Everlast first came on the scene as a member of the Nineties hip-hop group House of Pain. But it’s as a solo artist that he’s really made his mark, starting with his 1998 album Whitey Ford Sings the Blues. His forthcoming album Songs of the Ungrateful Living, which comes out October 18th via his own label Martyr Inc. in partnership with EMI Music, is in many ways reminiscent of his debut, he tells Rolling Stone.
“I brought it back a little more ‘hip-hop’ on this record, like in the vein of Whitey Ford. I explored a lot of different songwriting and styles,” he says, adding that he also acted as producer on the record. “The last record [2008’s Love, War and the Ghost of Whitey Ford] was a little political, and I think this one comes back to people. It’s stories about people.”
This approach is apparent on the album’s first single, “I Get By.” “I was messing around with a buddy of mine in a studio, DJ Z-Trip, and he was like, ‘Somebody should do a song about getting by, but not in the good way. Like, barely getting by.’ From there, I wrote the song. No matter how much money or success I’ve seen in my life, I’ve always looked at myself as a blue-collar cat, and wanted to speak to that and what people are going through.”
In addition to touring in support of Songs of the Ungrateful Living, Everlast plans on starting work soon on a new album by his hip-hop group La Coka Nostra, as well as a possible new album by House of Pain (“We ended things on a poor note when we ended last time – it would be fun to do something if we can get it together,” he says), and signing artists to Martyr, Inc.
“I would like to envision a company where I would sign some other acts. But having been an artist for 20-some odd years now, I don’t ever want to be looked at by another artist as ‘a record company scumbag.’ It’s a catch-22.”