Ireally want to talk about The View,” said Mike D during a press conference backstage at Philadelphia’s Festival Pier. “We’re all offended we haven’t gotten a call from Barbara Walters to replace Star Jones.” Still cracking wise in their forties, the Beastie Boys kicked off their first major American tour in three years by joking about starting a line of ladies’ watches. Once they hit the stage, things were a little more businesslike – but only a little. On August 15t, in front of 5,000 Philiy fans, the suit-clad trio ran through nearly thirty songs in a hundred minutes, playing only a handful of cuts from its new loungefunk disc, The Mix-Up – including the eight-minute jam “Off the Grid.” But mostly it stuck to showstopping cuts like “No Sleep Till Brooklyn,” “Sabotage” and “Paul Revere,” the last of which Ad-Rock dedicated to the inmates of a nearby prison.
The show was classic Beastie Boys – a mix of punky wit, blitzkrieg rapping and party-rocking instrumentais. But the tour promises to be relatively low-key for the trio, two of whom are fathers. “We don’t feel the need to go out and conquer the world anymore,” Mike D told Rolling Stone backstage. “Touring forever like you’ve got nothing else to do is cool when you’re twenty. But when your kids are in school, that doesn’t work so well.” Only sixteen U.S. dates have been scheduled, and several of those are “gala events”: mostly-instrumental shows at small venues. “The [bigger] shows, like tonight, they’re more for the average meathead,” said MCA. “The gala events are for the ‘heads: We play a lot more album cuts and B sides and weird arrangements.”
The Boys hinted that their next record will be a classic rap album. “We’re doing the vocals first this time – it may just end up as an a cappella record,” said MCA, laughing. But considering all their family obligations, might this tour be their last for a while? “We’re not going to declare an official stopping point,” says Ad-Rock. “We want to have a surprise attack.”
This story is from the August 23rd, 2007 issue of Rolling Stone.