“I remember distinctly my first impression of him,” Henry Miller once described his first meeting beat writer and poet Kenneth Patchen, “It was that of a powerful, sensitive being who moved on velvet pads.” My first meeting Will Brooks gave me a similar impression. Miller continues,
I feel that it would give him supreme joy to destroy with his own hands all the tyrants and sadists of this earth together with the art, institutions and all the machinery of everyday life which sustain and glorify them. He is a fizzing human bomb ever threatening to explode in our midst… There is almost an insanity to his fury and rebellion.
Brooks embodies these two extremes of Patchen: sensitive to a fault, deeply feeling the pain of his people, but ready to deliver retribution with no quarter and no question. Their poetry comes from the same place, a place of pure protest, pure passion.
For the past decade and a half, Brooks has been the center of one of my favorite bands, the noisy Hip-hop crew dälek. He and Brother Oktopus have roamed the globe, destroying expectations and eardrums. Their blend of drones, feedback, and banging beats often buried the vocals in the mix. Theirs was a united front, as much wall-of-sound as it was words-of-wisdom.
This year, Will Brooks emerged for dolo. Under the name iconAclass, he’s been making mad noise in his own right, but this time around the focus is on the lyrics. The beats are still banging, and the grooves are still deep, but the vocals are given center stage.
Henry Miller called Kenneth Patchen, “a sort of sincere assassin,” and I would say the same of Brooks. Allow him to reintroduce himself.
Roy Christopher: Tell me about iconAclass. How does this project differ from dälek? What’s the goal?
Will Brooks: Basically, iconAclass is my solo project. Written, produced, and mixed by my own hand. Shit, I even directed, filmed, and edited the videos! (see below) The only thing I didn’t do were the cuts. Those duties fell to long time collaborator DJ Motiv. This project something I wanted to do for a while now. I wanted to do a very stripped-down Hip-hop project where the lyrics were front and center. I also wanted the challenge of doing a project completely on my own. It was a lot of work, but I am very proud of the final result. The goal, as always, was to make the best possible songs I can make. This is a project that is representative of where my head is at, at this moment. It’s that plate of rice and beans, you know? It was that nourishment, that truth that I needed.
RC: Lyrically, you’re still keeping things rough and rugged, exploring similar themes to previous projects. Is this just more of a straight-up Hip-hop vibe?
WB: Yeah, definitely more “traditional,” I guess, but of course the lyrics got to be truth. I really don’t know any other way to approach music. Again, I definitely wanted to make the lyrics a focal point, where as in the group dälek, the lyrics were more of an instrument and under layers of sonics. In today’s musical climate I wanted to remind heads what Hip-hop is all about. I feel that production is very innovative in today’s music, but there isn’t a premium placed on lyricism. Don’t get me wrong there are heads that are still killing it on the mic — Random Axe, Slaughterhouse, Joell Ortiz on his own, Immortal technique, Pete Rock with Smiff n Wesson, Shabazz Palaces, Doh Boi, LONESTARR, John Morrison, just to name a few. I’m just proud to be a part of that Hip-hop underground that still has love for the culture and the craft.
RC: So, I have to ask: What’s the status of dälek the group?
WB: We are currently on hiatus. After fourteen years of doing it, I think both Okotpus and myself needed a break. We are still working on film scores together (we just finished one for a flick called Lilith) and running the recording studio together, but will be focusing on our respective projects (iconAclass and MRC Riddims) for the time being.
RC: I’m stoked on the book. What made you finally put your lyrics to paper for mass consumption?
WB: Back in 2002, William Hooker first suggested I put my lyrics in book form. I guess that planted the seed. While working on this project, graphic artist and long time friend, Thomas Reitmayer, who worked on the iconAclass album art, approached me with the idea of doing a book of my lyrics with some of his work. I thought it would be a cool thing to press up and have for the first iconAclass tour. It kind of built from there. Adam Jones from Tool was gracious enough to write the foreword, and we got some heads like Prince Paul and Joachim Irmler from Faust to contribute quotes. I was really humbled to have those guys be involved. I’m really proud of the final product. I just wish there were still book stores these days! [Laughs]
RC: Will you be blessing the States with a tour?
WB: We are hoping to at least set up East and West coast runs in the US in 2012. Would also love to play SXSW next year and Chicago. The logistics of a full US tour are very daunting, but we will make something happen for sure.
RC: What else is coming up?
WB: Been running the deadverse recordings record label with my label manager JR Fritsch. We released the deadverse massive TakeOver album. We got an iconAclass enhanced EP coming out in November, along with new releases by Oddateee, Dev-One, MRC Riddims, and EPs from Gym Brown, D.L.E.MM.A, and Skalla slated for 2012 and 2013. We are also planning on re-releasing Negro, Necro, Nekros (1998) in time for its fifteen year anniversary. I have also been DJing on deadverseTV as well as Mixcloud. I’ve been running a monthly deadverse night at a spot in Brooklyn called Don Pedros. It’s been a l lot of fun. Basically just the crew and affiliates DJing and performing everything from Hip-hop to House and Electro beats. Okto and I got a couple more film scores in the works to look out for. I’m definitely hitting the road heavy in support of iconAclass… And in the midst of all that, I did a couple of remixes (Black Heart Procession and Zombi), as well as some guest appearances and collaborations. Some of the collabs that are in the works are a project with Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino, a possible project with myself, Oktopus, Adam Jones from Tool and Heitham Al-Sayed, and I also might work on something with Joachim Irmler from Faust and Alec Empire. So, I’ve been a little busy…
Here’s the iconAclass video for “Long Haul” [runtime: 3:33]:
And here’s the clip for “I Got It” [runtime: 4:34]:
Henry Miller quotations from Morgan, Richard G. (Ed.), (1977). Kenneth Patchen: A Collection of Essays. New York: AMS Press, p. 33.