The genesis of New York’s Buckwheat Groats is decidedly clouded, with members Penis Bailey the Bailey and Lil’ Dinky (a.k.a. Deff Janiels) spinning stories that span epochs and regions. Most recently, the two have released some of the most ludicrous yet effective music videos since someone showed Busta Rhymes a wide-angled lens.
Armored in a flashy exterior of fur coats and wang-chains, the Groats submit to their first interview, ever, at the seedy International Bar in East Village. After grabbing a beer and whiskey each, we head to the back patio to discuss, among other things: getting love on Twitter, short-term goals (signing to Bricksquad), long-term goals (emperor of a nation state); and their newest single, “Million Dollar Menu.”
How did the Buckwheat Groats get started?
Deff Janiels: We actually come from Poland, a long time ago. We came up, you know, just a couple buddies in the street.
Penis Bailey: Never quite sure, you know. We been around for like hundreds of years.
DJ: I don’t even know how I met you.
PB: Legend has it that a goat was walking down the street one time and took a crap, and we just rose right up out of that. We was a Gregorian chant band for awhile. That was the scene that was popping for a little bit, but like—
DJ: That shit dried out.
PB: Yeah, that got old. The fucking hoes in that scene were whack, like wore too many burkas and shit.
PB: I don’t know. Like some sort of weird Polish dashiki. I wasn’t about that.
Can we get a breakdown of the Groats’ musical history?
PB: Our first band name was the Poopy-Doopy Boys. We toured for, who’d we open for… Frankie Valli.
DJ: That was straight. That was probably the purest fun we’ve ever had making music. Then rap came along, and it’s easy.
PB: Don’t forget our stint as an emo band back in the late nineties.
DJ: We follow the trends.
PB: We ride the waves.
DJ: We’re at the crest of the wave.
PB: That’s not to say we’re not ahead of our time. We keep it one step ahead.
(Bailey’s phone goes off)
DJ: Oh shit, we got Tweeted at.
PB: They Tweet.
How’s working the social media been for you guys?
DJ: We got a heavy Twitter following. I don’t want to give out numbers, but—
PB: I mean we’re catching up to Bieber almost. A little bit.
DJ: Bailey at one point did get retweeted by Kim Kardashian. True story.
PB: I said, “It’s amazing how you and hippopotamus turds can exist in the same universe.” She retweeted that and said, “I often wonder about that myself.”
DJ: We were eating burritos at the time and shit just started popping off. We’ve also had some public Internet spats. Bailey and Jenna Jameson. Bailey and Dane Cook.
PB: He was not a fan of me. He failed to see the charm and beauty in my specific type of body. Jenna Jameson called me a ‘fucktard.’
Who initiated that?
PB: That was me. I said something referencing the fact that she was a porn star.
DJ: I think she was complaining about something you said like, “You take dicks in the ass for a living. Shut the fuck up.”
PB: Oh right, she was whining about something and I said, “Man, you got really thin skin for someone who gets pounded in the ass for a living.” And she said, “I’m not even a porn star anymore, you fucktard!”
What’s the writing process been like thus far?
PB: Psheeeew. We have no idea.
DJ: It’s a lot different for every song. We go to different places. A lot of times we find ourselves in the middle of fields or sometimes near power lines.
PB: Actually, funny fact, I have zero recollection of ever writing a single lyric in my life. I don’t know how that happened. I never sat down to write a song. I never thought to myself, “Yo, I should spit, I’m ill.” I kind of just black out and come to, and we got like fucking hit songs, man.
DJ: I actually work very hard. I think I write all the lyrics.
PB: It could be.
DJ: Bailey’s the heart behind this group.
PB: From God’s testes to my mouth.
DJ: The songs come from a place of pure love.
PB: Solidarity as brothers.
DJ: I’ve seen parts of him that no one’s ever seen before.
PB: Yo, people have seen it before, trust. There’s no part of me that no one’s ever seen.
DJ: I’ve seen it from different angles.
Where are you guys trying to go with this Groats outfit?
DJ: We’re artists.
PB: I’m kind of guesstimating what my subconscious might be…
DJ: I think Bailey’s been in a dark place, which has brought about some of these more serious tracks.
PB: Well, I had a bad crawdad that set me back about a month.
DJ: I mean, we got one goal, which is to sign to Bricksquad.
PB: Naw, I mean, that’s one mini goal. Essentially, one day we have…
DJ: We do have an empire planned.
PB: Right, ownership of a nation-state.
DJ: Yeah, yeah. You know I want to be an emperor. I know you want to be an emperor.
PB: No, I’ll be a dictator. Or, I wouldn’t call myself a dictator. It’s fucking new age, new world order… Autocrat, autocrat for sure. We’ll take over Hollywood. We make the transition. I’ll probably be elected to Senate, and from there you know a couple chess moves and we run a country.
After a couple club bangers, you guys put up the serious-themed “Take Yourself out the Game”. How did the public’s negative response affect you?
DJ: It was our first experience with that kind of hate. We were wondering if maybe we should take ourselves out the game.
PB: We definitely spent a couple nights posted up with Ben and Jerry’s. There was that streak right there where we went through every season of Friends three times. That was dark times.
DJ: That was actually all right.
PB: I mean, you know, that fucking Chandler.
Talk about the new single, “Million Dollar Menu.” How did this concept come up? How did the video shoot go?
DJ: We were contacted by the McDonald’s corporation. They were like, “Yo, we dig the shit you do.” They like to feature a lot of urban music in their ads, and they figured we were really the key to the streets. So they said, “Yo, why don’t you come out and perform at a couple of McDonald’s. It’ll be officially sanctioned. Come through, rap a little bit.” And that was that. This video cost us over seven million dollars.
PB: We used pretty much like a third of our whole advance on this video. But like we were in the process of making the video – this was almost decades ago – then Ray Kroc straight up fucking croaked. He was the one that was a big fan of us when we were on the Doo-wop scene, and he was around when we were doing the Gregorian chants. We and Kroc go way back.
DJ: Man, we got a wild and convoluted history.
PB: There were the angel dust years.
PB: There was the Benzo years.
PB: And to a lesser extent the PC duster years.
PB: I mean, you know, that was a personal thing. I was asleep for a whole year of my life.
DJ: That is actually true. What year did you lose? Somewhere around 1992?
PB: Nah, I’d say it was more around six.
DJ: Six? Year six?
PB: Nah, 1996. Needless to say, we been around the block.
Back to the new video. You got a lot of clips with McDonald’s customers singing along. How’d that feel, getting that instant support?
PB: At that point, no one had ever heard the song. It was an honor that like after half a listen, people could catch on. That was all real.
DJ: There were no plants in this video. The only people who were hired to be in this video were the babes and we didn’t pay them a dime.
PB: In fact, they asked us.
How’d you guys get by with girls dancing on the tables and all the rest of the gratuitousness?
DJ: No problems.
PB: K Jones, cojones.
DJ: Yeah we had no problems. The only time we were hassled by the fucking police was when we brought Ronald out to a birthday party for about fifty eight-year-old children. The cops tried to hate on our swag, but we got rid of them pretty quickly. We told him to get the fuck from around us, and that was it.
DJ: Yo, the Groats actually have been in talks with Roy Hibbert of the Indiana Pacers. He’s a Groats fan, and this is a true story. And he’s considering inviting us onto the court to play as him. We’re going to stack each other on our shoulders.
PB: Shout out to Roy Hibbert.
DJ: Wait, what was the question?
PB: We are dense as hell.
From here, either the liquor begins to take effect or the true Groat nature reveals itself, and the interview slowly devolves to a series of shout-outs to teenagers across the Midwest, requests for edits and retractions, and challenging the other bar patrons to see who gets tweeted the most. Groat life, indeed.