Conversation With George Clinton

Interview conducted by phone on Wed April 3/29

For few hours I allowed myself to be an insufferable fanboy instead of my default Mr. Cool disposition when the opportunity to interview George Clinton came up. I've been listening to George Clinton/Parliament/Funkadelic since I was 15 or something. We mostly talk about music and drugs. What more could you want?

I've included dates and links below to his lecture and book signing events for Red Bull Music Academy Festival New York at the bottom of the interview. Don't miss the lecture.

GC: How you doing Mike?

MN: George- how are ya?

GC: Good.

MN: You hear me ok?

GC: I hear good. Where you from?

MN: I'm from Jersey. Woodbridge. I live in New York now.

GC: That's where I'm from. Not far.

MN: You're from Plainfield right?

GC: I'm originally from Newark.

MN: First time I saw you I took 4 hits of acid and saw you come out of the Mothership. I believe it was 1996. The Twentieth Anniversary of the Mothership Connection.

GC: Oh I remember, Central Park?

MN: Yes, 4 hits of acid.

GC: (laughs) Wow that was a hellava show that year.

MN: I understand you are giving a lecture at the Red Bull Music Academy Festival New York on the 12th. I've seen a fair share of Parliament/Funkadelic shows, but what does a George Clinton lecture look like?

GC: It's going to be a Q&A, get me started on a topic and I will run my mouth. So most of the time people ask questions about Parliament. I can run my mouth on questions, but I can't just lecture.

MN: That's cool, so anyone can ask you questions about anything and you're just going to be honest about it? Tell them the truth?

GC: (laughs) Best I can!

MN: Or whatever you remember, right? I understand you are 73 now. What does a normal day look like for you?

GC: I wake up and have my medical marijuana. Do a little training, exercise my bones a little bit. I go fishing, and always go to the studio.

MN: So you've been steadily making records.

GC: Oh yeah-studio all the time. I'm doing an album now with 33 songs on it.

MN: That's what I like to hear. Why did you decide to write a memoir now? Why now?

GC: Because of all the corruption. Legal stuff I'm going through with my copyrights of all that music we laid. This whole thing about taking copyrights as work-for-hire has been something on my mind for a long time. I gotta make sure to tell that story to get a lot of people interested in it. It gave me something to do after I stopped being high. It's clearly what I had to do. Do an album, tell the story and get back out here. We know how to reinvent ourselves.

MN: we have to its part of the human experience.

GC: It's still the key.

MN: How the fuck can you sustain a 30-year crack addiction? That just amazes me. I know that scoring in different cities can be difficult.

GC: That's what made it such a fantasy and everything. It's bullshit you can get rid of any addiction by yourself with something to take its place. That's what you have to do because we got all kinds of addictions we got to get over. You get used to an addiction whether it's legal or illegal. A society plays on your habitual nature. You learn after a while when you try to score, knowing that shit is all over the place. Really you never had good dope in the first place. (laughs)

MN: (laughs) it's true I suppose.

GC: After getting clean, I know the world of trying to score is getting some baking soda to make the crack. I've been to all these countries, but I remember (most) going to this place to cop that. Fuck it; it was just something I had to do. Who knows what you do when your not making music, I was keeping busy but I wasn't that high. I was working on trying to score. It was worse and worse like you say-trying to score.

MN: It must have been damn near impossible to score in places like, uh I don't know Japan?

GC: You know that after awhile you can score real dope anywhere. Around 84 or 85 to score real dope after that it was downgraded so far onto the level by the time it got to you it wasn't even dope. It was always so much baking soda or whatever they put in it. With all drugs, when you try to make money you cut the shit up.

MN: That sucks man.

GC: You didn't even care what you bought. You would go back and buy the same garbage three times (laughs).

MN: I stole one of your lines and I still use it. You had this line I read a number of years ago. "I love music that pisses off parents."

GC: Oh yeah (laughs). New music pisses off parents and older musicians. Older musicians get pissed off when they hear new music too. When music threatens you- I embrace that music because that's what makes it music. You can't change music that pisses your ass off.

MN: I agree.

GC: If you're old, get the fuck out the way.

MN: It's true. I heard Miles Davis surrounded himself with young people.

GC: He was one of the ones that knew how to sway with whatever else is coming up. I don't know shit about jazz. (laughs)

MN: At 73 how are you challenging the status quo? How you fucking with the adults now?

GC: Playing with my grandkids and great-grandkids. I make music with them and the band. So mixing that shit up. Kendrick Lamar is the one right now. And he's gonna piss a lot of people off. He don't even know why.

MN: That's good. It's what we want. It's how we will move forward as a culture.

GC: Yes!

MN: My last question for you is a bit personal. Who are the band members you miss playing with the most?

MN: I love Hazel's guitar playing he's criminally underrated.

GC: and Gary Shider. Bernie Worrell was the shit....

MN: Brilliant. I have no more questions. Do you have any parting words for the readers?

GC: Tell everybody to bring two booties
Important George Clinton dates/links:

May 11- George Clinton-Book Signing, 6:30pm-8:30pm
Red Bull Academy Studios
220 W. 18th St.
Between 7th and 8th Avenues