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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Juiceboxxx Brushes Off His Viral TV Performance

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Photo by Sarah Bradham
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Iconoclastic, Milwaukee-bred MC Juiceboxxx caused a stir online a couple months back when video of him suffering through a disastrous performance on TMJ 4 News went viral, provoking a deluge of commentary that, given the obvious technical problems plaguing the whole appearance, was obviously as uniformed and exaggerated as it was vitriolic. If you were already a fan, it was plain to see something was wrong, but the debacle was also entertaining in its own right as just another strange chapter in Juiceboxxx’s accomplished, colorful career.

“I threw myself into an unknown situation, there were a lot of technical difficulties and then all hell broke loose,” remembers Juiceboxxx, unregretful. It’s clear from the get go, when he offered anchors Carole Meekins and Mike Jacobs one of his Thunder Zone brand energy drinks, that he’s having fun with it, but when the song “Like a Renegade” starts, you see why people don’t turn to local news shows for cutting-edge musical content. “They were ill prepared,” Juiceboxxx says, “but I think it’s cool and funny and weird to put yourself in these situations and just see what happens.”

What happened this time were sound problems that left him at a bit of a loss as to how to salvage the segment. There was, however, scarce mention of TMJ’s shortcomings during the social media storm that followed. “You’d be surprised—there’s a point where I take out the receiver for my in-ear headphone, since there was no monitors I just had this earpiece that was barely audible, to try to mess with volume, and a lot of the Internet commenters thought I was checking my cell phone,” he laughs. “I mean, that would be one boxy, early-’90s cellphone.”

He’s certainly endured the whole experience with good humor, even twisting it to his advantage, but is quick to redirect people to the real thing. “There was a lot of stuff that was purely out of my control, so when I talk about this I don’t want to come off as being defensive, but if you look at any other performance, it’s vastly different than this one isolated performance,” he says. “There was a swath of people who checked out my actual videos and became fans. I’ve turned haters around before and I’ll do it again—it just inspires me.”

The whole incident, while surreal and somewhat embarrassing, hasn’t put much of a crimp in Juiceboxxx’s signature style. “It’s pretty much blown over,” he says, “That’s what’s funny with these things, whether they’re positive or negative, they’re so fucking ephemeral that in the long term it really doesn’t have that much of an effect.” What he’s really focused on is his many varied endeavors, all collected under the umbrella of his music and lifestyle label Thunder Zone, including a new album of neo-Americana anthems, his own hacky sack and upcoming Japanese dates opening for venerable San Francisco noise-poppers Deerhoof.

In addition to all that, there’s the current North American tour, which will make its way to Milwaukee on May 10, giving unfamiliar locals the chance to experience Juiceboxxx the way he was meant to be experienced: up close and personal. “I want people to come out and judge me for themselves, I mean, I’ve been here, I’m still here and I’m not too worried about any of this shit,” he says. “This is a lifestyle, you know? There’s a lot of bullshit in the world, but Thunder Zone stands for fucking ecstatic American culture for the future.”

Juiceboxxx headlines Quarters Rock ’n’ Roll Palace on Saturday, May 10 with DJ George Costanza, Platinum Boys, Stagediver and Webster X.