Rock & Rolling
Everlast’s BJJ training is his new house of pain.
Erik Schrody—better known by his stage name Everlast—isn’t from the Gracie bloodline, but the two-striped white belt is learning the martial art discipline one roll at a time. The 42-year-old California resident sought out Beverly Hills Jiu-Jitsu Club after hearing great things about the academy’s owner and head instructor Marcus Vinicius. However, one hour after the crossover music artist stepped through the gym’s front door for his initial practice, he realized he was in a new world.
“My first training session was basically calisthenics until I puked,” he says. “I wanted to get in shape and drop a few pounds, and this kind of training interested me much more than walking on a treadmill for an hour a day. I’m a big dude, and I carry a little bit of weight on me, so Marcus worked me to make sure I was serious about getting into shape.”
The hip-hop singer-songwriter initially learned about BJJ in the mid-1990s when he borrowed a tape of UFC 1 from his pal Mr. Kaves of rap collective Lordz of Brooklyn. While watching it, Everlast was stunned by both the “anything goes” mantra and Royce Gracie’s lethal submission game.
“At first, I don’t think I was a fan so much of the sport as I was the spectacle—just the craziness of it and how there were no rules,” he says. “It was like gladiator shit, and the guys doing it intrigued me.”
Since then, the musician has sat cage-side at various events, witnessing first-hand the evolution of MMA from spectacle to legitimate sport with weight classes and well-rounded fighters, including his favorites Wanderlei Silva, Lyoto Machida, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, and BJ Penn. However, between raising a family and promoting his new album Songs of the Ungrateful Living, it has been difficult for Everlast to get back to his BJJ training.
“All these things like BJJ and boxing are like side interests when you’re actually lucky enough to have a career in music because you’re not home all the time,” Everlast says. “In fact, you’re away more than you’re home, so it makes getting any kind of routine difficult. The thing about these art forms and disciplines— even if it’s boxing or whatever—is it’s all about routine. It’s all about getting there and doing repetitive exercises until they become natural. It’s just hard to get that kind of routine when you don’t know where you’re gonna be next week, but I’m going to make an effort to get back and work on my blue belt.”
Originally part of Ice-T’s Rhyme Syndicate, Everlast achieved his initial taste of mainstream notoriety as a member of Irish-American hip-hop outfit House of Pain. The trio’s self-titled debut album was released in 1992 and turned multi-platinum thanks to their party anthem “Jump Around.”
Although the group disbanded in 1996, Everlast morphed into a singer-songwriter who told tales about modern-day tragedies and triumphs that were melded over a blended resonance of blues, folk, hip-hop, and rock. Very much a crossover artist, he achieved multi-platinum success with his second solo offering Whitey Ford Sings the Blues in 1998, which was fueled by the smash single “What It’s Like.” While thriving as a solo artist, he launched his own rap syndicate—La Coka Nostra— in 2006, and he re-formed House Of Pain in 2010.
Everlast’s varied catalog of music is one of the reasons that he has connected with so many different demographics. Many MMA fans recognize his sounds first-hand, as his music has been used for fighter walk-out songs.
“As far as walk-out music, that’s whatever a dude connects with,” he says. “That’s really in somebody else’s mind. It’s what’s pumping him up walking to the ring, so it depends what kind of music you’re talking about. I make so many kinds of music. Any La Coka Nostra song would work—it fits with any fight you can put on. House of Pain? A bunch of guys have come out to that, including Marcus Davis. Everlast? Probably a few songs. However, my newest album may be too introspective and emotional.”
There might not be any fight anthems or walk-out bangers on his sixth solo album Songs of the Ungrateful Living, but just like his favorite fighters, it’s a well-rounded offering. Fueled by the single “I Get By” and lyric-heavy “The Rain,” the versatile 15-track collection focuses on the current struggles most Americans are dealing with in the present day.
“Songs of the Ungrateful Living mean different things to different people, but I hope people take away a pleasurable listening experience and some feeling of connection with the universe and music and their own souls and own hearts,” he says.
When things calm down from promoting his new album and his tour schedule, Everlast plans on returning to get his blue belt. “I know my gi is still hanging in the locker room,” he says. “It’s just a matter of me going back there.”
Longtime MMA fan Everlast has attended UFC events since before the Zuffa era. Although the music artist has seen many memorable bouts, UFC 86: Jackson vs. Griffin—where Forrest Griffin defeated Rampage Jackson for the UFC Light Heavyweight Title—is the headlining fight that stands out the most in his mind.
“I won a shit load of money that night,” he says. “I remember I went to the Sportsbook, which I always do when I can. I saw Forrest was a big underdog, and I was like, ‘Man, I don’t see it like that. First of all, I’m gonna go with the Irish guy. Second, I liked Forrest’s toughness in a stand-up war.’ I brought my friend Jason Ellis [skateboarder and radio host] to the fight. He was like, ‘Oh, Rampage is gonna destroy him.’ So, I bet. I dropped probably $1,500 on Forrest, and the odds were better than 2:1. It was a great fight, and I was cheering for Forrest to make me some money—which he did.”