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The Return of Cypress Hill: Eric Bobo Talks ‘Rise Up’ and More!

Since their formation in 1988, Cypress Hill – founders B-Real, DJ Muggs and Sen Dog, along with newest member Eric Bobo – have continued to break new musical boundaries and win over fans worldwide. With nearly 20 years in the game and their eighth studio album about to be unleashed, Cypress Hill shows no sign of slowing down. ‘Rise Up’ is Cypress Hill’s first new album in six years and features an all-star guest lineup, including Linkin Park vocalist Mike Shinoda, System Of A Down guitarist/vocalist Daron Malakian, Everlast, Young De, Evidence, The Alchemist and even comedy legends Cheech & Chong. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with percussionist Eric Bobo to discuss the new album, his thoughts on the band’s longevity and evolving sound! Time to Rise Up!

Eric Bobo

Cypress Hill has outlasted many of their peers, to what do you attribute the longevity of the band?I think it is that there is still, definitely a love for the music and a love of making music. We are like brothers, ya know. We still really enjoy our camaraderie and our chemistry. Through the years, we have been able to do a lot of things together. A lot of groups haven’t been able to last as long as we have because of inner struggles. Our main focus has always been that the music is “together” and we have a mutual respect for each other, not only as band mates but as family and people. I think that is very, very important. That is how we have been able to keep it going and we are very lucky in that respect.

This will be Cypress Hill’s 8th studio release. Tell us a little about ‘Rise Up’ and what can we expect from it.

Definitely expect a more aggressive album, an album that isn’t necessarily as dark as some of our previous albums, aggressive but with a refreshed sound. I think the new things that we have done really show in this record. I think that it is a very mature record, in the sense that now we have been in the game for a long time, we were able to put a lot of thought into it, we didn’t have to rush or do the same things that were already out there. We were able to stay true to what we wanted to do musically. What we have in store for the fans is truly a bangin’ ass album.

Was there a different approach going into this new project, given that it’s been six years since the last Cypress Hill album?

With this album, we hadn’t been signed to a label in about seven years or so and we had taken some time to do solo projects. With ‘Rise Up’, we approached it as an open book. We didn’t have a particular concept, it was more about putting together good songs. We also wanted to explore and work with different producers because DJ Muggs had primarily always been the producer on all of the records. With those things in mind, we definitely wanted to evolve with our sound and I really think that we achieved that.

You have quite a few collaborations with guest appearances and producers on this record. Was there someone that you enjoyed working with the most?

Wow. I think that everyone that contributed to the album really brought their A-game. It was cool because everyone brought their own elements and qualified to be a highlight in making the record. I can’t pick a favorite but we respect all of them very highly and we are all friends. I think that the stars aligned on this record, from the release date (4.20.2010) all the way to having everyone being available to work on this project with us and get it out to the people.

What was the biggest challenge in making the album?

I think that the biggest challenge was being able to make such a cohesive album, despite having a lot of different producers and collaborators. Ya know, when you come out with an album with a lot of different producers, the album can really lose that cohesiveness and it’s not really a smooth ride. What we wanted to do on ‘Rise Up’ was to maintain that sound that we have and that we are known for but to also show it updated, refreshed and renewed and present it all in a cohesive and smooth way. That was the challenge and I think that we succeeded in doing so.

You guys will be headed out on tour to support to the album. What spots do you plan on hitting and what can we expect when Cypress Hill hits the stage?

Yeah! We plan on hitting everywhere, ya know what I mean!?! We are really excited about playing the new music and getting back out on the road. We plan on touring very heavily for the record, so we are planning on hitting anywhere and everywhere that wants Cypress Hill! As far as the live show, expect the classics, expect to hear a bunch of new stuff and expect a few surprises. You are definitely going to see a fully packed show, so we hope that everybody is ready.

‘Rise Up’ is set to hit stores on 4/20, do you have any special plans to celebrate the release?

We are performing at The Warfield in Francisco on 420 and we are also going to have an after-party, a record release party for it as well. I believe that the perfomance may be streamed on www.breal.tv, which is an outlet which we have been broadcasting on everyday Monday through Friday. I think that it is going to be a great show, so we are definitely going to party it up! That show at The Warfield will be a great way to bring the album in right!

You mentioned www.breal.tv, it’s a really interesting venture. You guys have been putting up some really interesting stuff there.

Yeah, it’s really good. I think it is a really good platform that is really taking off. Most importantly, it is another great way for us to connect with our fans and keep them informed about what is going on but give them something entertaining to check out at the same time.

Looking back, what do you feel is one of the defining moments for Cypress Hill, so far?

I think a big defining moment for us, in my opinion, was Woodstock ’94 and also the Lollapalooza years. I think that those really helped to cement Cypress Hill as a viable live act and we were able to share the stage with groups from any genre. I feel as if that was one of the main things that helped to catpult Cypress Hill into becoming the force it has become.

We’ve seen the music industry change so much over the past few years, what advice would you give someone who wants to get into music and make it a career, as you have?

There are good and bad points to it. I think a good point is that now there are so many outlets for people to get their music heard, especially via the internet and the different social networks. However, with that being said, you have a lot more people flooding in, so the competition is definitely going to be greater. I think that you have to follow your passion and be creative. It is really important to hone in on your craft. If you are songwriter, a guitar player or a drummer, just make sure that your the best that you can be. You always have to play and show your A-game, wether it is 300 people, 30 people or 3 people, because you never know who is going to be in that audience and is checking you out. That person could change your whole life.

Anything that you want to say to the fans out there before we let you go?

First and foremost, on behalf of B-Real, Sen Dog and the rest of the Cypress Hill camp, thank you for your years of support and for continuing to follow The Hill. Definitely get out their and get ‘Rise Up’ on 4.20! I hope that everyone enjoys it and we will see you on the road!

Thanks for your time and we will be spreading the word!

Thank you!

Hip Hop legends Cypress Hill will be celebrating the release of their new album Rise Up with a special live concert on Tuesday night, April 20th (4/20), at 8 PM PST at San Franciso’s Warfield Theater. Fans will be able to watch the entire performance and join the chat live at http://stickam.com/breal.

Cypress Hill Tour dates are as follows:

4/19 –  Los Angeles, CA – Jimmy Kimmel Live
4/20 – San Francisco, CA – The Warfield
4/22 – Scottsdale, AZ – Martini Ranch
5/11 – Houston, TX – Warehouse
5/12 – Dallas, TX – Palladium Ballroom
5/13 – Austin, TX – Stubbs BBQ
5/15 – San Antonio, TX – Scout Bar
5/16 – Corpus Christi, TX – Brewster St. Ice House
5/18 – Odessa, TX – Dos Amigos
5/19 – El Paso, TX – Club 101
5/21 – Tucson, AZ – Rialto Theatre
5/22 – Las Vegas, NV – Mandalay Bay Beach Stage
6/01 – Vienna, AUS – Gasometer
6/02 – Prague, Czech Republic – O2
6/04 – Neuchatel, SWI – Festi’neuch Festival
6/05 – Nuremberg, GER – Rock Im Park Festival
6/06 – Nurburg, GER – Rock Am Ring Festival
6/07 – Berlin, GER – Columbiahalle
6/11 – Madrid, SPA – Rock In Rio|
6/12 – Rodez, FRA- Skabazac Festival
6/15 – London, UK – Brixton Academy
6/16 – Glasgow, UK – Academy
6/19 – Seinajoki, FN – Provinssirock Festival
7/03 – Zurich, SWI – Touch the Lake Festival
8/08 – Chicago, IL – Lollapalooza
8/14 – Commerce City, CO – Mile High Music Festival
8/28 – Leeds, UK – Leeds Festival
8/29 – Reading, UK – Reading Festival