Barely catching his breath, Shane Bunting rattles off the things that pack his schedule these days.
Four days, five videos, one year and two albums. For Bunting, aka Madchild, being busy is therapeutic.
“I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off,” Madchild says with a laugh.
“I’m not messing around anymore.”
Since releasing his solo debut, Dope Sick, which chronicled his addiction to OxyContin, Madchild has been working harder than ever.
“It was a crazy roller coaster and guess who is to blame for all of it – me,” says Madchild, admitting his role in a saga that almost sunk the Juno-award winning group.
A founding member of the hiphop group Swollen Members, Madchild spiralled out of control after the group’s fourth studio album, Black Magic, bombed.
The group was eventually turfed from Nettwerk Records because of Madchild’s association with the Hell’s Angels.
When Madchild reflects on his descent into addiction, he’s remorseful. In fact, he’d like to apologize to Nettwerk’s Terry McBride.
“I was a little bit of a prick back then,” he says.
More than two years of sobriety however have allowed Madchild to confront and make peace with his demons.
That maturity and acceptance translated into the Swollen Members newest album, Beautiful Death Machine, released last week.
On Beautiful Death Machine, Madchild and Prevail return to the expressive, emotional, poetic, and clever lyrical style that has earned them legions of fans, while Rob The Viking provides a dark backdrop of sick macabre beats.
“We just went back to that original, signature Swollen-sound that made us successful in the first place,” says Madchild.
These days Madchild is inspired by the people around him, his spirituality and positively. He readily admits the gangster-life he once embraced is fake and futile.
“I talk about positivity,” says Madchild.
“But I do it with edge and say [f..] 20 times in a song. It’s about being truthful and honest with myself and fans. I think that’s embraced now.”
The young fans Madchild’s raps to these days are a source of inspiration and hope.
“It seems to be a generation of kids growing up who appreciate honesty.
“We have a generation of kids who care about the environment, who totally accept gays, are against racism and think gangster stuff is bull shit. I can’t wait to see them grow up.”
Six years ago, Madchild’s fans would have sniggered if they heard him say he wants to make the word “love” cool again. These days, he doesn’t care. He’s embraced the duality of being “bad ass” yet nice.
“It’s a weird balance for me,” he says.
“Ben Harper or Bob Marley those are artists who made the word love cool. No one thought they were soft or corny … these guys are people I can relate to . They enjoyed life and lived it.
That’s where I would like to end up ideally.”
Since the release of his self-produced debut album, The Beginning, Cityreal (aka Remi Huot) has earned three Western Canadian Music Award nominations, collaborated with notable artists like Swollen Members, D-Sisive, and Moka Only, and shared the stage with the likes of K’Naan, Warren G and Ghostface Killah.
Last month, he released a new full length album, Good Morning Blues, with Blues veteran Wes Mackey, which has already garnered considerable praise.
Both Cityreal and Wes were heavily influenced by the gritty, dark and simplistic sound of the very early blues musicians, pioneers such as Leadbelly, Robert Johnson and Albert King.
“The concept for the album was to pair traditional blues elements with modern production and sampling techniques,” says Huot, and the result is one of the more unique hip-hop albums created in recent years.
The Swollen Members and Cityreal play the Haney Public House in Maple Ridge Saturday, March 23. For tickets and more tour dates, visit www.swollenmembers.com.