Never Better is bound to make a few top ten lists this year. And by a few I mean it should be on yours, too. The third solo record from punk rock hip-hop combination platter, P.O.S., Never Better is a smartass and honest effort. And now, thanks to Warped Tour and a newly energized collection of fans and bands as fans, we're all taking notice.
I caught up with Stef on this year's annual summer camp, and I even grabbed the interview on camera for Heart Throb Media TV. Many thanks to Stef, the crew at Heart Throb Media and Keagan2387 for help transcribing.
First of all, I want you to talk to me about what it's like out here on Warped Tour.
Stef: Warped Tour is crazy, anyway. And it's like double crazy for a rapper. There are a lot of walk-by's and people stop at the stage and check it out if they're into it and there’s a lot of walk-by's where people are like "I don't like rap" and if they hang out for awhile they might change their mind.
I mean you were a punk rock kid when you were younger right?
Stef: I still am a punk rock kid, I always played in bands and cut my teeth writing punk and hardcore songs and stuff like that so when I started writing hip hop it kinda just got in there.
So when did you decide to like branch over?
Stef: Mostly when I started, I always rapped for fun with my friends and cousins and stuff like that, but I started doing it seriously because the bass player in my band had to go to college and I had to figure out something I could do by myself. I didn't want to stop making music. I didn't want to have to suffer the heartbreak of my band breaking up again for any reason so I just found something to do for myself.
Okay, now that everything is going well for you, do you feel that Warped Tour has been treating you well as a rap artist?
Stef: I feel like it has been treating me pretty well. I don't know that it's necessarily my scene but I'm at it. I'm having a good time and nobody seems to be mad that I'm here.
I think a lot of people on the tour behind the scenes are big fans because every time I talk to a band member and say, who should we check out, they say you.
Stef: Oh really, that’s cool.
What are some of the bands out here that your pumped to see?
Stef: Definitely NOFX. I like watching Bad Religion. I'm excited because Bouncing Souls just got here today, and they were on tour before this tour. I love Gallows and Alexisonfire. I've discovered a couple bands I didn't know I was going to like Lights and Dear and The Headlights and I Set My Friends On Fire.
You and Dear and The Headlights - you guys are kind of the odd men out on the tour. But tell me your opinion on some of these bands that may not deserve to be out here [on Warped Tour], as some people like to say.
Stef: Well, some people do say that people don't deserve to be out here but I mean, if anybody is out here, they have put some work into whatever their craft may be even if their craft is completely garbage, you know what I'm saying? You can't just end up on Warped Tour if your not doing a little bit of work. Everybody deserves a little bit of credit for that. I mean, you can't like everyone.
Stef: Earlier in the tour I was calling bands out by name left and right, being like "I hate this band, I hate this band, I hate this band." It turns out that everybody turned out to be pretty nice people so now I don't want to call out other bands out anymore.
Especially when you're like in close quarters with them every day you have to be careful.
Stef: But seriously there are some really horseshit bands. There's a lot of bands out here that have a very distinct thing they are trying to get across whether it's a message, a vibe or a style, and then there are a few bands that just outright undue whatever other people are talking about.
It's like suddenly you want to censor these bands because its against like punk rock morals.
Well let’s talk about what’s in the future for you, I wanna know what you’re up to, what’s next. Never Better was just released this year (with the awesome artwork). But I want to know what’s in the future, what can we look forward too?
Stef: I'm doing a main support run on the West Coast with Bad Brains after this tour.
That must be awesome for you.
Stef: I'm excited, and then Trouble Andrew is on there too, he’s opening. He opened on the Santigold tour, that tour was really good. Then I have a UK run, a quick one. Then back into the States again and then probably back in the studio to make another record. I have been putting down ideas for the past couple months.
Do you write on the road at all?
Stef: I do write on the road, not as much as when I write at home. But Never Better I wrote a lot of it on the road.
Now I have told you before in a previous conversation how much I love Astronautalis and I want info on camera about what you and Astronautalis have in the future.
Stef: Me and Astronautalis are gonna make a record, and it's going to be an awesome record. We cameoed on the secret track on each others' most recent records - his record Pomegranate, my record Never Better - and it worked out really good, we're gonna make some awesome songs.