Question: So why do you think Black rock bands have been so unsuccessful?
Dallas Austin: I think we try too hard to combine rock and funk and everything else so that it hits and grooves, but you find yourself listening because the guitar player is doing all this Hendrix shit or the bass player is popping or the singer has this gospel voice, and not just for the songs. When you listen to Nirvana, or even the Foo Fighters, you’re responding to the melodies and emotions, not all this complicated musicianship. Kurt Cobain was as melodic as the fucking Beatles. I don’t know too many black rock bands who would make a record as simple or straight-up as Bleach.
Question: What’s your vision of Black rock band?
Dallas Austin: If we can get a black kid up there in jeans and a T-shirt, in his everyday clothes, singing songs as catchy as somebody like Radiohead, then we can talk. But nobody has the nerve to do that. I know a lot of black musicians look at Green Day and say, “Shit, man, those fools can’t play, they only know three chords,” and I’m like, “What’s your point?” Maybe there’s something in the way that they play those three little chords that we should pay attention to.
Question: Do you think black rock bands will get stuck with a “black alternative” tag the way certain hip-hoppers got tagged “alternative rap?”
Dallas Austin: It’s like we have no category. Just because a hip-hop artist is black, it can’t be an “alternative” record, it’s an “alternative rap” record and there ain’t no “alternative rap” section in Tower Records.
Question: “Alternative” means “for white people.”
Dallas Austin: Unfortunately, yeah, and that shit suffocates us. If you call something “black alternative,” then the black person says, “Damn, that must not be for me.” Or a white person doesn’t think it’s for him because it says “black.”