If you mix punk rock influences and ideologies with Hip-Hop influences and ideologies you get P.O.S. Signed to Rhymesayers and hailing from Minneapolis, MN, P.O.S. is spending the last part of his summer as one of the few rap acts on the Warped Tour. I recently covered the tour’s New York date at Nassau Coliseum and checked out P.O.S.’s set at the Hurley.com stage. It was incredibly impressive and I sat down with him to talk about the tour, how it’s been treating him, and how he feels he’s never really fit in with any one group of people.
Adam Bernard: You have a little bit of an edge that many rappers don’t have. Is that uniqueness what earned you a spot on Warped Tour?
P.O.S.: Actually, I went out on Warped Tour selling merch for Atmosphere in 2004 and made a lot of friends and we’d just been figuring out the best time to get me back out there. It just seemed like the second half this year worked out for everybody. I was just on tour with Gym Class Heroes earlier this year and I didn’t want to hop off that tour directly on to another one so we did the second half of this one.
AB: On Warped Tour there are over half a dozen different stages with acts going on at all times. What kind of crowds have you been gathering and what’s the reaction been to your work?
P.O.S.: It really does depend on the city that we’re in. The first place that we hit on tour was in Scranton, PA, and that didn’t go amazingly but the second day was better. As we got into the Midwest the crowds got bigger and bigger and hopefully it will stay that way. I do pretty well on the west coast, too, and that’s where we’re headed next. I’ve been into it. It’s cool. There’s a Hip-Hop tent so a lot of people are stopping over for that and coming to check out my set, too. We get good responses and as the days go you get one of the guys from Underoath watching the set and the next day you get two guys from Underoath and a guy from Killswitch Engage watching the set and then as it goes the people in the bands start watching and the crowds start getting bigger. People talk on the internet on the Warped Tour blog and stuff like that. I’m pretty into it.
AB: The networking opportunities for you have to be ridiculous with 60+ acts on tour with you.
P.O.S.: Yeah. I mean networking isn’t so much what I’m all about on this particular tour, but in the past that’s how the song “De La Souls” came about. I was on The Warped Tour with The Bouncing Souls and we hit it off really well.
AB: So who are you most looking forward to hitting it off with this time around?
P.O.S.: I’m a big fan of Coheed and Cambria although I don’t know how I’d go about meeting them. I’m OK just being a fan of theirs. I like Circa Survive, they’re a cool band. And seeing and talking and getting along with the Underoath dudes who are just cool. As far as the rest of the bands go I’m kind of content just enjoying watching them. I’m not really needing meet so many people. Typically when you meet somebody they’re a jerk and then you don’t like their music anymore, so usually I just like to stand back. I’d rather enjoy their CDs than to have another name to drop.
AB: And when you do a tour like this that goes around the whole country I’m guessing you get a pretty good idea of where your audience is.
P.O.S.: Well a good chunk of my audience isn’t coming to the Warped Tour. I think the best gauge that the Warped Tour has is where my die hard fans are going to spend $30 bucks to go watch a bunch of bands they’ve never heard of and me, and people who have heard of me or heard about me, or their friends like me and there just doesn’t happen to be a band they like that are playing right then so they’re gonna come over and check it out. You get a lot of people who are just walking by and they stop and watch the rest of the set and get into it. It’s really cool. It’s one of those things where it’s kind of frustrating if you’re not felling it that day but in the days when you’re even in a slightly good mood the shows are easy and fun and pretty much across the board you make new fans.
AB: So basically you’re creating a whole new fan base.
P.O.S.: Exactly. And a lot of people don’t know what they’re getting into when they see Hip-Hop so I typically tend to do a couple a cappellas so they know what I’m saying isn’t crap.
AB: Being that you’re on an alternative tour do you consider yourself alternative rap in any way, shape or form?
P.O.S.: No, not really. I feel like I make rap, I’m a part of a section of rap in the underground, and there’s some in the mainstream, too, that just makes smarter rap, smarter than the stuff you hear. Not that we’re smarter than anybody, but just we make stuff that needs a little bit of thought to go into it.
AB: Do you think with so many complaints about the current state of Hip-Hop…
P.O.S.: It’s not changing.
AB: You don’t think it’s going to be like a cycle and we’ll go back to a time when there’s good music on the radio soon?
P.O.S.: No, I don’t. I feel like whenever it gets to a time when it’s good stuff, like the first time Puffy blew up and the crime rate dropped because all the songs were happy and shiny suits, I feel like the closest thing to that again was the really awful run of Black Eyed Peas songs that came out for a while and then it’s back to crack. I never feel like it’s going to get big enough to make radio and get people rich. I feel like these companies, and I’m not trying to be conspiracy dude, but these companies make a lot of money keeping people ignorant. When there’s nothing to think about on the radio people can listen to music mindlessly. You know what I’m sayin?
AB: Conspiracy theories aside, with that idea that things won’t change what are your concrete goals?
P.O.S.: I don’t know, man. With every tour and with every new song I have I feel like I don’t fit. I don’t necessarily fit in the Warped Tour set. I definitely don’t fit in Gym Class Heroes’ set. I don’t necessarily fit in with the purest rap guys. All I really can do is cut out my own path. I’m gonna make songs that I enjoy and we’re gonna see what happens with those songs and if I got hardcore fans that are gonna hang out for it I’m gonna have hardcore fans that hang out for it, but regardless I’m gonna make songs.
AB: And when you do all those tours you get to grab all those bands’ fans.
P.O.S.: You get to see if they’re even grab-able, because they might not necessarily be. People at the Warped Tour will walk by the stage with their middle fingers up just at the sheer fact that it’s rap. They haven’t heard one word but they know that there’s a DJ and a rapper on stage so they’ll walk by with their middle fingers up. That’s not encouraging but that’s what the Warped Tour’s all about. Those guys get to go watch the one band they came to see and then diss everything else which is all good with me because I did that shit when I was 14. It’s no so much a bleak feeling to me because I feel like what I’m doing is positive. I’m doing my thing, I’m having a good time and wrote off the radio and wrote off the rich guys a long time ago.
AB: You noted you don’t fit in with a lot of the genres of music and a lot of tours. I’m wondering what aspects of growing up and your music maturation brought you to this point where you don’t fit in? Have you always not fit in when it comes to other aspects of life?
P.O.S.: Yeah. I’m a black punk rocker that grew up halfway in the suburbs, halfway in the rough parts depending on who I was hanging out with at the time. Whether it was my cousins driving me around the projects of my mom moving me to the suburbs to keep me safe, whatever it was I was always in a place where I didn’t quite match up with everybody else and it’s never been a problem because I’ve found other people who didn’t quite match up where they were and we became best friends and that was that.
AB: Now that you’re all grown up and you see all the other people that are just like you does that give you a little more hope?
P.O.S.: That’s why I still make songs about that kind of stuff sometimes. I’m not a bum out dude, I’m a really happy guy. I’m real positive thinker, always thinking about what the next thing’s gonna be as far as myself, my personal relationships, my city, my planet. I feel like there’s a lot of good stuff going on I just don’t rely on the majority to help. I feel like my only job aside from writing rap is finding everybody else who feels the same way and maybe we can all do something one of these days as soon as we figure out what we’re supposed to do.
AB: You stole the next question I was gonna ask. I was gonna ask what’s the thing we should all be doing?
P.O.S.: I don’t know. We should be talking. We should be spreading information. We should be trying out figure out if there’s anybody who’s smart enough, or who has the skills, to actually lead us in a legit way. In very real terms, I rap. I rap about what I think is cool, what I think is wrong and whatever. I don’t think that I’m necessarily a political rapper, I feel like I just rap about shit that I care about or I notice.
AB: In August 2007 what are your biggest concerns outside of music?
P.O.S.: The war in Iraq is in the forefront of everybody’s head. Global warming is in the forefront of everybody’s head. Things that people can hop on to and even if it’s just a trend hopefully something good can get done. At the forefront of my head lately is fuel consumption. I’m thinking about ways that I can set up my family and my household to try and get off the grid. That takes a lot of money, though, so hopefully I’ll sell a lot of records.
AB: So the moral of the story is go to the merch table and buy your stuff so you can save the world.
P.O.S.: It’s not gonna be one person that saves the world.
AB: You can save one section of the world.
P.O.S.: I can save my block. I feel like that’s the move. Think globally, act locally.
AB: So buy a P.O.S. album to help save his block and then move there.
P.O.S.: And then move to my block because it’ll be safest.