David Carr of the LA Daily News recently conducted an interview with WICKED WISDOM frontwoman Jada Pinkett-Smith (actress and wife of actor/rapper Will Smith). The question-and-answer session follows:
Q: What prompted you to start a heavy metal band? How did this take shape?
Jada Pinkett-Smith: "Three and a half years ago, I started to put together what would become WICKED WISDOM. I always wanted to start a band, and I grew up on hard rock and heavy metal. I have a strong love for the music, and it just made sense. For three years, we went through some transitions and different lineups and sounds. We tried a bit of a soul/rock thing, but I just wanted to go heavier than that. I met Pocket (guitarist for WICKED WISDOM), and we both had the same musical sense, which was very heavy music with melody. Everything seemed to fall into place after that."
Q: So you have been a fan of metal music?
Jada Pinkett-Smith: "I was a child of the '80s. Back then, metal truly seemed to rule the world, especially on MTV. It may be surprising to some but I have always listened to BLACK SABBATH, OZZY and GUNS N' ROSES, and my aunt and uncle loved QUEEN, LED ZEPPELIN and THE WHO as well as reggae and jazz. I come from a very eclectic musical background."
Q: How did the band get on the Ozzfest tour?
Jada Pinkett-Smith: "Sharon Osbourne (wife and manager of Ozzy Osbourne) saw the band at the Viper Room in Hollywood. At that time, a band scheduled to play the festival had to drop off the tour. Three days after the performance, we got the call asking us if we wanted to do the tour. At first we thought it was a bizarre request. We had to ask ourselves if we were heavy enough to even do the tour. In the end we decided to go for it."
Q: What was the response from the crowd?
Jada Pinkett-Smith: "The first six shows were really rough. We had a steep learning curve. Those first few shows, the fans were brutal. By the time we got to show No. 7 the audience started to come around. By the end of the tour, during our last set, we had three mosh pits going while we were playing. The crowd was truly with us."
Q: How much of the backlash against WICKED WISDOM was based on race?
Jada Pinkett-Smith: "I honestly have to say race was a very small issue throughout the whole tour. The biggest issue was the fact that I was an actress and people thought I had no business being on this tour. On a certain level, I can understand that issue. That was the work that had to be done. We had to prove ourselves."
Q: Was there a lot of camaraderie among the bands? Did you all feel welcome?
Jada Pinkett-Smith: "Oh yeah! I made so many friends. I think we all had a few preconceived notions, but it was great. I miss my boys from the tour. It really was like one big heavy metal summer camp. We treated each other like one big family, and I try and see these bands now when they are in L.A."
Q: Has your husband been supportive of your new career?
Jada Pinkett-Smith: "Will has been very supportive. He was a bit concerned at first because this whole scene is really new to him, but he came with me on tour and he brought our kids, and we all had a great time. My kids now ask if we are going back to Ozzfest next summer."
Q: What's next for WICKED WISDOM?
Jada Pinkett-Smith: "Our first full-length disc is set to be released Jan. 31 on Suburban Noize/100% Woman Records. The first single, 'Something Inside of Me', will drop in December. We are on tour now, and we will be on tour to promote the disc in January. We are the real deal. Too much of my heart and soul is in this for this to be a pet project. I love the relationship we have with our fans."
Q: What is the best part of doing something like this?
Jada Pinkett-Smith: "The best part of this is being the underdog. People come to the shows and don't know what to expect. When we take the stage and the music hits, I can literally see jaws dropping in the crowd because they just don't expect it. I love going off and surprising people with this band. The best part about the experience is we are having a good time and surprising people and impressing people with what we do. It is a tough position to be in but if you can take the pressure, it is also the best position to be in."