Rolling Stone pays tribute to the late Beastie Boys member Adam Yauch by putting MCA on the cover of their magazine. The music publication spoke to the surviving members of the band, Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz and Mike “Mike D” Diamond, where they shared memories about working with Yauch, how his Buddhism affected his songwriting, and how they reacted when he revealed that he had cancer — and how they’re currently dealing with his passing. “My wife is like, ‘I want to make sure you’re getting it out,’” shares Ad-Rock. “But then I’m walking the dog and I’ll start crying on the street.” Read excepts below.
From Ad-Rock’s interview:
“Yauch was in charge. He was smarter, more organized. In a group of friends, you all come up with stupid shit to do. But you never do it. With Yauch, it got done. He had that extra drive to see things through. We each had our roles. One of his was the make-it-happen person.”
When Yauch told Horovitz he had cancer: “He said, ‘I’m gonna be okay.’ He’s been right about most shit so far. So I believe him. You would get swept up in his excitement and positivity. We recorded a few months ago. It wasn’t any different from before. We spent more time making fart jokes and ordering food, which was true to form. That’s why it always took so long for us to put records out.”
How Yauch’s songwriting changed when he became a Buddhist: “His lyrics became simple ideas about love and non-violence. It was a struggle for Adam to write those things. Basic feelings come off as very Hallmark. But we went through that change together. I wrote the lyrics for the song ‘Gratitude’ [on Check Your Head], and Adam was like, ‘I really like that.’ It made me happy and proud that I had made him happy.”
From Mike D’s interview:
“Yauch was a gifted MC. It was his flow on things, rather than specific lyrics, that first blew Adam [Horovitz] and I away. Early on, we were in the studio, amazed by how Yauch made it seem so effortless. Horovitz and I were maybe a little jealous. And Rick [Rubin] said to me, ‘No, this is good. This is where Yauch is at. You sound like you’re working hard. You’re the working rapper.’ [Laughs] I’m still not sure what to take away from that.”
On his Buddhism: “He abandoned the band for months in the winter to go snowboarding, on this very serious level. Then it wasn’t snowboarding. He would disappear for two months of teaching by his Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala. He gradually incorporated that into the music. He was the first to realize we had this soapbox, and we needed to do something with it.”
On making music without Yauch: I can see making music. I don’t know about a band format. But Yauch would genuinely want us to try whatever crazy thing we wanted but never got around to.
The tribute issue of Rolling Stone also includes interviews with and stories from Billy Corgan, Spike Jonze, Rick Rubin and more. Pick it up on newsstands May 25.