How ICE-T's wife and daughter helped him channel his inner "Psychopath" with BODY COUNT | Revolver

How ICE-T's wife and daughter helped him channel his inner "Psychopath" with BODY COUNT

Rap and metal icon details horror-themed new single
Body Count PROMO 2024, Alessandro Solca
photograph by Alessandro Solca

Ice-T possesses one of the most instantly recognizable voices of the past 40 years. And whether he's smooth-rapping crime-savvy storylines as the original gangster, shouting through self-stylized "grindhouse" horror-metal with Body Count, or quipping snarky one-liners as "Fin" Tutola on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, you know his boom is going to deliver big on any project.

On another level, the rap-and-metal icon also knows when to pass the mic. For instance, when it came to adding an intense round of death screams to Body Count's new "Psychopath" single — the first taste of the veteran metal force's upcoming Merciless album — Ice knew exactly where to turn: his wife Coco and their daughter Chanel.

"I said, 'I've got to kill some girls,' so I put them in the bathroom with an iPhone and we taped them screaming," the frontman recalls through a hearty laugh. "So, when you hear the murder scene in there with the chainsaw? That's my kid!"

Sure enough, Body Count's new single is a murderous, mosh-forward slam with venomous intent. Ernie C. and Juan of the Dead's gore-greased guitar tones rip through the mix like the aforementioned chainsaw sample, while Ice-T enters the mindframe of a blood-lusting public menace determined to "torture and kill and murder at will." And the way he sees it, that was fun as hell. 

"When this got together, I was like 'This shit sounds like the inside of an insane person's head.' I couldn't really write a love song to this," he notes, adding that the song also touches on how society paradoxically manages to both condemn and obsessively celebrate these kinds of figures, "All of us have been bombarded with psychopaths — Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, all the true crime shows — so I think every human being can profile a psychopath at this point. So, I just wrote from their perspective, you know?"

He continues: "With this record, I am the Psychopath. I was the Cop Killer, you know? That's one of the fun things about writing. You can take on the persona of this character."

Merciless is the fourth Body Count full-length to be recorded with metal producer extraordinaire and Better Lovers/Fit for an Autopsy guitarist Will Putney. Ice-T explains that their longtime studio collaborator's bandmates are often just loungin' at his house-cum-studio in Belleville, New Jersey, which is how FFAA vocalist Joe Bad showed up on "Psychopath" as a "hungry dog" barking out threats, and shouting out both band names.

The details have only just begun to roll out, but Ice concedes that the follow-up to Body Count's 2020's Grammy-winning Carnivore will also feature bigtime guest spots from the likes of Cannibal Corpse vocalist George "Corpseginder" Fisher… and possibly others.

"We're coming with some shit this year," Ice-T teases. "Every record is going to be pretty dramatic, let's say that."

What compels you about the idea of the psychopath?
I'm just a horror fan, and I have a dark side. I'm a normal person that has a bloodlust —which was also the name of one of my albums. I don't want to meet [a psychopath], and I'm not one… [but] we're fascinated with them.  Somebody said, 'You wrote the theme song for psychopaths.' Well, I wrote the theme songs for gangbangers, too, when I did "Colors."

One thing I tell people [about] Body Count… I call ourselves "grindhouse." Which is like a Tarantino movie [the director's 2007 Grindhouse double-feature with Robert Rodriguez]. It's so violent and over the top that you can almost laugh at it. It's so outrageous that you've got to laugh. Like, if you don't get the humor to "KKK Bitch," you're missing the point. There are points where I'm dead serious, like when I do something like "No Lives Matter," but there's other points that are strictly for the sake of outrageousness. And ["Psychopath"] is one of those. This is an outrageous fucking song.

You mentioned your family was screaming in the bathroom for that mid-song murder scene. Was anyone full-on revving up a chainsaw in the studio for that part, too?
That's some sample shit that Will did. We like to use sound effects, because I believe good music is really theatrical. I love Alice Cooper. I'm a Rammstein fan. I love watching Slayer when those crosses start flipping upside down real slow. I love the show! That's the theatrics of it.

The more you can add to [a song] with sound effects, the more visual the record becomes. So, we'll do that — "we need a real gunshot right there, or a car screeching" — to add to the experience. It all happens between your headphones. You close your eyes, and if the song is done right, when you listen to "Psychopath" — or any of my songs — you should come out of it feeling a kind of way. You should be like, "Yo, what the fuck just happened?"

How has it been for you and the band to link up with Will every few years to make another Body Count album?
Will is the greatest producer I've ever worked with, as far as metal goes — but even with hip-hop. He's just so consummate. He knows what he's doing. And he has the ability to make every band sound like themselves. We don't sound like Fit for an Autopsy, or any of the other bands he works with. I call him the Dr. Dre of Metal. Like, when Dre did Eminem… Eminem doesn't sound like 50 Cent. It's two different artists.

With me, he's having fun. He's going in there with me and we're laughing. I say some wild shit [and] he goes, "Oh yeah, that's good. I'll go with that." I get to push the lines with him. I'm like, "We need to have somebody screamin' on here," so we put the screams in. When I heard he had put the chainsaw in there, I was like, "That's so dope."

Your friendship with Will naturally led to Joe Bad hopping on the track. What was it like bringing him onto "Psychopath"? Did you give him any guidance?See, we've been around Will for so long that Joe Bad is hanging around us all time. He's playing video games in the other room — Will's house is a big studio! So, the Fit guys are in there with us. They're like a brother group to us.

So, right at that breakdown, I was like, "We need somebody crazy," you know? Joe came in and killed it. He actually tagged his group's name on the record, which I thought was dope. We've got some other people on the album, too. We've got Corpsegrinder on the record.

What else are you able to say about Merciless at this point?
I'll say this… I think [there] will be four singles before it comes out.

What's the general spirit in the Body Count camp at the moment?
We're all excited, because when we did Carnivore, the record was good — we won a Grammy — [but] we couldn't tour because of COVID. We had to sit on our hands on one of our hottest records! Like… damn! We lost 40 shows, and a lot of money.

So then of course, the record label goes, "You guys are hot… make another album!" Like, what the fuck you talking about? I just made an album! When you make an album, you might make 20 songs to pick 12, and you determine that eight are shit. So, you've already shot your wad. You made the album. Make another one? How? I'm out of ideas!

So, it took a while. I didn't want to use any of the eight songs that weren't good enough for Carnivore. I wanted to start from scratch. It takes a while to write good shit.

Going back to earlier in the conversation, have you come across any legitimate, full-blown psychopaths in your life?
I mean, growing up around gangs and shit like that, there were people that were really into violence. I'm not that guy. I'll protect myself, but I'm not into violence. There were some cats that really got off on that, and most of them are dead now. You can read certain people and be like, "You're getting off on this shit. You like war. You like violence. You like having people after you."

Let's put it like this: One of my friend's kids got shot. They picked up another friend that said, "I can find out who shot your kid," and basically this guy went over to the neighborhood and snatched another kid and told [him,] "We're about to torture you." That kid spilled the beans very quickly, [because] the guy he was talking to meant business. I think [the kid] could see it in his eyes: "This guy would really like to hurt me." They got to the bottom of it.

And yeah… I have some friends that I can't invite over. They'll eat the furniture. [Laughs]

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.