Johnny Richter: I'm Sick Of Dealing With Kottonmouth Kings Fighting
Johnny Richter, formerly of the Kottonmouth Kings, doesn't slow down for anyone. He also doesn't take shit from anyone. After unexpectedly leaving KMK in mid-October, Richter hit the ground running with a rejuvenated solo career and a new EP, FreeKING Out, set for release December 17.
The short and sweet five-track EP delivers the vintage Richter sound that carried the Kottonmouth Kings to fame, but there is something different about this collection of songs. A new bull-dozing spark in Richter's lyrics courses through every verse and brings the EP to life, showing that he is for real about his own career.
"I just want to get back to making music," says Richter, "touring, playing shows, and having fun with it, and not [have] all the other drama and bullshit that goes with it."
That's not to say there hasn't been plenty of backlash and fallout from a sudden separation with the band he helped form in the mid-nineties. KMK fans seem to be divided, forced into picking a side through the forums that have lit up since Richter's departure. Most notably, however, have been the accusations by Richter's former band members themselves.
The full story behind the scenes of KMK may never be known. However, Up on the Sun took advantage of the opportunity to speak with Richter prior to his solo performance at Red Owl in Tempe on December 15, and asked him about his future, his EP, and to shed some light on KMK.
There's a lot going on in your world, and you're a few shows into your own solo FreeKING Out tour now. I heard you got pulled over by the cops on your first night out?
Yeah, it was pretty gnarly. I got woken up at 10:30 in the morning by two CSP's. They took everybody off the RV one by one, and I was the last person because I was asleep. They searched the RV, and found like an ounce-and-a-half and some pipes and shit. None of the guys wanted to do anything as far as the cops, so they just let us go. No tickets, no anything, and all of our pipes intact.
Besides that run-in, how has the audience reaction been to your show?
The reaction has been good. We've been hit with some crazy weather, though! It's been good, we're just having fun with it. Everybody that comes is having a blast, and has been really receptive to everything.
What can we expect with your solo performance?
Just some real hip-hop. We're just up there killing it for an hour-plus of straight hip-hop. There's no karaoke or anything, just what we're rapping is what we're doing. We're trying to keep it positive and keep smiles on all of the people's faces. It's an energetic show.
Do you play any Kottonmouth Kings songs live?
Well, anybody can play whatever they want; think about cover bands and all of that. I do all publishing on my songs, and at the end of the day it's my songs that I wrote. I have as much right as anybody in my heart, and I can play whatever I want. I only play one verse off a Kottonmouth song, though, and it's an old song that we never play live.
I'm getting a lot of flak, but that's coming from their camp. I'm not saying, "hey, all the songs that I wrote--you guys can't play them." I'm not saying that, but they're trying to say I can't play any Kottonmouth Kings songs and to sign a piece of paper that I can never say or mention I was a part of Kottonmouth Kings. That's what they want me to do, but I'm not trying to take that level with that.
Tell me your thoughts on the FreeKING Out EP?
With everything happening, I didn't really pre-think or plan that EP. The night of October 14th or whatever it was, which was the first show I didn't show up to, I put a Twitter response out saying where I'm at and why I'm not there. I was getting some negative shit said about me by my band.
They were making accusations about me [like] addict, junkie, thief, and liar. I just try to keep it positive, and they went straight for the jugular with blatant lies. It definitely sparked that EP. It made me feel better about what I was doing, and solidified my reasoning. I'm just done with all that bullshit. I'm just getting back to music, and what it's supposed to be all about. I'm not trying to get in an internet battle war with somebody.