Luscious Jackson First Cut
June 1997

They were best friends with The Beastie Boys. Actually, one of them was a Beastie Boy. Now on their third album Luscious Jackson has moved way beyond their famous connections. First Cut’s Travis Engle talked to them for this Groove Report.

Luscious Jackson is a collision of styles: funk, punk, hip hop. In their latest single, “Naked Eye,” they even throw in jungle. It’s this ability to smoothly blend cutting-edge sounds that has kept Luscious Jackson a step ahead.

“We grew up in NYC and we loved hip hop when we were teenagers,” says guitarist/vocalist Jill Cunniff. “And we also loved rock and punk rock and all kinds of music. We try to combine everything that we love, and that’s what Luscious Jackson sounds like.”

After three albums they’ve combined everything from hip-hop to rap, but the influence isn’t always obvious. Adds Jill, “We don’t sit there and freestyle, but we’re definitely influenced by the way rap is written.You know, the rhyming style.”

There is one band member who used to rap back when she was a member of The Beastie Boys — drummer Kate Schellenbach. Jill explains why Kate left, “There had never been a white rap group before, and it became this big marketing thing — ‘Whoo! Let’s make a white rap group.’ So Kate didn’t want to rap.”

I asked them if they try to rap at all.

“We’ve tried,” answered guitarist/vocalist Gabby Glaser. “We’re blabbers.”

I had just offered them a quick tour of our station, but in true Luscious Jackson-style it quickly turned into an experiment. They got behind the news desk, pretending to be TV news anchors.

They obviously love performing and it served them well last year when they joined REM for a world tour.

“We took a jump in the size of venue from, like, 500 to 1000 to 10,000 to 25,000,” says Jill. “So it was a real trip, you know.”

“And,” adds keyboardist Vivian Trimble, “the weirdest thing is that you do it day after day and after awhile you get sort of jaded.”

But no matter how jaded they get, they don’t worry about becoming intimidating.

“I think we might have sort of a universal appeal,” says drummer Kate Schellenbach. “We don’t seem like rock stars. We don’t. We’re just like regular people.”

Luscious Jackson’s new album, “Fever In Fever Out,” is in stores right now.

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