The Beastie Boys Finally Revealed What ‘Sabotage’ Is Really About

Their 1994 hit was inspired by someone who seriously annoyed them.

Beastie Boys Promo 2
Getty Images

The Beastie Boys’ Michael “Mike-D” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz offer plenty of fascinating details for fans in their new memoir, Beastie Boys Book. 

One such anecdote explains the inspiration behind the Beasties’ 1994 hit “Sabotage.” In an excerpt from the audio edition that Rolling Stone debuted earlier this week, Saturday Night Live alum Tim Meadows reads words from both Diamond and Horovitz’s perspectives. 

Apparently, the legendary rap trio was annoyed with Ill Communication sound engineer Mario Caldato Jr, hence Ad-Rock’s opening lyrics, “IIIIIIIIIIIIII can’t stand it/I know you planned it.”

“We were totally indecisive about what, when, why and how to complete songs. Mario was getting frustrated,” Meadows says in the clip. 

“That’s a really calm way of saying that he would blow a fuse and get pissed off at us and scream that we just needed to finish something, anything, a song. 

“He would push awful instrumental tracks we made just to have something moving toward completion.”

All of that in-studio tension spawned the breakout track’s title and theme. 

“I decided it would be funny to write a song about how Mario was holding us all down, how he was trying to mess it all up, sabotaging our great works of art,” Meadows reads. 

The “Sabotage” story is just one of many anecdotes read by a slew of celebs including Snoop Dogg, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, Elvis Costello, Rachel Maddow and Bobby Cannavale in the audio version of the memoir

The Beastie Boys in 1994. 

Spin has further details: 

A separate audiobook excerpt via Vulture details the trio’s night attending Black Flag’s New York debut in 1981 at the Peppermint Lounge in Times Square.

Diamond attended the gig with Adam Yauch, but neither had yet met Horovitz, who arrived with Nick Cooper, later the Beastie’s manager before Russell Simmons took over.

Also in attendance at the scene-launching show, according to the excerpt, were Henry Rollins, then Henry Garfield, who would join Black Flag months later, and a pre-Sonic Youth Thurston Moore.

Sounds like quite a scene.

The Beastie Boys Book is available on Amazon now.