Meet the Death Merchants! They consist of: William Evans-Phelps, aka “Chylite,” a 26-year-old Chicago native who has lived in the Coachella Valley for nine years; Kyle “Nolan” Holcomb, 26, a New Orleans native who moved to the valley when he was 5; Anthony Germaine Walker, aka “Lootenant,” 27, from Biloxi, Miss., who has spent the last seven years here after being relocated post-Hurricane Katrina; and David Lumpkin, aka DJ Lumps!, 26 and a Coachella Valley native.
Catch the Death Merchants this Friday, Jan. 11, at 8 p.m., when they open for Bone Thugs-N-Harmony at The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St. in Indio. Tickets are $30 to $100; visit www.dateshedmusic.com for tickets or more information.
What was the first concert you attended?
Chylite: Heavy D, when I was really young. I’ve seen Wu-Tang in Chicago, Twista, Juicy-J … but the most influential concert I went to was with my mom in Vegas—we saw the “Ladies First Tour” with Missy Elliott, Alicia Keys and Beyoncé—mostly because of the artistic production that went into it.
Nolan: David Lee Roth at the Del Mar (Calif.) Fair, I went with my dad. It was the first display of “rock-star showmanship,” with karate kicks, Spandex and microphone-licking.
Lootenant: The first concert I ever attended was a Snoop Dogg concert in Mobile, Ala., where I actually opened up for Snoop at age 17.
Lumps!: The first concert I actually remember going to was a DJ Quik concert at the House of Blues in Hollywood when I was 17 or 18. I don’t know if that’s the first concert I ever attended or if that was just so monumental that I can’t remember anything else, but he played with a 13-piece band with a horn section, guitars and a rad drummer. I knew Quik was a genius, but that’s when I fell in love with the idea of a band playing behind a hip-hop artist.
What was the first album you owned?
Chylite: The first one I ever owned was something my mom gave me, because, ironically, she wanted me to stay away from the “gangsta rap”: Al Green’s Greatest Hits. The first one I ever bought, though, was Master P’s No Limit Compilation Vol. 3 (West Coast Bad Boyz, Vol. 3: Poppin’ Collars).
Nolan: Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony’s E. 1999 Eternal. My mom got me the cassette tape on the way to visit Alcatraz! I had just been in an “extreme sporting accident.” I broke my arm and was in a cast. My mom hooked it up!
Lootenant: Master P, Ghetto Dope.
Lumps!: I remember when I was in middle school; one of my mom’s co-workers took me to his car to show me his new system he just installed. He was bumping Dr. Dre, Chronic 2001. I asked if I could borrow it so I could make a copy; he gave it to my mom to give to me, but she wouldn’t let me have it because of the lyrics. I actually stole that out of her purse and played it off like I didn’t know where it went.
What bands are you listening to right now?
Chylite: Besides the Death Merchants? As far as groups go, I’m into The Budos Band, Slaughterhouse; I am anticipating the next Clipse album.
Nolan: G.O.O.D. Music. I listen to a lot of Incubus. I’m into a lot of downbeat Audio-Technica like Frank Ocean and The Weeknd.
Lootenant: Kendrick Lamar, B.o.B., The Game, T.I.
Lumps!: Definitely listening to that new Jesus Piece album by The Game right now, and I have to listen to Death Merchants, because I mix and master everything we do.
What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?
Chylite: Country music, but not the new stuff; it’s the old-school country I just don’t enjoy.
Nolan: Dubstep. Being that I’m a performer, when there is a DJ onstage, I’m still waiting for the show to start, but it never happens. The music is cool, but far too much credit is given to “cut-and-paste” DJs.
Lootenant: Lame rap artists with no lyrical content who seem to sell millions of records.
Lumps!: I feel like, as a producer, I need to understand all genres of music. Especially with hip hop crossing over into so many different genres now, I have to look at what the average person likes and try to incorporate that into our music. I want to have something for everyone. I make beats using samples of electronic dance music, but I definitely do not listen to EDM, because I’m just not into that type of music. I’m more of an old-school/hip-hop head.
What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?
Chylite: If you would have asked me that question five years ago, I’d probably have said Jay-Z, but I don’t like the new Jay-Z. … Honestly, I’d probably want to go see Stevie Wonder.
Nolan: James Brown, The godfather of soul will never be imitated. He came to a local casino just before the time of his death, and I regret not seeing him.
Lumps!: When I was younger, I had tickets to see Run-DMC, Aerosmith and Kid Rock in Worcester, Mass. For some reason, we didn’t end up going, but I would have loved to see Jam Master Jay and Aerosmith rock that stage together.
What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?
Chylite: If I have two 12s in the back of the Suburban … probably some crazy metal music like System of a Down.
Nolan: I have one more embarrassing than the other. The first is Insane Clown Posse; I hold my head in shame. I’ll lose some cool points with this: I like Linkin Park. And New Found Glory is the least-gangster thing I do!
Lootenant: Justin Bieber.
Lumps!: I love that cheesy ’80s music—A-ha’s “Take on Me” and Eddie Murphy’s one-hit wonder “Party All the Time.”
What’s your favorite music venue?
Chylite: To perform at, I’d say The Date Shed. They have that green room with the stripper pole, and the lighting is impeccable. To actually go and see a show, The Key Club (in West Hollywood), because no matter where you are, VIP or downstairs, it’s all cool.
Nolan: The Glass House (in Pomona). I have yet to investigate how to book that venue, but one of my goals is to perform there.
Lootenant: The main stage at the Coachella festival.
Lumps!: I love playing at The Date Shed; it’s a smaller venue, so it’s more personal, and it’s at home.
What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?
Chylite: I have two. “Put in work like a Death Merchant, dope as fuck, meth burnin’, exorcist lyricist got em hurlin’ with their heads turnin’,” by Nolan Lowlife; and, “If they don’t want it with ya boy, then why they testin’ me? I told them haters I don’t like Patron; I drink V.S.O.P,” by Lootenant.
Nolan: Something I live by: “Hustlers never sleep, and sleepers never hustle,” “8 Rulez” by Lil’ Flip.
Lootenant: “My city lookin’ like a warzone; I’m in the hood wit’ a pocket fulla stones, they ain’t seein’ me dog, I’m so far gone, get a pair of binoculars, tell ’em watch my throne,” by Lootenant.
Lumps!: I have the hook of that song from DJ Drama, “My Moment,” stuck in my head. “Tired of livin’ day to day like everything is alright; every night just one thing on my mind. Just waiting on that moment.”
What band or artist changed your life? How?
Chylite: Jay-Z. He always personified that a dope-boy demeanor, refined, and is simply a businessman.
Nolan: Steve Miller Band. I’ve been with both of my parents to two different Steve Miller concerts; there are so many different layers of instruments and music. That band showed me what the magic of music can do.
Lootenant: Nas’ “Ether.” This was one of the biggest diss tracks of all time. Even though Jay-Z had way more clout than Nas, Nas didn’t back down; he stood his ground and came out on top of one of the most controversial battles in hip-hop history.
Lumps!: Dr. Dre. This goes with my favorite album of all time, Chronic 2001, by Dr. Dre. Everything that went into that album, and anyone who was involved with that album, artists and production-wise, was just amazing. It changed my life. I fell in love with hip hop.
You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?
Chylite: I couldn’t ask an artist an artistic question—like, I’m a rapper, so I couldn’t ask another rapper how they stay relevant. I’d like to ask Trey Songz if he really likes kissing men. I really want to ask all these rappers: When they coming out the closet? Stop fakin’!
Nolan: I would ask Eminem for an hour of his time.
Lootenant: Dr. Dre: “When is The Detox really coming out, and what the hell are you waiting on?!”
Lumps!: I would ask DJ Quik if I could have permission to do an updated, 2013 version of “Pitch in on a Party,” and have him collab with me on it.
What song would you like played at your funeral?
Chylite: I want something epic—no sad songs; I want there to be a party, blunts lit, bottles pourin’ out and the song “Black Republican” by Jay-Z and Nas playing in the background.
Nolan: Frank Ocean, “Dust.”
Lootenant: Tupac, “I Ain’t Mad at Cha.”
Lumps!: Lil’ John, “Get Low,” as I’m being buried.
Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?
Chylite: Jay-Z, Reasonable Doubt.
Nolan: Tupac, All Eyez on Me.
Lootenant: 50 Cent, Get Rich or Die Tryin’.
Lumps!: Dr. Dre, Chronic 2001.
What song should everyone listen to right now?
Chylite: “Completeness” by Chylite! Or any of the Death Merchants solo or group songs.
Nolan: John Lennon, “Imagine.”
Lootenant: Death Merchants, “The Introduction.”
Lumps!: People need to hear every Death Merchant song we have released. They’re all amazing. But one in particular, the song “Food Chain,” stands out to me the most. (Scroll down to hear it.)