Three Eyes Off The Time – Interview with The Grouch
Wearing a comfy but fresh beanie, white K-Swiss and sitting with his beautiful wife, it did seem pretty simple back stage at the San Diego edition of How The Grouch Stole Christmas at Belly Up Tavern. DJ Fresh, the producer of recently released Grouch album Three Eyes off The Time was headphone equipped, playing on the keys nearby. I felt so relaxed, and in the few moments that had transpired I knew that it was going to be a great interview.
I started by asking The Grouch about his excitement being in San Diego, and whether the city shows as much love as up North. The Grouch confirmed that San Diego was a hot spot, and we proceeded onto the more burning questions.
This year’s edition of the annual How The Grouch Stole Christmas tour doubled as a Toys For Tots drive. The Grouch says that getting involved with the charity just came about this year, but that it’s something he’d like to continue. With fans Toys For Tots donations at the show, you received a special gift from The Grouch: a complimentary copy of his freshest CD, Three Eyes Off The Time plus a limited edition vinyl!
Living Legend fans may also have been surprised that this year’s tour didn’t include the usual cast of “legendary” characters. Instead, other remarkable artists such as Mistah F.A.B., Fashawn and Exile opened up. The Grouch wanted full control over the opener’s on his tour, and that’s one reason he explains why these West Coast up and comers were enlisted. According to The Grouch, past tour openers haven’t all properly reflected what he believed in, or wanted to be associated with. Undoubtedly this show was different.
The first openers were local artists Fetty Slaps and OH10x who kicked off the show representing for SD with their new single “Drop.” Following was MC Fashawn with Exile who fed his insanity into the turn-tables and blew our minds.
Then Mistah F.A.B. got on stage to our “stupid” surprise and the crowd’s delight. Mistah F.A.B. showed us why being “cool, fresh and different” makes you elite. Mistah F.A.B. closed his set with a freestyle like I had never seen before, it was just like the energizer bunny. He kept going and going, but with a lot more style.
Three Eyes Off The Time was available for purchase at the merch booth, a day before its official release. I had to understand what that title meant to The Grouch; it’s pretty unique. As I asked the question, The Grouch explained that he hadn’t prepared a good answer for “that one yet.” As he delved into his own mind for the answer, he reasoned with me and said it was “very deep.” Not to our surprise, The Grouch confirmed that if you listen to the new album, the title should make a lot more sense as the concept is very complex.
This album is produced in its entirely by DJ Fresh, who is also on this tour with The Grouch. The Grouch explained that in the past he had beats ready to match words with, or kept them around in the “vault” for years only to be resurrected at the right time.
This time he collaborated with DJ Fresh on the Three Eyes Off The Time project and seemed very proud of it. Understandably so, as just this week it has risen to the number 2 spot on the iTunes Store’s Top 10 Hip Hop Albums, beating Snoop Dogg’s Malice N Wonderland(#4) and Jay-Z’s The Blueprint 3(#10).
Underground and independent have become synonyms in the industry. The Grouch, with indie labels Legendary Music and Simple Man, has been doing music without the system since day one. The Grouch is a representation of an artist that has built an empire without any corporate sell-out. He has become an internationally recognized and appreciated hip hop artist.
Artists always have their reasons for going the independent route. The Grouch chalked it up to control, the ability that independence gives you the right to have full control of your music.
From the interview I definitely felt that The Grouch’s spiritual connections, which are ever-present in his music, play into every aspect of his life – another reason I am sure that he’s gone independent.
I remarked about how I understand the difficulty in maintaining a close family relationship while working. This goes for everyone, not just artists on the road, but parents working 40+ hours a week. The Grouch said the only way for him to maintain sanity was to have his wife and daughter with him on the road. I had to bring up his daughter, who has been photographed on his album covers, including Show You The World in 2008.
There was definitely a sense of tenderness when speaking on family subjects that can be appreciated in a world of disrespectful hip hop artists.
It’s well known that there are tons of kids trying to break into the rap industry, talented or not. I wanted to know what The Grouch thought of all these kids, and his recommendation for those aspiring to his type of success and personally controlled empire.
The Grouch confirmed not to give up or loose hope and keep working hard. Obviously this is a statement he can attest to, since he’s been putting out records since 1995 and working towards his goals. The Grouch has been in the underground scene and is overflowing into mainstream success.
Our Entertainer interview contained a lot of great chit chat about The Grouch, and I finished by asking him what was next. The Grouch has records, merchandise and fans galore; will we see him on the big screen? The Grouch laughed, and said he didn’t have any plans for that. But maybe he’d start writing something someday.
You can get more information and buy the new Three Eyes Off The Time on www.therealgrouch.com.
Check out this recent video from the tour, performing “Whatever I Say” in Santa Barbara on December 8th.
Play with The Grouch’s music online here