As clichéd as punk covers have gotten these days, you'd be hard pressed to find a better cover, punk or otherwise, than Whole Wheat Bread's rendition of Lil Jon's "I Don't Give a Fuck." The song even drew the King of Crunk's attention himself, which led to a collaboration on several tracks for an album due out this spring.
WWB is composed of three diehard punk fans from Atlanta, Ga., and Jacksonville, Fla., who grew up idolizing bands like Rancid and Green Day. Their style, fittingly, is pure power-pop punk with frenzied drums and barking vocals to complement the requisite catchy hooks. Although WWB lost its original bass player (drummer Joseph Largen’s brother, Nicholas) to an arrest and jail time this June, the band has maintained its resolve, calling on bassist CJ (aka Johnny Rock) to help them overcome their brush with adversity. The band continues to push on with a current national tour and an upcoming, second full-length album. CJ spoke with the Alibi about joining the band and also offered his insights on being part of one of the few all African-American bands in popular punk rock.
What similarities do you see between punk and hip-hop?
I think punk and hip-hop both have the same aggressiveness and they both share that kind of "I don't give a fuck" attitude.
Speaking of “I Don't Give a Fuck,” what was your experience recording tracks with Lil Jon?
Lil Jon is an amazing producer and he's a DJ, so he likes all kinds of music. He was real laid back but, at the same time, he knows how to get work done. He also didn't tell us what to do. He just let us do our own thing and then expanded on what we came up with, and we did the same with what he came up with.
You played a couple shows with Rancid, is that right?
Yeah, we did. Just getting to see Rancid play was definitely cool and then seeing them backstage and having one of your idols tell you that "your shit is the shit" really meant a lot to us. We still keep in touch with the band, especially Tim [Armstrong].
Do you think the fact that your band, composed of three African-American males playing a genre of music that's dominated primarily by white males, has had an effect on any aspect of your music careers?
I guess, in a way, because we're different from an average punk band, we stand out when we play a show and I think that has helped us. All the bands we've played with have given us kudos and have been very supportive of us.
Do you ever feel any internal or external pressure to conform to a more stereotypical image of African-Americans?
For me personally, I grew up doing my own thing and not worrying about what my color says I should be. I don't let my color shape me and I've definitely always thought of myself as an individual.
After you joined the band, how difficult was it to replace Nicholas and how was the band able to continue in his absence?
It's impossible to replace someone like Nick with what he brought to the table, but, so far, the fans have been really cool about me joining the band and everything about the group has exceeded my expectations. I think we dealt with the situation pretty well. The guys had the mentality that Nick did what he did, but we have to keep our shit moving. Because of that, I think we're still going strong.