Interview: Twiztid’s Jamie “Madrox” Spaniolo Discusses Life As A Musician, Record Labels, Touring, Physical Vs. Digital, & ICP

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As ½ of Detroit’s horrorcore, hip hop act, Twiztid, frontman Jamie “Madrox” Spaniolo is one of a humble upbringing, yet of a relentless and a driven demeanor when it comes to achieving commercial, mainstream success. Upon recently landing the #29 spot on the Billboard’s Top 200 with their 11th charting album, The Darkness, both Spaniolo and Paul “Monoxide Child” Methric are currently performing in the U.S. and Canada on ‘The Juggalo Invasion’ Tour with Blaze Ya Dead Homie, Boondox, Lex The Hex Master, and Davey Suicide. Also available is Twiztid’s re-release, Mutant – Remixed & Remastered. And with Record Store Day just around the corner on April 16th, the rap rock duo is psyched to release The Dojo, their exclusive 7-inch vinyl via Majik Ninja Entertainment (Physical Media? What Is That?)

In a recent, in-depth interview, I had an opportunity to tap into the very mindset of the self-proclaimed “Fatso” & “The Eater of Cupcakes,” Twiztid’s, “Madrox.” As I delved further, inquiring upon the group’s upbringing and life on the road to their long-standing rapport with Insane Clown Posse and tenure with The Gathering of The Juggalos, Spaniolo was nothing short of elaborate, amusing and genuine. So, without further adieu, I present to you, Jamie “Madrox” of Twiztid.

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Can you tell us about the history and the role you played in your original 1997 hip hop act, House of Krazees?

The role I played, I was Mr. Bones. It was me, and at the time, R.O.C. and Hectik who later became Monoxide. We really didn’t know that we were shaping something that was going to be a sound. We were very unknowing that we were actually playing a major role in shaping what would be a sound. Years later, it would be known as either ‘Horrorcore,’  ‘The Wicked Shit’ or something like that. So, it’s kind of cool, but at the time we just thought we were fighting an endless battle that would never win. Now in hindsight, looking back on it, we really didn’t know how close we were.

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What led to the disbanding of House of Krazees in 1997?

I would say it was just time and place. Life. There was just a lot of stuff going on. We were young. Different things were happening. People were intervening in our lives and that never plays out well. But again, everything happens for a reason. So, it did in fact play out well, but at the time it was just like we’re going to put the kabbash on this and move forward.

Under the label and/or distribution, Majik Ninja Entertainment, is this a label that Twiztid operates independently or are you signed to an indie or major label with distribution?

We are with a parent company of Universal. So, we are with them and through them we have the power of distribution. They have given us the power to have our all-functioning independent record label to where we have the freedom to sign acts and do as we want. It just makes it cooler because it’s like we can actually be considered real. So, if we plan a release that we really feel confident about that we feel is going to do well and mass-market, we can talk to them and be like, “This has to hit the store shelves. This has to be on end caps.” And they’re like, “Let’s sit down & come up with a plan.”

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They believe in us and that’s actually refreshing because nowadays the kind of relationship between artists (and I use the term “Artists” loosely because we are talking about us being artists with the record label and a parent company) and a record label is really kind of a fucked up dynamic. But we have a really, really good relationship with our parent company. So, it’s a blessing. They’re all about us, they’re on our side. They sit down, we strategize. It’s all good. It’s the shitty luck of the draw when you get signed and you don’t click with the fans or the fan base. Or whatever record demographic they’re trying to slingshot you to.

If you don’t stick to that demographic, you’re fucked! You’re yesterday’s news, See you later! It’s like it’s such a harsh reality, but it’s such a horrible, harsh reality. We’re blessed in that regard where we have a really good candor with them. We can talk about everything. They really get on the same level with us and we communicate, so it’s a really good relationship.

What were some of the first hip hop acts that inspired you as a musician?

Well, what’s crazy and this is what truly makes it Twiztid. My brother “Monoxide,” he’s like Mr. Rap and I am like the rock guy. Growing up, I was all about Motley Crue, Cinderella, RATT and Twisted Sister. He’s like, “why do you listen to all this love music? Why don’t you listen to this?” I started listening to some of these songs.

I listened to…everybody knows Fat Boy, but nobody knows Skinny Boy. They were obviously the opposite of Fat Boy, but they had this song called John Fox. It blew my mind. Next thing you know I caught the bus to the mall. I bought Raising Hell, which was Run DMC on cassette. Yes, I’m showing my age, but on cassette. What was cool was for me, being such a rock kid, I think that RUN DMC was right on that pivotal point where they were trying to do that Aerosmith Rap/Rock kind of thing.

It transitioned me into where it wasn’t too much of one thing where I would feel like “I’m not into this.” That’s the thing, I’m the weird guy in the band because more times than not, I’m the guy that likes The Beatles or Frank Sinatra. That’s my shit! 

TWIZTID‘s most recent album, The Darkness, debuted on the Billboard Top 200 charts at #29, marking their 11th album debut on the charts. How does it feel to have achieved this commercial Billboard Success?

It’s kind of cool, but at the same time we’ve been doing this for so long, a part of me wants to be like, “It’s about fucking time!” I don’t ever want to be a prick. It’s just not in me. I’m not an arrogant prick. But anyone who does anything, I mean you can be the best fucking lawn cutter in the world and one of these days you want someone to be like, “God dammit, that is a very well cut lawn!” And you’re like, “Well, Thank You! I’ve been doing this for like twenty years and I appreciate it!” No matter what you do, everyone wants appreciation for what you do.

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AlternativeNation.net: Acknowledgment goes a long way!

Exactly, I mean you being a writer. You’re a journalist, right? You want acknowledgment for your pieces, for the articles you publish and so forth. Why wouldn’t you? And what it does is it makes you a better person at what you do. It doesn’t always cater to just your ego. It makes you stronger, it makes you more confident. Confidence builds better character and stronger individual vibes so it’s always a good thing. I want to be #1. I want nothing but the best for us.

I can honestly tell you I want to be top 10. I want to be #1. Why the fuck wouldn’t I want to be #1? Why wouldn’t Monoxide want to be #1. We deserve it. I feel we do. There are a lot of people that are unsung that deserve it. It’s a good feeling to be recognized when an album comes out and it charts. It just goes to show that the people who have been down and stayed the course with you are in fact still out there showing love and support. That’s why we do it.

With your new single, “Dojo,” set for release on Record Store Day: April 16th, tell us about the 7-inch vinyl format and what you believe Twiztid fans will appreciate about this track?

First of all, Dojo is part of Record Store Day. We never get invited, and not to sound like the step-children or nothing, but we never get invited to any cool parties, so to speak. So, when we heard about this, we’re like, “how do we get down with Record Store Day? That’s a great thing. We’ve done it before in the past, let’s do it again.” To know that Foo Fighters are one of the bands? I mean, c’mon man, I’m a fan! To know that we’ve rubbed elbows even 7-degrees of Kevin Bacon on Record Store Day, I’m a fan!

I don’t give a fuck. I’m never embarrassed to say that. That just means that we’re still aspiring for greatness and that’s cool. It’s a 7” vinyl, which is cool. Bring it back to vinyl, there’s flexibility there. It’s our entire roster of our label. It’s a special song with special artwork and it’s one of those things that we strive to keep that collectability market for our demographic, our family, our listeners, our supporters. To keep them happy because they like that kind of shit, they love to collect stuff.

What is your overall opinion and preference in regards to physical media vs. digital streaming services?

Digital is nice because it’s convenient because if you’re going to jump in the shower, hey, bamm! Let me digitally fuckin’ play it on my phone while I’m in the shower. But, for a purist like myself, I want to hold the record. I want to look at the liner notes. I want to go back and open up Kiss: Destroyer, the 12”. I want to smell the mold & mildew. I gotta’ have it. I can’t do that with a digital file in the air. You know what I mean? There’s something to be said about that.

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As you’re set to embark on Canadian leg of The Juggalo Invasion Tour beginning 3/22/16, the U.S. leg on 4/9/16 and with Blaze Ya Dead Homie on 4/22/16, are there any Canadian or U.S. dates you’re looking forward to performing on and why?

I have to be honest with you. I don’t want to say anybody’s more special than anyone else. I’ve always been a firm believer that anywhere in the world that we will go, there will be people there to see and listen to us. That was our mission when we started this as House of Krazeez and Twiztid and wanting to be entertainers or whatever you want to call us. All we ever wanted to be was heard. So, it rings true to this day. I can’t say this place over another.

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No, all of them, any of them! If you’re willing to get out of your house, leave your job, drive to the venue, come in there and hang out, have a few beers and rock with us? I love you! I can’t say thank you enough. You’re the fuckin’ shit! You’re the reason I do what I do and that’s it. I say “You,” meaning proverbially whoever You are. You’re everywhere in the world. So, wherever you are and you may gather with tens, twenties or thousands next to you? That’s where I want to be. Boom! Any of them, all of them! I’m just honored to be there.

With U.S. leg of The Juggalo Invasion Tour featuring the backing band, The Wickedness, can you share your thoughts on the collective lineup of musicians comprising this band?

The lineup has changed a time or two. We have Drayven Davidson is a guy who was the drummer in Static X back in the day. He drums for Davey Suicide. He’s like phenomenal. Tiffany Lowe, amazing again, is on keyboards. She brings an attitude to the stage that is just entrancing.  And the new guy, I have yet to meet him. His name is Rocky and I’ve seen video of him and I know it’s going to be a good time. These guys are bringing another flavor, another element to what we’ve always wanted to do, which was to put on an even bigger and better show.

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I don’t know if you’re familiar with the show, Sons of Anarchy? Well, there’s an actor on the show, Mark Boon, Jr. My brother met him in L.A. Long story short, he comes to the show and at the end, he comes up to us and says, “You guys are cool, but get a band. Once you do that, you guys will melt face more faces. I love you guys.” Ever since then, we’ve been on that level because we came to vision too, it’s just he said it out loud. It was always in the back of our minds, it’s just he said it out loud so everybody could hear it.

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With Paul “Monoxide” Methric as your main bandmate and essentially, the other ½ of Twiztid, how did you both originally come in contact with each other, forming House of Krazees and eventually, Twiztid?

A long time ago, there was a place in the hood of Detroit called The Boys & Girls Club of America. It was a place where most parents would take their kids after school to keep them safe & off the streets. They had video games, a gym and a rumpus room and all that. I happened to be playing in the rumpus room and some kids were fucking with me.

They were thuggin’ on me and Paul Monoxide came in and was like, “Why don’t you leave that fat kid alone?” I was like, “Oh, my hero!” As stupid as it sounds, he was like the coolest dude ever. He totally didn’t have to do that, but he did. I felt like he was really fucking cool. Ever since then, I just kind of followed him and from that we hung out every day.

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Brian from House of Krazees was another guy living in the neighborhood. I was actually friends with him first. I come to find out that he knew Paul and we all kind of hooked up and became the dirty trio. We were always kind of inseparable and there spawned House of Krazees. Like I said before, time happened and we just kept truckin’, became Twiztid and here we are today.

How did Twiztid come into contact with and eventually tour with Insane Clown Posse?

We actually went on The House of Horrors Tour. It was at the end of the House of Krazees-esque era. We actually went out as H.O.K. with them on their House of Horrors Tour. Me and Paul personally became really good friends with Joe and Joey who are Violent J & Shaggy 2 Dope. We just kind of clicked. Sometimes when you meet somebody, there’s some sort of unsung magic. I feel like I knew these guys in another life.

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From that whole vibe of meeting and hanging out with them, we became really good friends. Once the breakup of H.O.K. took place, we had a conversation with Joe & Violent J. We were going to do this project with me, Monoxide and Blaze Ya Dead Homie. We had them listen to our demo. They thought we were great and gave us positive feedback. We really took his information to heart and why wouldn’t you? At the time, he’s in a tour bus and I’m walking, so you kind of listen to the people that know what they’re doing. Again, everything happens for a reason, man. Those guys are great and ultimately that’s another reason on how Twiztid came about.

What was one of the craziest experiences you had while performing or on tour with ICP?

I don’t even know where it was, but we were on stage and it was more or less a festival-esque kind of setting. For some reason in my mind, I felt I could clear the barricade. Like, I felt I had momentum and in actuality, I’m like 300-320 lbs., so I’m still a big boy. I’m above the clouds, so I thought that if I run and jump up, I will clear the barricade and will land in the crowd and be totally fine. So, I run and don’t clear the barricade. I hit the barricade with my chest extremely hard and fell down in front of it. And everybody’s laughing.

I mean that’s how our crowd is. They’re not like, “You fucked up,” they just wanted me to do it again. At this point, I’m pissed and now it’s a god-damn challenge. So, I go and do it again, I fucking hit the barricade AGAIN and fall down. At this point, I’m looking like the Wile E. Coyote ACME character. Like every time the Coyote fell down the side of the mountain. It’s looking bad. I couldn’t feel my ribs at that point. That had to have been in my top 5 “What the fuck ever happened on stage” moments.

Is The Gathering of the Juggalos event a festival that’s still run by Psychopathic Records?

This year will mark the 17th Annual The Gathering. Luckily, Monoxide and I have been to all 17 of them. This will be our 17th year doing The Gathering of The Juggalos. 17 is a special number in the Juggalo community. So, it holds a special place in the whole Juggalo mythos. We’re actually going to perform a special set with Violent J. He did a solo venture a while back. Violent J & The Hood. It’s kind of like his take on The Wizard of Oz. I’m Tin Tizzy, kind of like The Tin Man and my brother is like The Scare Crow. So, we’ll be reprising those characters live on stage for the first time ever. So, that’s a big deal. It sounds fun and I’m into it.

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I can’t sit there and say I’m not excited about it because I truly am. As a Juggalo, I feel this is big shit! So, the people who are not Juggalos are like, who gives a shit? I’m like, “you have no idea.” If you are part of this whole Juggalo community, with the shit I’m telling you, your eyebrows would be melting off. It’s going to be a big deal.

For a newer music fan or concert-goer just learning of The Gathering, how would you summarize the type of festival it is within the music industry? Can you share a brief history from Twiztid’s perspective on The Gathering?

It’s not really like any other kind of festival. It is in the regard that there’s music, there’s vendors and food, there’s night life, big time antics and things of that nature. As far as from a perspective from Twiztid, for 17 years year of them, what it’s become inside of the Juggalo Community is it’s more or less of a family reunion. You’ll see people who have been with you on this journey of your life, on what you do.

And they have been with you this whole entire venture and they’re still there. And it’s refreshing to see them. “It’s good to see you, bro. I haven’t seen you. It’s been what, two years now and I haven’t seen you. How’ve you been? Is your wife still in med school & how are your kids doing?” It’s a god-damn family reunion, you know what I mean?

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So, when you see that kind of thing, it’s actually true to form because we share a family vibe with all of our supporters in what we do. To me, it’s like the mecca of the family reunion. Our shows are smaller doses of that, but The Gathering is like a god-damn Star Trek Convention. When I was a kid, I used to go with my grandfather to the Star Trek Convention and I, never in my mind, understood people dressing up like Klingons. “Grandpa, how come there are so many Captain Kirk’s here?” And he replies with “Jamie, these people love this shit!” and I’m just like, “This is amazing. Now having a respect for it, now understanding, I get it. It’s the Cosplay, it’s the comradery of being there with friends and family.

I mean, these people legitimately take vacation time from work. They orchestrate babysitters and/or bring the whole family in RV’s. It’s a big deal, they’ve got the BBQ’s and that to me is what makes it unlike any other festival. You don’t necessarily see that kind of thing at Ozzfest. I mean motherfuckers will use any excuse to tailgate or get the hibachi going. But to legitimately take time off of work, schedule it as a trip to drive 15-17 hours in a car to go somewhere? There’s passion, there’s love, there’s dedication and there’s nothing but respect on our end for them for that.

If Twiztid has one overall, main message to its fans, what would that message be?

That message would be to respect your individuality. You are who you are because you’re supposed to be that person. Never conform or become someone you’re not. I’ve seen it happen too many times in life. People get ridiculed, made fun of and picked on and become something they’re not in an essence to not have that shine.

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Be who you are. We are the home of accepting who you are. We accept all kinds: Fat, Small, skinny, tall, no matter what color skin or hair you have, if you have hair or you don’t. I don’t care if you have one titty or two. I don’t care if you have cancer or you don’t. I truly don’t care what disease you have. It’s like we have love for you. It’s about being you and playing the cards that you were dealt and being the very best person that you could be. That is our message!

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