Albuquerque foursome Agency E has been kicking out a provocative mix of hip-hop and rock for just one year. On the eve of the release of their first album, Weight of Days, the band met up with the Alibi for some therapeutic musing and a PowerPoint presentation.
What's the difference between you and other numetal bands like Korn or Limp Bizkit?
Rico Joaquin: I wanted to do poetry. This band was already doing rock. It wasn't no new rock, it wasn't nothing, it just works.
How do you find your flow and get at those lyrics?
RJ: I've always liked spoken word poetry. That's how KRS-One is, that poetic type, like a teacher. But the one thing I really liked about Ice Cube was that in all his songs, he was just talking. He was saying exactly what was going on, and he was real vivid about what was happening. You could actually see the things he was experiencing.
You don't consider it rapping?
RJ: I don't do rap. I just talk, I just tell you what's on my mind. If it happens to have rhythm to it, so be it. If it doesn't, keep listening, eventually it comes. (laughs).
Why not Agency D or Agency F?
Jason Wolf: When people ask me what E stands for, I say, “Everything.” (laughter)
And it's just a coincidence the band's logo happens to look like the Enron logo?
JW: It's a symbol that strikes people and makes an impression. The thing is, if Bush had legally won the presidency, we'd be talking about sex, drugs and rock and roll.
RJ: I think the reason why it comes across is that it's good music. There's nothing your being force-fed. It's real simple. A lot of people I know don't want to sit there and hear about Abu Ghraib, but they know what it's like to get fucked up, made to get on their knees with their hands behind their backs.
Neal Ambrose-Smith: Think about it--at the time we recorded the album, there was a lot of heavy shit happening. It just starts to feel like luggage. This album was a chance to unload. I feel a lot better now. My doctor says it's OK for me to go out in public. (laughter)
RJ: My thing is, I like rock because it was the only thing that expressed my attitude. You listen to hip-hop on the radio and, even thought they're trying to be gangsters, it's like they need a hug or something. (laughs) That's why I like Cube--because he was mad. You can feel it. If you turn it up, the room starts moving.
NAS: It's like medication.
Switching gears, this is our Joke Issue. Do you have any jokes you want to throw in?
RJ: What has three legs and holds up an asshole? ... A drummer! But it's hard to do jokes anymore. Shit ain't funny.
NAS: Did you see that shit with Michael Richards? That is such a drag.
RJ: It's funny that you all get shocked by that. I don't get shocked by that. It's like, it ain't never went away.
NAS: What shocks me is that no one killed his ass.
RJ: You know why, man? It's because if you sit here and constantly say "Big nose, big nose, big nose"--if I kill you right now, than I am what you're saying I am. I'm just going to look at your dumb ass and watch you make a fool of yourself. Fuckin' Kramer. That's jacked up, but that's expected. People look at me and ask me why I do this shit. I say, "Why did Ice Cube and Body Count do it? Why did Public Enemy do that shit with Anthrax?" Because you pissed. I've been beat up so many time by cops for no reason! (laughs) I've been picked on for all kinds of shit. I wanted to let go. And that's what this lets me do, I can let go. Just put it out there. And people say, “How can you like rock?” I say, “Shit, I see white folks with their pants sagging down, rapping. How it looks doesn't matter. It's all about what you feel. Just do what you feel.”