Body Count Bounces Back From Abroad


One of the harsh legacies of Vietnam was the notion of the body count. One of the harsh legacies of the '80s is the band Body Count, which brings its decibel-heavy rap and metal show to Emerald City in Santa Barbara on Wednesday. They will be on the Central Coast to preview their upcoming album, make some money, and perhaps, scare some parents.

Body Count, featuring a bunch of guys with no last names, began in 1989 in South-Central Los Angeles. They were inspired by their famous outspoken front man, Ice-T, along with guitarist Ernie-C. There is a definite shortage of heartfelt ballads, if not attitude, for Body Count.

Their first hit was "There Goes the Neighborhood," followed by the controversial "Cop Killer," which insures that Body Count won't be doing the policeman's ball again this year.

The band, which has played extensively in Europe, will be doing a short West Coast tour to preview "Violent Demise." Ice-T, who has another life as an actor, is a hard guy to track down. Guitar player-producer Ernie-C, who just finished work on a Black Sabbath album, is not, and he agreed to a phone interview.


So Ernie, how's the Body Count biz?

Oh, yeah man, we're still around. Man, we've been everywhere--everywhere outside the U.S. We've been to Israel, Bosnia, Belfast, South America, Australia.


The new album isn't out until March '97--so what's up with this tour?

We just want to get out there and play. You know we lost our drummer, and so the new one needs to play. These 14 or 15 shows will be the first time for him. The band is better than ever; I mean, it sounds better sonically. I didn't produce this one, maybe that's why. I decided this time I could concentrate on my guitar playing and writing.


There's an O.J. song on this one, I hear?

Who told you that? Well, there is. You would think there would've been a million O.J. songs by now, but no one's even touched on it by now. I don't know whether they're scared or not, but we're not.


So do you think he did it or not?

Is there any doubt? Of course he did it, and we say so on the record. Everyone says whites think he's guilty and blacks think he's innocent. Well, we're black guys and we say he did it.


So will Miss Santa Barbara Buffy Coed find trouble if she attends your show?

There's never any trouble at our shows. There's no violence. It depends on where we play, but we get the curious, rockers, rappers, metal heads, everybody.


I know this is old news, but what did you learn from the "Cop Killer" controversy?

There's no freedom of speech. I've learned that you can't say what you want to say and stay on a record label. No honesty--that's the lesson I've learned.


It appears that Body Count depends on the availability of Ice-T, a busy guy. Is that a problem?

Oh no, we rehearse and everything without him. He can change his schedule to work around things. This year is going to be the year of Body Count--he's going to make time for us to get out there and reach the people.


Besides being the guitar player, you're also a producer. Tell me a Black Sabbath story.

They were real cool, total professional, ultimate musicians. I mean, Jeff Beck and people like that were there; it was like the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Someone would say "Who's the producer here?" And it'd be like "Hey, it's me." It's a whole lot easier to just sit back and write songs and play the guitar.


Why did you become a guitar player instead of something else?

Because Jimi Hendrix played guitar, he was left-handed and he looked cool. That's what got me hooked. Another time I saw Led Zeppelin, and Jimmy Page was so cool. His playing was sloppy, but he looked cool. It's how you look in this business.


What does everyone get wrong about Body Count?

Oh that we're a band that endorses violence. Hey, we just write about it; we don't do it.


Can music change the world?

No, it just makes for a better soundtrack.


MTV just announced that it's changing programming to more techno and dance stuff. Does that decision affect Body Count?

Nah, they don't play us anyway. But MTV in South America does, and so does MTV in Europe, just not MTV in the West. We played Europe all last year and one gig was us, R.E.M., Van Halen--and we came on after Sheryl Crow. We also toured with Offspring, the Black Crowes and Live. People over in Europe mix music better. That's what music is all about. It's the '90s, and we need more mixing.


What's next?

The record is coming out in March, so that's the main focus of what's going on for us. We're going to play everywhere and anywhere.


* WHAT: Body Count, Blotter, Spank.

* WHERE: Emerald City, 110 Santa Barbara St., Santa Barbara.

* WHEN: 9 p.m. Wednesday.

* HOW MUCH: $11.

* CALL: 965-5050.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World