Sit Down Series: Trademarc

Marc Predka, who is best known as Trademarc, has unquestionably made his mark in the world of hip hop. Though it is well-known that he is the cousin of WWE’s John Cena, his body of work has shaped and molded a persona far, far beyond that. After working with John on You Can’t See Me a decade ago, he has been able to take that momentum and hold his weight with the releases of Inferiority Complex and his 2015 release with DC, Black Ash Days. On top of that, he released two albums with Esoteric and DC as East Coast Avengers. (Prison Planet and Avengers Airwaves) I sat down with Trademarc in the basement of his childhood home in Peabody, Massachusetts for an incredibly in-depth conversation about everything from the music he’s put out there to the deep and truthful message behind Black Ash Days to his relationships with John Cena and Kurt Angle to overcoming personal struggles and much, much more.

So you attended Boston Comic Con this year, how was that?

In a word, “overwhelming.” 7L and Esoteric just released an album called Czarface with Inspectah Deck of the Wu-Tang Clan, they had a table there. We went in and I had never been. I had gone to E3 before because I love video games, I’m all about it. Comic Con was pretty cool. I bought a couple of action figures, a Ric Flair and a Larry Zbyszko. Why not? (laughs)

Was anyone notable there that caught your eye?

Tim Sale, who illustrated the Batman Long Halloween story was there. Scott Ian of Anthrax was there also, but I’m not really a fan of them so it wasn’t that big of a deal. Stan Lee was there the day before I went and I would have loved to have met him. Other than that I was just excited to see all the old Star Wars and Transformers toys in their original packaging.

I noticed that your new album, Black Ash Days, is being sold at Newbury Comics. What does that mean to you?

I guess I’m supposed to say ‘It’s really cool to see it on the shelf. It’s always nice to see something that you put a lot into actually make it onto the shelf somewhere,’ but in reality it’s a mix of satisfaction and depression. I mean not the kind of soul crushing, crippling depression that brings on suicidal ideation, but the kind of depression closely related to the “what could have been” variety. I mean even something as successful as my album with John which went Platinum depresses me in retrospect because I now know how much of as asshole I would be about the whole thing.

How did you originally get involved with recording music?

The first ever track that I recorded was actually with my best friends, Trevor Gendron (Karma), George Andrinopoulos and Seamus Ryan, 7L and Esoteric respectively, this was back in ’93. This is back when we all met at Salem State College, which is Salem State University now. Trevor, George and I had known each other since grammar school and through high school. We met Seamus during our first year at Salem State. We called ourselves God Complex and we recorded two songs, Slap Happy and Word of Mouth, before I left the group. I found them recently on cassette, they’re pretty crazy. (laughs) Basic Thuganomics was the first recorded song that got out there commercially. John came to me and he was like “Hey, I wanna do this intro song, you wanna do it with me?” At that point, he was still living at home and we were all getting together at this bar called O’Keefe’s, which was really just a room in his house. We would just hang out and freestyle pretty much every night we had free time to.

What was it like being in the music videos for a couple of the tracks off of You Can’t See Me?

It was really fun. The A-Team one where I got to shoot blanks out of an AK-47, are you kidding me, that’s every childhood dream I ever had come true. It’s ridiculous. Then dressing up like all those guys. It was pretty great, it was basically like being in a movie. I was on a set doing all these crazy things and getting makeup done and all that jazz.

How was it set up that Gary Coleman appeared in the music video?

That whole part is still a mystery to me.

And how about appearing on RAW?

That was so stressful, dude! (laughs) There were a couple lines in the song where I swear, so I was like “Just don’t fuckin’ swear, dude!” That’s the one thing I’m thinking. John was like “Dude, just don’t swear. Don’t swear cause we’ll be fucked.” But you know what was weird, I said this to my girlfriend at the time, it was almost less stressful than doing a show with five hundred people. The show with five hundred people, it’s crazy intimate and everyone’s right there, all eyeballs and faces just glued to you, waiting for you to fail…at least that’s how I look at it. I guess that says more about me than about the reality of those people in the crowd, but whatever. But when we did that, there were fourteen thousand people there and it just becomes fake at that point. There’s really no way to describe it. You just go out and this surreal feeling hits you, it’s not even real. They’re so far away too, it basically just becomes this buzzing background. Kinda like a thick layer of white noise.

How were those shows that you did with John in 2005 while he was on the road with WWE?

We performed in LA, Philly, Cleveland, Buffalo and Boston as far as I recall offhand. One of my favorite shows was the trip to Milan, Italy. We were on a TV show comparable to TRL, then we performed at this club called The Rolling Stone. It was just an incredible five days. Great people, great food and just an all-around good time.

How did it feel to have WWE heavily promote the album on television?

It was really pretty great. I was living with John at the time and it just seemed like there was a constant outpouring of positive things happening. I mean looking back, I realize how I was fairly complacent and difficult. Even when I had the self-awareness to not be complacent, it was tough to get any momentum on my own as an artist without everyone asking or demanding John and the WWE be involved. Let’s just say I was lacking in gratitude and made up for that by being heavy handed with feeling a little too good about myself. In short, I was probably kind of a dick.

How does it feel to have your voice heard every week on WWE programming when John Cena comes out to The Time Is Now?

It’s pretty damn cool! I’m not gonna lie. Most people don’t even know it’s me, but I’m still proud of it. It’s not like I’m like “Hey yeah, I did this fucking great thing!”, but when I see kids rapping the verses at live events I attend, it feels pretty good. Most kids are just rapping the song because they know that it’s a John Cena song and I think most people assume that’s just him but I don’t care. There was a ten year review of the album that came out recently and even the people that reviewed it didn’t even know who I was and that I was on every song. (laughs) But I don’t even care about that at this point. Okay, that’s a tiny lie. I care far too much about those types of things. I have an unhealthy ability to perceive everything, intended or otherwise, as a slight or a personal attack. I take way too many things personally but I’m lucky to have Katie (Mitchell) in my life. She’s honestly the best thing that could have happened to me. She keeps me from going down the rabbit hole.

How do you feel about the crowds adding in “John Cena Sucks!” to the beat in the same way that they used to add “You Suck!” to Kurt Angle’s theme?

I think it’s incredible. (laughs) It’s the best. How is that not awesome?

How do you feel about him being such a polarizing figure?

I mean I can see it, I can see how people probably want to see something change. But it’s like…what do you want? I mean, really. I think what he has right now is perfect. I really do. But I guess everyone grows tired of prolonged success on any level. I mean I’m a Patriots fan so I see it all the time with them as a team. I felt the same way when the 49ers and the Cowboys were winning. Just brand or team fatigue. It’s natural to want change in that regard.

You Can’t See Me was released ten years ago and John was only just starting to get as big as he is now. Do you feel that factors such as him being the face of the company and the product becoming TV-PG prevents him and yourself from putting out another album?

You would honestly have to ask him. I’d obviously be down to do it. I mean he was supposed to be on three songs on my latest Black Ash Days album and he sounded better than ever. His writing was more polished and personal. It was great to hear.

Through John, which wrestlers did you really enjoy meeting?

Funaki, he was incredible! John traveled with him, I think that was one of his traveling partners when they were on Smackdown. He’s the nicest dude in the world. And Rey Mysterio, one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Kurt Angle did a lot for me when I stopped doing stuff with the WWE.

How did you connect with Kurt in the WWE and get back in touch with him when he went to TNA?

I did this solo album and I think I gave it to him. He told me backstage once that he liked my stuff and went about his business. But somehow we ended up talking again. He helped me out, man. I don’t know why, out of the kindness of his heart, he’s such a giving dude. His manager, Dave Hawk, was also a really, really helpful dude. That was a dark time too, man. Just in general, not working with the WWE anymore, John and I not really talking as much. That actually got me through, it got me to at least stay focused on making music and being positive, rather than going down the aforementioned rabbit hole and going crazy again.

How did that connection lead to you recording his entrance theme?

He wanted me to do a song or something, he wanted to hear what I could do about him. So what I did is I read his autobiography and I wrote a song just about his life. I just did it for fun because I didn’t know what was happening. It was just cool and Kurt Angle’s such a great guy that I’m gonna do this for him and send it to him. So I sent it to him and he really liked it. He was like “How would you like to do a thing on my entrance song?” And I did. He had the instrumental for the Vision Quest song, Lunatic Fringe by Red Rider. I added lyrics in there, but I don’t think he uses it anymore.

He does! He’s been using it ever since the first time he came out to it.

(laughs) I had no idea!

So your voice is heard in the entrance themes of the two top stars of the two top wrestling companies.

It’s pretty cool.

You also happened to appear on TNA programming.

I did. That was pretty awesome! (laughs) I don’t even know what I did to deserve any of that, it was great. Dave Hawk just gave me a call. I’ll never forget, I was painting my parents’ bathroom and I just got a phone call, it was Dave. He was like “Hey, how would you like to be on a TNA pay-per-view?” And I was like “What?!” I’m painting a bathroom, you know what I mean, it’s just out of nowhere. Alright, yeah! So I went down to Orlando and went down to the studios.

Did you ever consider getting into the wrestling business yourself?

Absolutely not. Those guys are so talented, I don’t think anybody fully realizes it. You can’t just be this big, jacked dude or you can’t just be this super athletic guy, you have to have everything. You have to be able to talk in front of people and be creative in how you market yourself. It’s a crazy mix of gifts, you can’t just have one. If you see somebody on TV, you can usually tell right away whether or not they have it. You just know because the whole picture might not be there. It’s so rare to have all of those things. John is undoubtedly blessed with all of those things; a surplus of them actually. I’m obviously not blessed with the physical gifts, I’m five ten if I’m lucky. (laughs) You could always pack on mass, but then it’s like “Alright, cool. I have a ton of muscle now, what can I do?” There’s so much that goes into that, so much hard work. Not for me, man. Talking to you is hard enough and they have to talk on live television in front of sold out crowds every week. Nope. I’d rather write music, play video games and read books, to be honest with you. (laughs)

What are some of your favorite video games and books?

My favorite video games of all time would have to include Tecmo Bowl and Super Tecmo Bowl, Tenchu, the first and second Bushido Blade, the whole Metal Gear franchise, The Last of Us and any Madden up to about 2004. But books, man, I’m trying to finish Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace now. It’s the third time I’ve tried it. I’m currently three hundred and sixty five pages in. But I read everything. Summer is like my Stephen King time, so I read a ton of horror. But I usually try to have a fiction and nonfiction book going at the same time. I’ve got The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker going right now as well.

Was there an autobiography that you really connected with?

Not really. Living my life with all of its anxieties and insecurities is enough for me. I don’t need to take on someone else’s as well.

How did you become most interested in hip hop over other genres?

Jesus Christ, I listened to the worst music growing up! (laughs) I was stuck listening to whatever my sister, Kristen, was listening to, for better or worse. I mean she had all that boy band stuff from the early eighties and late seventies. But I also got into Ozzy Osbourne, I got into Mötley Crüe, AC/DC, all that stuff. I went through my hair band phase, stuff like Ratt, Def Leppard and Poison. If it wasn’t for Guns N’ Roses, I’d probably be listening to adult contemporary crap to this day. They kinda gave me a shove into the whole, ‘pissed off rockstar’ genre. I think the first two hip hop albums I got were The Fat Boys, Crushin’ and The Beastie Boys, License To Ill. Then I gravitated towards West Coast rappers like The D.O.C and NWA. I actually fell in love with the Geto Boys and everybody that was from 5th Ward and on the Rap-A-Lot Records label, which is based out of Houston, Texas. Guys like Big Mike when he was with The Convicts and later, Scarface’s solo stuff. It was great starting to listen to hip hop around that time because you almost had to listen to good music by default since it seemed like there wasn’t as much shitty music. I mean you could find it if you looked for it, but even if you were listening to rap on the radio, it was good. You weren’t gonna put something on and hear a ton of unoriginal shit, whereas a lot of the rock I was listening to was shit. One of my best friends, George Andrinopoulos (7L) gave me mixtapes all the time with Gang Starr, Boogie Down Productions, Erik B & Rakim and all these other East Coast rappers on it so my tastes started to shift. Jesus, now that I think about it, George probably saved me from a life of listening to garbage.

What are some of your all-time favorite guilty pleasure hip hop songs or artists?

I would have to say Kwamé the Boy Genius; His first album. But shit, I listen to pop music as well. I’ll at least give it a chance. Taylor Swift and stuff like that. I just got that Ryan Adams cover album of Taylor Swift’s 1989 and it’s goddamn earth shatteringly good.

Briefly touching back on your mention of rock music earlier, you told me prior to this that you dig Steel Panther.

Honestly, I’ve never really listened to them. I just know that their whole shtick is incredible. I listened to them on Toucher and Rich, they were on 98.5 The Sports Hub to promote a show. I will definitely be buying their music. They played some of it, but they really couldn’t play a lot because a lot of it’s just filthy. It’s incredible, dude. It’s the best.

How did you originally connect with Bumpy Knuckles?

That was crazy. John and I were promoting the album You Can’t See Me in New York. So we walked in, we’re on the radio show and we’re just talking about the album, blasé blah. And one of the hosts is like “Hey, we have a surprise guest and and we’re gonna have him arm wrestle you.” I’m like “Oh Jesus Christ, what’s gonna happen here?” The door opens behind me and I see Freddie Foxxx come through and I’m like “Holy shit!” Industry Shakedown was one of my favorite albums, it’s incredible. So he comes on and John’s just like “…Oh shit.” They had an arm wrestling competition and it was like they just hit it off instantly. It was the greatest thing ever. We’re sitting here with this hip hop legend, just an absolute badass. He was just like “Hey, let’s try to do something.” It was incredible, man. It was a good time.

With music you’ve put out there, what have you tried to do with sampling?

We’ve actually got away from that just because it’s impossible to sample stuff now. I guess on one level, it’s probably good because the people get to keep the rights to their music, but in another respect, it limits you. I love sampling. It’s very difficult to make beats that sound like they’ve been sampled when they’re not. I think the best example of beats that sound like that would be on my album and on the latest Czarface album because those are so well-produced, by DC and 7L & Esoteric respectively.

What would you say is your favorite usage of sampling in a song?

I love the song The Bomb by Akinyele, it’s one of the best hip hop songs ever. Anything on his album Vagina Diner is incredible.

What is sampled for it?

You know what, I don’t know. I’m not a producer and I don’t pretend to be. (laughs) I was always the guy that knew when something was sampled. But if you asked what it was, I would have no idea, I’d have to look it up. When I used to rap with Seamus and George, who are 7L and Esoteric, those guys could rattle off samples. And even my friend Trevor, who is Karma and does a lot of their design work, he would rattle off “Yeah, that’s so and so from this record. That was put out by this and that.” And I’m just like “Jesus Christ, dude.” It’s not my field. (laughs) My field is dick and fart jokes. So if you want to talk dick and fart jokes, we can do that.

So in that case, what are some of your favorite comedies?

The animated series, Archer. I just started watching Silicon Valley too.

Getting further into your albums, I’d like to discuss Prison Planet by East Coast Avengers.

That was produced by DC the MIDI Alien. Esoteric and myself were the two MCs. Bumpy Knuckles was actually on that, as well as Apathy and Celph Titled, Slaine, King Magnetic, Terminology and Statik Selektah. I honestly love that album. I love both East Coast Avengers albums.

How did you discover that Kill Bill O’Reilly was banned on MySpace and YouTube?

It’s funny that MySpace was on that, that’s how you know something’s dated! (laughs) It’s like being banned from AOL. I don’t even know how they took it down, I just know that every time we put it up, it got taken down and said taken down by whatever it was. There was an email sent to whoever had the account, they were basically just taking it down and sending emails saying it violated something. I forget what the exact words were, but it’s funny because they were taking Kill Bill O’Reilly down, but they were leaving up all of these white supremacist groups that were putting up their videos. We sent them back emails saying “Hey, it’s kind of funny you’re doing that, but you’re leaving all this other hate group stuff up there. What’s the deal?” We never got any answers. But that song got a lot of feedback, positive and negative.

What was the negative feedback like?

It was like death threats and stuff. I mean I’m not gonna say it was concerning because I’m sure most of it was just like internet tough guy talk. “I’ll fucking kill you. I’ll meet you here, blah, blah, blah.” When we did the song, it was basically just to point out how easy it is to use hyperbole. That’s what O’Reilly’s all about, that’s what all those guys are about. I’m not a liberal or a conservative, I just think that all these talking heads guys just use hyperbole and hot button propaganda as their weapons. They just feed the fire of whatever they’re trying to get out there and stay relevant in their media markets. We did the same thing through a song and everybody lost their fucking mind. “Oh my god! These guys are thugs!” Michelle Malkin was like “Don’t these guys have drugs to sell and bitches to slap?” She made the most ignorant statement ever. It was like “…What?” Women to slap, drugs to sell and whores to beat or some shit. What the fuck are you talking about? Stuff like that is what we were trying to point out, it’s so easy to speak and cause a fucking riot. And we did.

How did you originally become invested in the Bill O’Reilly’s of the world?

Esoteric and I went to a Red Sox game. (laughs) We were in obstructed view seating. There was a fucking two foot thick beam in front of us, so all I could see was the ass-end of the catcher and the umpire and basically the shortstop and outfield. So we were basically just sitting there shooting the shit, this was back in like 2006. I remember I was reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and we started to talk about that. It was like “We should do something.” And he’s like “I have this talented producer DC who sent me a ton of beats. Why don’t we do this project?” And I was like “Shit, alright.” So we agreed on it. He was actually the one that came up with the whole idea behind Kill Bill O’Reilly. It just kind of came together. He would write a verse and send me over the beat with his verse, I would just go and vibe with what he was doing and then I would write a song. I don’t even know if there was ever this conversation between us that was like “Let’s just keep it social and political.” I think at the time, everybody just had enough. They were like “Alright, Obama’s getting in and we could have all this change.” Which in retrospect, looks silly, but there was so much unknown and anxiety in general. I think we portrayed that pretty well.

So then we move forward to the release of Black Ash Days. When did that come out?

That just came out this past May. I put it out on the same day that John and I’s album was released ten years ago.

What took place in between the time of Prison Planet and Black Ash Days?

We actually put out a second East Coast Avengers album. It was called Avengers Airwaves, it’s really fucking good. I was really proud of it.

With ups and downs in all genres of the music world, what are the politics that you’ve experienced?

It’s who knows who. The politics of the music business is probably something I don’t even know enough about. I don’t know if I was ever just fully invested enough. Honestly, the only reason I’m in the quote unquote music business is because I was lucky enough to have a famous relative. I’m not stupid enough to not be able to admit that. I was really fucking lucky. John was famous and we made an album together, very fortunate. And I use that to try to keep making music because I just love music. Music now, it’s just hard to sell. And it doesn’t even matter, now it just sounds like sour grapes. But I don’t know, it just gets to the point where I’m like “Am I good enough? What would it matter?” You start getting into the whole self-doubt thing because I have an inferiority complex among other things. (laughs)

I’ve seen instances of established and well-known rock bands that can’t even fund their latest album, it’s people all over the spectrum that deal with it. It’s pretty depressing.

It is sad. It’s like the only physical copies of albums that you see sell are names like Taylor Swift and Zac Brown Band or people that have just been around forever like U2 or even Billy Joel for Christ sake.

Black Ash Days had a very bold theme and strong lyrics. Would you consider it to be a concept album?

Yeah. It’s about me having a full-on mental and emotional breakdown. When I was nineteen through about twenty one, I started to have anxiety attacks and suffer from crippling depression, as well as auditory hallucinations. Even back in high school, it started then. I would count everything. I would have to do things in threes like if I was touching something or even looking at someone. And if I didn’t think the right thoughts, I couldn’t leave the room yet and I’d have to do it again. It took a while to even get out of the house sometimes. It was never enough for me to want to go back in the house and do stuff, at least not at first, but it started to get really bad and it would increase my anxiety. So I was twenty or maybe twenty one and I was driving down the highway with my girlfriend to pick up a check at work and I just had a monster anxiety attack. I had no idea what it was because you’re just not ready for that shit. Everything just goes numb. I felt like I was floating above the fucking car. It was dark, my arms were numb and I thought I could be having a fucking heart attack. We had to pull over and wait it out. I started to just have constant anxiety after that. It got to the point where I couldn’t even go to work. I went to a psychiatrist, they’re giving me all this shit like Clonopin and Paxil. They gave me the same medicine that they had given family members that had similar problems thinking that maybe it’d help, but it just made shit worse. It ultimately led to a suicide attempt, well a few of them, attempted pill overdoses. When I was at Syracuse, I had two pill overdose scares and I had to come home. The added shame and failure coupled with my already worsening depression and anxiety led to the most serious of my suicide attempts. There were pills and alcohol and I also cut my wrists and tried stabbing myself in the stomach. I was hospitalized, inpatient/outpatient, all that jazz. I’ve seen that whole world, a lot of it, and it’s not pretty.

The psychiatric unit I was in was not conducive to healing. I guess it may have helped me in that I got some kind of frame of reference, or a little perspective. I mean I know it’s probably not healthy to compare yourself and your own inner turmoil with someone else’s, but it’s also pretty goddamn hard not to. I would sit in group therapy and we would all tell our stories and there were people that openly admitted to being homicidal. I kinda took a little personal inventory at that time. I was like, “Look, am I unstable? Yes. Am I in need of help? Abso-fucking-lutely. But I need to get the fuck out of here as soon as fucking possible.” I learned how to manipulate the system and play the game. Now mind you, my thoughts weren’t as clear or precise as this, but the sentiment was the same. Having a psychotic/emotional breakdown crippled most parts of my brain, but other parts seemed heightened. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but it’s true. I mean I could barely get my eyes open in the morning without crying and wondering when the “feeling” would go away. I don’t think people understand what that really means, and I hope most people don’t ever have to find out.

Has it inspired you to help others going through the same thing?

Absolutely. I’m setting up a donation system with House of Roulx, that’s a company that my friends own. We’re gonna sell prints of the lyrics of the single Black Ash Days and a hundred percent of the proceeds are gonna go to a local hospital around here, we’re still trying to pick out which one we’re gonna use. I wanna go back, get my Master’s and become a therapist. Mental illness is really something that people still shy away from. There was never any way for me to have known what was going on. It’s really just never brought up. Not that abnormal psychology is something that you would just drop on people randomly, but here I am taking all these classes in high school and I even took a psych class. And I just think no one is prepared. Not that they should give you this “Alright, if this happens, you’re fuckin’ nuts” kind of talk, but when it was happening, it was just like “what the fuck is going on?” Nobody’s prepared for that. And then once it does go on, it’s very difficult to find someone to talk to that even takes you seriously, or is prepared to want to broach the subject of mental illness, never mind suicide. Especially when you’re a teenager because they just assume you’re at the beginning of puberty or you’re just going through a phase. Trust me, I was a fuckin’ idiot. Everybody’s an idiot going through their teens and some, such as myself, are idiots well into their twenties, you just do stupid shit. You’re already an emotional fucking mess, so that’s what they think it is. In reality, you’re going nuts. The problem is, from the outside, the symptoms look the same. It’s also more convenient for people to be able to put a concrete label on something, myself included. It’s much easier to see someone going through issues with substance abuse or mental illness and just throw a nice little bow on it and put it away where it won’t cause too much of an inconvenience in my life. It’s emotionally draining to get involved with other people’s shit. I get that. But that’s why I’m trying to open lanes of dialogue any way I can. It just so happens that this time around I chose to do it with my music.

Did you ever second-guess the decision to put all that out there on an album?

No, never. I wanted to do it sooner, but there was really no platform for me to do it on. At this point, unfortunately, I wish more people would hear it. But whoever does hear it, I hope it helps them. I’m not gonna stop, I don’t care. I’m working on another album now and it’s gonna revolve around similar subject matter. It’s not gonna be the whole concept of a story that’s linear, but it’s linear enough. This one’s gonna be a little bit more all over the place, but it’ll have a theme. But yeah, people need to talk about these things.

What do you do to keep busy to help manage your anxiety?

My anxiety isn’t even really that bad anymore. I’m bipolar, so it’s more the mood swings that get me. When I was diagnosed, I was probably twenty one. They like to throw around the whole bipolar label because I guess they can give you better medicine. Bipolar Disorder is the easiest thing for psychiatrists to attempt to treat because they can just throw everything at you. So I only really notice anxiety now when I’m trying to go to sleep and I start thinking about something. I have an occasional panic attack during the day but they don’t phase me much anymore. I’ve reached the point now where panic attacks are fun…in a strange way. It’s the closest you can come to a body high without taking drugs.

Moving on to a lighter note, I noticed a photo of you rocking the hi-top fade on Instagram. What was that like?

(laughs) There was an unofficial battle between myself and a friend who has since passed away, unfortunately. He had a kickass hi-top and he also had the money symbol shaved in his head, so if he put it up and put his head down, you would see the money symbol. So I took this as an unofficial challenge to have a better hi-top. I don’t even know if he even knew. Just word of mouth, “Hey, Matt has an awesome hi-top. Better get one.” I think it was inspired at first by Kid ‘n Play, but Kwamé also had a nice hi-top. I rocked that and obviously got the fake glasses to look like Kwamé and a ridiculous goddamn hoop earring.

Did you wear anything outrageous during the era of hip hop fashion throughout the late eighties and early nineties?

Hell yes. I had parachute pants in the eighties and MC Hammer pant suits as well as Z. Cavaricci pants and jacket with shoulder pads in the early nineties. In the late nineties I wore mostly Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica and Polo. I had gold fronts with the Polo horse on them, as well as a two fingered ring with my name engraved on it. I also rocked cornrows for a while. I was an unmitigated disaster of fashion.

Prior to the obvious connection with John Cena joining the WWE, how was wrestling a part of your life?

My uncle, John’s dad, would always get all the Wrestlemanias. I used to be so jealous. They would get it and we would always have family dinner out there every Sunday and we’d have to leave by the time that Wrestlemania was starting. I would be so pissed, you have no idea. I know John has covered a lot of this in interviews, but he made cardboard belts and so we would wrestle for cardboard belts at his house and everything would be set up. There was Intercontinental Champion, Champion of the Bowl of Spaghetti, there was a champion for everything. (laughs) He always had Champion of the Universe, he never lost it. It was ridiculous. Nobody could win that thing. When we were little, even before that, we played wrestling guys. And this was even before they made wrestling figures, we would use He-Man figures. And we would use the AWA/NWA figures by Remco when they were released, they would look like He-Man guys. We would use those dudes too. We just always loved wrestling, it was just always there. I forget what days it was on, but I just know that I was always watching on USA Network. You’d see Hogan run through some nobody and then Ultimate Warrior squash someone, all these big name guys just come out and destroy people. It was always talked about and always part of your routine. The routine was cartoons, Three Stooges, Godzilla, wrestling. (laughs)

So I also wanted to bring up the music video for Right Now. Where was that filmed?

That was filmed at the house we would have family dinner at. That was in West Newbury. That’s the stomping grounds. We still go there for family holidays. It’s where John grew up. That house is full of memories.

I noticed John giving someone a suplex in the video. Was that you?

That was his brother, Matt. He gave him a good go for his money because Matt used to wrestle.

I have to ask though, did you ever let John give you an Attitude Adjustment?

No, but I did have him chop me once. I had a hand mark on my chest for a week. (laughs) I’m like “Dude, just chop me! Just chop me!” We were in his dad’s kitchen and he’s like “Dude, you don’t want me to chop you. Trust me.” So I took my shirt off and he did one and he was like “Ah, that wasn’t good enough!” I could barely breathe at that point. I’m like “No dude! It was good enough!” He’s like “No it wasn’t! Let me do another one!” So he ended up chopping me three times until he got the real good Flair chop on the chest and dude, those are no joke. That’s another reason why I couldn’t wrestle, are you shittin’ me? Taking ten of those in the corner? Nah dude, not for me. (laughs)

Have you been to any notable events as a fan?

I went to the Wrestlemania in LA and the Wrestlemania in New York. John and I performed at the House of Blues. The album had just dropped so we were performing wherever we could. Wrestlemania is what it’s all about. If you’re gonna go to an event, be there. The fans get rooms and hang out for a week, it was just so much fun. All the wrestlers stay in same hotel, which is rare. It was a blast. And I’ve gone to a ton of pay per views too, a ton of shows. Whenever they’re around here, we usually try to go.

Outside of music and wrestling, what do you do for enjoyment?

I do Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I’ve been training for about twelve years. I have a very close friend, Danny Morera, who has his own Jiu Jitsu Academy. North Shore Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Salem, Massachusetts. It’s a great place and you can’t beat the workout.

Where do you enjoy traveling to around here?

Whenever I drive, I just go towards the ocean. Wherever the ocean is, that’s where I need to be. Something about it, the smell, just everything about it. It’s peaceful.

In closing, what do you have planned for the rest of 2015?

We have four or five songs already done and I wrote six more, we need to record those. Hopefully we’ll write the remaining part of the album. I want to get it out sooner rather than later. This one took a long time because we weren’t sure if John was gonna be on stuff or not and by the time we found out, it was basically too late. We spent too much time on that, rather than trying to get it out. This time, we’re gonna get it done.

I’m wishing you the best with that. I’d love to thank you for your time.

Yeah dude, thank you.

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