Bobo in the Corner: Cypress Hill interviewed

We put Cypress Hill percussionist Eric "Bobo" Correa on the spot for a few hard and fast facts on Latin beats, real vampire fiction and the inspirational power of Black Sabbath...

Feature by Dave Kerr | 30 Mar 2010

My first job was at this place called Music Plus where you were able to buy CDs, albums and cassettes. I’d sweep the parking lot [laughs] and get half hour lunch breaks, but I didn’t care because I was surrounded by music all day long, so I was fine. That was my first and basically only job I’ve ever had, besides playing.

The first time I picked up a drumstick, I was 4 years old. Then I had my first professional gig with my dad [legendary Latin jazz drummer Willie Bobo] when I was five. I’ve been playing for as long as I can remember.

The last book I read was Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which I enjoyed very much. With all the vampire stuff that’s been going on with the Twilight movies and whatnot, I thought, well, let me take it back to the original, to the heart and soul of it, rather than something so far away from the source.

The last gig I went to as a punter was Alice in Chains in LA, not too long before they started their world tour. I’ve always been a fan, plus they’re really cool friends. I’m glad they’re keeping it going and still have that sound and power. Just being out there in the audience watching the show without the backstage madness, you have to do that every now and then.

The biggest guilty pleasure in my record collection has to be a CD of As Nasty As They Wanna Be by 2 Live Crew that I bump every now and then. It’s either that or the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.

One of my proudest moments in the studio was working on Ill Communication with the Beastie Boys, or with Cypress when we were doing Cypress Hill IV – a great experience; that was really the first album where I put a lot into the camp as a fulltime member. And then, working with a group like the Black Crowes [on Amorica] – that southern rock style – I take a little bit from each artist I’ve worked with and just cherish the time.

Cypress Hill had six years off between albums because we needed to take a little time on our solo projects: B-Real had Smoke N Mirrors, I had Meeting of the Minds, Sen Dog had Diary of a Mad Dog and Muggs had various things cooking, so we took a creative break and tried different things. At the same time we were still doing shows as Cypress, so it wasn’t like we weren’t around each other; this has always been a family.

The main task with [new album] Rise Up is to show people that we’re still together, we’re still a unit and we can still make bangin'-ass music. I'd say we all feel refreshed with this album, new label [Snoop Dogg recently signed the band to Priority Records], it’s a new energy and a more aggressive approach.

Three big influences on Cypress Hill [besides the philosopher's blend] are Public Enemy, Black Sabbath and Santana. Cypress is like Public Enemy in reverse; you have B with his high pitched vocal as lead rather than what they do with Flav as the hype man, but their fire and way of rhyme-play is inspirational.

Then you have a group like Black Sabbath who, sonically speaking, were unafraid of using different sounds to create the standard for rock guitars, rhythms and samples. The imagery was also important; when Cypress came out, no one in hip-hop was really giving out that murky rock vibe with the skulls and all that, Sabbath's influence added a lot to the look of Cypress.

Finally, you have the blues and the Latin element, where you get people like Santana who had a rich vocabulary of styles and bridged the gaps musically. I think we’ve been able to do that too, if you listen to Cypress Hill songs you’ll hear blues, rock, reggae, hip-hop and a lot more besides.

Rise Up is released via Priority/EMI on 19 April.

Cypress Hill play 02 Academy, Glasgow on 16 June.