It’s not every day you meet a man who is living his dream. Kevin Gill, the voice of Juggalo Championship Wrestling got has always been a fan of music. He’s always been a fan of Wrestling. He’s a huge gamer.
This hasn’t changed for most of his life. He started his own independent record label before getting involved in the video game industry. He was responsible for “Backyard Wrestling” hitting your console, taking his own interests and making them come to life in your living room.
Now he works for one of his favorite bands in the world – the Insane Clown Posse and is heavily involved with their independent wrestling promotion JCW. You may have noticed when Juggalo News debuted the new website we had a section entirely dedicated to wrestling. We couldn’t think of anyone better to kick it off with. I made my way down to Hayward, CA to link up with Kevin at the All-Pro Wrestling training school for his photoshoot with Juggalo News. When we walked in the building immediately stood a huge wrestling ring where the shoot would take place.
I had to hold back from the urges to climb the ropes and throw myself around the canvas in excitement like the many wrestlers I grew up watching over the years. Probably not a good impression. Instead, I maintained myself for the time being and decided we should just get the interview out of the way before possibly breaking a rib or two. We set down on the bleachers and turned the tape recorder on. Let’s get the inside of the biggest independent wrestling federation in the United States. Let’s see what’s going on inside the world of JCW.
So tell us how you got involved with Psychopathic Records and JCW?
I first got involved as a fan. I came up in the New York hardcore scene. With groups like Sick of It All, Murphy’s Law, Leeway, Gorilla Biscuits, things like that. Underground music. There was like a whole scene I was a part of. I was only into the most authentic type of shit. On the hip-hop side, it was like KRS One, Public Enemy, Ice-T, and shit like that. I started hearing this buzz on ICP. This was back between the time of the Riddle box and Milenko. One day somebody brought me in a VHS tape, with Stranglemania on it.
It was like an advance copy or some shit or whatever it was. I still have the tape somewhere. It was a blank tape with a black magic marker that said Stranglemania. That shit changed my life right there. That took me from somebody that had heard of Psychopathic and heard of ICP to someone who was like man these guys are the funniest guys and best commentators I’ve ever heard in my fuckin life! I would watch that tape fuckin religiously and in the end, the “Chicken Huntin” video was tacked on.
I was like, anyone who can draw a crowd like that and have the whole place jumping and having people jump out of the balcony and shit… I thought there were a lot of similarities to the kind of crazy underground shit I was involved in, in New York. But this was bigger. Big production, big everything. So I was basically just a fan from that point on. I started listening to them all the time.
Fast forward a few years to uh, I guess I wanna say it was right when they were about to put out Amazing Jackal Brothers. They were doing a movie called Big Money Hustlas and they actually filmed that in New York. I started working at Rockstar Games in New York and I did a commercial for a game called Monster Truck Madness 64 starring Kevin Nash. One of the guys on the shoot was a New York guy that we brought out. I guess he came by Rockstar to pick up his check or something and I was either wearing an ICP shirt or a Mick Foley shirt on, but it was one of those two and he was like oh hey that’s so weird you have that shirt on, I’m involved in a movie with those guys and I was like your filming Big fuckin Money Hustlas?
He was like I’m the director of photography or whatever. Do you wanna come down to the set? I was like yeah! So I came down to the set with Armando who’s in a band called Fahrenheit 451 and hung out and watched them film a bunch of scenes and I got to meet Joe and Rob Bruce at the end of the shoot. Then fast forward a year or two I moved out to California and I had an idea to do the Backyard Wrestling video game. So as soon as that idea was greenlit and officially in production the first people I contacted to be in it was Insane Clown Posse and the JCW universe. So that’s basically how I got involved with Psychopathic as a fan and as someone who works with them.
So you were behind the idea of Backyard Wrestling?
How did you go from working for Rockstar Games to Eidos Interactive? So basically growing up I was always into primarily three things. Music, video games, and wrestling in no particular order. Then when I got to be in the third-grade girls entered the equation as far as being fascinated by them so I guess 4 things I was down with since day one. I was always into everything I was into but to the extreme. I was lucky enough to be around for the birth of video games really. It used to be like where every supermarket or pizzeria would have pinball machines at that moment and then it switched over to Space Invaders and Asteroids.
Just arcade games were everywhere. Some of the earlier video magazines started coming out. I actually got a job as a kid with a paper route and stuff because my parents weren’t going to support my habit. They were like you buying video game magazines? The idea that somebody would make a magazine about video games was like the stupidest thing in the world to them. The same thing with wrestling I was super into it and never missed an episode. I used to sneak and watch Spanish wrestling and wrestling from other Territory and shit on the UHF channels at night and shit.
With music, it was the same thing. I was obsessed with it and I ran a record label in New York called SFT or Striving For Togetherness Records. It was a New York Hardcore label that put out bands like 25 To Life, vision Of Disorder, No Redeeming Social Value, District 9, all these consensually underground bands. I had been doing the record label from about ’92 or ’93, and in like 98 It started to be like, fuck man. I was a real big follower of Russel Simmons and Rick Ruben and being a student of their game. I always heard that if you could sell more than 500 of a record by yourself in the indies, then people are aware of you or you’re making some kind of an impact.
Well, I was living in a tiny ass one-room apartment that was also the warehouse, production, and the offices, and we had records we were selling over 10,000 copies each of and I’m still like wheres my fuckin deal? We always did everyones first record and that’s what our signature was. To get people on their way up. People were always so happy to work with us. It was like their dream come true. You’d even hook them up with bigger labels like go for this man I have no hold over you. I just wanted to put you guys on.
Now you’re on. Run with it. But seeing how people would forget or how people would change it was kind of a bummer because I believe that if everybody… Well in better words if everyone links arms and runs together we have a lot better chance of breaking through. If we had a band that was already headliner status, and you join the click, then guess what? Your opening. But I was getting disillusioned by the music side of things because it’s not an easy hustle. It’s a lot of fuckin work. I was just getting burned out.
We had a newsletter that we published that was part of the label to keep people up on shit. A physical printed newsletter. It expanded to be like a 64-page magazine that we would mail out quarterly just because there was that much shit going on and we would just cover the news just like Juggalo News does. Not just about us but whatever the flavor is out there. We got the picture we got the interview, whatever. I used to cover wrestling in there. I wanted to do interviews with people in the video game industry.
This was around 1997. I was like video games are like this awesome frontier of entertainment and they have been but also it was like it was this closed society. Who makes these fuckin games? Where are these people? At that time I met everyone from all my favorite bands, different actors, and porn stars. You would meet everyone out and about especially in New York City but I never met anyone in the fucking video game industry. Our Photographer Jenn “McFarlane” Torpie came over to work on it, and In the middle of this, the original Grand Theft Auto for the Playstation One came out!
That derailed my work week almost indefinitely. We just played the fuck out of that. That night she went down to the city and I lived out in Queens. As soon as she gets down to the city she hits me up and was like hey there’s this dude here that says he works at a video game company and he’s the guy that makes Grand Theft Auto. I was like ah that’s probably bullshit. He’s probably just trying to pick you up. What’s his name? She tells me and I look through the credits and he’s the first name on the credits. He was the executive producer. I’m like oh shit. He’s legit. Get his number.
Can we interview him? She hooked it up. I wrote the interview for her and she went and did it because obviously he was interested in her and not some dude at the other end of the phone. So they went and met and did this interview and it was the first-ever published interview for Rockstar Games which that time Rockstar Games was an idea and it went on to be a cultural revolution. I had met up a few weeks later and we all went out to dinner together and I just really hit it off with the guy his name was Sam Houser.
He was this super charismatic like British genius type that had an interesting back story and a life through music and other kinds of entertainment shit and now he was setting his sights of video games. So we kind of hit it off and we had a lot of fun hanging out and a few weeks later he just called me up and offered me a job. At that time the company didn’t even have a name. But 6 months after I started they came up with the name Rockstar Games and that was kind of my entryway into the industry of video games and I was really grateful because like I said I was getting burned out on music.
Not on listening to it but the personalities and all the other shit that goes with it. Basically those guys put me on the map and at that point, I’m like shit this now validates all the shit that I’ve been doing for the last 5 years because I did all underground shit. You can’t just walk into some corporate job and just be like I oh I put out the No Redeeming Social Value record. They would have been like what the hell is that? They don’t understand that your executive producing records, and running marketing campaigns and negotiating contracts and all the stuff that goes with it.
So the video game thing was the ultimate validation of all the work that I had done previously. I basically worked at Rockstar for a couple of years it was great working there. Some of my friends there I got jobs there that are still working there to this day. I met some great people that changed my life. However, New York can kind of grind you up and spit you out. I lived there my whole life. A couple of years working around the clock at Rockstar I was just kind of getting burnt out on shit. Not the way I was with the record label but just in a different way of being burned out. Now I could pay my bills.
But I had no time to pay them. But before I had all the time in the world to pay my bills but I just had no fuckin money to pay them. So a buddy of mine Matt had moved out and quit Rockstar and moved out to San Francisco and got a job at Eidos Interactive. About a month later I came to visit him and they offered him my job on the spot basically. I remember talking to you back when we’re handling the soundtrack and were about to start picking artists’ music to appear on 25 To Life.
Yep. I was the global brand manager and head of marketing for “25 To Life”. It was a funny thing because one of the biggest records my label put out in the early days was a group called 25 Ta Life. The people behind “25 To Life” one of them was the former head of product development for Eidos. They already had the name and stuff set but it’s so close to this band’s name that I worked with before but I didn’t think of it. They did. Then they hired a big agency in New York that did a bunch of the Eminem album covers and logos and stuff like that. They came back with the logo and it was basically the same logo as the band 25 Ta Life.
So I brought it up to our legal department and was like hey man, I have nothing to do with this, and I didn’t name it, or did I make the logo but, here is the 7-inch record I put out and here’s this. We actually did a deal then, because I didn’t want the band to have hard feelings about it. We contacted the band and they were more concerned that we were going to shut them down. I was like Nah dude, your name is your name. We just want to make it so our game and you guys as the band co-exist together. You don’t hurt us, we don’t hurt you. Everyone’s cool. So we actually made the singer from 25 to life an unlockable character in the game and had him come out and do some voice-overs and shit. So that way everyone was happy. To me, that’s the way to do things. So now you’re involved with one of the freshest federations out there.
Does JCW ever plan on doing another full US tour again?
The JCW universe exists within the Psychopathic Records universe which is part of the Insane Clown Posse universe, and that universe is primarily based on music and the other output of ICP. So you know its 2012 now and it’s March as we’re sitting here and those guys are preparing to release the biggest album of their careers, The Mighty Death Pop coming out in August at The Gathering. So basically it depends on where they’re at. We can’t do JCW without Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope whether it’s me, Corp, Tony, or the other great people that have been involved.
We need them to be involved. They have other stuff they have to do that takes priority that we totally get. We have done the JCW national tours back in ’98, ’99, and 2000 I want to say. We did do the whole US the year before last with Kottonmouth Kings, Kittie, ICP, Juggalo Championship Wrestling, and Coolio which was cool. You never know. That’s the thing is the unpredictability. We could have a full US tour this spring, this fall, maybe next year. Do you never know you know? Now it’s pretty cool we got the big Hatchet Attacks pay-per-view Saturday, May 26th from Farmington New Mexico.
It’s all the musical artists from the Hatchet. You know who they are. The whole fam. Everyone who’s on the label. Everyone who is affiliated with the label and JCW has a fresh spot on there and of course, the Gathering is the biggest part of our year. We’re ready and poised for action. We have the talent, the staff, and whatever so as the talent buyers and everyone contacts Psychopathic as tours are being put together you never know what might be next, but at this moment there is no JCW US tour so far. But that could change with a text message like momentarily.
What kind of opportunities comes from quick ideas like that?
From getting to know the guys and working with them on a video game project they made me a spot as a referee which I was incredibly flattered. Those guys made me in the wrestling business and they gave me an opportunity and a platform to step up onto a perform and shine and showed me so much love that I’m so grateful. I’ve done countless US tours and one-offs and other great things. One night Violent J proposed to do a JCW web video while were out on the road to keep people informed of whats going on.
I just did a local wrestling DVD out here in Northern California called the DJ Rizz Memorial Cup with a buddy of mine Lars Fredrickson we do the commentary on it. We just got done getting the DVD’s shipped to me out on the road and one night I watched it with Violent J and a couple of other guys and like Violent J turned to me and was very complimentary of the commentary I did on the DVD which was an honor to me and then a short while later he was like hey, you know usually me and Shaggy do the commentary for these videos but we’ve been looking for somebody else to do commentary for a while not and I think we finally found the guy. And I was like that’s great!
Who is it? Anyone I’ve heard of? Is it Scott Demore, is it Raven? He points to me and was like, it’s your brother. We just went right into it. We went and filmed a little into the show right there in New York City in Times Square. We recorded all the commentary that night with Mike E Clark engineering. Hotel set up. Me screaming on the mic until hotel security came. The rest is history from there. That was just me doing it solo. From that, Psychopathic Launched Psychopathic Live where you can see all of our Pay-Per-View events and they decided to make me an incredible Shaggy 2 Dope the commentary team which was an absolute honor. So what are some of the names you got for JCW at the Gathering if you are allowed to tell us?
Any plans or uh, non-surprises you can talk about?
Well, everything is pretty much up to the JCW championship committee. The Gathering is always bar-none our biggest event of the year. Its like our super bowl and Wrestlemania combined multiplied by Burning man combined into one super event. There’s nothing that can be said at this time about what we got planned for the Gathering other than to say that every year, every Gathering it keeps getting bigger. There will be some fuckin off the hook flavor for the ninjas to check out and we invite everyone to come party with us at the Gathering. If you’ve never been you need to do it now.
We have to ask, does Corporal Robinson ever plan to return to Juggalo Championship wrestling to compete again?
That’s a very good question. You know Corporal Robinson is somebody I have gotten to be close with over the years touring with Corp, working with him and stuff mostly on JCW. Nobody can dispute that very few wrestlers in the world work harder or more fucking insane than Corporal Robinson. What he does to his opponents and what gets done to him in the course of that is fuckin mind-blowing and you know there was a series of bumps that he took from Congo off of a cage that was really bad. He just got banged up. After years and years and years of injuries accumulated in wrestling and other non-wrestling related bumps and bruises and spills…
It’s all up to the doctors. He’s been seeing a doctor regularly for damage to his spine and other things and you know with wrestling you can never say never. I would stop short of saying I would love to see Corp back in the JCW ring. I would add, I would love to see him healed up and cleared by doctors to be in the JCW ring again. As a friend and somebody respect, I think long term and about his life after wrestling and the life of his family and things like that. A ring is a dangerous place and wrestling is a dangerous sport and a lot of people have the perception that oh wrestling is just a show but ask Corporal Robinson.
Look at his head. The scars and injuries can be listed forever. I wish Corp nothing but the best. We just filmed some stuff for Psychopathic Radio the other week and he’s looking good after a couple of months out of the ring. It’s really all up to the doctor’s man. I wish him a speedy recovery and a life free of pain and injury. I know there were plans for a ring and training center in Michigan.
Did that ever happen?
Yeah, that was one of the big ideas, I think it was last year, to do a dedicated JCW school and I think it’s just one of those ideas that just, there are so many projects being worked on currently that ninjas know about and a lot of stuff that ninjas don’t know about and it just becomes where there’s only so many people in the organization and there’s only so many hours in the day so I think as of good as an idea it was it’s just something that on the back burner so to speak. Anything to do with putting wrestling in a building or anything to do with stuff like that is hard to do because of stuff like insurance and all that stuff.
Like where we’re at right now at APW in Hayward, CA. They have to fight and go through all types of legal stuff to keep this here. Jump through hoops. I don’t know if that’s the case there, or if it will be, but it’s just another hurdle for stuff like that when it comes down to it too. Very costly and very legal bullshit. It would be great to have though and there’s no shortage of Juggalos that would love to train there. I think it would be very cool to have. A good way to give back.
What do you think is the hardest thing about the business for a pro-wrester?
You see a lot of stuff in the news about the bigger names of our past, say for instance like Scott Hall on ESPN. They did a documentary about him not too long ago. I would say that not only the wear and tear on your body but its the rush you get going through the curtain whether it’s for 500, 50,000, or 50 people screaming for you, chanting your name wanting to kill you, or whatever it is. It’s that rush of performing is the most addictive drug there is. When you get that feeling of, you’re a star, your out on the road everybody knows you, people want to buy you drinks, girls want to go to your room, blah blah blah.
Are you suddenly doing that how many nights a week? Two or three on the index, more than that if you’re on WWE or whatever. It’s that fame you know? Your away from your family all the time and relationships get damaged and besides the fact that you getting hit in the head for a living and slammed on the concrete for a living. I think it’s a mix of injuries and having to perform through the injuries. The best thing about wrestling is that movies they stop and they film it again. They have to get this live all in one take. In wrestling, you are your own stuntman.
It happens live. One time. For good or for bad. When you get injured you still have to wrestle the next day or the day after or the day after and then somebody is like oh take this pain pill… It might help you work through the pain. Really all your doing is hurting yourself more because you’re doing stuff your body is telling you not to because you already hurt. I think the injury thing has a strong correlation to prescription pill abuse. I would tell everyone reading this, not to get caught up in pills. It’s just in wrestling. It’s a worldwide epidemic. Look at people like Colt Cabana and CM Punk. Bright young wrestlers are out there and don’t take any of that stuff at all. They are all performing at a high level 3 or 4 nights a week if not more at the top of the pile. If that guy can go through all that and not take any pills or anything than respect him.
Fame is a drug in itself. With people like Scott Hall, he is an incredible talent and incredible person that I’ve had the opportunity tog et to know and spend a lot of time with him. He’s had a lot to do with JCW. He’s a generous guy that if someone says a bad thing about someone in a room even if he doesn’t know a person that their talking about he’ll get involved. He doesn’t want to see anyone treated badly.
He doesn’t want to see anyone have harm done to them and he’s well enough to fight for what he believes in. It just goes to show you that he has well-documented struggles with alcohol as do a lot of people and it’s just a shame to see these addictions get a hold of people. I know that Scott Hall in his heart wants nothing but to be clean and sober and with his son and living at peace. But sometimes with people struggling an addiction, it’s like a Dr. Jeckal and Mr. Hyde thing. Shit can get real dark real quick.
What does JCW have in store for the rest of the year? Any more DVD’s or anything coming out?
Well, the fresh thing out right now is the New Years’ Eve Ninja Party which is available nationally and at HatchetGear.com. It’s under ten bucks. It’s a full JCW show, a set by Blaze Ya Dead Homie, a guest appearance by Ill-E-Gal, DJ Sets by Mike E Clark, DJ Clay, and of course a live musical performance by the duke of the wicked and the Southwest Strangla themselves, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope. The Insane Clown Posse. They close the whole night out. That show was off the fuckin chain and it’s a brand new release.
It just came out so I do encourage everyone to get out there and get that. Then on May 26th from Farmington, NM we’re going to be doing Hatchet Attacks live on pay-per-view. There’s a couple of other DVD releases planned for this year I can’t get into details on but there are a couple of other things coming and the Gathering is just around the corner. There’s going to be a lot of shit jumping off around the JCW universe around that time. Bloody fuckin Mania. Follow KG on Twitter at @OGKevinGill
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The Voice Of JCW Kevin Gill
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