SB: There is a lot going on in the world right now. As artist, what do you feel is your responsibility to speak to the social issues that are happening right now and do you feel a responsibility to address that in your music?
TB: I remember when we were first coming up with the concept of All Cows Eat Grass, I asked Jeff, ‘hey man, what should we be writing about?’ and he said it clearly, ‘love.’ We were like everybody needs love. So, for me being hyper-masculine from Memphis, I just didn’t even think love. I was like, duh, I should write about love, that’s cool. I think we have sort of one, become love champions as well as dance champions. When you think about our first song on the album, “We All Win With Love,” it’s because love is really just the driving force that can really pull out all of this hatred and this strife and anguish. Everybody is human and everybody has this humanity side of them and so we need to understand how important it is to love and how important it is to show love. Honestly, I think our world right now we are hurt because so many people feel like we are not receiving love. So, we just want to put more love in the atmosphere with the music. I’ve always felt that art as a whole is simply meant to compel the heart of people. I’ve heard so many people talk about how a song moved them or changed their mind about something or adjusted their thoughts about things. So, when I sit down to write, I’m either trying to make you dance, feel or love, one of those things. I really want people to have some kind of movement happening, like get up on your feet and dance or really dig into your heart and show some more love. I truly think that as we create we keep these things in mind. I don’t want to suggest any political stance or anything, but I definitely think that, as Aloe Blacc said, and many others, love is truly the answer and we have to show it and hopefully we can receive it from others, paying it all forward. We give it, then others give it, and it just keeps giving forever, to infinity. That’s a part of our mantra as a band.
The title of the band, All Cows Eat Grass, once again, speaks to how we are all alike and you hear so many people talking about black lives matter and all lives matter and it’s because everybody needs to be perceived on the same platform. We are all people who want to live and love, show love, be loved. When we hear these terrible incidents that have happened, one thing you can be certain of is that love has been lacked here. From one person to another, compassion may have not been shown. Our job is definitely to put more love in the air and hopefully we can actually impact people, compel the hearts of some of these people who may have been showing hatred or may have been lacking compassion. Maybe when they hear “We All Win with Love,” maybe they’ll decide to show a little more love to their neighbors, friends and co-workers.
SB: Okay, does anybody else want to chime in?
JC: When you look at the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, we always looked to one person or one type of leader to tell us what to do. However, from the ‘90s to 2000s, we’ve spent a lot of time saying who’s going to be next, who’s going to take the reins. Who’s going to be the next MLK, who’s going to be the next one? We were always looking around and the one thing we noticed was that the person that you’re looking for is inside. One year, Time had a cover that said person of the year and it was a mirror. So, the person of the year was you. Look at the protesters in the middle east, look at even now that people are starting to understand, and social media has had a lot to do with it too, people have really started to understand the power of their individuality and how much they can actually do. The ice bucket challenge is a great example of this. It could work to our detriment as a society, so I think a lot of people feel more hopeful, they feel more included, people have a platform to be more included. I think it’s a net positive. Thankfully, as a band, we grew up in households where our parents were really socially responsible. So we write about what we talk about. It would be hard for us to see what’s going on and not be able to write about it. However, the trick of the matter on our end, is to try to make this stuff without it being so heavy. That’s one thing that I think Terrence has been great at, is making songs that tackle hard subjects without it being so depressing. That’s something that we try to do, to convict people to experience change without losing their jam. This is something we really got from our P Funk background and Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. You look at those characters in music…I mean you listen to Stevie Wonder records and you read the words and are like, wow. Or, Marvin Gaye singing “What’s Going On” and that’s one best songs and most heavy songs in the world and you’re jamming.
TB: Jammin, so very jamming. How can you be so equally heavy and jamming at the same time? Marvin Gaye only knows. Marvin and Stevie, and to piggyback on that one of my favorite quotes in the world – it’s so funny that you were just talking about everybody looking for a hero or a new leader – one of my favorite quotes is from Barack Obama when he was running for president in 2008. He said, ‘we are what we’ve been waiting for.’ You’d be surprised, but I actually have that written on a chalkboard in my bathroom – yes, I have a chalkboard in my bathroom. I can’t state than any better, we are what we’ve been waiting for. Social media and the connectiveness of communities via the Internet makes it a lot easier to touch people with your words and thoughts. Hopefully, this stuff will eventually compel the more bigoted people in the world. Either way, we still have to show them love, sadly enough. It’s love that’s going to drive all of this hate out.
SB: Social media was just mentioned as it relates to social change, how important do you feel that social media – and the Internet in general — is to your musical movement?
JC: It’s monumental. It’s monumental.
RR: It’s a very integral part.
JC: When we first started with Jaspects was on MySpace…
TB: Black Planet…
JC: Black Planet and MySpace, but even going back I remember looking at my original music database and it was based on the Columbia House buy 10 get one for a penny…
SB: Columbia House!
JC: My mom would get all of these CDs or whatever and that was social media for you. You had all of these different singles clubs. The social activity that comes with music has always been very important. Now it has been very very helpful from an ACEG standpoint because when we did Jaspects it was very much hand to hand combat, per se. We would essentially have 1,000 CDs and we would sell 1,000 CDs and make $10,000 off of those CDs and that was kind of the whole thing that was prevalent back then.
We released the first three EPs and we were halfway around the world.
TB: We were not even in Atlanta when they first came out. It was like, are we gonna drop this? We aren’t even stable right now.
JC: Yeah, and SoundCloud, Spotify and iTunes have changed everything. Now you don’t have to take care of the overhead of having to buy merch or whatever. You could put a picture up on Instagram and that becomes the kind of routing inquiry. Before you had to spend some money to be able to be a part of the game, it was pretty much a pay to play kind of thing. Now, if you got a MacBook and Facebook…
TB: An Internet connection and an iPhone!
JC: Yeah, so when you look at that you can really make things move a lot quicker. We’ve seen it with like KING on the soul side. We have a group like KING that just puts out an EP and it catches fire overnight. Or artists like Raury. You go back and you look at Janelle or Mayer Hawthorne. We were on the road with Fun. when “We Are Young” was starting to blow up. We would go to these college campuses and it would start out that 10 kids knew the song. By the end of the tour, there were all of these kids knew the song and it was because of college radio. We are very much aware of it and thankful for the SoundClouds and the Bandcamps and the CD Babys and TuneCorp. I think the music industry gets kind of a bad rap because the playing field is a lot more level now than it has ever been. The profits might not always been in one place, but the profits are there and as an artist you have to pick and choose. Now, all of this access does create a problem because people talk about how to stand out amongst the clutter. Before it was how do you even get heard, how do you even get to a point where you have a platform. Now, the conversation becomes how do you stand out in the midst of the clutter.
JC: That’s probably the only downside of it. It could water down the process.
TB: Yeah, I think that’s amazing and I think that social media basically removes the red tape — the difficulty of getting in a record label door, the difficulty of getting a publicist or getting all of these things. With social media, you can be an independent artist, period. You don’t have to ask anybody, you don’t have to get any kind of permission, you don’t have to get signed. You don’t have to have any of that red tape that you used to have to go through. I think social media has kind of killed all of that. Like Jeff said, the new question has become how do you stand out as opposed to how do you get heard because everybody can be heard nowadays.
I think social media is extremely important to our movement, particularly with our music, because our music is relatively eclectic. It’s not what you would think you would hear from a label. I don’t know that people would just assume that a label put out the album from a sound like ours or some of the other artists who have blown up via social media. I don’t think that they would have had that opportunity had the red tape still been up, if they had had to get signed by some A&R or heard by some record producer. It made life a lot more difficult. People feel truly compelled to dream because their dream could actually have a chance of coming true simply because of the platform that social media gives them.