Where The Heck Has Everlast Been?

'I've been in hibernation, working on music,' Everlast says with a sly grin.

He dissolved House of Pain after three albums. Then, on the eve of his multiplatinum reinvention with Whitey Ford Sings the Blues, he battled his heart. He rocked with Santana. He feuded with Eminem. Eat at Whitey's sold far less than its predecessor. And then, Everlast disappeared.

Last month's Cypress Hill Smoke Out (see "Smoke-Free Snoop Blows Up Smoke Out; Bone Thugs, Slash Drop In") marked Whitey Ford's first live performance in well over a year, save for a brief appearance on "Last Call With Carson Daly." So just where the heck has Mr. Erik Schrody been?

Well, for starters, he's been putting together a new album with longtime producer Dante Ross. "I've been in hibernation, working on music," Everlast said with a sly grin. "I've just been taking my time, trying to enjoy some living. I had this whole crazy 10 years that happened, between my one band and then starting a solo thing and having my heart problems (see "House Of Pain's Everlast Hospitalized After Cardiac Arrest"). Then as soon as I recover from that, I went out on the road. So I just took a step back and said, 'You know, the world is changing, it's a somber, crazy place right now.' So I'm just kind of absorbing it, writing a lot of songs."

One thing Everlast has been absorbing a lot of is old country and western, from Hank Williams Jr. to Patsy Cline. So much so, in fact, that at this point he'd rather have Willie Nelson on his next album than a hot rapper. "I came into this game being a 'rapper,' I always felt that term was underrated. Why don't you just call [a rapper] a musician or a lyricist? I went from just writing raps [and] got lucky and wrote a hit song or two. Now, I'm really just trying to study songwriting ... I'd love to make a record with Johnny Cash, man. Him and Willie Nelson, for some reason that's where my brain's been at a little bit lately. You know, 'I shot a man just to see him die,' that's gangster. That's just gangster music for the white folks."

Everlast freely admits that moving further into singer/songwriter territory may not be good for business, but he doesn't mind. 2000's Eat at Whitey's delved deeply into soul-searching blues-infused acoustic rock. Moving less than 400,000 copies, the album was unable to duplicate the predominantly hip-hop Whitey Ford Sings the Blues' nearly triple-platinum success. "You hear every artist in the world that has a bad [album] come up with this, that and the other excuse," Everlast said with a smile. "I don't know. I picked a song called 'Black Jesus' to go out to mass corporate radio, I don't think that was a wise choice. I think my label was in the midst of worrying about how much money they were gonna get from Warner Bros. as opposed to putting out records, 'cause [Capone-N-Noreaga] had a record come out that should have been huge and they bricked it."

When Tommy Boy folded into Warner Bros., Everlast had a chance to return to the label that released his pre-House of Pain solo outing, Forever Everlasting, in 1990. He passed. Currently label-less, Everlast says he's going to just make an album, and worry about the rest later.

"The beauty of the situation is, I had a record deal since 1989. I've never been in the position I'm in right now. It's almost like the end of 'Terminator 2' when the highway's going, and you don't know where the highway's gonna end up. And that's a good thing."

When Everlast's fourth solo album does surface, it probably won't contain any songs about Eminem. Everlast felt like Eminem blew him off once, so he dissed him on a Dilated Peoples remix. Eminem responded, Everlast recorded "Whitey's Revenge," Em retaliated again (see "Eminem-Everlast Fight Enters Round Four"), and when ex-House of Pain DJ Lethal weighed in on "TRL," Em attacked Lethal's current group, Limp Bizkit (see "Eminem Disses Limp Bizkit Members On D12 Album"). B-Real, a friend to and fan of both parties, eventually stepped in to mediate.

"[Eminem] is probably my favorite MC out there," B-Real said recently, "and Everlast has been one of my best friends forever and also is one of the most talented MCs. I'm not real close with Em or anything, but I respect him a lot. So it was hard [to watch], and when it got a little bit out of hand, that's when I came in and tried to talk to both of 'em, talk some sense into them. Because they're both my friends and I didn't want to see it go past the microphone, and sometimes, it'll do that."

"I took something personal, I let it be known, he let it be known that he knew, and that's pretty much all that came of it," Everlast explained. "It's what rappers do. The dude is nice [on the mic], it was never about that. I was like, 'Alright, I'm just gonna let my feelings show.' I've never been one to bite my lip."

And what if he ran into Slim Shady today?

"Yo, it depends on how I was approached. But it's not like I'm going to go running across the field to like, choke somebody. I'm a grown man, dude."

Everlast was similarly dismissive when asked about a House of Pain reunion, which he had talked openly about a couple of years ago. "I like the idea more than the reality of it. It just seems like 'the thing to do.' And I always had a problem with that kind of thing. We weren't Fleetwood Mac. We did some good things, I'm proud of what we did, it's just, let it be what it was."