Pigeon John and Flynn Adam recently combined powers to form a new group called, Rootbeer. They just released the duo’s first EP, “Pink Limousine EP” and start their nation-wide tour this month.
PJ: Pigeon John
FA: Flynn Adam
Tell me about the “Rootbeer” project. It is more up-tempo, dance-style hip-hop. It is something a little different for both of you.
PJ: The idea for “Rootbeer” came from Flynn- to try and do something outside of our box of straight-ahead hip-hop, or indie hip-hop, melodic hip-hop. He showed me some beats and we started with the first song, which isn’t on the EP. He was in Orlando at the time, and I was in California. So we liked the way that worked, and we thought, “man, when you get out here, we will just spend a couple months and do about twenty songs and pick the best five and do it like that.” We are trying to do something that we listen to on the radio or on our iPods. It is just a progression, but at the same time it’s still hip-hop.
FA: When we did stuff together, back in the day on our first album, “Spanish Harlem,” was a track we did that was really up-tempo. I liked that chemistry even back then, and it is something I’ve always had lodged in my mind, and when this opportunity come up, it seemed like a good fit.
It is much different than the “west coast” sound. It sounds like something you’d hear walking through Williamsburg rather than Los Angeles.
PJ: Oh yeah? Nice, nice.
Were you consciously trying to make this project different, or is this just how it came out?
PJ: It’s just how it came out.
FA: Just how it came out. We both make tracks- they were beats that we were just going through, and the ones we chose were the ones we just gravitated to, and it all just collectively fit.
Is “Pink Limousine” the first of many for Rootbeer?
PJ: Yeah! We want to do a full-length this fall. The plan is to do a Pigeon John record in the late summer, and then follow that up with the Rootbeer LP. So that when I go out on tour as Pigeon John, Flynn will be there to do Rootbeer songs.
So you can hype it up all summer as Pigeon John, and lead that right up to the release of the full-length for Rootbeer.
PJ: That’s what we wanted to do. We wanted it to be a real natural thing. So whoever comes out to the show, will tell their friends about it and stuff, and keep it going like that.
What are your favorites on “Pink Limousine?”
PJ: My favorite song is “Girlies.”
FA: Mine is a tie between “Girlies” and “Pink Limousine.” It depends on what mood I’m in- ‘cause I love “So Good.”
PJ: Yeah. Because if you are in the sexin’ mood, “Girlies.” If you are into the party mood, on the way to the club, “Pink Limousine.”
It’s the soundtrack to the evening.
FA: Yeah, I like that.
PJ: Here’s what you do; you get dressed to “Girlies,” suit up, figure out what you’re wearing. And then when you are in the car, “Pink Limousine.”
FA: And then after you almost get in a fight, someone spilt a beer on your or something, you play “Under Control” on the way home to cool down, and then you’re good.
Are there particular stops on the tour that you are looking forward to?
FA: The Denver show on the 24th of March. It’s our “Myspace Release Show.”
PJ: We’re looking forward to that, we’ve never done one.
How did the Myspace Release Show come about?
PJ: We did a Myspace deal, so they throw us some favors like throwing a show for us, or doing banners and stuff. They’ve been really helping us out.
It all came from this show in Silverlake at Spaceland, a show we weren’t supposed to be playing in. Flynn called at the last minute and said, “Hey can we get on the bill?” We just did four songs and the Myspace people happened to be there to see the headlining band and they dug the music, then they hit us up the next day and said, “Hey, we would like to develop this and see where it goes.” They’ve been fabulous.
Is there one thing you want the listeners to come away with after listening to the new EP or after seeing the live set?
FA: Fun- fun and energy.
PJ: With Rootbeer, I get so excited because the two fan bases of Flynn and myself, that come out and the music is different than the solo stuff. So for them to receive the new Rootbeer stuff is pretty cool. Because it’s not as lyrical, it’s not like “Shoot, that guy is busting rhymes,” but they still get into it. And that surprises me.
A lot of times when two rappers collaborate it sounds just like two rappers on the same song. To me, “Pink Limousine” has a more full collaboration feel. Like you two guys are the band and not Pigeon John and Adam Flynn.
FA: That’s good. We are trying to make the beat like its own thing.
PJ: Musically, lyrically, and show wise as well.
John, you were recently part of a documentary on the Good Life Café called, “This is the Life,” what was it like to be reunited with those guys? Any memories that really came back to you as you started reliving that part of your career?
PJ: “This is the Life” came out March 10th, directed by Ava DuVernay, who was one of the MC’s there, she was in the mix and wanted to make a film about that. It wasn’t a huge scene, but to us, it was like coming of age for all of us; musically, spiritually. It is really cool to be in that movie. It’s a great movie too. Even if you don’t know what happened, it’s a good watch.
It’s cool that the dream and the vision was never lost, as far as doing your own music and trying to break the ground. No matter what it sales or anything like that, just putting stuff out. I think it will age really well. In fifty years people will look back and wonder what we were doing back then.
Where do you think Rootbeer fits on the current musical landscape? What bands are similar to what you guys are doing?
PJ: Hall and Oates. If Hall and Oates came back, they’d just be like, “These fools don’t even know son!”
FA: I’d be the guy with the curly hair.
If you play “Pink Limousine” backwards it plays “Private eyes” right?
FA: Oh yeah, you better watch out!
PJ: Flynn is a huge fan of the different scenes; Dim Mak, dance music and stuff. For me, I just followed his lead. I think that scene would be a good place for Rootbeer.
FA: It felt good doing the release party at Cinespace. Look at the way The Cool Kids have been able to enter the market place, in a fashion that, for lack of a better word, was “cool.” I think there are so many artists doing what they do. There is so much music out there. You have to find a way to approach the scene. They did a great thing. Those guys are great rappers, and the beats are incredible. The heads can’t connect with them, whether or not they want too. They way they dressed is what set them apart two years ago from their “regular hip-hop” counterparts. We’ve always been a little different. I respect what the cool kids are doing. I respect what M.I.A and Santogold are doing, and at the same time I really dig MGMT and I always tip the hat to Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, so it’s a conglomeration. We like good music regardless of the genre. Approaching this, we just wanted to really handle this differently and not treat it as hip-hop- or underground hip-hop for that matter.
PJ: We put parameters on the EP saying that we had to do all the music and write all the raps ourselves, without outside production. Just to make it unique. So Flynn will start on the beat and drums and I’ll come with the bass and it feels like a mini-band. It is totally different from our solo acts.
Before you got into the studio you decided you were going to do it all yourselves? Or did you try some both ways and decide that you would rather do it alone?
FA: We started thinking that we had to do it ourselves. Because even if it’s not good, The White Stripes are a perfect example of this, because sometimes, it’s just not that good, but you appreciate their guts. There is nothing else. It’s just this, and you. When it gets too big and you can have tubas and dancers, it gets a little not important. It just shows that you can afford it.
I think purity really shows through. When the White Stripes played at Conan O’Brien’s last show, they didn’t sound very good, but there was something great about that. I think listeners are starting to pick that up. So many bands sound similar- people are starting to be able to tell which ones are honest.
PJ: Yeah, yeah. Yesterday we did a show and the opening act was Rob Roy, he totally killed the set. Totally. Totally different style, I didn’t understand it. None of us understood it. It was dope. It was just him and his friends. Stuff like that really gets me excited. It’s fun.
Was that received well?
PJ: It was received with caution because it was different. But then people were like, “oh, this is kinda cool.”
PJ: Alright, you gotta hear this. So we are at Cinespace and we feel like Puff Daddy. Feeling nice, feeling great. Yesterday we at a show in Santa Barbara, UCSB, we should have just gone home but we are hungry, we were like wolves. So we asked the students, “hey what’s going on after this?” And there is something going on after this at a fraternity or a sorority. We’d never been, I’d never been, this is some “Animal House” stuff. So, we came to the door, and these mother freakers won’t let us in. We felt so embarrassed. There was the height of the Cinespace and the low of UCSB.
FA: We just had a release show, and rocked like golden gods, and we come out here, and you see this? This is reality slapping us in the face. We can’t even get into a stupid frat house party that we don’t even want to be at! And it was free! The girls were saying, “No, no, no they performed at such and such” and the guy was like, “I don’t care we can’t let anyone else in.” Meanwhile, all these little dudes are going by and it literally felt like that movie, “Made” with Vince Vaughn. “You’re letting Screech in?!” It was the equalizer for sure.
—Pigeon John and Flynn Adam
Photo by 29 Images