Some people live in Bend. Other people are from Bend and they'll let you know about it.
David Alexander, who you're more likely to know as The Dirtball, belongs to the latter faction and despite the fact that he's a successful solo rapper in addition to belonging to a highly popular hip-hop collective, The Kottonmouth Kings, he has no plan to make anywhere besides Central Oregon his permanent home - when he's not on the road, that is. Sure, he played to about 18,000 people at the notorious Gathering of the Juggalos last weekend (more on that in a bit) and could be living large in Los Angeles if that was his goal, but The Dirtball is a Bendite and he's thankful for that.
"I know that I might have excelled in a few more things if I'd have been located somewhere else, but if this bus flies off a cliff tomorrow, I would be glad that I've stayed around the Cascades," says The Dirtball over the phone from Denver where he and the Kottonmouth Kings are playing as part of a two-month tour that brings them to the Domino Room on Monday, August 22.
An avid outdoorsman who counts fishing, hunting and mushroom hunting (he actually took a Bulletin reporter out with him in search of mushrooms earlier this year) as just a few of the interests that keep him grounded here in Bend, The Dirtball has lived in Central Oregon for all but six years of his life and obviously, he knows more than a few folks in these parts. And it's for that reason that he has just the slightest bit of nerves (and plenty of excitement) to play to his hometown crowd for the first time since being brought into the Kottonmouth Kings' weed-centric universe last year. He's promising a big show and one that will feature him playing a set of his own before the Kings hit the stage with plenty of lights and video production.
While he's now a certified member of the Kottonmouth Kings, The Dirtball is still busy with his own music. During his downtime from the Kings, which isn't a ton of time, given the number of live dates the group is known to play, he spends hour upon hour in his home studio, working to near obsession on his own projects, which included a full-length album called Nervous System that he released in March. He's managed to find a balance between his solo work and being part of the Kings, which has been a new experience, to say the least.
"When they brought me into it, the move was to enhance and juice this thing up and that's a hard thing to do," says The Dirtball, "These guys have been touring hard as hell. I'm just glad to be part of it and be part of a legendary crew like this."
Part of the Kottonmouth King's success (as well as that of The Dirtball) is due to their connection to the Insane Clown Posse's massive and outlandish fan base, who call themselves the Juggalos. Each year ICP's faithful, many sporting the black-and-white face paint of their goofball hip-hop heroes, congregate in rural Illinois for an outdoor festival of general pandemonium that includes wrestling, a wet T-shirt contest, freestyle rapping contests and, of course, plenty of music that caters to the hip-hop, metal and other sounds that appeal to these fans. This is also the festival at which Charlie Sheen was pelted with trash last weekend (on behalf of the entire world: thanks, Juggalos).
The Kottonmouth Kings have played the Gathering several times and had their biggest response at the event this time around, gaining praise from other performers, including Ice Cube. If you ask The Dirtball what he thinks about all the harsh criticism this scene receives - the Comedy Television program Workaholics lampooned the Juggalos, calling them "walking, talking diarrhea people," - you can hear some of the frustration in his voice as he defends what he says is a terribly misunderstood group.
"I'm so fortunate to be part of that community," says The Dirtball, whose conversational style is far more thoughtful and intellectual than what one might expect if they only knew him by his party-hard, smoke-it-up music.
"It's kind of a feeling that it's your loss if you don't get it, especially if it's an artist who criticizes [the Juggalos]. In reality, it's kids that are searching for a group or a family," says The Dirtball.
While the Juggalos have been kind to The Dirtball and his music over the years, there's also been another group that's supported him - the people of Central Oregon. And he's still proud to rep us too.
"I hope people know that I represent Bend out on the road and when I come here, I want it to be the best show possible," he says.