"I don't think their IQ is very high": watch the Beastie Boys behave like obnoxious frat boy jerks on Dutch TV

Beastie Boys on TV in Holland, 1987
(Image credit: Countdown YouTube)

By their own admission, Beastie Boys were not terribly nice people to be around while touring their hugely-successful debut album Licensed to Ill. Having initially adopted the personas of obnoxious, entitled, bratty, arrogant, misogynist dickheads as a joke, Mike D, Ad-Rock and  MCA - or Michael Diamond, Adam Horovitz and Adam Yauch as they were better known to their well-to-do, respectable Jewish families - found themselves unable to step out of character for the longest time.

In the trio's wonderfully entertaining memoir Beastie Boys Book, Adam Horovitz provides a memorable, if somewhat gross, metaphor for the group's metamorphosis.

"The three years leading up to the end of the Licensed to Ill tours in 1987 were like watching a pimple on your face grow into a huge and amazing spectacle," he writes. "As though you really wanted it there. You want people to see it. Want people to admire how big and ghastly it is. But when you're alone, looking in the mirror, you know it's gross. You have to pop it, but you can't. It's your calling card. It's what gets you attention and fulfilment... You wake up one day to realize you are that fucking pimple, and oh jeez..."

As an illustration of just how tediously obnoxious the band could be during this period, their 1987 appearance on Dutch TV pop show Countdown would presumably be hard to watch for Horovitz and Diamond these days. A simple request for the band to introduce themselves finds Horovitz replying "Nice boots" in an attempt to take the piss out of the show's host, and from there, the interview goes downhill quickly, which may or may not have been connected to the fact that the trio had visited celebrated hash 'cafe' The Bulldog earlier in the day. A typical exchange runs as follows:

Host: "You guys were on tour with Madonna and you were practically booed off the stage..."

Ad-Rock: "Were you there?"

Host: "I heard all about it."

Ad-Rock: "Oh, I see. You shouldn't always believe what you hear."

Host: "What was the real truth then?"

Ad-Rock: "That they they booed us off the stage." 

Understandably less-then-impressed by this tiresome bullshit, at one point the host gets his own back, turning to the audience and saying, in Dutch, "I don't think their IQ is very high", a comment which obviously goes straight over the band's heads. 

The one flash of the sharp, surreal humour for which Beastie Boys would become known after jettisoning their bratty personas comes when the group are asked how they come up with ideas for songs. 

"We go to Switzerland and we break out the flugelhorn and yodel for a while and it just comes to us," deadpans Adam Yauch.

Watch the painful interview below, and see the Beasties barely bothering to pretend to lip sync as they perform No Sleep Till Brookyn

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.