Home > News & Reviews > Body Count

'The UK Represents': Ice-T On Body Count's UK Tour, New Music and The End of The World

Thursday, 27 June 2024 Written by Jack Butler-Terry

Photo: Alessandro Solca

There’s no better way to describe Ice-T than as a seasoned veteran. The New Jersey-born, LA-raised rapper and actor’s 42 year career is bursting with stories, controversies, accolades and accomplishments in hip hop and heavy metal.

Breaking out in the mid-1980s with genre-shaping work such as 6 in the Mornin’ and his first LPs, his impassioned penmanship helped him become one of the most influential names in West Coast gangsta rap. But nowadays — when he’s not chopping it up as NYPD detective Odafin Tutuola in TV drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit — it’s his hardcore mob Body Count that gets most of his attention. 

Formed in 1990 with Crenshaw High School friend Ernie C, the group has been through their own fair share of ups and downs. Now, as they work their way toward the release of their eighth album ‘Merciless’, it is clear to see that none of their righteous fury has waned over the past three decades and change. Their latest single Psychopath pounds with white hot intensity that seeks to sonically destroy everything before it.

And yet, alongside the anger that pours from his musical output, Ice-T cuts a calm, collected and contented figure over Zoom. Ready to discuss everything from new material and evolving touring habits to political affairs and music industry “bullshit”, he dials in from a Luxembourg hotel as Body Count approaches the end of a month-long tour of Europe, which hits the UK for shows in London, Manchester and Glasgow between June 30 and July 2. 

You guys have been all around Europe all month. How's the tour been?

Incredible. Everything's been packed, the response has been crazy. I think people are just starving for live music after the Covid years. We're very excited to just be back out  doing what we've been doing for years, you know? You gotta remember we hadn't performed in a year. So we did a warm up show in LA, that went very well and as you perform you move the set around, you check the setlist. But right now we're at full power. No one would know it in the early shows, but we know as a band that it gets tighter, and I get more of a vibe going.

Then you're coming back to the UK for the first time since 2018. Are you looking forward to those dates? 

When we put out ‘Carnivore’, we had like 40 shows over here and it all got cancelled. Then the label is like, 'Go make another album.' I don't know if they understand how, when you make an album, you want to perform it. It's not that easy just to go shit out another record. So it took a minute. But I always loved going to the UK. I've been getting support from the UK from my hip hop days; I've had television shows in the UK, so I have a great relationship with the UK. They always show up, you know what I'm saying? Download Festival to me really was one of the biggest festivals I had ever played. We didn't play it this year, but the UK represents.

Do you find it's a very different energy in the UK than the rest of Europe?

No, not really. I think everybody, when you come across that pond, people over here really respect the fact you came over here for them and they show out. I really believe that the UK and Europe have a different respect for music than we do in the United States. The United States is a little spoiled. I'll say that. Let's put it like this: we've got Coachella, like, we got one kind of bullshit festival. These motherfuckers over here sleep in the fields for two or three days! I don't even know if Jimi Hendrix came back from the grave if I would sleep in a tent for three days.

Body Count has been doing this for almost 35 years now, yourself even longer than that. How do you find such a busy tour now compared to before? Does it get easier?

It's totally different. Now it's more of a family affair, you know? I got all my kids out here, so it's different than when you're young, when you’re basically trying to fuck everything that moves. It's a whole other rock life when you get older, you know what I'm saying? After the show, you're calming down. You're relaxing, and it's fun to take people on tour that have never been on tour. But, honestly, we do 27 shows in 30 days or something. Regular rock bands can tour 250 days a year. But I like my day, you know? Another thing is like, when I do Law & Order. It's just one person. It's just me. I go in, I do it loud, the cheque clears. Out here, you can make more money, but you've got 27 people. So you've grossed a lot, but actually, after all the splits and stuff, it kind of evens out.

Let’s talk about Psychopath, the new single from the upcoming album ‘Merciless’. How has the reception to that track been so far?

They love it. I mean, we're playing a few new songs on the tour: we’re playing Psychopath; we're playing a song called The Purge; we also have a special song we play at the end of the show. So we got a lot of stuff. We're testing music out here. That's one of the good things about touring because you can get a response off of something that you made in the studio and see how that works with a crowd.

This track is about the heaviest thing Body Count has ever done and you can definitely hear the Slayer influence. Was that a conscious decision when you were making this record, or has it happened quite organically?

When we record Body Count albums, the band just makes tons and tons of riffs, I listen to the riffs, and I go, “That breakdown is dope. Let's take that breakdown and turn this into a record.” So we take the parts and we match it. Psychopath, they just made that and when I heard the track, I was like, ‘This sounds like the inside of a psychopath's brain’. It sounds so crazy and erratic. The tracks tell me what the song is about. But, I mean, all of us are influenced by everything. The trick is to be influenced, but not sound like the other band, so I think that of course you can hear Slayer influence, because Body Count was intentionally made to sound like Slayer, Black Sabbath, and Suicidal Tendencies all put together. But there's no way we could do Slayer. That's something different.

When it comes to writing the lyrics, you’ve always been very political, or societally influenced. With the state of the world today, do you find it almost easier to write tracks?

The world's always been in turmoil but one thing I never did was go to another country and speak on their politics. I won't come to the UK and speak on UK politics. I speak about my life and what I'm dealing with, so I'm talking about American politics. I always thought that was some bullshit to go someplace and act like you're engaged with what's going on, then get on a plane and leave. But, yeah, unfortunately, it is easier. Let's say it like that. We have a song on the album called World War where I'm kind of saying, like ‘Yo, this whole place is in turmoil’.

Do we all realise how simple it would be to wake up to somebody saying, ‘The missiles are in the air’. While me and you are doing this interview, minding our business, enjoying our life, it could be happening right now. We just aren't watching, you know? So the world is in a very fucked up place. But I think music is the one thing that connects human beings all over the world, better than religion, better than anything else. You could be standing next to somebody, and they could play a song. And you go ‘You like that band?’ All of a sudden, you guys got a connection. That's what music does. Nothing else does that. And that's why I love music.

What else can we expect from ‘Merciless’?

Ice-T: ‘Merciless’ is hardcore in about five or six different ways. The one thing I try to do with Body Count is when you watch a set from us, you hear individual songs. I enjoy a lot of thrash bands, but sometimes I sit there and it sounds like one continuous song. So we try to make everything feel different. We might use a classic rock moment or a punk rock moment, because it's all music to me as long as it's hard. I don't know how many songs they've let you hear, but the album is pretty brutal.

Do we have a release date for the album yet?

Well, I'll say this: unfortunately, the way the music business is now, you can't just drop an album, because no one buys albums. We're going to lead this record in with four singles because it's almost like you got to drop every single like an album. If I dropped Psychopath and I dropped the album tomorrow, in a month, nobody would be talking about the album. So it's like nowadays, we have to go about it a different way, so there'll be the second single called Fuck What You Heard, which is a play on the red and blue of our democracy, with the ‘Democrips’ and the ‘Bloodpublicans’. We turned them into gangs. The next one is Merciless, which is a song about revenge over the oppressor. And the fourth song is a secret. You have an unconventional enemy right now, which is the record business, and you have to use unconventional tactics because people don't buy CDs anymore. They just want a single, you know.

It seems to be something that we hear more and more these days: that streaming is changing the way everything happens for musicians. 

Fucked everything up. For me, streaming is like leaking a record. Once that shit gets on the Internet, why buy it? You can download it right off YouTube. The days of people receiving royalties — I mean, my boy Snoop got a billion streams and got a check for $43,000. But how many people will ever get a billion streams? You got to pay to make these records. You got to go in the studio; you got to pay producers. The days where I was at a record label and I could ship them half a million records out the gate, you would get a cheque. You would get paid.

Now you have to go out on tour. And then the tour game is fucked up because there’s so much overhead, so people start low-balling on touring because so many people want to go on tour. It's crazy. The game is hard. I was talking to one of the guys from Machine Head and I told him, ‘You guys blow up more on pyro than we make.’ The music business is in a weird spot. That's why I'm on TV, man. You know what I'm saying? Just being honest. I'm on TV where, you know, one man enters, one man leaves, but with music, I just do it because I really love it. I love it. I love the energy of being out here and all that. But yeah, it's in a weird place right now.

Body Count Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sun June 30 2024 - LONDON O2 Forum
Mon July 01 2024 - MANCHESTER O2 Ritz
Tue July 02 2024 - GLASGOW SWG3 Galvanizers

Compare & Buy Body Count Tickets at Stereoboard.com.


We don't run any advertising! Our editorial content is solely funded by lovely people like yourself using Stereoboard's listings when buying tickets for live events. To keep supporting us, next time you're looking for concert, festival, sport or theatre tickets, please search for "Stereoboard". It costs you nothing, you may find a better price than the usual outlets, and save yourself from waiting in an endless queue on Friday mornings as we list ALL available sellers!

Let Us Know Your Thoughts

Related News

Fri 14 Jun 2024
Body Count Share Video For Psychopath Featuring Fit For An Autopsy Vocalist Joe Bad
Fri 17 May 2024
Body Count Return With New Single Psychopath Featuring Fit For An Autopsy Vocalist Joe Bad
Tue 30 Jan 2024
Body Count Announce Shows In London, Manchester And Glasgow As Part Of Merciless European Tour
< Prev   Next >