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Shwayze letting it beat again

Declan Sullivan | Monday, November 2, 2009

Last year, the duo Shwayze burst onto the music scene with their self-titled debut, an album that successfully combined rock and rap into a sound that can only be described as California beach music. Despite being on the Vans Warped Tour and being involved in a multitude of side projects — ranging from running a record label to producing a movie — Aaron Smith, a.k.a. Shwayze, and Cisco Adler have managed to record another album, “Let It Beat,” which is being released today. My friend Mike Bartlett and I recently had a chance to talk to Cisco, former frontman for Whitestarr and son of the famous producer Lou Adler, about the new album, some of his side projects and exactly what it was like to write a song for a fake rapper call Alpa Cino — think “Tropic Thunder.” Look for Aaron Smith’s take on Shwayze’s success, coming soon in Scene.

Declan Sullivan: Okay, there’s something that I’ve always been confused about and have to get out of the way first. Is Shwayze the rapper known as Aaron Smith, or is it the name of the group under which you and Aaron perform?

Cisco Adler: Well, it’s both.

DS: …

CA: I gave Aaron the nickname Shwayze, and well, I sort of just found him out in Malibu and, you know, he was a diamond in the rough, so I decided to work it as a solo rap project. But after a couple songs I started singing on the hooks, and that’s when it formed into the group. Rather than change the name, you know, it just sort of stuck. It kind of sums up the collaboration.

DS: How did you meet Shwayze? Is there a story there?

CA: Malibu is a small town; there’s only one road that rolls through here. Everyone knows everyone; it’s very incestual [sic]. [Aaron] was just a fan [of my band, Whitestarr], and he started showing up at my parties. One day I woke up and he was sleeping on the couch, and he’s like, “I’m a rapper. Wanna make some tracks?” He was young and hungry, and I had a vision of what I wanted my next project to be, and it all just kind of fit together.

DS: Yeah, you’ve been involved in a lot of projects recently. For example, you wrote a song for “Tropic Thunder?”

CA: Yeah, I did one of the songs for them. I’m always working; I do more music than I do anything. I think people just have a preconceived notion about what you are or what you do, and they don’t even go searching for the realness.

DS: So what else are you working on besides Shwayze?

CA: Well, [Dr. Luke and I] just finished Mickey Avalon’s second record [due out in February], and that record’s really strong. I just finished four or five songs for the band Unwritten Law, a big punk band out of San Diego. I got G. Love & Special Sauce coming into the studio in 30 minutes … you know, it’s all over the board. I just try to do things that I like.

DS: I’ve also heard rumors about you and Shwayze working on a movie, “Big Jack’s Tickets.” Are you still working on that?

CA: It’s being written right now. We’re tightening up the script, and I think after we tour for this album cycle, we’re going to try to put some time aside to shoot it and get it done.

DS: Mind giving any plot details or a brief overview of what it’s all about?

CA: I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s a buddy comedy centered on a semi-fictional music act. It’s not us, but it’s kind of us, and it’s about … uh … well, you know I can’t give it out. It is being directed by Nick Goossen, who directed “Grandma’s Boy.”

DS: Really? Awesome!

CA: Yeah, that movie is hilarious. We’re excited to have him on board.

DS: We are well aware of that film here; good stuff.

CA: Nick Swardson’s gonna be in it …

DS: No way!

CA: Yeah, that whole camp is going to be in it.

DS: Nice. As for the reason you’re making this movie, does your dad have anything to do with it? I mean, he made “Up in Smoke” and “Rocky Horror:” did he influence you at all?

CA: Well, he birthed me. Other than that, no. (Laughs.) I think it’s just in my blood. He’s definitely my hero; he’s done so much. I’m trying to do that as well; I just don’t want to spread myself too thin.

DS: Okay, two more questions. First, with your record label, Bananabeat Records, is there any artist you really want to bump right now?

CA: Chris Young the Rapper. He is, he is … he’s just brilliant. He’s one of the best rappers I’ve ever heard in my life. Lyrically, his flow, his freestyle ability … he’s just a true artist, you know, down in his soul. He just put out an EP — the “Mood Swing” EP — it really shows his range. I’m very excited about this record.

DS: So, last question. I see that you’re doing the Party Rock tour right now with LMFAO, and I have to say, I’m sad. I’m seeing places like Des Moines, Iowa on there, but no Notre Dame. Are you coming out here anytime in the near future?

CA: I’m kind of sad, too. (Laughs.) I wish we had more control, but with all the things that go into planning a tour … it just all has to all fit in, magically. Believe me, we want to go to more places that we haven’t gone to, and there are certain places we really want to check out. Notre Dame is one of those, and I’m sure we’ll get there soon — we’re touring for this record all the way till next summer. I will make a point of it.

DS: I’m glad to hear that. I mean, if you’re going out to Des Moines, at the very least ya gotta make it to South Bend. I mean, come on — Iowa? Really?

CA: (Laughs.) Yeah, we’ll definitely make it out there.

DS: Good to hear, good to hear. Thanks for talking to me, man.

CA: Cool, man. Just tell people to check out “Let It Beat;” we’re really proud of this record. We took the sound everyone fell in love with and gave them a little bit of that, but then we also evolved it and grew a little bit. We’re not a one-trick pony over here.