10:11pm

Sun May 8, 2011
Music Interviews

Beastie Boys: Rap's Elder Statesmen Go Back In Time

"In film terms," says Mike Diamond, "this is a period piece."

He's talking about the latest music video by the Beastie Boys, which was just released in conjunction with the their long-anticipated eighth album, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two. Diamond and Adam Horovitz, better known by the stage names Mike D and Ad-Rock, started the group with their bandmate Adam "MCA" Yauch three decades ago. They burst onto the scene in 1986 with the album Licensed To Ill and its iconic first single, "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)."

To mark the song's 25th anniversary, the trio decided that the video for the newest Beastie Boys single, "Make Some Noise," would be a look back at their breakout moment. What they didn't anticipate was the scale the project would take on.

"It was supposed to be a video for a three-and-a-half-minute song. Before you knew, it was a 30-minute short film," explains Diamond. "It takes place in 1986 when the 'Fight For Your Right (To Party)' music video finishes shooting — and then the hijinks ensue."

The plot of the video, which the group dubbed "Fight For Your Right (Revisited)," is intricate. You see the Beastie Boys of the 1980s, played by Elijah Wood, Seth Rogen, and Danny McBride. They encounter three more actors, playing the 40-something Beastie Boys of today. The older guys have come back from the future — in a souped-up DeLorean, of course — to challenge their younger selves.

In classic form, the video is goofy, irreverent, and self-referential. It's also a rogue's gallery of Hollywood stars, with appearances from Will Ferrell, Jack Black, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Steve Buscemi, Jason Schwartzman, and too many others to count.

Clearly, the Beastie Boys have come a long way since their debut — but maturity brings its own challenges. The album that became Hot Sauce Committee Part Two was originally slated for a much earlier release, but was delayed when Adam Yauch (not present at this interview) was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. Horovitz says that the group is handling the situation one day at a time.

"[We're] just holding on," he says. "He's in treatment and things are looking good." Diamond adds, "He's obviously our lifelong best friend. You have to just sort of hope for the best."

Of course, getting older has its quirkier moments as well. Horovitz says he recently ended up in a tight corner when his kids saw some of the user comments on the Beastie Boys website.

"Of course, people's comments were expletive-filled," he says. "So then I was explaining how, to a certain degree, I do get paid to use profanity."

You can watch "Fight For Your Right (Revisited)" below. WARNING: This video contains explicit language and content that may not be suitable for some viewers. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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