Jet Set Radio and its sequel Jet Set Radio Future are often cited as having some of the best music to come from SEGA thanks in a large part to Hideki Naganuma and Richard Jacques. While in-house talent played a large role in creating such memorable soundtracks, the soundtracks also consisted of licensed music from artists that included Guitar Vader, Cibo Matto, Deavid Soul and others. This week on SEGA Tunes (the feature formerly known as Tuesday Tunes) we’re focusing on a third type of Jet Set Radio music contributor: The Latch Brothers.
The Latch Brothers were a unique addition to Jet Set Radio Future‘s soundtrack for a few reasons: They were brought in by SEGA and Smilebit to contribute to the soundtrack having never worked with SEGA before or having contributing to the first game’s soundtrack, and one member of the group was a very well known artist in disguise. To the public, The Latch Brothers were an elephant, a lion and a rabbit in lab coats. But behind the scenes, and occasionally revealed in magazine articles from the time about the new artists joining JSRF‘s soundtrack, The Latch Brothers were Michael Diamond, Tick, and Wag. Michael “Mike D” Diamond (known in the group as “The Latchin’ Duke”) is the most well known of the trio, having been a founding member of the New York City hip hop group the Beastie Boys and co-founder of the record label Grand Royal. Kenny “Tick” Salcido (known in the group as “Count Tickula”) was a Grand Royal employee, responsible for the label’s college field representatives which spread the word of the label’s music to college radio stations. Tick is cited as being the one who struck a recording deal with Smilebit shortly after Grand Royal folded in 2001. The third member, Chris “Wag” Wagner (known in the group as “Sir Poom A Lot”), was the bassist for the band Mary’s Danish and Mike Diamond’s brother-in-law. Together the three formed The Latch Brothers, dubbed a side project by Beastie Boys fans which involved remixing tracks from Grand Royal artists and creating original music for JSRF.
Beastie Boy fan sites list several artists that The Latch Brothers have remixed, including the Beastie Boys, At the Drive-In, Murder City Devils, Q-Tip, A.I., The Prunes, BS 2000, Bran Van 3000, Audio Leter, Lykke Li, Kut Masta Kurt’s Masters of Illusion, Nelly Furtado and Bhagavan Das. Despite this long list of names, I came across very few of these remixes outside of the one above and the ones found in JSRF.
Of the eight tracks The Latch Brothers contributed, three were remixes of tracks from Grand Royal talent including Bran Van 3000’s The Answer (featuring the well known intro “Jesus Christ was a superstar, A pimpin’ big daddy with a Lincoln Town Car. Drove it real fast with the fly-ass hos, playing chicken with the devil for the greatest applause.”), The Prunes’ Rockin The Mic (embedded above) and BS 2000’s The Scrappy.
The remaining five tracks from the group were made especially for the game, including Latch Brother Bounce (embedded above), Koto Stomp, Count Latchula, Ill Victory Beat (which became Professor K’s tune of choice for exposition filled cutscenes) and Me Likey the Poom Poom. In listening to the eight tracks The Latch Brothers contributed to the soundtrack, there is a very eclectic and exotic nature to their music that perfectly suits JSRF. Much of their music can be heard in the sewer sections of the game, which is a fitting place given the group’s tendency for slower paced tracks featuring echoes and distortion. It’s hard to put into words exactly, but their music just perfectly suits certain locations in Tokyo-to.
Despite producing music especially for the game, The Latch Brothers did not appear on the game’s official soundtrack. Instead, most of the group’s tunes appeared on the Jet Set Radio Future Music Sampler which was a CD given away as a pre-order bonus and was jointly produced by SEGA’s Wave Master and Grand Royal. Featured on the CD were eleven tracks including six of the eight The Latch Brothers contributed to the game (The Answer and The Scrappy were not included), three tracks from licensed artists that also did not appear on the official soundtrack (Cibo Matto, Russel Simins and Scapegoat Wax), and two tracks from Naganuma and Jacques – The Concept of Love and What About the Future. As Grand Royal went out of business in 2001 and the Music Sampler CD released in 2002, it was one of the label’s final releases and the only commercial The Latch Brothers album, making it highly collectible to Beastie Boys fans.
Following JSRF‘s release, The Latch Brothers seemingly dissolved, likely due to the folding of Grand Royal. Still, the short lived group has a collection of very fun and incredibly quirky remixes and original tunes well worth checking out.
I almost forgot to mention, in the liner notes for the Music Sampler, The Latch Brothers are credited as not only writing and producing their music, but their music is also officially credited as being “Poomified”. Between the constant use of “latch” and “poom” in their music, as well as the animals wearing lab coats, I get the feeling there was more to The Latch Brothers that we still don’t know about.
[Special Credit to Beastie Boys fan site BeastieMania.com]