NEW YORK — Getting the Beastie Boys’ Michael “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz and longtime collaborator and friend, Spike Jonze, together during normal times would be full of jokes, playful banter and overall fun.
But on a Zoom video call during the quarantining era? It’s a hilarious nightmare.
“I feel like I’m oddly better looking than I was back then,” Horovitz said, referring to the archival footage in “Beastie Boys Story,” a new documentary about the legendary group debuting Friday on Apple TV Plus.
“You’re hot now. But you were pretty hot then,” replied Jonze, who directed the film.
“Different kinds of heat,” Horovitz said.
There are more moments like it as the lifelong friends, though more like siblings, remember the good times.
“Adam Horovitz is making me laugh,” Diamond said after trying to answer a question.
“I would like to put Mike in a box. Put him on someone’s doorstep,” Horovitz replied.
“Like, my head in a box?” Diamond asked.
“I’ve got your head in a box,” Horovitz answered.
The trio of Diamond, Horovitz and Jonze offer more jokes and playful moments in “Beastie Boys Story,” which also highlights the longtime bond between the band members, including the late, great Adam “MCA” Yauch, who died in 2012.
The documentary was filmed like a live comedy set in front of audience with a backdrop of photos and videos bringing Horovitz and Diamond’s words to life as they walk through the history of one of music’s best-selling bands — a genre-defying act, though rooted in rap, who explored and experimented in other sounds, including rock, punk, jazz and funk. Few acts have won Grammys in the rap, rock and pop categories like them.
The film’s performances, taped at the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, was originally produced for promoting “Beastie Boys Book,” their 2018 New York Times best-seller.
“We asked Spike if he would film it,” Horovitz said. “He wanted to rewrite it. We did the show and Spike filmed it. Then he took the footage from the show to the editing room and then…”
“Then the (expletive) really went down,” Diamond chimed in.
“Then Adam and I had to wrestle,” Jonze replied.
“It was like Ice-T in a real action, procedural TV show. The (expletive) went down,” Diamond said.
“Ice-T and Steven Seagal,” said Jonze.
The band members say they had been thinking of doing a documentary for quite some time.
“Way earlier on, yeah. Adam (Yauch) had this thing and he was obsessed with this film ‘The Kids are Alright,'” Diamond said, referring to the 1979 rockumentary film about The Who. “He had this idea about doing something like that with existing footage of the band. That was around the time that we started working on the book when he was still alive, conceptually. I shouldn’t say working; conceptually, we knew that that’s something we wanted to do.”
Jonze, who has directed several Beastie Boys music videos and won an Oscar for writing the 2013 film “Her,” said he enjoyed going through hours of archival footage of the band in the ’80s and ’90s. He said though the Beastie Boys came together through music, the center of their story is true friendship.
“What made me want to make it is all the things I love about the band — the music for sure, but also their relationship and their loyalty to each other. Their trueness to themselves and themselves as a group. I’m really glad to put that out into the world right now,” he said.
“It’s really rare,” Jonze added. “I’ve worked with many, many bands and yeah, to have a band that’s friends for 35 years or more is really rare.”
Beastie Boys last released an album in 2011 with “Hot Sauce Committee Part Two.” But the members said they have a ton of unreleased music, and they’re in the process of deciding what to do with it.
“That’s something that Adam and I talk about, going back and working on (that music),” Diamond said. “There’s tons of stuff that we did together. There’s a lot of stuff that gets edited out. There are quite a few unfinished ideas, tracks, cuts there that at some point Adam and I, I don’t know, might be fun to delve in and look at that stuff a little bit.”
There could even be new music — at least from one of the Beastie Boys.
“Mike’s starting a band, I guess,” Horovitz revealed.
“I’m starting a band, only because I’m quarantined,” Diamond said. “The two songs that I’ve written so far for the band, one of my teenage sons has taken both songs so far. He’s my engineer, so that’s what I get.”