It’s been a weird few weeks for the UK’s biggest hip hop band.
They’ve been accused of homophobia by fans and criticised for using an anti-gay slur on their debut album, and they’ve also been accused by the LGBT community of “faux pas” for using the term “faggot” in a song.
But despite the backlash, the band has remained loyal to their fans, and has announced the re-release of their third album.
Now the band are back, and we spoke to drummer and producer Ben Brantley to find out more about how he got started in hip hop and what he hopes the record means for the future of the genre.VICE: Hi, Ben!
So this is the new album?
Ben: Yeah, the new record.
It’s called The Drowning Pool.
It’s a pretty serious album.
How much do you guys have planned?
Ben (laughing): Well, we’ve got a couple of songs that are really dark, and there’s also a couple that are pretty heavy, so we’ve been trying to get as much out of that as we possibly can.VICE (laugh): How did the idea of the album come about?
Ben Brantles (Brantles): We’d written a couple songs, and I had the idea to write a song that was like a metaphor for the relationship we have, that’s sort of what we’re doing on this album.
So we thought, “Well, why not make it something that’s a metaphor?”
So it was basically a way of saying, “Hey, you know, we’re really into that.”
And I think it really speaks to our relationship.
So, yeah, we have a lot of thoughts going into the writing of this record, but it’s just a lot about being honest with ourselves, really.VICE : You’ve talked about being an artist that has a strong connection with the LGBTQ community.
Do you think that’s something that can help you and other musicians relate more with the LGBT movement?
Ben:(laughing) I mean, I’m not a politician.
But I do think it’s a huge part of my career and what I’ve done.
You know, I think being honest about what I do, and that’s why I’m in the music business, is because I think that there’s so much stuff that needs to be said about the LGBT population, so it’s really a matter of being honest.
You just have to have that honesty.
I don’t think that you can be really in it if you don’t have that kind of honesty.VICE Are you looking forward to the rerelease of this album?
I think we’ve sort of talked about this in a few interviews, and it’s such a great album.
It was really important for us to make this record so that we could share with our fans what we had been doing and the fact that we were still passionate about this.
So I think, at the end of the day, I really wanted to put something out and share it, but I wanted to give it some room.
It seems like a lot has happened since the original album came out, and fans are still very supportive of the band.
Why do you think people still like the band so much?
Ben(laughing)- Well, I mean obviously, because I’m from the UK, but there are other places where I grew up.
So it’s sort-of a different culture, but also, I guess, people are very, very accepting.
So there’s this great energy that you get from this culture that’s been around for a while, and this is an opportunity for us, as a band, to sort of give back to that culture, and to show that it’s not just something that is a reaction to things happening in the world, but something that you actually have a connection to.
I guess it’s like, “Oh, I’ve seen that!”
You know what I mean?
It’s just, it’s part of who you are, you can sort of relate to.VICE What’s your biggest regret with the music industry?
Ben:”I mean, honestly, I wouldn’t have been in this situation if it weren’t for the music.
It helped a lot, it really helped me grow up, and also I think people can see that it really helps people understand that the world is changing, and people are in a better place.
It really helps the world to know that.VICE Do you find it hard being an LGBT person in the UK?
Ben:- Well, yeah.
I mean I think the world of it, I suppose, because it’s something people are looking for.
And I can understand it, because at the same time I can relate to it.
It is a real, real, life experience.
I’ve had a lot more friends than I’ve thought I would, so, you have to be open-minded