"Is there anyone left I'd like to collaborate with? Ozzy!" Body Count frontman and rap icon Ice T on horror movies, Slayer and who he considers the "Dr Dre of metal"

a portrait of ice t
(Image credit: Jeremy Saffer)

Thanks to an utterly savage new single, named Psychopath and featuring a monster contribution from Fit for an Autopsy’s Joe Bad, and an ongoing European tour, fans of hip-hop legend Ice T’s legendary metal project Body Count should be pretty excited right now. We caught up with the Iceman to talk about the new song, how he’s enjoying touring, which musicians are left on his wish list to collaborate with and working with “the Dr. Dre of metal”.

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Hey Ice, this new song is one of the heaviest things you’ve ever done!

Ice T: “I don’t know if it’s the heaviest, I just like to think it’s better. I really don’t think you should do an album unless you can better yourself - I don’t wanna rest on my laurels. Every time I take on a new album I’m trying to outdo what we did, so it’s gonna get heavier, it's gonna get harder. We’re working with the same team for the last four albums, Will Putney, who I always say is the Dr. Dre of metal, and we got a settled band. It’s hard when you’re always trying to shuffle the deck.”

That’s a huge shout on Will! What makes him the Dre to you?

“Well, I’ve always said that Dre is the best hip-hop producer, because he makes band's sound like themselves but dope. Meaning Eminem does not sound like 50 Cent, 50 Cent does not sound like Snoop, Snoop does not sound like Game, Game does not sound like Kendrick Lamar. Will has the ability to work with all kinds of metal bands and make them all sound like themselves. We don’t sound like Fit For An Autopsy! A lot of producers make the band sound like the producer and not the band. The ability to listen to Body Count and make us sound like Body Count, I don’t know any other producers that have that ability. He does five bands, and they all sound dope, and they all sound different. That’s an ability to understand what that band is.”

He definitely gets what you are, then?

“Oh, for sure. I always say that Body Count is Grindhouse. We’re a Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez movie. We’re outrageous, it’s funny and sometimes it’s serious, but not everyone gets our music. On Psychopath, the girl screaming is my daughter and my wife in a bathroom on a cellphone and Will’s like ‘Yeah!’ and he adds a fucking chainsaw! He gets what we’re doing. He’s the best.”

How did Joe get involved in the song?

“Well, Fit For An Autopsy are one of Will Putney’s bands. So Joe Bad and all them are always at the studio. Will has a camp of rock musicians who are just there! I’ve known Joe for years, he’s played video games with Lil’ Ice for years. He was just in the house, you know. We needed someone to do the death metal, heavy thing; I mean, look, we got Corpsegrinder on the album, I’ve worked with Max Cavalera, I know what I want from that sound. Will said, ‘Hey if you need someone that can do that, why not use Joe?’, and I like that. I like working with people that I really know. I don’t want to bring in artists that I don’t really fuck with; I want it to be a family operation, you know.”

How did the song come about? It’s a brutal theme

“It’s really how Body Count makes records. We make thousands of riffs, a bunch of riffs, riffs, riffs, riffs, I kinda cut and paste the riffs into tracks. I’ll go, ‘Well, that doesn’t work but that breakdown is cool, let’s make a whole song out of the breakdown.” I’m not sure how other bands work. Body Count are in LA and I’m in New York, but Psychopath came in as a pretty much finished song; once I listened to the music, the song sort of tells me what the song should be about. The music was so wild that it just sounded like the inside of a psychopath’s head. We're all indoctrinated by serial killer documentaries - any normal person can profile a psychopath right now, right? So, I just made the profile that fit the music.”

The video for the song is pretty shocking. You’ve got some horrible people in there!

“Right! Well, that was actually my note to the director. I just wanted to get a list of all the serial killers. We found 22 of them, and I wanted their pictures coming up. I put a stocking on my head, and I wanted all their pictures coming up [too]. He killed it!”

You still like shocking people then?

“Oh, that’s all that gets me going! It’s kinda like if you were a horror director and you didn’t wanna shock anybody. What the fuck you in that genre for? If I don’t make you feel a certain way, you’re doing pop music. Pop is doing what everyone wants to hear; to rock, you gotta rock people!”

How's the tour going?

"Great. We haven’t toured for a while, because of Covid, we didn’t even get to tour the Carnivore album. The label wanted us to do another album, I was like ‘Really?” but the new album has come out better than Carnivore. We’re playing some new songs, all of our shows are sold out, so that’s a good sign.”

You’ve been doing a mix of festival shows and headline shows. What do you prefer?

“I always think that when you’re at a festival I think it’s great that you’re trying to get new fans, but you’re looking at ten to fifteen percent of your fans. I think at your own show, you know, last night we played Zurich to 3,500 of our fans, which is dope. Festivals for new fans, your own shows you wanna sell out to your fans and make sure your fanbase is solid.”

Is there anyone left you’d like to collaborate with on a Body Count album?

“Oh sure, lot of rappers. I’d like to have Chino XL, he’s been a friend for years, or this kid RJ Payne, I’d like to take them out of hip-hop and give them a really brutal track, because it’s lyrics at the end of the day. Once they understand how hard those riffs go, I think those bars would be amazing. Most of the people I’d like to work with have passed, Prince and Jimi Hendrix, but Slayer was the ultimate for me, just being allowed to rock with those guys on Judgment Night was a big vote for us. Maybe Ozzy, because Black Sabbath were the ones that got me into metal. I think they invented metal, so, yeah, Ozzy.”

Body Count hit the UK for three dates in London, Manchester and Glasgow starting this Sunday, June 30

Body Count – Psychopath (feat. Joe Bad) (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO) - YouTube Body Count – Psychopath (feat. Joe Bad) (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO) - YouTube
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Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.

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