Back in 2008, The Cool Kids were turning heads within the hip-hop circuit with their ’80s revivalist brand of music. The Chicago-based duo first met on MySpace and became one of the first rap groups that used this online social music platform to catapult their sounds to the masses. Now, with their first official LP When Fish Ride Bicycles, Evan “Chuck Inglish” Ingersoll and Antoine “Sir Michael Rocks” intend to make an even larger impact on the scene.
We recently caught up with Evan “Chuck Inglish” Ingersoll and Antoine “Sir Michael Rocks” Reed after the listening party of their new album When Fish Ride Bicycles at Sweet & Vicious in NYC and talked about their long-player, their dynamic as a duo, the early phase and future development of their sounds, and the current relevancy of MySpace and much more.
Despite the hype surrounding your ’80s revivalist brand of hip-hop in 2008, the release of your debut album When Fish Ride Bicycles took three years in the making due to various complications. Now, with the release date right ahead of us, what is state of mind these days?
Chuck: Honestly, we feel really well prepared. We used the time we had to get better. We feel like this is the perfect timing for the album, so we really feel good about it.
What is the overall concept of the album?
Chuck: It’s a graduation of The Bake Sale. This is not particularly a concept album, but it definitely is our progression as a group – lyrical and beat-wise.
Mike: We wanted to smash the music we created in the past so our fans could enjoy it. Our main goal with this one is to trump the previous records we created.
Your previous efforts, The Bake Sale EP and two mixtapes (2009), and Tacklebox (2010), partially consist of potential, but discarded album cuts. How do you feel your first full-length offering differ from your previous releases regarding production and lyrical content?
Chuck: We are using new sounds on When Fish Ride Bicycles. We come up with material that was expected from us. We wanted to make the best records we could make, and not follow a specific formula. It would have been easy to make the same records we’ve made in the past, but we needed to show our growth in the first place.
Mike: When Fish Ride Bicycles was the first project we actually worked on with an album mindset. Everything else we’ve done, we approached it in a more casual manner, but the new album has more focus, detail and cohesiveness.
For When Fish Ride Bicycles, you teamed up with Ghostface Killah, Blink-182’s Travis Barker, Mayer Hawthorne and The Neptunes who produced two album cuts. Could you expand a little on this guest list? How did these collaborations come about and what was it like working with them?
Chuck: Travis – it was great given the fact that Travis is a friend, so it was not just a collaboration. He completed “Sour Apples” while we were all on the Lil Wayne tour. We are also big Ghostface fans, and he’s one of our favorite MCs of all times. Same goes for Bun B and UGK. These aren’t orchestrated features, these were friendships that just happen to work well in the studio.
Mike: Collaborations came about easy – these are all the people we had worked with in the industry. The Neptunes have been a big influence on us during our early years as a group. Ghostface is one of our favorites, and with Travis, he’s the homie, one of the best drummers in the world. Mayer Hawthorne is a super talented guy, and he wanted to get on something different than what he usually sings on.
How did you experience the response at the listening party for When Fish Ride Bicycles?
Chuck: We had two events (1) in NYC and (2) Chicago. The response was great, not your typical listening party. People that always had our back were there from press, industry, friends and family. The whole event was more like a celebration. Especially in Chicago – more friends than press – a BBQ, a celebration party.
Mike: The response was dope. Both events were setup like backyard BBQ style – everyone was feeling the records. They let us know the success to come with the album and indicated the overall response from fans and the industry.
You’ve stated you intend to release the follow-up, Shark Week, as early as the end of this year and add a third record by next summer. Any early details on these two projects you could share with us?
Chuck: We’re striving for a plateau that is ours. All the major players have their products, businesses, etc. as a result of them hitting their plateau. We have a world of kids that listen to us, we have a large fan base that is under 21, and they are growing up on our records. As they grow up we want to be the generals, that catalyst in their music memory.
Regarding Shark Week, we’re going to start working on this now – it will be even better than this album. That we can guarantee.
What is the work process of Sir Michael Rocks and Chuck Inglish like? How do you function as a duo?
Chuck: It’s a team effort. We don’t have to think about it – we just do it!!! Our formula is the same: we strive to make the best music possible. It’s a never-ending process. Even solo projects represent us to the fullest.
Mike: We get in the lab and start working on the music first. We build on the concept after we have the music, then we discuss the style, topic, idea and paint the picture. The beat is the frame but then you have to paint the picture!
How do you evaluate your current label situation with Green Label Sound?
Chuck: It’s a brand new business model, and that’s how we see ourselves as a group. We do what’s new and smart instead of what’s safe.
Mike: They gave us an opportunity to release the record in a timely fashion without having to compromise creative freedom.
What is the status of your own label C.A.K.E. Recordings? Could you tell us a little about the label issues that surfaced with Chocolate Industries?
Chuck: C.A.K.E. is the production house owned by us. We produce music that fits our sound. It’s a growing business. We did three worldwide tours, put out a bunch of music, and continue to grow as artists under C.A.K.E. Whatever we do it’s CAKE!
Mike: It’s the umbrella we put out all our own music/solo projects, albums. Be also on the lookout for new releases by Boldy James, Korey, Tennille and more to come.
What is the state of the “super group” P.O.C. (Pulled Over by the Cops) you formed with Freddie Gibbs and Chip tha Ripper?
Chuck: P.O.C. – it’s just a title for the group when we named our songs. We made songs and gave it a name. If we ever all work together again that’s how it would be named. If we the schedules allow it, we might dedicate more time in making music together, so we might be ending up doing a whole. We will see what the future brings.
MySpace played a pivotal role in the beginning of The Cool Kids. How do you see its status today and what do you think of Justin Timberlake having purchased this network? Will he revive the platform?
Chuck: MySpace played a factor with a lot of people’s careers – barrier breaker between fans and music. Facebook and Twitter still don’t quite connect music and fans the way MySpace did prior to News Corp.’s involvement. During MySpace’s early years it was the “new radio.” Honestly, I am not sure what Justin’s plan is so we can’t comment on that but I would love to hear what he plans on doing with it.
Mike: Social networks get a run and then kids move on to the next idea… These social networks have limited run, haven’t seen much have a resurgence: TAG.com, BlackPlanet, Friendster, etc. Now you have Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook. Justin is a music guy and understands both the business and music perspectives. I respect him a lot but I’m not sure MySpace will ever be as big as it was before.
Are you involved in any projects outside of music?
Chuck: I am in music mode right now but in the near future I will work on writing shorts, movies, merchandising situations, creating more art for kids everywhere (CAKE).
Mike: I have some clothing design ideas coming real soon…
Any last words?
Chuck: Be on the lookout for my upcoming solo LP Working and the upcoming solo mixtape for Sir Michael Rocks’ Premier Politics, and then debut solo album Special Edition Grand Master Deluxe.
Mike: And of course don’t forget the new Cool Kids Album Shark Week.
Interviewer: Petar Kujundzic
Photography: Adam Krause