Agnostic Front Interview
(26/02/05 - Lyon)
Just before the show, backstage, Tataye and Manu met Roger Miret
(The Singer), to talk about where Agnostic Front is at the point, about their
22 years career and about different interesting subjects.
" Another Voice ", your new album album seems to be linked with another of your record called "One Voice" released in 1992. We also heard that you wanted the same line-up for the new one?

R: Well, originaly I was gonna have the same line-up, to make a nostalgic type of a record. That would have included, Creg Setari, Will Chepler, Matt Henderson Vinnie and myself. Matt Henderson as soon as he heard we were doing "Another Voice" wanted to be involved right away, he said "I want to be a part of it" because me and him really the creators of "One Voice" and then Craig was a little busy already and Willy couldn't do it because he has a baby. So I said, you know what, what's the big deal, I'm gonna use my band. Steve Gallo is a great drummer, Mike Gallo is a great bass player and we had Vinnie and me, Lenny wasn't in the band yet. So we just played and did it. Lenny joined in the middle of the recording.
(As we were talking about him, Lenny entered the room)
Lenny: What's up guys !

Would you tell us more about your new record? It sounds definatly more metal than your others…

R: Yeah it does. It sounds definatly more metal than our last three records. But you have to understand that when I first got Agnostic Front back together with Jimmy Colletti (drums) and Rob Kabula (bass), what we did best was "Victim in Pain" (1984) and "United Blood" (1983), you know, that type of music. That's what we played best together, collectively. Once those members left and we got new members we played more stuff like "Cause for Alarm" (1986) and "Liberty and Justice" (1987) "One Voice" (1992), that type of stuff that I wanted to play and that people wanted to hear, but we weren't able to play that before because we couldn't with Rob Kabula and Jimmy Colletti. So naturaly when we did this record, we just wrote it in the vein of what we play best. If Jimmy Colletti and Rob Kabula were still in the band when we did "Another Voice", it will never had sound like this. It has to do a lot with the players and who's playing with us. Plus we wanted to revisit that area. Just like with "Something's Gotta Give" (1998) and "Riot! Riot! Upstart" (1999). We wanted to revisit Agnostic Front up to 1984, 1985. With this new album, we're revisiting Agnostic Front 1986 and on.

Is it why you choose to record it with Jamey Jasta, to get that type of sound ?

R: No. Jamey of course has something to do for the sound. But we didn't delibaretly pick anything or made anything. We did studio time where we didn't have a single song, we wrote the record in the studio and Jamey was there of course. There was no delibaration like "ok we're gonna write like this or we're gonna sound like this", we just were in the studio, that was it. No plans, this is what happened.

How was it to work with him ?

R: It was fantastic, he's like the 6th members of the band. He was very enthousiastic you know. The kid with his favorite band Agnostic Front, it was like playing chess with your favortie band you know. He did a great job as a producer. He focused us, made us play the way we were supposed to. He was like the big coach, and he was doing with one of his favorite hardcore band ever, it was like a kid having a dream you know. So it was great !

For this new record, you signed with Nuclear Blast which is a particular choice
as it's not a typical hardcore label, but much a metal one.

R: Because they seem to be the most sincere, the most honnest. They seem like the right people. They seem that they really like the record, they loved it and they wanted to do a lot for the band so why not. What's the big deal. Agnostic Front has been signed on many metal labels during our carreer. It doesn't matter what label you're on, if they believe in a band, they support the band. You know, Epitaph is not just a great big punk label, Epitaph has a lot of hardcore bands. They had Madball for Hold it Down, they have Converge, Death By Stereo, the're all hardcore bands so what's the big deal.

About your album cover art work, can you talk a little bit about it ? What does it represent and why ?

R: I don't know what soldiers they are, and what years it is. But I wanted some soldiers because I wanted this to be like a voice of revolution, a voice of our fight. Like we're going to war with this, as another voice. That's all it means. It's about hardcore soldiers fighting for a voice, the the voice of the oppressed.

You've shot a video for the song, "So Pure to Me". Freddy Cricien is singing on the video. But on the album you sing the whole song ? What's about it ?

R: What happened is that Freddy was away on tour with Hazen Street. I wanted him to sing but it was impossible because he was in Japan or something like that. So I saved a spot. It was too late for him to be on the record but it was not too late for him to be in the video, because we did it later. In America, the record has both videos "Peace" and "So pure to me" included. In Europe, there is just "Peace" because in America, the record come out latter.

We heard that you've filmed 2 shows at the end of 2004, for a DVD...would you tell us more about that?

R: Yeah it was at the CBGB. Hopefully it will be out soon. It looks fantastic. It sounds amazing. The band never sound any better. We're doing a lot of the classic Agnostic Front's songs. It's a great line-up of the songs we choose to play. It looks great. It's just that we're in the waiting period. Hopefully it will be out soon. Hopefully by the summer, because we're gonna back for the Resistance Tour and it will be nice for people to have bought the DVD so we can play those songs with the new songs and people will be familiar with it.

Did you play some songs from the new record on this DVD ?

R: Yes, we played three songs from the new record. But the funny thing is that nobody knew it. Because the concert took place before the released of "Another Voice". We did "So Pure to m"e and "Peace", and also "All Is Not Forgotten" I think. We just did 3 because nobody knew the new songs. So there is new songs but also all the classics.

Agnotic Front does exist for 22 years now. What's your feeling about your whole career?

R: Well, 20 years later, I like to consider my career very successful. I mean, I don't have a mention or something like that. I don't mean successful in term of money. But successful in accomplishing my goals and living my life hardcore. Expressing myself and my oppressions to people. People that believe in me, believe in us, coming at the shows and supporting us. I found myself being successful with that. We're godfather and creaters of a great hardcore scene, New York Hardcore.

"The New York Hardcore" scene isn't like any other hardcore scene, what do you think is so special about this city ?

R: What's special is that New York itself is a special city. When you think of New York you think of movies like Taxi Driver. The make-up New York you think Frank Sinatra, and like he said "you have to go to New York to make it. New York city is just the apple of the world. If I make it there, I'll make it everywhere." This city is just amazing you know. It's multi racial, multi culture. It's just the world in one big apple. You know being in New York, living amongs the ghettos. That's what make New York Hardcore so fantastic, so great, so angry, so eager. So real !

For me it seems that there was many hardcore waves. The first one with you,
a second one with Madball or Merauder, and another one with bands such as Hatebreed and Terror. What's your feeling about all those evolutions?

R: It's just evolution. It's exactly what it is. But the truth is that Agnostic Front is still here. We've been doing this for 3 decades. Which would be fantastic for bands like Madball or Sick Of It All or bands now like Terror or Hatebreed, if they can continue doing what they do and believing in them, that would be fantastic. Yes we are creaters, yes we are leaders, but we are still here today. And because of bands like Agnostic Front, we've encourage bands like Madball, Sick Of It All, Terror or Hatebreed to become a band. Telling them, watch what we've done and bring it to a different level.

Doing this kind of music, is more easier now than it was a few years ago ?

R: It's always more difficult everytime you released a new record. Because everytime you put a record out it's a challenge. A lot of people who are here they like it, they want to see you. But some are like, yeah, I don't know, so you have to convince them. We have to show them that it's real, that it's real hardcore. Which is very ridiculous, because we are for the people. We're not against the people. So why do you want to challenge us? So everytime a record is out, it's difficult. We're writing songs for the oppressed, for people, for everybody. So when we write we think of us and we think of you. And it's a little dissapointment for me to find out that we've done all this hard work, that we've put our heart doing it, for people just to knock it down. But it doesn't matter, we're like a tsunami, we are the big waves, fuck the little waves. (big lough).
Vinnie Stigma came in and while we were doing the interview, he kindly offers us some beers.

Hardcore is not only a music, but much a state of mind. In Europe and also in France, racists people like skinheads are into hardcore music. What's your feeling about that?

R: You know, what's wrong with skinheads ? There's absolutely nothing wrong with skinheads. You know, just because they shave their heads. But yeah, there are some racist skinheads, there's not a lie. But there is some racist metal heads and racist punk-rockers. There's racism in everything. You can't just blaim one person for everything. Not all skinheads are racists that's what I'm trying to say. There are a lot of skinheads who just love the working lifestyle and there influenced for a different reason and there are those who are influenced by complete opposite reason. But that excist in every single thing. From hardcore to metal to punk to skinheads. That's the way it is. You can't just blaim one person. It's not true. But politics are a very big deal with hadcore and are a very big deal with punk rock and the whole movement that we're envolved in you know. But that's true that there is ignorence. But hopefully you can somehow change people, make them think a little different. That's what we're about. I believe everybody changes. I've seen it from my own eyes. I've had people who were nazis skinheads, telling me that 2 years ago they were nazi skinheads but after coming to our shows, reading our lyrics they're out of that.

But especially in France because there are some skinheads at the shows, people might think that the bands are actually racist or whatever. Do you know what we mean ?

R: No, I don't know what you mean. I think it's just judging the book by its cover. It's like saying ok he's a skinhead so he's racist. You can't do that. And if people think that, it's wrong. That's what we call judging a book by its cover. Because he's a skinhead you say he's racist, but you don't know nothing about this person. He could be the nicest person in the world. He's somebody's son. He's got a father and a mother you know. He may have children, but he chooses to live a working class lifestyle. It doesn't mean he's wrong. It just means that's his choice.

With all that is going on in the world now, is this what gives you the strengh and will to keep on doing this hardcore music ?

R: Basically my lyrics has a lot to do with social and politics stuff. What goes on around day to day basis. But I really don't tend to deal with world politics. I leave that for politiciens. I'm a musician, I'm not a politician. Though our music works hands in hands with politics of course, you know, hardcore and punk. But I tried to stay away out of world politics. I watch news, I know what's going on but I wanna sing about hardcore, I wanna sing about our life style, what we do together, what our scene means to me. That's what I'm about.

But after more than 20 years of music, what makes you want to do this again ?

R: That's my lifestyle. I live it, I believe in it. Hardcore is not a show, it's not a book, not a video, it's a lifestyle for me. I've doing this for more than half of my life. And I believe in it, I love it. I like going to shows, I like meeting people, I like meeting you people, doing interviews. That's what I choose. This is my commitment. As long as people will want to see Agnostic Front, believe in Agnostic Front, then Agnostic Front will be there for you. That's it.

Many times, we met your brother Freedy and it seems that you're a huge influence in his own life, like in music, tattoo...What do you think about that?

R: I'm his bigger brother, he should be. (lough). I've ruined his life (big lough) !!! No, that's fantastic, my little brother when he was 7 years old he sang his first song with Agnostic Front. That was "It's my life" and he's still playing it today. And we encourage him to keep doing it. Me and Vinnie and Will Chepler made a band Madball, famous band today, just him ! Just for him. They had to get through their ways, they had to established themselves as a really band not as a side project from Agnostic Front, and they did it. They became Madball and that's fantastic. They're a great band. Great hadcore band from New York. And they have nothing but a total respect for Agnostic Front. The only brother band you know what I mean. Agnostic Front / Madball, brother bands.

Vinnie came in : Blood Brother !

R: We share the same lifestyle, the same everything you know, he's my brother. We even share the same crew.

What about a tour with Agnostic Front and Madball ?

R: We do it in America, for some shows. It's a little bit more difficult here because everytime we go in Europe it's very very expensive, because you've got to fly, you've got many things to rent. In America it's more easy, we have vehicules, so we just meet up and play. But some day it will be an amazing dream to do a full world tour Agnostic Front / Madball. That will be great.

Will you be in the Fury Fest in this summer ?

R: This year no. We did it the other years. I'm gonna come back this summer, but the only festivals I will be playing will be with The Disasters. A couple of festivals but nothing with Agnostic Front. We'll be on the next Resistance Tour with Agnostic Front so we're not doing the festivals, we're waiting for the Resistance Tour.

Talking about The Disasters, you released a new album "1984". Isn't it too difficult to have 2 new albums coming out at basically the same time for 2 different bands ? How do you handle it ?

R: I believe in both of them, I love both of them. They sound very different musically but lyrically they share kind of the same ideas. The Disasters is my life, it's a collage of all the bands I've been influenced with, like The Clash… Bands that I loved, bands that made me who I am today, and that lead me to Agnostic Front. The album "1984" is about my life in Agnostic Front, my friends and stuff like that. But basically it's a lot more personnel The Disasters. It's about my life before Agnostic Front, to getting into Agnostic Front. But it's not difficult, it's great. Two different bands, obviously one is a lot bigger than the other. But you can't say one is better than the other. And I don't like one better than the other. It's like when you have children, who do you love better ? You love them both.

You're the first american person we meet for a long time now. After Dimebag Darrell tragedy, do you feel some changes in shows in america on security, and on the atmophere?

R: I'm not american, I'm from Cuba, but eh. Yeah there are changes. People are concerned, bands are concerned. Lot of clubs are concerned they now don't want to progamm hardcore shows or heavy style shows. They have now metal detectors, which I was surprised they didn't have for many years. There's always a risk you know. That's why I will never stop doing Agnostic Front so nobody would ever kill me saying "it's your fault". But it's a tragedy what happened to Dimebag. That really is. He didn't diserve that. Nobody deserves that, but there is sick people all over the world.

Questionnaire of Pivot

1. What is your favorite word? Mama Luck.
2. What is your least favorite word?
I don't know men, I probably don't even know because I don't use it.
3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
"Life" I guess in general you know.
4. What turns you off? Death.
5. What is your favorite curse word? Probably "fuck" I use it a lot.
6. What sound or noise do you love?
I love the noise of the ocean, I think it calms me. But I'm a cancer so...
7. What sound or noise do you hate? In New York City noise from the dumpsters, garbage, like when you're trying to sleep, annoying noises.
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Out of Agnostic Front a I'm a mecanic, I work on Hotroads, I love mecanic.
9. What profession would you not like to do? Work in an office.
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? I wanna go to Hell bro ! Fuck, Hell sounds more fun !

Interview Manu & Tataye
Traduction Tataye

Copyright Hammerock - Spiritribe 1999