Seattle Weekly: Your new album, You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We're Having [Rhymesayers], is being distributed by Navarre instead of Epitaph, the way your 2003 album, Seven's Travels, was. What prompted the change?
Slug (rapper): The Epitaph thing was a one- record deal. It was a guinea pig thing on both our parts—they were experimenting with me, and I was experimenting with them. They went way beyond the call of duty. I can't express that enough. The guys from Epitaph really impressed me.
Would you work with them again?
If there was an excuse for me to work with them again, I probably would. We were never looking to just get Atmosphere distro. We were trying to get distro for the whole [Rhymesayers] label, which is what Navarre gave us.
The new album feels more rocklike, or maybe more like an early Def Jam record, both in your producer Ant's beats and your vocal delivery. Was that intentional?
No. It's a progression of me and Ant slowly trying to figure out how to capture the sound we've been trying to get for eight albums now. Everything on [2002's] God Loves Ugly was us trying to make a Boogie Down Productions record. Granted, people found reasons to like or dislike that record, but me and [Ant] know we didn't quite hit that BDP sound on that one. Seven's Travels was like, "Since we don't know how to do BDP, let's try to do De La Soul." [You Can't Imagine] is like, "Fuck it—let's make these songs and make them sound really good." In the end, I felt like we've got the closest [yet] to BDP.
You've been on a couple of Warped Tours as well as touring extensively on your own. Is there a lot of difference in the crowds?
The Warped crowd did not feel that different from my standard crowd: young white kids from the burbs. A lot of these kids didn't listen to rap; at my shows there [are] a lot of kids that aren't into rap. They have three rap CDs at home, and mine is one of them. At Warped, a lot of kids had open enough minds to get into it for what it was. Everybody will crack jokes about how it's for the pop-punk poseur kids, yadda-yadda-yadda, but really, indie-elitist kids who know about the next cool thing are not as open-minded as these 15-year-old kids coming in from [the suburbs] who are just like, "I love music. I just learned how to listen to what somebody has to say. Now I'm open-minded enough to hear what anybody has to say." Warped was amazing because it supplied us with a bunch of 15- and 16-year-olds who were actually open-minded, to the point where we were like, "Fuck, man, we could have gone out there with drums and fiddles."
Atmosphere play the Showbox with P.O.S., Turbo Nemesis, Blueprint, and DJ Rare Groove at 7 p.m. Mon., Nov. 7. $20. All ages.