music with new flows, new styles and different face paint, what direction are you headed and what is next for Twiztid?
J: I don’t know, the only thing I can say for certain is that the evolution will continue. I think that one thing we are blessed to be able to do is to be ever evolving and ever changing because Paul and I are not very complacent, we like to grow and we’re firm believers that it’s not fair to give your listeners the same record with a different cover and a different title. I’ve seen a lot of people in the industry do that and it’s disheartening to me because as a fan of some of those people, I look for them to grow as well, you know, I wanna grow with them. I know that a lot of people are afraid to take those valiant efforts and those changes and put them into play because, you know, that kinda shit can kill a career, but kudos to those who actually take a chance and evolve.
M: Twiztid have a huge following in the UK and Majik Ninja Entertainment artist Lex ‘The Hex’ Master performed over here at Sarah Clark’s Manjester Juggalo Gathering recently. Have Twiztid any plans to tour the UK?
J: I never say never, we are actually trying to line up some stuff right now, it’s been forever since we’ve been to the UK so getting promoters and venues to just say ‘oh yeah, perfect, we’re down’ is a little bit harder than you would expect because a lot of that behind the scenes shit is all about, you know, how many tickets do you sell, when was the last time you were over here, that kind of thing. So it all goes into play and down to business, but nevertheless, as we speak the behind the scenes guys are out there crunching numbers and trying to make it happen, so yeah, I’m excited, I’d love to return. One of my favourite memories back in the day was while performing in London, we were literally unknown and just the love we got and the response to us was like a great vibe, it just let me know that there are no boundaries on our sound.
M: Twiztid have always performed as a duo but recently you’ve been joined by a third member, a drummer; Drayven, is he an official third member?
J: He’s officially in the band, like when we do the live performances we’ve been trying to integrate him into the band more. Twiztid will always be me and Paul; Madrox and Monoxide, but when we go out and play those shows, those festivals he adds an extra energy to us and I feel he brings out a lot more in us, we go harder because we can hear him beating the shit out of the drums and the rock takes over. It’s part of the evolution too, it’s part of growing and picking up things and evolving. Drayven was another evolution of the band. When we first hooked up with him and started finding out that he’s a lot like us and then not too long after that he started playing drums on a few tracks, you can totally hear his production and some of the things he actually brought to the table for Generation Nightmare. He definitely earns his keep, let’s just say that.
M: To a person who has just discovered Twiztid’s music for the first time, where would you suggest they start?
J: Oh, erm, to be blatantly honest, I think that this is gonna be a fucked up scenario, but I consider your first listen to anything like that, such as your first kiss or first piece of ass, it’s like I don’t wanna say which one you should do, you won’t find it, our music will find you. You may be in a restaurant and all of a sudden you hear Magic Spellz on the speakers and you’re like what the fuck is this and you Shazam it on your phone and you’re like ‘Twiztid?, I gotta Google them, holy fuck, they have a discography of music, a cavalcade of shit I’ve never heard in my life’ or you’re somewhere and hear somebody playing (our album) Mutant, Mutant is 14 years old as of two days ago but you might just stumble on it tomorrow and be like ‘oh my God, where the hell has this record been my whole life?’ And because of that record you dive into Freek Show or (go) backwards or forwards, it all depends on what part of us finds you.
M: Out of all the Twiztid music videos which one was your favourite to film?
J: Hmm, honestly I would say We Don’t Die. It holds a special place for me because it was our first, actual real deal video, filmed on the Universal set with a real camera crew and a real director and just everything was real about it, and it was just that feeling of ‘Holy fuck, we’ve actually made it, wherever ‘it‘ is, but we’ve made it to this platform where now we’re doing this shit for real, it’s not just our homie with a cell phone and a camcorder, this is like the fucking Universal Lot where they filmed Psycho and all these other fucking movies and shit like that.’ Just to be there and to soak up all that was surreal. So definitely We Don’t Die and I’m also gonna say Magic Spellz, because of the simplicity of the video and the camaraderie of it and just showing that the song is for everyone and I think that’s one of the greatest stereotypes to break down for us, it’s not just a rap audience, it’s not just a rock audience, it’s not just this kinda person or that kind, the music is for everyone. So those are my two favourites, I can never choose one answer, I’m OCD and I have multiple complexes so I always have to pick two, dammit! M: Majik Ninja Entertainment has one of the best line ups since the glory days of Insane Clown Posse’s Psychopathic Records, have you got any new signings lined up?
J: I think we are gonna concentrate on who we have for the moment. When we first started we may or may not have been a little overzealous. We started grabbing talent left and right and much like anything, once you sit with it and see what the people enjoy and more importantly, how the artist reacts to the people, to the listeners; like how do they embrace their fans, do they have a relationship with them, do they care? You know, all of those things factor into it in my opinion, what will make a star? – It’s more than just grabbing your nuts and rapping, there’s more than that, there’s a social media presence, you actually have to go out and meet the people and be respectful, and always be humble, not just full of hot air, you know? It makes for the longevity of an artist or band or whatever the case may be, because nobody wants to meet their hero and have them be a douchebag, you know?
M: Will you release any more collectables such as the Twiztid action figures that were due to drop back in the day?
J: Yeah, we’re working on a line of toys called Head Knockers, the first two (designs) are me and my brother, Paul. When we originally started with the concept, we had never really made toys ourselves, it was always another company or a licensing deal so in this regard we’re kind of ever working behind the scenes to be more proactive in making things happen and actually doing things so we can learn the process of ‘how does a toy get made, how does a twelve-inch vinyl record get made, what’s the turn around time, how do you ship something overseas, where does this product come from, who do we have to talk to?’ It’s like really getting grassroots on it to try to understand things so much and not be in the dark all the time like ‘well, I don’t know how that gets made’ that doesn’t get you anywhere.
M: So you watch and learn and then go on to do things better?
J: That’s how we are, that’s how we’ve always been, we’re the kinda people that soak up everything like a sponge and like just learn from it. We have to know everything so that one day if we are in that position, I know how to react. [M. Can you give an example?] We used to be runners and roadies, we used to help set up the stage, we used to wash the clothes for the show, we learned all of the jobs and did all of the jobs so that now, when I employ people to do those same jobs, I know what it’s like to do that guy’s job. There’s not a scenario of I think I’m better than that job or whatever, I’ve done that job! I’ve successfully accomplished it and moved on up the ladder. It’s the kind of mentality that we breathe into our employees as well.
M: Have you plans to appear in any more films? (Twiztid appeared in 2000’s Big Money Hustlas & its prequel 2010’s Big Money Rustlas)
J: As of right now, no, nothing is set in stone. We’ve been kicking around some scripts and we have our Twiztid iCloud, which is a bunch of ideas and information and concepts floating above us in an iCloud, we just reach in from time to time and pull things down and make them reality, because we couldn’t do all of them at once. But we have been writing scripts and shorts, there was a couple of pitches that we were working on, maybe for some internet web shows in the vein of our web series; The Purple Show, because just seeing over the years how the YouTube community (and that) has grown and has in some senses, taken over from television. The home television is pretty much obsolete now, everybody goes to the Internet to be entertained. We’re trying to be vigilant about being modern.
M: You’re known as a massive Adam West fan, but what is your favourite big-screen adaptation of Batman?
J: Absolutely, that’s correct. My favourite Batman film? Honestly, The Dark Knight Rises with Heath Ledger I think that was the greatest Joker we’ve seen so far. I haven’t seen the Joaquin Phoenix one yet, but I’m still gonna say Heath schooled it. I’ve heard people say that the Joaquin Phoenix Joker variation isn’t even based on the character, now wrap your mind around that. M: Do you think Robert Pattison can fill the Bat Boots?
J: I honestly do. People are taking an image of a young kid that was a shiny vampire in a movie series that is over a decade old. The guy is grown up, he’s got the salt and pepper beard, he looks like a young Bruce Wayne. I think he can pull it off. I think people nowadays are really quick to shoot down something before giving it a chance. If you remember correctly, if we rewind in time people did the same thing to Heath Ledger; ‘what the hell are you getting him to play Joker for, he’s gonna ruin it, no one can do better than Jack Nicholson’ and he fucking Scoop Slammed it, passed away and still holds the trophy in my eyes.
M: Do you ever get a chance to read on tour?
J: I do. The only thing that I’ve been really dedicated to throughout the years is Spawn comic books. There was something about Todd McFarland’s art and his imagery, it would make the characters jump off the page. I loved his run in The Amazing Spider-Man which turned me on to his artwork. I have this thing where it’s like A.D.D, I read the same page like a thousand times, it frustrates me so I give up. So my reading is off and on, but you know, I’m probably more of an audiobook kinda guy. M: I’ve seen your Funko collection on your Instagram page @pops_and_vintage, what else do you collect?
J: I collect vintage advertising stuff, so like back in the days they would do cereal premiums, you’d cut off so many box tops, send them away and get this Count Chocula toy or there’d be a promotion for a Jolly Green Giant vinyl figure where you’d have to send away proof of purchase for it. I collect old vintage stuff like that. Also I love Mego toys, they were everything to me as a kid, they still are. Obviously, the prices are completely different today, they were a dollar and a quarter back then, now they are like $500 for a basic guy. Nevertheless, to this day they are the only company to ever take Marvel Characters and put them with DC characters all in the same scale format figure, so you could literally have Spider-Man hanging out with Batman, they can drive in the Batmobile and go hang out with, you know, Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, Mego had it on lock. It’s refreshing to see after all these years, Marty Abrams has brought Mego back into operation to throw their hat in the game and make toys again. It’s impressive, it’s a great time to be alive.