Rage Against the Machine Gun Kelly [Interview]
Vancouver, BC – If there’s one thing Machine Gun Kelly knows how to do, it’s rattle your cage. Young, cocky and full of rebellion, the kid’s got a mouth on him that’s as rude as it is brilliant. His value attachments are scattered – whores and nuns, karma and fuckery, normality and hedonism – a self-proclaimed hypocritical contradiction who works hard to piss people off but then claims to not pay attention to public opinion. He’s become a spiritual leader of sorts – identifying, ironically, with the very nuns that he so belligerently endorses punching – changing lives for the positive, shaping impressionable minds, casting off judgment…but unlike the nuns, this guy’s fucking the whole way there. HipHopCanada’s Executive Editor and resident therapist Amalia Judith sat down with the young gun to talk about it all.
“I’m not tryna live till I’m crippled and 85. You take the stage away from me, I don’t know what I’m gonna do.”
Machine Gun Kelly: Q&A
Interview conducted by Amalia Judith for HipHopCanada
HipHopCanada: What’s the first thing you learned in life that really impacted you?
MGK: That a perfect home and a family home is not possible. I just grew up with a single father, my mother and I had a bad relationship, you gotta raise yourself.
HipHopCanada: In raising yourself then, how did you form a value system, and find out what really matters to you in life?
MGK: Just doing so much bad shit that the karma comes back around and you realize why, cause you did all that bad shit. Little things like you littering could be someone throwing your CD out that you just handed them. You just realize that what goes around comes around. Back in the day when I used to do dumb shit like rob people and shit like that – it just came back and bit me in the ass fifty times harder. Like when we moved into a new house and all our shit got stolen. And you’re sitting here like, why did this just happen? But you know why. God’s kicking your ass for some shit you shouldn’t have did.
HipHopCanada: With all the success you’re having, what do you think you’ve done right for karma to turn in your favor?
MGK: Realizing that there’s better living. Not doing the shit I used to do. Just fighting off the right demons and shit. When times get hard and you wanna do bad shit, just don’t do ‘em, you know?
HipHopCanada: What kind of bad shit do you feel like doing?
MGK: Kill a motherfucker.
HipHopCanada: A recurring motif in your music and branding is rage – what are you reacting to?
MGK: Probably just authority, like the wrong types of authority. School is telling you that becoming a doctor and a lawyer and all these things are what you should do instead of giving you the outlet to do what you want to do and take a bigger risk. A bigger reward comes from a bigger risk, instead of taking the safe route and having a normal life. These authorities teach you to not take risks because it’s bad and you could end up a homeless person on the street, but dude, there’s fucking homeless people with fucking degrees out there right now. I took a big ass risk, didn’t go to college, and I’m straight. I have a house, me and my boys got a joint, my kid has her own house. They don’t teach you to go against the system and that your reward can be bigger. So it’s just raging against conformity I guess. But also raging against fun, taking negative energy and turning it into positive. No matter what mood I’m in when the music hits and I go on stage you see a total transformation. It’s like when a person catches the holy ghost in church.
HipHopCanada: While we’re talking religion, what’s with the nun punching? Seems like you’re bringing a more punk aesthetic into hip-hop.
MGK: I’m a punker for sure. I just chose nuns cause I knew it would piss everybody off. And nuns believe in abstinence, and no sex is terrible anywhere, that’s Nazi shit. What kind of shit is that? I mean I respect everybody’s thing, but I just did that to piss people off.
HipHopCanada: And did it work? Are people pissed off?
MGK: Probably, I don’t ever pay attention. I mean, I’m sure someone’s mad that their kid’s punching nuns, know what I’m saying? I’m sure they’re not stoked on it.
HipHopCanada: You were raised in right wing America, and you portray the very opposite of that. Are you searching for balance?
MGK: My house was right wing. That’s why I’m not. I’m very God-fearing. I fear God. I seen what he’s done to me and my friends for all the bad shit we did, and now I’m just tryna get right. I fear the shit outta God.
HipHopCanada: Do you believe in redemption?
MGK: Hell ya. All of this is my redemption, and I feel like I’m doing exactly what those nuns are doing, changing peoples’ lives and giving them a positive outlook on things. I mean, fucking half our fans are heroin addicts and pills addicts or recovering addicts period, from abusive homes and all that shit. Outside, the first girl in line has six MGK tattoos. Anything I say to her she’s gonna do. If I tell her to skip school she’s gonna do it. If I tell her to be somebody else she’s gonna do it. So you think if I say get your life straight she’s not gonna do that?
HipHopCanada: It seems like that would be a lot of pressure on you. Is it?
MGK: Hell ya, but I jut realize what to do with the pressure. But it goes off and on, that pressure comes back around when you walk the streets and everyone knows who you are. We’re not extremely famous but everywhere we go everyone’ll be like oh shit, you’re Machine Gun Kelly, but it’s not like I have 6 million twitter followers or anything. Any plane I get on, store I go into, it’s like oh shit. You become a prisoner of that. Cause at the end of the day we’re just looking for normality, that’s what everyone wants. Or lack thereof, which is why I’m doing this. I don’t want to be a prisoner to camera phones – say hi to me, I hate that picture shit. I hate that shit, so wack. People can’t even say hi anymore, they just ask for a picture; I never oblige with that bullshit. Cause we’re the same, we’re all the same.
HipHopCanada: You say you’re searching for normality, but that’s the same thing you’re raging against.
MGK: I guess that’s what Machine Gun Kelly is, it’s a giant hypocritical contradiction, but that’s the beauty of it. I go with whatever mood I’m in at the time.
HipHopCanada: Where does all this leave you, spiritually?
MGK: There’s times when such bad shit happens that I think, there can’t be a God, and it’ll test me. But I always find that light and come back around. I realize everyones’ hearts are in the right place with that picture shit and I’ll fucking be pissed for a second but then I’ll realize it and come out of it.
HipHopCanada: You claim there’s no such thing as a safe home, so where do you actually feel safe?
MGK: Out there. Right there with the microphone in my hand on that stage. That’s just where I’m most comfortable at.
HipHopCanada: Between your mother leaving you and you having a daughter, where does this leave your attachment to women?
MGK: I got a tattoo about it. Here’s the bitch and here’s the angel. Some of them are backstabbing fucking whores and some of them are sweet little nuns in the making.
HipHopCanada: A cocky young thing like you must have a lot of readily available girls on tour – do you respect them?
MGK: Yea, I fuck em. I fuck the shit out of them.
HipHopCanada: I didn’t ask if you fuck them, I asked if you respect them.
MGK: I definitely respect them. I don’t fuck anyone that’s not fans. I did on the last tour, but that’s cause it wasn’t my tour and I was horny. But these shows I always fuck girls that are fans. And they know, a lot of these people I know from social networking and it becomes a giant extended family. You gotta understand, a lot of people pay money to go and meet up with other fans in other cities. There’s a little group that formed and now they all know each other. It’s like some 70′s shit, we’re not typical rappers like “fuck these hoes fuck these bitches,” although bitches may come out of my mouth and shit, but at the end of the day the girls we’re having sex with are girls that we give a shit about. Have you ever seen that movie Almost Famous? It’s like they’re band-aids, they care so much about the music, they care about that shit more than themselves. I’ve seen people drive in a minivan 22 hours from Connecticut to Texas or some crazy shit, for 60 people in the crowd back in the day. And they’re still around now, they have Lace Up tattooed on their body and shit. And the sex is awesome cause they know exactly what I want cause they read about it, they look at interviews with sexual questions and I’ll say I like anal and they’ll go out of their way to do it for me.
HipHopCanada: So you’re getting a lot of play.
MGK: On the tour we just came off I was fucking like 3 girls a day. My balls hurt really bad.
HipHopCanada: Pick up any STDs?
MGK: Na, we got the condoms on.
HipHopCanada: Is the lifestyle that you’re living sustainable?
MGK: Fuck no. The way we live is how people used to live. What we do is very controversial to people, they’re in awe. A lot of people don’t understand it cause all they know is “Wild Boy,” it’s hard to be the new Led Zeppelin when all they know is “yea bitch” and 808s but it’s really a giant musical experience, it’s really something beautiful. But I don’t think this lifestyle’s sustainable, but I’m not tryna live till I’m crippled and 85. You take the stage away from me, I don’t know what I’m gonna do.
HipHopCanada: So no back-up plan?
MGK: You don’t have to have a backup plan when you know what you’re doing is some legendary shit that the world’s gonna pick up on. When the world finally catches wave of this shit…watch the show tonight and tell me you don’t get goosebumps.
HipHopCanada: If there’s one thing that people take away from an interaction with you, what do you think it is?
MGK: I always be myself. If I’m mad and you talk to me you’re gonna know it. If I’m sad and you talk to me you’re gonna know it. I don’t feel the need to change for anybody whether you have a camera in your phone, whether you bought 16 albums, whether you know one of my songs, I don’t give a fuck man, we’re all just people, no one’s above anybody else. I respect the shit outta anyone who’s willing to live for the moment. I have no respect for the people that come and say, “I want to but what will people think of me?” I’m like, dude fuck you, man.
HipHopCanada: So you might say that your value system comes down to being yourself, and doing what you want to do?
MGK: Do what you wanna do for the moment. That’s why I respect porn stars – that shit is cool. And you talk to them and they’re the most down to earth people ever, then you talk to the vice president of an elegant sorority house who’s the biggest bitch ever. I’d rather talk to a stripper who says “my life is in shambles right now, I’m fucking stripping to fucking get some money, I have no idea what I’m gonna do.” Those are the people I respect way more than just cause you dress nice and have a job. Get fucked in the butt.
Interview conducted by Amalia Judith for HipHopCanada
Photography by Jamie Sands for HipHopCanada
Tweets by @HipHopCanada