Last year, rappers Everlast and Danny Boy, plus DJ Lethal, reunited as House of Pain for a 25th-anniversary tour, the first time the trio had appeared together since 2011. The celebration was warranted; the self-titled debut album, the first of three the group released between 1992 and ’96, remains beloved, with the “Jump Around” single still on a seemingly endless loop thanks to a ton of commercial and TV show placements. People still love House of Pain. Everlast, however, has a few reservations.
“Most of [the anniversary tour] I enjoyed but, after a while, I’ll be honest, no,” he says. “I’m not going to disparage against anybody else, but for me personally, it started off fun and then there came a point where it was, ‘Oh yeah, this is why I don’t do this anymore.’”
So perhaps it’s a little surprising that his new solo album, his eighth in total and seventh since he all but ditched rap in favor of his own gruff blues style, is named Whitey Ford’s House of Pain. That might raise a few eyebrows.
“I don’t know why it would raise any eyebrows,” Everlast counters. “House of Pain’s been gone for 20 fucking years. Basically, I am House of Pain. As egotistical as that sounds, pull it off without me? You can’t. Pull it off by myself? I can. Whitey Ford is House of Pain. It’s kind of a way of saying that, too. People try and separate the business when they’re booking. You know what? Just because I’m not doing House of Pain doesn’t mean you don’t get the same show. I’m kinda letting people know that.”
Whitey Ford is, of course, the moniker that the man born Erik Francis Schrody started using when he went the blues route on his second album, Whitey Ford Sings the Blues. Two decades have passed since that record, and Everlast believes he’s grown immensely as a songwriter and all-a round artist.
“When I quit House of Pain, and I started making Whitey Ford…, it was going to be a rap record, and then I stumbled into this songwriting,” he says. “Basically I’ve spent the last 15 years trying to learn that side of things. Writing songs in that manner and getting better at it. I just feel like life had me on hiatus for a little while. When I came back to making another record, it felt like it was time to use everything in the toolbox. Use every piece of knowledge I’ve learned over the last few years.”
It's a full seven years between studio album Songs of the Ungrateful Living and this year’s Whitey Ford’s House of Pain, with just an acoustic record in between. Everlast believes this new one is the best record of his life, but that hiatus was forced upon him by serious family concerns.
“I got married and had my first daughter, and she was born with cystic fibrosis,” he says. “That was life. Your marriage and your relationships go through all kinds of things when you’re dealing with that heavy of a health issue with a child. It took a long time, at least three or four years, just to adjust. I was working, going out and doing gigs and stuff, but I just wasn’t in a creative state of mind. I made an acoustic record, which was just like old material. I’ve worked, but I wasn’t creating and it was mostly just because there was no internal desire. There was a lot of pressure and stress in life that needed to be adjusted to. It took a while.”
That, naturally, makes sense, and it’s great to hear Everlast proudly say that his daughter’s doing very well now. Meanwhile, the world kinda went to shit around us in Everlast’s creative absence. The current administration has torn the country almost in two, with the president doing his best to make racism, Islamophobia, sexism and homophobia acceptable. Everlast acknowledges as much but stops short of saying that it’s been a major influence on his work.
“Everything I do is kind of stream of consciousness,” he says. “I don’t write songs down — I never have when it came to rap or anything. I just get in a mood and feel the creative urge, and then I go in and start writing and things just come out. I don’t ever make a conscious choice to start a song. Something will happen, and it will trigger something, whether it’s a melody in my head or a line. That will seed and start something. For me, the way I write, there are two ways things go. There are songs like, on this record particularly, ‘The Culling’ — that’s more of a stream of consciousness. I started a thought and just ran with it, saw where it led. Then there are other songs where I come up with a little bit if a lyric — it’s obviously some form of a story that I’m trying to tell about myself or someone related to me, or something related to me.”
While Everlast is a New York native, he’s been living in L.A. since House of Pain’s beginnings, and he says he wouldn’t live anywhere else now.
“As long as I can go to New York whenever I want, L.A. is the place to be,” he says. “Until I can afford like a Swiss chalet on top of a mountain, so I can be like neighbors with Phil Collins or whatever, I’m good here.”
As this is Everlast’s first album of new material in a long while, he’s champing at the bit to get out and tour it. Meanwhile, he has a few other irons in the fire that he’s not ready to talk about yet.
What we know for sure is that Everlast is still with us, busting his ass. He’s putting out new music again, and that’s good news for everyone. And as ever, he’s doing it on his own terms.
Whitey Ford's House of Pain is released in Sept. 7 through Martyr Inc.