We caught up with Machine Gun Kelly to talk 'Bloom', rock and roll and so much more.
YOU’VE JUST FINISHED UP SIX WEEKS IN EUROPE – HOW DID THAT GO?
“I haven’t really been on the road since ‘Bloom’ came out, so I hadn’t had chance to see the mania that we experienced since we first came out.
“When we first came over and the industry was like, ‘Oh here is this new guy with a single out’, that is when most of the hype usually comes out in someone’s career. Yet here I am now and it feels like the beginning all over again. It feels as though we are still new to a lot of people, which is really cool.
“They came out so heavy for us. At the festivals we played, 20 minutes before we came on we worried that no one was out there. Then when we came out there would be 90,000 people who had all come to watch us.
“Even at the rock festivals a lot of our rock band homies would come and see the show. When they’d come for the third time in a row I’d say, ‘Dudes you’ve watched this three times, you don’t have to keep coming back’, but they would say, ‘Nah man, we keep coming over because all the girls come and watch your set.’”
IT FEELS LIKE YOU’RE ON A REAL CREATIVE STREAK…
“You know, with the first and second albums I was in a really dark place. I didn’t take the fame well at all and at one point my face was outshining my music.
“That was hard because I’m an artist and a creative rather than a celebrity. I kind of walked around with a middle finger plastered across my face.
“This is the first year that I’m actually embracing it all. Superstardom has come and I am going to run with it. I’m not blowing it this time.”
AFTER WHAT SEEMS LIKE 10 YEARS TRYING TO GRIND OUT SUCCESS, HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ACHIEVING THAT?
“I’m going to use a quote from one of the greatest that goes by the name of Liam Gallagher and say, ‘God-like’. Not comparing myself to the Holy Spirit in the sky, but just feeling so undefeatable…
“There’s not a damn thing you can say to me at this point to change me being 27 years old with four major motion pictures, a HBO Showtime series, an executive producer credit and multi-platinum selling singles under my belt.
“I was the kid that was always counted out. I still am to this motherfucking day. You know at first I was too rap for rock, and now I’m too rock for rap. No one has ever just walked up to me and said, ‘You know what man? Good shit.’
“The cool thing is that there’s no burden anymore. I don’t have that chip on my shoulder or need to prove anything. Like, ‘Bad Things’ went double platinum. That shit doesn’t usually happen and it won’t ever go away. If I’m not going to be the most confident cocky motherfucker because of that, then no one else is going to do it for me.
“Every album I have made expresses where I am in life. ‘General Admission’ was me with a chip on my shoulder wanting to tell my story in a way that I couldn’t on ‘Lace Up’. ‘Bloom’ is me finding what I want to do and who I really am.
“It sucks being 25 years old and not knowing who you want to be. Yet then you’re also waking up in a house in California high on acid at a party screaming that you’re a Golden God and realising that shit changed.
“It feels like a big fucking deal. Like, the people who have been there from the start giving me shit for changing hands. That’s the fucking point. That’s what makes it beautiful. If I didn’t change, you’d have moved onto the next motherfucker. I’ve just got to keep pushing. Even if it’s at a time and place in my life that hard to hear or relate to, in the grand scheme of the story it’s still beautiful.
“I know for damn sure two years ago I wasn’t calling myself a Golden God. I hated myself. I wasn’t walking around with my head up at all. So damn sure - I’m going for broke now. I’ve lost everything financially and emotionally twice and I’ve been given a third chance. I don’t know anyone else that’s done that shit.”
WHY DO YOU THINK THERE AREN’T MORE ARTISTS CROSSING OVER LIKE YOU DO?
“I see these articles online saying that this new artist is changing things and merging rap and rock and it’s beautiful, yet I’ve been fucking doing that for 10 goddamn years.
“I feel that if you don’t live it, then don’t do it. I mean even the term. ‘Rock and roll’. That shit isn’t a genre, that shit is a true lifestyle. Don’t get on the ship if you’re not a full fucking pirate.
“I’m not saying you have to be Iggy Pop levels to be rock and roll, but it’s all about attitude. Music is so politically correct now and it fucking blows because it’s not what we fell in love with in the first place. There’s a lot of mind numbing music going around right now. Think about all the words that you can’t say any more. Think about how you can’t even be honest with people any more.
“I hear it billions of times with absolutely everything I do, though. I know what I’m signing up for when I do this. There’s no point getting angry at it when I could be inspiring someone who does understand me.
"Like when I had a hit on Number 1 Pop Radio and everyone was angry because it didn’t fit into the genre they wanted it to. Guns N’ Roses may still be touring ‘Appetite For Destruction’, but I want to be able to play and tour other albums and styles.”
HOW DOES IT FEEL PLAYING FOR AN AUDIENCE AND NOT BEING ACCEPTED STRAIGHT AWAY?
“I’ve been playing to crowds where we have had to earn the right to go up there in the first place [for] my entire career. Very rarely do we have the honour of stepping onto a stage and everybody will know the words or participate in everything that we say.
“I know nothing other than going out there and just earning it. I couldn’t imagine being an overnight sensation and stepping out on a stage and everybody knowing everything that you do. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I love it.
“If I have to literally punch the stage to make the people sitting in their seats feel the ground shake then I will do that shit. They need to know that this isn’t just a performance. This shit is life. I saw Prince perform the year he died in person with 50 other people and I haven’t been the same artist since. I want someone to have that moment with me.”
IT’S AMAZING HOW JUST THIRTY SECONDS OF YOU AND A FAN APPRECIATING THE SAME MUSIC CAN GET THEM INTO YOU…
“You know, what I get offended by is band merchandise being exploited and used as something that is not supporting that band. Don’t wear a fucking band t-shirt if you can’t give me even a little bit of history.
“You can’t wear something that is such a treasured and cultured image as a fad. This isn’t a fucking fad; this is my whole fucking life. You’ve got to keep that attitude alive to let people know that some things aren’t ok though.”
WHICH ARTISTS HELPED YOU REACH THE POINT YOU’RE AT NOW?
“I was always obsessed with amazing frontmen. I loved Oasis because Liam was just one of the best ever. I loved Jonathan Davis and Korn, especially what he used to do with his performance and those crazy mic stands.
“Even Blink 182 as well. When we have done covers of Blink songs at shows, that’s the point when people come over to our side. When they realise that we are on the same wavelength. Those easy three chord progressions were my style of shit when I started writing. I’ve got songs that are straight out of the Weezer handbook.”
YOU’RE BACK IN THE UK IN SEPTEMBER. HOW ARE YOU FEELING ABOUT COMING BACK?
“I’ve never received a welcome like the one I received in Europe this summer, so I am so excited to get back. The level of love that you have for music over here is ridiculous.
“If you make the effort to come all the way over to play for them, they will always appreciate it. I owe London a proper show too. Last time I was over I didn’t realise how short the set I played was, and I am notorious for long sets. So when I play Brixton Academy I am extending that show for as long as they will let me.”
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Machine Gun Kelly's new album 'Bloom' is out now, and MGK hits the UK in September.
21 - DUBLIN Olympia
22 - BIRMINGHAM Academy
23 - LONDON Brixton Academy
24 - LEEDS Academy
26 - NEWCASTLE Academy
27 - GLASGOW Academy
28 - MANCHESTER Ritz
29 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City
30 - BRISTOL Academy