A lot of groups bristle at the mention of the acts on their resume, but it must be said, at least here: Deaf Judges were Athens' very own Yalta Conference of rap. When Old White Women (the duo of emcee Louie Larceny and producer/DJ Cubenza) joined forces with Produce Man (AKA Austin Darnell, as of late playing with his brothers in the Darnell Boys) and eccentric rapper Rorshak (known henceforth as Walter Kovax), they were unstoppable. The quartet shut down shows across Athens and on tour, bringing rowdy punk energy to their 90s throwback rap. When Deaf Judges broke up, three quarters of that group decided to continue on with Mad Axes. We sat down with Louie and Walter to see what the future holds for them as they rekindle their presence as Athens' most idiosyncratic rappers.
Flagpole: Let's start from the beginning. When was the last Deaf Judges show?
Walter Kovax: A long time ago. In a galaxy far, far away. It was about a year ago.
FP: After that show, what kind of discussions were happening about what was next for you musically?
Louie Larceny: David Letterman came to me in a vision, or what would it be called—not necessarily a vision…
FP: An epiphany?
LL: His ghost came to me in an apparition and said: "Mad Axes." And it's a vision we've been following. I knew at that point that Deaf Judges was no longer and that Mad Axes had to come over.
WK: I don't think anyone remembers Deaf Judges.
LL: Maybe Madeline.
WK: Maybe a handful of people.
FP: Deaf Judges were pretty big. People got excited about that group.
LL: We were big in Blacksburg, VA.
FP: For people who remember Deaf Judges, compared to Deaf Judges, what can they expect from Mad Axes?
WK: If you liked Deaf Judges, you're gonna love Mad Axes. It's 10 times better; it's like Deaf Judges, less fattening, more fun.
LL: It's like Barry Bonds when he broke the home run record.
WK: If you hated Deaf Judges…
LL: …then you're gonna love Mad Axes. It's like the Triple Crown threat. Batting average, RBIs.
FP: Did you guys have any discussions about what you wanted to do musically, like what you wanted to accomplish? What was the vision?
LL: The vision was more powerful, to me, than any other planning or foresight or whatever. It came to me.
WK: We didn't talk about it too much.
LL: It's like what had to happen, you know.
WK: In the moment, day to day.
FP: Where were you guys working on this stuff? What were you doing and where, how were you writing it?
LL: We went to High Falls, NC, and then we finished the record down by the beach. I like to be close to water. I don't know if Mad Axes created me, or if I created Mad Axes, you know?
WK: [falls out]
LL: Seriously, it's what started happening, you know.
WK: We kind of recorded all over the place, wherever we were at. We did record a little bit of percussion, maracas and stuff, in the back of Cabin Floor Records in Greenville, SC.
FP: What are you guys doing for beats?
LL: The one and only Cubenza, the positive overseer of Mad Axes, and we're using computer programs and all that shit.
WK: Cubenza's the third member.
LL: He's the one who sets the table.
FP: Is Cubenza making the beats?
WK: It's a collaborative thing. We all make beats, and we all sort of have a hand in.
LL: We made all the beats. Cubenza, your boy Louie Larceny, and Walter Kovax. All of us made the beats.
FP: What are you guys talking about on the record? What are the topics?
WK: Topical issues. Fashion, mostly.
LL: Fashion. Politics. Lifestyle. Life choices. An array of human experience.
FP: Is this going to come out on EC Ruins?
WK: No, that's defunct. So this'll be independently released, until we get picked up by Interscope.
LL: Yeah, we're looking for either Interscope or seeing if Death Row will make a comeback. I wouldn't mind being on Death Row, man.
WK: Delicious Vinyl, maybe.
LL: I say Death Row's my number one choice. After that, it's kind of a toss-up.
WK: If we could reignite Delicious Vinyl--
LL: Which one was Delicious Vinyl? Who did they put out?
WK: Tone Loc.
LL: Oh, Jesus.
WK: Or Tommy Boy.
LL: I'd rather be on Death Row.
FP: Where do you guys see yourselves fitting into the current landscape of hip-hop? What do you think of what's going on right now and where do you see yourselves fitting into it?
LL: I'd say the top. Pretty much. As far as creatively and inspiration goes. I think that someone would do themselves right to check out the record, check out the songs. I think they'd be doing something good for themselves. I don't think it sounds like anything else that's been put out.
WK: It's hard to compare. I don't even know what's going on. I mostly listen to Cher...
LL: Billy Joel, you've been on a Billy Joel kick…
WK: Billy Joel, and there's this tape called Pure Moods with the "X-Files" theme on it and some Enya. That's pretty much it, I'm not hip to what the kids are doing now. But I'd put us up there.
LL: Yeah, I think we're at the top.
FP: Are you guys gonna take this on tour? Are you gonna travel with this music?
LL: We'll be doing limited offers, we've got a couple things on the table. When the offer presents itself, we'll tour, man. I think we got a killer…
LL: Yeah, a killer package deal.
WK: No specific plans, but we're gonna see where it takes us.
FP: Tell me about these shows you have coming up.
WK: December 15 is the 40 Watt Club with Clay Leverett and Friends. And then the 17th is Farm 255 with Showtime, TaterZandra, and Crun Pun.
LL: Those are benefit shows. We're putting those out for the public.
WK: Toys for Tots.
LL: Yeah, Toys for Tots, but we're donating our time.
WK: It's a benefit for the world.
LL: Yeah, I want people to take these shows in, because I think they can get a lot out of it.
WK: That's the whole Mad Axes philosophy. Pro-life suicide.
LL: Pro-life suicide rap.
FP: Tell me a little bit about that philosophy.
WK: Okay, the science on pro-life suicide rap... it's not about abortion or anything. Those people, they call themselves pro-life–they're pro-embryo. But as far as walking-talking, thinking-feeling-breathing people, they don't seem to care too much. But Mad Axes is pro- all life forms. In all its forms. We try to uplift all life forms, and we're taking that title, pro-life, we're taking that from the anti-abortionists. We're taking it away from them. Because we're pro-life in all forms. Suicide is when you go to the soda fountain and mix in all the flavors. That's what we're doing. Mixing in all the flavors.
FP: Besides these two shows, do you have anything else booked?
WK: We're gonna try to hit it up locally at the start of the year, hopefully some people will want to play with us.
LL: Shop the record around. Hello Sir has expressed some serious interest. Happy Birthday to Me. Orange Twin's been on my jock about that shit.
WK: Delicious Vinyl. We're gonna resurrect Tone Loc's career, probably. Get him on the mixture.
LL: Get Young MC.
FP: Anything else you feel you want people to hear about it?
LL: I want people to hear about "Clyde Drexler," "New Wave," "Good Dolemite," "Microphone Romance." Mad Axes. Cos it'll help you. It's uplifting, it's like philanthropy. We give it to the world, you know?