GOLDIE LOOKIN CHAIN

It's amazing that anything gets done in the Goldie Lookin Chain studio, what with eight core members (sometimes as many as 23) constantly clouding up
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It's amazing that anything gets done in the Goldie Lookin Chain studio, what with eight core members (sometimes as many as 23) constantly clouding up the room with funny smoke. Yet the clubhouse mentality serves these Welsh clowns well, as it has given way to ridiculously comedic songs such as “Guns Don't Kill People, Rappers Do” and “Your Mother's Got a Penis.”

“On some stuff that we've been doing recently, we've been getting too high and not doing any raps and coming up with them after we've nearly finished the song,” the Chain's Dwayne Xain Xedong (Xain for short) says. “So that's not quite so clever.”

With a minimum of eight guys all fighting for space on their debut album, Straight Outta Newport (Record Collection, 2005), you'd think there would have been a feeding frenzy for the mic — but not quite. “It's basically whoever gets up off their ass and writes stuff quickest,” Xain says. “Usually, we have three pens between eight people. People are queuing up for pens, and if you bring a pen with you, you know you're ahead of the game.”

Despite the degenerate attitude of the group — which also features members Eggsy, Adam Hussain, Two-Hats, Mike Balls, Billy Webb, Mystikal and The Maggot — the group does have a more thoughtful and semiserious side, at least when it comes to crate digging. “We have a thing in the UK called charity shops,” Xain says. “The Cat Protection League is a great one. You buy stuff, and the money goes to looking after the cats. You're making records and saving the world at the same time.”

Although Xain's record collection isn't organized — “I buy a record, put it on and then throw it away in the corner of the room and lose the cover,” he says — he does find some interesting things to sample that are far from the realm of hip-hop, including Chuck Mangione and British folk-rock band Steeleye Span, the latter of which appears on “The Maggot.” “I put [Steeleye Span] on, and Mystikal was like, ‘My dad would play this in the car!’”

The Chain and Xain also sampled from a CD of drum loops that a friend of a friend had recorded, treating no two samples the same. “Sometimes, you might go through the whole track, put in a sample of one snare and then pitch it up or down slightly just to give it a bit more breath,” Xain says. “Other times, you might not be bothered. You just want to get it done, and it just feels right as it is. It's like myriad ideas colliding together, like piss on a windscreen.”

Xain's first piece of gear was a “rave generator,” a groove box (the name of which eludes him) that sucked away hours of his time. “I was seeing a girl, and then I got the rave generator, and two years later, I don't know what happened, but she wasn't there anymore,” he says. Xain then got an old sampler that soon gave out, followed by an Atari computer, a PC running Cakewalk Pro Audio and then Apple Logic Audio. The band got its first mic, held together with tape, for less than a pack of smokes. Oddly enough, the group borrowed its second mic from a golf/country club, and its third is a Shure SM58.

Despite the near disregard for new technology, Xain is sincere about making music in the studio. “The whole fucking recording process is like being born for the first time every day,” he says. “You can learn something every day from what you do.”

But talk turns to the band's live show, and the group again seems like a stoned, oddball-voiced posse (one of which sounds like Cookie Monster) ready to make a ruckus and kick over trash cans. “It's just executive karaoke,” Xain says. “Karaoke normally involves people singing to other people's songs, but executive karaoke involves people singing along to their own songs where they sample other people's songs. We don't bother with all that DJ shit, all that wicky-wacky hi-fi shit. I say bollocks to that. I think we'll be better: There will be more pyrotechnics, and we'll get cranes to lift one of us up into the audience when we're rapping. That would be fun.”