With the announcement of the first Nerdapalooza this September in California, nerdcore has all of a sudden done a 180 into the mainstream. Artists like MC Chris, who once solely rapped for the â€œnerds, geeks, and losersâ€ about Star Wars and G.I. Joe, are now challenging MySpace with a petition to make nerdcore an official genre of music. When it happens, MC Chris will be declared its official King.
The cereal-hip-pop, helium-voiced rapper, a.k.a. Chris Ward, has finally begun to make a name for himself. While rappers today use vulgarities to boost their egos and rap about their rides, their chicks, and their money, Chris speaks to a more youthful population. Youthful not in the sense of literal age, but rather to those who enjoy reminiscing their favorite childhood pastimes.
Chris uses `80s pop culture references in all of his songs. His diverse experience in the most progressive mainstream movements; working with Michael Moore on exposing the evils of corporations, as co-creator of Adult Swimâ€™s Sealab: 2021 and an improv performer at the Upright Citizenâ€™s Brigade Theater. His first hit single, â€œFettâ€™s Vette,â€ from the debut album Lifeâ€™s A Bitch and Iâ€™m Her Pimp, is an ode to Boba from the legendary series.
Refusing to give in to the demands of a major label, he supported himself by selling his albums on the Internet. Following his debut album, he released Knowing is Half the Hassle, Eatings Not Cheating and this yearâ€™s Dungeon Master of Ceremonies. His latest album will be available early next year however, you wonâ€™t be able to find it on the Internet. Instead, you will have to pay a few extra bucks to see him live, but anyone who has witnessed an MC Chris show has never been disappointed. He is so friendly to his crowd, he might even ask you out to a movie. No worries though, MC Chris is a great date and will pay for the candy, too!
â€œWhen I do a movie, I usually buy a bag of Reeseâ€™s Pieces and try to give everybody one.â€
Format: Some call your music nerdcore. Has geek become the new cool?
MC Chris: I would say there is something going on right now, culturally, where video games, comic book-oriented movies and just geek culture is having a hay day right now. I think larger corporations see that thereâ€™s this humongous amount of stuff that can be turned into really strong brands. There are a lot of corporations and lots of press are getting on the bandwagon, everyoneâ€™s kind of covering it. Is it cool? I donâ€™t know. I hope not because I think if it becomes too cool, than it cancels itself out.
Format: Have you seen the new Transformers movie?
MC Chris: Yes, I have. It was awesome. I took 250 kids after a show in Eugene, Oregon to see the show. We rented out a theater and Hasbro sent us five boxes of toys and Paramount sent us posters and more toys. It was a great show– we sold out the theater. We had a great time. I like to take the fans to shows sometimes after a concert. Lots of rock stars like to hide in green rooms or in their buses or try to stay away from kids as much as they possibly can. Iâ€™m more about interacting with them, hanging out, talking to them or taking them to the movies.
Format: You did something similar with the release of Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie, right?
MC Chris: Yeah, the day it came I went and saw it in Tampa. Then I saw it a week later in Philly with an audience. I tell them I am going to see it. Itâ€™s more fun to share that stuff; itâ€™s not really fun to enjoy that alone. Itâ€™s more fun to be in a room full of people that are really stoked about it.
Format: I heard you were giving out Reeseâ€™s.
MC Chris: When I do a movie, I usually buy a bag of Reeseâ€™s Pieces and try to give everybody one. Iâ€™ll do as much as the bag will offer.
â€œImprov has been nothing but a good force in my life.â€
Format: You worked with Michael Moore on his series The Awful Truth. Have you seen the movie Sicko?
MC Chris: I havenâ€™t yet. I really want to though. I am a really big fan. Some of the stuff that I have learned from him: how to deal with your fan base and being a public figure and the way he handled himself. I took a lot pages from his book. He was a really cool person to work for and he talked to everybody that wanted to talk to him. I try to do the same thing.
Format: How was it working with all of the creative talent at the Upright Citizenâ€™s Brigade Theater?
MC Chris: Itâ€™s amazing. I think itâ€™s in this new phase right now where they have moved over to L.A. and thereâ€™s a new theater in New York. Thereâ€™s a really big school happening with something like 800 kids at a time. It has become a much bigger thing than it was when I was there, before I became involved with Sea Lab. But I go back and they are really cool to me. They let me do shows if I have a chance or if I am settled in New York for a second. I try to set up a show with friends that I perform with or they ask me to open for variety shows. If you go, thereâ€™s a good chance youâ€™ll see me, especially on Friday nights.
Format: How has that inspired your music?
MC Chris: I think improvisation helps you loosen up. It helps you go with the flow and lets you be affected a little bit more in life. To not have such an agenda and to see what people offer you and then you prey off of that, rather than being forceful with your ideas. It helps you stay open. Improv has been nothing but a good force in my life.
Format: Do you think people take music too seriously these days?
MC Chris: Yeah, definitely, especially rap. I think people are happy to see something like me because I am not too hung up on if you think I am cool or not. Obviously, I donâ€™t think I am and I am pretty comfortable with that. I think it letâ€™s everyone else let their hair down and geek out. Itâ€™s a good vibe.
Format: You said you were skeptical about moving to Atlanta, at first, to pursue your opportunities with Adult Swim. What did you learn about yourself after the big move?
MC Chris: I left all of my friends. I left the UCB of New York and it was really hard. I learned that I would do anything for my career. I am just really dedicated. I donâ€™t give up. Iâ€™ll move. Iâ€™ll sacrifice anything I have to sacrifice if I think itâ€™s going to help me work towards my long term goals. My friends are awesome, in such a way that no relationships were really damaged by my departure. Thankfully, Adult Swim was a humongous success, so if anything itâ€™s cool to be my friend now.
Format: You also did the voice for MC Pee Pants on several episodes of ATHF. He takes on the role of several different characters. Who is MC Pee Pants really?
MC Chris: Chris Rock. Itâ€™s my bad Chris Rock imitation. Even worse Flava Flav or Snoop Dogg. Itâ€™s obviously a villain who sees how manipulative Hip-Hop can be, but he doesnâ€™t have a full grasp on the hip-hop language, so he kind of invents his own.
Format: You have sold all of your albums strictly through the internet.
MC Chris: They are at mom and pop stores, we do things indy-style too. Recently, we have taken the albums off of the shelves and everything off online. Now the only way to buy my CD is to come to my live show. The reason I did that is because the hard copy CD is losing its worth every day. I want to try to make it a collectorâ€™s item. CDâ€™s are becoming more and more irrelevant.
â€œI am not too hung up on if you think I am cool or not. Obviously, I donâ€™t think I amâ€¦â€
Format: The tour just kicked off a few weeks ago. What spot are you looking forward to playing the most?
MC Chris: I love Austin. We are going to screen Cloak & Dagger, which is one of my favorite movies from the `80s, at the Alamo Drafthouse after my show. Iâ€™m looking forward to Texas in general. This Thursday we might go to Walt Disney World after some shows in Florida. Iâ€™m really stoked on that, `cause we love going to amusement parks. Weâ€™ve already been to Busch Gardens and weâ€™re going to do miniature golf today. Iâ€™m looking forward to Baton Rouge, `cause thatâ€™s a really awesome venue and theyâ€™re really nice to us. They make really great chili nacho dip. Right when I walk in, itâ€™s ready to go and tastes really good! They make all this homemade food for me and that night the Harry Potter book comes out. Itâ€™s cool. Itâ€™s like a nerd Christmas almost every week of this tour. Thereâ€™s the Simpsons Movie or the Harry Potter book coming out, where thereâ€™s just a lot of fun stuff to do.
Format: Do you still play the original Nintendo?
MC Chris: No. I try to stay up to date with my consoles. I do enjoy retro-gaming, but not as much as everyoneâ€™s doing right now, `cause Iâ€™m not on tour with my Xbox or my Wii. Iâ€™m not downloading a bunch of old games but I do like that craze right now. I think itâ€™s a really slow summer, game-wise, so I think everyoneâ€™s being kind of creative with there favorite games this summer. People are doing a lot of old stuff and I think thatâ€™s cool.
Format: I know you are on tour, but when you have a chance to play Wii, what is your favorite game?
MC Chris: I loaned my Wii to a friend for a little while and havenâ€™t played it in a bit. When I get home I want to play Resident Evil. Iâ€™m looking forward to the Harry Potter game but I think I need to read more reviews on that. Iâ€™m really looking forward to Assassinâ€™s Creed in the fall, which is set during Crusades. Itâ€™s a Holy War but you are an assassin and you climb over everything. It looks really cool. There are a bunch of games coming out like BioShock and stuff. Thereâ€™s some cool stuff coming but itâ€™s not going to start happening until fall. Iâ€™m stoked for it!
â€œI try to stay true to myself and remember I am a child of the `80s.â€
Format: Most of your fans are able to relate to your music because they grew up in the `80s. What about kids today who werenâ€™t around in the `80s and early `90s?
MC Chris: Itâ€™s weird. If you are between like 19 and 25, you are into the `80s. I sing this one song by The Outfield during my show this tour and itâ€™s a total `80s song and everyone knows it. I donâ€™t know what it is. I think there is a little bit of a reemergence of the `80s culture right now, with the Transformers and stuff like that. It probably has to do with people my age being in control of what gets shown and what gets made. We were all into this stuff when we were ten. So I think that itâ€™s not going to totally fall on deaf ears, if anything itâ€™s going to be there retro thing.
When I was in high school, it was retro to be in to the hippies, the `70s, and wear bell-bottoms. I am not too worried about it and, if anything, I try to stay true to myself and remember I am a child of the `80s. After I saw Grindhouse, I realized Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino are children of the `70s and they are really into the stuff that happened in the `70s. Iâ€™m not so much into the `70s. Iâ€™m into the `80s and thatâ€™s just who I am. I donâ€™t have any problems with it. Iâ€™ll be making more references than before on the next album, Six Feet Under And Rising, thatâ€™s coming out the beginning of 2008.
Format: What else can we expect from you in the near future?
MC Chris: We have an Aqua Teen Hunger Force video game coming out this Christmas. The Aqua Teen Hunger Force Movie comes out in August. I have a New York Times article coming up, the Warped Tour in August, and I might be touring with a band called Pinback in the fall.