The Mike D. Interview

The following has been transcribed from a phone conversation that took place between Joe Termini and Mike Diamond of the Beastie Boys for Whalebone. We are unaware if either was under duress during this call but no one said the safety word, so we believe both were unharmed.

Joe: Okay, Mr. Diamond. We are recording now. I’m just gonna pull up the questions from the guys from Whalebone.

Mike D: You got my written ones, yeah?

Joe: Mike, I don’t have your written answers.

Mike D: What do you mean? I spent time doing that.

Joe: I’m looking for it right now.

Mike D: This is important to be transcribed for the interview. You’ve hit the big time, okay? Because last night, I was going through some logistics with my children, Davis and Skyler, who you know well. And our friend, French Tim, was supposed to have a party this weekend, and then he was like, “I don’t know, I might be too busy.” And then, literally my kids look at me and they go, “Oh, you mean he’s pulling a Joe Termini?” AKA, a no-show, okay? “Pulling a Joe Termini” is just officially vocabulary. That’s official vocab in my house right now.

Joe: I hope that’s not the case…

Mike D: Real talk.

"Licensed to Ill" cover art, courtesy of Mike D.

“Licensed to Ill” cover art, courtesy of Mike D.

Joe: Yes, see if you can resend them to me.

Mike D: See, you’re pulling a Joe Termini right now.

Joe: Okay well I’m 16 hours outside of New Mexico at the moment. Oh, here we go! Question from the Whalebone guys. Who inspires you?

Mike D: The city itself. All the crazy shit and crazy people I pass and see everyday. The beauty and tragedy. All my friends creating the most amazing, inspiring art — all in the midst of chaos.

Joe: So, what’s cool about these guys at Whalebone is that they’re obviously an Eastern, kind of Long Island-based magazine that does all this cool [surf] stuff.

Mike D: Whoa, whoa, whoa, stop right there. Joe, I don’t fuck with the Russians. You know that.

Joe: No, not Russians. Surfers.

Mike D: You said Eastern. You said that.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, stop right there. Joe, I don’t fuck with the Russians. You know that.

Joe: Eastern, no I didn’t mean Eastern European. Okay?

Mike D: I’m from Brooklyn and Manhattan, so I have a good relation with some of the people in Montauk. Some of the people in Montauk I don’t have good relations with, (Joe laughs) and that’s okay with me, too.

Joe: So, they were trying to get some really great New York influences and people that basically defined the culture of New York. And obviously, you were on the top of their list.

Mike D: Now, did they get Billy Joel? Their Sag Harbor neighbor? Or, you know who else is from the Island? De la Soul is from Long Island. Actually, there’s a lot of hip-hop from Long Island.

Joe: I actually have a legitimate question for you. Where do you think hip-hop originated? Was it Queens, or the Bronx?

Mike D: People will argue, but it goes back and forth between the Bronx and Harlem. Some people actually like to say that the Shagwong was where the first ever rap performance was given, and I think that’s actually very much not true.

Joe: Okay. But , somewhere in the South Bronx or Harlem, you believe hip-hop as birthed and born.

Mike D: Yes. And I’m going to say whatever place did not have an indigenous people’s name, like Shagwong.

Joe: Another Whalebone question. Worst job to do hungover?

Mike D: NYC Sanitation Department. When it’s 100 degrees out in the summer. Just the smell of garbage juice.

Joe: King Kong or Godzilla?

Mike D: Godzilla is more epic for sure. The original fire-breathing dragon.

Joe: Now, I feel like you guys had a huge hip-hop influence, but then also kind of a real cool rock ‘n’ roll influence, too. Did you feel like you listened to only one kind of music predominately? Or were you immediately drawn to hip-hop right off the bat?

Mike D: We’re like Donny and Marie. We’re like country, a little bit of rock ‘n’ roll. And a little bit Jewish.

Joe: Do you have a beat or a soundtrack in your head when you’re surfing?

Mike D: I think that’s a good question because there’s times when I’m out, when I’m just in the lineup waiting for a wave, and I kind of just get in rhythm, like, a song will come into my head and I’ll just kind of stay with that. And then I’ve just got to stay with that as the soundtrack. You know, it’s like I’m up, bottom turn, then pick the point of the lip where I’m going to hit, do the top turn. And you know I hit it hard, Joe. You know that. The spray, the spray is flying in quantities most people have never seen before. But there’s other times that I just have this soundtrack going, and it all just flows, and I like that. I hit that point, vertical, bottom turn again. You know that’s how I do.

And you know I hit it hard, Joe. You know that. The spray, the spray is flying in quantities most people have never seen before.

Joe: There’s only more spray than ever. So, I guess that leads into my next question. Do you feel like the Beastie Boys should be an anthem for every surf video?

Mike D: Every single one. Actually, I think it should be mandated by law. Yeah. Speaking of that, John John Florence called a friend of mind because he wanted to get a Beastie Boys song for his new movie that’s coming out, and I thought it was so random — dude was only 3 years old when that album came out. But it actually made me really all the more amazed by him. Not only is he probably the most talented surfer in the world, he’s doing all this photography that’s really cool right now. He has all this stuff going on. It’s just cool.

Joe: Goofy or regular?

Mike D: Regular. Frontside, please.

Joe: And I guess my last question would be, do you feel like hip-hop in a sense could be an anthem or do you feel like it cross-pollinates into surfing culture in some way, and how do you feel like it does that?

Mike D: I think it’s interesting having music in general, but hip-hop specifically has this place with skating and with surf where it’s just a commonality of energy. You know, it’s this raw, make you want to do shit, make you get your blood going.

Joe: I like that. And I promise last but not least…

Mike D: This is your third last question.

Joe: This is my last one. Every great interview has three closings. I read this in an article by Oprah, right before I called you. So I’m just adhering to Oprah.

Mike D: Yeah, I know, the great journalist Oprah.

Joe: Now, I know you have fancy friends and you only drink champagne with St. Germaine in it, which is Mike’s drink of choice by the way, but if you were going to leave people with one last thing that you wanted to say about music and surfing, what would you say?

Mike D: It would be, “Wherever you watch Joe Termini paddle out, pick a different place.”

Editor’s note: This interview, found in Whalebone’s NYC Issue, has been edited for brevity. Tune in next week for the official drop of Mike D.’s New York playlist for Whalebone Magazine.