Everlast On Living His Best Life, Why He’s 100% Finished With House Of Pain, And The End Of America
Tracking Down is a Stereogum franchise in which we talk to artists who have been out of the spotlight for a minute.
To call Everlast a prickly pear would be an understatement. The former House Of Pain rapper and longtime solo artist doesn’t sound thrilled to be hopping on the phone early on a weekday; every small-talk question I lob over is met with a gruff “yeah” and “all right.” And yet he assures me that an early-hours call really is no problem since he’s already up and herding his two daughters to school anyway.
His testy demeanor shouldn’t come as a surprise; Everlast (née Erik Francis Schrody) doesn’t strike me as someone who has time for casual pleasantries. Judging by his musical catalog, he’d rather go deep on the issues, whether it’s ripping into societal hypocrisy and inequality on his 1998 pop-radio staple “What It’s Like” or, like on his gravely new song “Don’t Complain,” skewering folks for cultivating a culture of insincerity on Instagram.
As the minutes tick by, Everlast grows chattier and details, er, what it’s like, to be him these days: primarily, caring for his seven-year-old daughter who has cystic fibrosis, plus preparing for the release of Whitey Ford’s House Of Pain, his eighth solo studio album, which is set to drop on September 7 via Martyr-Inc.
The title, for those wondering, is absolutely a callback to his former band, the titular, now-defunct hip-hop trio no doubt best known for the novelty-rap jock jam “Jump Around.” But he’d rather not spend too much time talking about that either. “People ask me about House Of Pain all the time,” he says. “And you know… Here: this is the last time you’ll ever see it on a record.”
(Despite last year’s 25th anniversary tour, don’t expect to see House Of Pain back together any time soon. Or, according to its former frontman, ever again.)
Below, Everlast delves further into Whitey Ford’s House Of Pain, why he “doesn’t trust the government for shit,” and how, even with all of his movie-star fame and money, Will Smith has real-life problems, too.
STEREOGUM: This is the first solo record that you’ve put out since 2011. Why did this feel like the right time to release Whitey Ford’s House Of Pain?
EVERLAST: Well, I had my first kid right around when the last record came out. And my oldest daughter was born with cystic fibrosis, and that just kind of became life: learning how to deal with that and how to raise a kid and protect a child with this fucked up disease. It just became more important than everything else. I wasn’t in any kind of creative state of mind. I made an acoustic record in that time because it was songs that were already written, so, anything to do to keep work coming in. The only reason it took so long [between albums] was because it took quite a few years to learn how to live and protect my daughter from all the craziness that she has to deal with.
STEREOGUM: What specifically needed to change on a day-to-day after she received her diagnosis?
EVERLAST: I mean, just being here. Not being gone as much. It’s a very complicated disease and there’s a lot of things that put her at risk. So just learning of all that. At this point it’s like, life is … I don’t want to say normal, because to somebody else they wouldn’t find my life normal. Not only in the sense that I make music and all that, but just the weight that comes with all this medical stuff. To other people it could be crushing. I know there was a time when it was crushing for us, but now it’s like this everyday life and you get used to things and you learn how to do them and it just becomes normal. It just took a while for it all to become normal.
STEREOGUM: I was struck by some of the lyrics on Whitey Ford’s House Of Pain. On “Don’t Complain,” for example, who are you accusing of “living fake lives up on Instagram”?
EVERLAST: It’s the world. I mean, Instagram is the only social platform that I actually do myself, because I enjoy it. It’s one of the only ones that I can deal with. The rest of my management handles all those other things.
But on Instagram, people only show their best [sides]. There’s this illusion being created that there are people that aren’t struggling, or that everybody’s lives are great, and it’s a lie. It’s just a lie. I mean, Will Smith has problems, too. Like, I love his Instagram, it’s awesome. He’s one of the best guys on Instagram as far as you want to have a smile and like laugh. But that’s not all of his life, you know what I mean? I’m sure his struggle is different than ours at this point. He’s rich, he’s famous. But the struggle’s there. It’s just you don’t see it.
And so people lose sight of that. It’s like, on my Instagram I post real life. My real life. And sometimes that’s up, sometimes that’s down. And you know I think people appreciate that. I see what goes and I talk about it. That’s what I do. That’s what any musician is, that’s their weight at all in anything. Otherwise you’re just out here saying dumb shit to make money, you know what I mean? And that’s just gonna fucking sooner or later, I don’t care how much money you get, the dumb shit’s gonna stop working and you better save that money.
My work is gonna live beyond me. My work is gonna feed my kid well beyond the day I depart this planet. That’s because what I’m saying and talking about are things that are never gonna go away.
I mean, Instagram may go away, but there will be another thing where people are fake the funk. People faked the funk when I was young. There just wasn’t a major platform to do it on. You just kind of did it on the block.
STEREOGUM: I was looking through my own Instagram recently and I could tell that I had been going through a little depressive period because the only pictures on my Instagram were of my cats. AKA, I hadn’t been leaving my house or going out very much. But no one would know that I’d been feeling depressed.
EVERLAST: They think you’re having a ball with your cats. This girl loves her cats. They don’t see the struggle.
It makes it very easy to lie. It makes it very easy to also disconnect from your friends because you see all the great things they’re doing, you don’t ask them how they’re doing. People don’t ask how they’re going anymore because they think oh you’re doing great, I see you on Instagram. I’ve seen his Facebook. So it’s just funny to me. It’s clichéd to death already, but the more these people get involved and sucked into social media the more lonely they get.
STEREOGUM: I know you’ve used the moniker “Whitey Ford” on a number of other solo records, but I’m curious as to why you’re joining it with “House Of Pain” here — your old band name.
EVERLAST: Just, I mean, again I don’t write things down; I don’t plan them out too much. Especially album titles, they just kind of happen. That one is again trying to figure out what the record was, it’s just kind of like to me it just represents everything I’ve ever done.
STEREOGUM: I’d be doing my childhood self a disservice if I didn’t tell you how much I loved — and still love — the “Jump Around” song placement in Mrs. Doubtfire. That was sort of my introduction to House Of Pain as a kid.
EVERLAST: It definitely keeps youngsters listening to that song. ‘Cause parents play that movie for their kids and those kids hear that song and that song becomes a memory. Then as they grow up they hear that song, and they grow attached to it, that’s why the song is gonna live.
STEREOGUM: Did that feel like a positive development for the band at the time — the placement?
EVERLAST: It was a check. Like, I didn’t know the movie. At the time it didn’t really mean anything to me except, “Oh, that’s the next check.” Then, like, later on when I saw the movie, the impact of it doesn’t … You don’t find that out until the next generation pops up. And you try to figure out why is there another surge on this song? Oh, all these kids are turning a certain age and they … Okay, I get it.
STEREOGUM: House Of Pain has reunited a few times in recent years. I think 2017 was the last time?
EVERLAST: Yeah, that was the last time. Yeah, that was it. That was 25-year anniversary. We did a little tour. That was it.
EVERLAST: Yeah, that’s a wrap. House Of Pain ended in 1996. We brought it back a couple times for fun and it’s just … it’s just done. I can’t do it anymore. I mean, I’m not saying I won’t do the music, I’ll sit there and do music at my shows, some of the House Of Pain stuff here and there. But as far as it being an entity that’s gonna tour? Nah. That’s a wrap. We’ve only gotten together twice in the last 15 years and that was for the 20th anniversary and then for the 25th anniversary. And I don’t think I’m doing it for the 30th anniversary. I’m done.
STEREOGUM: That’s fair.
EVERLAST: Another reason I called the album [Whitey Ford’s House Of Pain] is because it’s kind of a way say, “this is all that’s left.” Whitey Ford’s House Of Pain. That’s what it is.
STEREOGUM: I also wanted to ask about your new single “The Culling.” Lyrically, it sounded like a warning to prepare for a major reckoning. Was that its intent?
EVERLAST: Oh yeah, I mean come on. It’s coming. I don’t know what shape or form it’s coming in, but put it this way. Whether it’s political or not, just take the fact that this planet is a living fucking organism and sooner or later it’s gonna realize we’re a bacteria destroying it. And basically it’s gonna kick into its own immune system and freeze over and kill us all. Or it’s gonna be the fucking government doing, I don’t trust the government for shit. I mean you can get real deep on a lot of shit real quick. The FEMA camps already all around this country with fucking coffins everywhere. I mean, look it up. You’ll find out. There’s FEMA camps with thousands upon thousands of like multi-body coffins ready to go. Like what are they waiting on? What are they prepping for? Something. You know what I mean?
It doesn’t even having to be a physical culling. Right now, it looks like a fucking mental fucking social fucking computerized like reprogramming of people’s brains. That’s all the song is, is just a warning. It’s saying, “Hey, if you don’t see it coming it’s gonna be too late.”
STEREOGUM: Listening to it last Tuesday felt rather prescient, what with the Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen nonsense. It was difficult to know whether that combined news should make me feel feel optimistic, or…
EVERLAST: No. Trump is gonna get elected again. I’m gonna tell you that right now. People are delusional thinking the man ain’t gonna get elected again. Like, nobody’s gonna do shit about anything he’s done. This is a big test run for a dictatorship in America. They’re pushing all the buttons to see what they can get away with. What are the people gonna freak out about? What are they gonna let happen without even a problem? That’s what’s going on.
Half the [government] jobs that are needed to run this country aren’t even filled. And people don’t talk about that at all. That’s why children can’t be reunited with their parents, and that’s why all this fucking fucked shit happens — because they didn’t hire anybody. So somebody’s pocketing all this money.
People wanna know if this is the beginning of the end? Yes it is. But not in the way they think. It’s not the beginning of the end of the Donald Trump presidency. It’s the beginning of the end of America. America’s over. It’s not America the free, it’s America Inc. It’s a corporation.
STEREOGUM: Yeah, I was having a conversation with a friend recently and she’s moving to Warsaw with her boyfriend. She made the interesting point that years ago, her ancestors moved to America for hope of a better life from Europe, and now that’s kind of happening in reverse.
EVERLAST: It’s not different up there. They’re moving to Poland to escape. You know, first of all, all this right-wing fucking craziness is going on over there too.
STEREOGUM: Yeah, no, that’s definitely true. I think she was specifically thinking in terms of social safety nets. Like in most European cities, you can start a family without having to worry about going into, I don’t know, say, $30,000 in hospital bills.
EVERLAST: No, just white people. Just scared-ass white people. A lot of scared-ass white people and it’s silly to me. It’s like, you guys are holding onto something ancient that’s never coming back. No matter how much you fight it. It’s never coming back. America of the old the ’50s? Never coming back. It’s not gonna happen. America’s done. We’ll see what’s next.
STEREOGUM: So, where do you find catharsis? Because a person could go crazy thinking about how everything everywhere is falling apart.
EVERLAST: You people have another issue with this. Like fucking I don’t sit around all day and worry about Donald Trump and the fucking government of the United States. Because honestly, my life functions without it. All that shit is cool, when it collapses? Hey, then … if it collapses or whatever happens, cool. When the revolution takes to the streets if that happens, cool. I’ll deal with it then. I don’t sit around and fucking cry about fucking what’s gonna happen tomorrow or what they’re doing today. That’s not my job. You know what I mean? People … everybody thinks their opinion is their job nowadays. And it ain’t. Your opinion isn’t your job.
STEREOGUM: Well, as long as you can keep some perspective, and it sounds like you do.
EVERLAST: I’m just old enough to know you’re not going to convince some people of all your ideas about everything you think is right. You’re just not gonna. And to do it, to try, is just dumb. Pick your fights, pick your battles. You know, the ones that you think can make a difference and you do something about. I’m over here trying to live my best life.
Whitey Ford’s House Of Pain is out 9/7 via Martyr-Inc. Pre-order it here.