After a brush with death, the disbanding of House Of Pain, and a few years of silence, Everlast comes crashing back with Whitey Ford Sings the Blues.

It’s rare to see someone diversify their music to the point that it’s almost unrecognizable, and even though this album still has at least five straight hip-hop jams, it’s the new sound from Everlast that makes you go hmmm. Scratchy, acoustic-blues style mixed with turntables and hip-hop chants may not be new to the world, but rarely has it been delivered the way it is here. This album is, in the words of the man himself, “all about evolution.”

A confident and well thought-out individual, Everlast (a.k.a Erik Schrody), walks the hard road and brings the truth in his music.

How’s everything with the members of House of Pain-are you guys still tight?

Oh yeah! We didn’t break up like that. I just quit. I got tired of what was going on in the record business and shit.

How is the record business?

Dirty. It attracts the worst people and brings out the worst in ‘em. Everybody in the music industry who ain’t makin’ music is making money off somebody else. I just got sick of the way it was going down, I didn’t like my managers at the time, so I just quit. I didn’t even plan on makin’ records. I was just gonna chill and get a job.

What did you want to do?

That’s why I made another record! Laughter I had no clue what it was I wanted to do.

The album seems a lot different from anything I’ve heard from you in the past.

Well, it depends on what songs you listen to on the album. There’re like five or six straight hip-hop songs.

Where do the other songs come from?

Just, pause not wanting to do the same thing. It came from all the music that ever influenced me, you know what I’m sayin’? I just decided, “You know what, f-k the rules, man. Let me do something that’s different.”

Did you have people in the business trying to tell you that you can’t do this or that?

You see, that was the benefit to quitting!

It freed you up.

Yeah! Nobody even knew I was making another record, and by the time I even told the record company my plans, I had all these songs ready. They were like, “Whoa.” They liked it, but they didn’t know what they were gonna do with it and if people were gonna accept it. I think everybody recognized that it was something cool and different, you know what I’m sayin’?

Where do you call home?

I was born out on Long Island New York, but I was raised most of my life in Los Angeles. I live in L.A. still, but I’m in New York at least once a month because that’s where my record label is.

Did the House of Pain ever play in Ireland?

Hell yeah, a lot! They treated us like kings over there, man. We were the Irish Elvis, you know what I’m sayin’? I love Ireland.

Did you check out some castles and shit?

That’s the thing-when you tour, you go to all these great places, but you never have time to enjoy them for yourself. When you’re not doing a sound check or a show, you’re so tired you want to sleep. The next time I go over there I’m gonna space things out better. Sometimes almost dying makes you want to enjoy shit!

Did you almost die?

Technically, I did die. I had a heart attack and my heart stopped. There were a few days where I don’t really remember anything, because when they operate on your heart, they freeze your blood so it doesn’t pump around as fast. They stop your heart from beating while they operate-there’s a machine keeping you going. They said due to that freezing and thawing out, you suffer memory loss, and if things go wrong it can cause serious brain damage. After the operation that was the main concern. I remember bits and pieces … like I’ll hear an ambulance go by in the distance and I’ll remember something from the ambulance ride I took. Or I’ll smell a certain smell and it will remind me of the hospital. It’s there, it’s just lockeed away somewhere.

Crazy.

Yeah, I think also I’m just not ready to deal with the whole thing yet because I’m still recovering from it.

Did you have any “go to the light” experiences where you saw god or some shit?

Not so much like that, I just remember begging for my life and being like, “I’m not done. I got shit to do. I’m not ready to die yet!” People ask me that, did I have an after-death experience and did I see lights, and all I can remember from that time was being like, nah, I’m not ready to die.

This all happened just after completion of the new album?

I had just finished laying the vocals to one of the songs and I was having dinner. I had a tight feeling in my chest, not a pain that would really make you scared, but it was hard to breathe. I was thinking indigestion or something. I went up and laid down. Luckily one of my producers who was living at my house heard me in the middle of the night. He knew I had heart problems from when I was born, but I’d never had anything happen with that in my past. When he heard me, he remembered me telling him that-when I said I can’t really breathe, he called an ambulance.

Have you ever snowboarded?

Yeah, but I can’t do it anymore. I’ve been to Mammoth and shit. We used to go to Board AID. I didn’t always play at it, but we would go anyway ’cause I was down with LIFEbeat, I would donate money to that so …

Why can’t you snowboard anymore?

Since my operation I have to take this medication because my blood doesn’t clot, so if I get cut I have to go to the hospital so they can stop the bleeding. Because of that medication, I can’t really do anything. I still ride my motorcycle and shit, but I’m not even supposed to do that. So snowboarding is kinda out of the picture. I’ll probably do it, though.

-E Wright