Interview Madball
This interview was made in Sauvigny Les Bois, France, the 17th of august 2007.
Manu and O.S. have met Freddy Cricien (singer) .

How is this new European tour going?

The whole first part of the tour has been really good.
All the shows have been good, we've done smaller festivals and then some club shows. It's been good, very good!

So you're back to promote your upcoming record called "Infiltrate The System". As Madball is a hard working/touring band, where did you find the time to write and record some new stuff?

We had to kind of stop what we were doing to do the record you know. There were some music floating around between the guys and stuff, we got some ideas but basically we just had to stop playing and go into the studio and put the stuff together and then go and record it. It's kind of a tough period because we were inactive as far as playing and stuff, it was hard, it's a tough time, not a whole lot of money coming in but you have to do it, you have to stop and take the time out to get new material together you know, especially if you want it to be good (Laugh), so that's what we did we just stopped for a few months we went to the studio recorded it.

After "Legacy", it's the 2nd time you work with Zeuss. How was the recording process this time? Was it different?

Yeah it was the second time we worked with Zeuss. It was very similar on how we did "Legacy". We pretty much got all the material together and went into rehearsal room and wrote it, arrange it, put the stuff together and by the time we came to Zeuss and, all in all, it only took two and a half weeks to record it you know. So we came in prepared, we came in with all the songs arranged, written everything, half of the lyrics were done and I did the second half of the lyrics at Zeuss' but it was very similar to "Legacy" which was a very efficient way of doing it. For us, for "Legacy" it was a good formula you know, so we tried to do the same way and it was something we should have been doing for years and years and years and years but this band hasn't always been the most organized (Laugh) but the last two albums were really good and Zeuss did one hell of a job with "Legacy" and especially with the new one, the production is what we all wanted. It's big and destructive sounding. (Laugh)

According to us, this record is a bit surprising. It's a good mix of different Madball's styles: the newer style we could already hear on "Legacy" with more metal influences, and also the style you played on the early days with old-school hardcore and punk influences. Do you feel it that way?

Honestly I feel that the new one is our next step up for Madball you know, the new evolution. But I know what you mean, it definitely has a newer element which is what we wanted to do. We wanted to try and bring a newer flavour to the band you know, to stay on top and to stay current but at the same time it's still very much Madball you know? And I just think it's the next step in evolution, this is the next evolution of "Legacy", it's just like on a different level you know, heavier… And there's definitely more old school parts in there, we always throw that stuff in there and that's part of our sound as well. But yeah for me it's the next evolution in Madball you know, I don't know how much more we would want to push it but if we didn't push it to this point I didn't think it would be as good as it is, and I don't think people would care much about it. So I think we pushed it just enough to get people's attention but I think it pleases everyone, it helped, it pleases everyone I'm very proud of it. We got some accomplishments.

On this new record, there are some typical Madball songs in the vein of "Heaven/Hell", "Pride", "For My Enemies"… like "We The People" or "Infiltrate The System", but at the same time there are some more strange songs like "Revolt" for exemple…

… Yeah, different! (Laughs)

Haha! Yeah that's the right word! Do you think that this kind of songs must get a second or third listen by the people to really feel what they are?

Maybe for Madball fans it does. You know, we get for what we were going for, we wanted it to be dynamic, we wanted every song to be different about it and we wanted every song to have heavy parts too, where people could really get in there you know, let it out and I think we accomplished that. And I think for some songs some people have to give a second or third listen. But I think once they do that they will get it you know, it might just be something new to them coming from us but it's still very much like I said, all the little things that we added to it but it's still essentially Madball you know. You know what I mean? We had to step it up and songs like that that's actually the song I liked the most. I liked the more different ones and for me "Revolt" is one of my favourite ones and not I don't like to jock my own music but you know it's one of the ones that I like the most on the record. Some people might get right away you know, but some people might not. But Madball has a history in doing that with the records you know, there was albums that came out that people didn't get right away and then later on they're like "oh I like that album" that's just kind of the way it is for us. I don't know if we're ahead of the game you know, we have our own unique way of interpreting things but hopefully everybody will get eventually.

I think the difference with this new album is that you mixed in the same song metal influences and old-school stuff and it's quiet new in hardcore style, as every band usually make metal influenced songs and old-school songs, but not on the same song. That's pretty surprising ! Is that the beginning of a new hardcore generation ?

Yeah good observation! I would like to think so you know. In a weird way that's what we've always done you know. Madball was done from the old school roots of Agnostic Front, the old school stuff. So the original stuff was very old school. By the second 7 inch and even by the first album we started to incorporate different things you know, like metallic influences, you know because of Hoya and Matt and all the different people who were writing. I think we've always been doing that, writing with some old school flavour with heavy parts and more metallic parts. It's funny because we've been doing all the things we've been doing since at least '94 but the parts are a little bit more up to date with what's going on now, but it's still pretty much the same remedy. We've always done the hardcore deal with the old school style and it's just a step up version of that, we pushed it a little bit you know, purposely. So we hope that everybody starts to get it.

We didn't read the lyrics yet but it seems that you once more talked about subjects which are very important for you, like fascism on "Liberty Or Death", being united on "Stand Up NY"… Can you tell us more about the lyrics?

Oh yeah, yeah, "Stand Up NY" was like a shout out to the New York scene and the bureaus you know. People over here and everywhere obviously respect the New York scene and stuff like that and that's the scene that gave birth to this band you know but even still sometimes I think people forget that and we kind of we just want to remind people and this is where we're from the part of the world that fuels us and these are bureaus Queens, Staten Island so just make the people feel like we're still here, you're still here kind of like a tribute to New York.
"Liberty Or Death" is a different song that's actually about Cuba and it's about my family that's been in Cuba, some of them I never met, that's my mother's side of the family cuz she's Cuban. There's many members of my family I've never met and that was basically a story talking about my family, and also about a conversation I had with my uncle and he used to tell me that "they love you there even if they've never met you". So I say things about that conversation and basically the other side to that is to me pissed of coz of Castro, for oppressing such a beautiful place. His intentions were somewhat good at the beginning but I heard from many people that there's a depressing situation there. When you don't have complete freedom, I don't think it's a good situation. Maybe this or that idea is good but when you take away people's freedom and the right to express themselves and play whatever music they want and draw whatever art they want, it's not a good thing. It's very backwards and a dictature. Madball has never been a political band but this is a real topic and this is something I've always wanted to talk about and this is the album it has to come out. This album has a lot of social that we talk about. This is definitely the most socially aware record that we've ever put out. I don't want to say "political" because we're not politicians, it's just we're expressing our opinion about stuff. It's definitely the soundtrack to a revolution I think in some way (Laugh). That's what "Infiltrate The System" is about, getting in there and just changing it… like the industry and everything.

And there is no way for you to visit your family in Cuba?

Back in the days it was hard because there were more restrictions but now there's a way. I'm actually gonna go, maybe at the end of this year I'll try. There was always a thing to make impossible to go there, it was just forbidden. But now I have friends and I know people that have gone with American Passports, so there's a way to go there. Europe is easy, we come here all the the time but in America there's a lot of politics involved but I'm gonna go this year and if not, next year. For myself I have to make a pilgrimage there because it's been too long you know, I have many family members there and I grew up with that culture, with the food, and the music so I have to go there…

You miss it in a way…

Yeah! I've never been but I've been so close. I've lived in Florida which is 90 miles from Cuba. I say that line in the song to, I was close but… I definitely want to go ! Definitely!

It seems that there are 2 guests on the vocals on "No escape" & on "P.Y.I.T.F Part3". Who are they? Is that Mitts?

On "No escape" it's Hoya and on "P.Y.I.T.F Part3" -which is a typical Madball joke song but we had to do it, it's a tradition! (Laugh)- that's Hoya and Mitts.

And what does "P.Y.I.T.F" mean?

"Punch You In The Face part 3". (Laugh) That's an inside joke actually for Sheer Terror. That's an inside joke between us and him but it's a funny thing.

Is the second part on their record? (Laughs)

No it's just "part3"! We said "fuck it!" we just skip to part 3! (Laugh)

About the cover now. which was also surprising for us. Is that a picture from the black Thursday or the 1929 crisis? Can you tell us more about it?

That was from the riot in Manatoba, Canada in the early 20's or 30's something like that, that was just a shot and my sister in law worked on the art, for this record she was helping me out and she just came with different old pictures and archives, something that we can use. And I just wanted an image that went with the concept. I could have went with a typical riot scene but it's kind of wouldn't made sense in a certain way. This is a strong image because these guys are like all soldered with hats, they means business you know, some of them have sticks, they have very serious faces, very compose and they're heading in a direction, you don't know exactly where they're going but wherever they're going they mean business, that's how I've interpreted the picture you know. When I saw it, I said "I like that picture", and I wanted to do a black & white cover because the last one was kind of a little bit ambient with the clouds and it was kind of different thing for us. I cannot wait to go back to black and white picture like on "Demonstrating My Style" or "Set It Off" we used black and white pictures. With that picture people will talk about it like "oh what's that picture?"… So I wanted to go back to that but it had something that made sense with the concept, and that made sense to me. Those guys are gonna go fight for their rights wherever they are, and it's not stereotypical, it's a good image I think.

The last time we met you, we talked about your upcoming DVD. Is it finally done?

No!! It's much work right now! (Laugh) But it's gonna happen though, for sure! I'm really excited about putting it together, there's a lot of footage that I have to get together from people, it's just a lot of work that I have to do for it and it's not something I'd like to do overnight but we're gonna put it on our own as a band for once in our life, I don't want to depend on a label, we're gonna put it out ourselves. Maybe we'll get a distribution or a licence to different people but all I know is that we're gonna put it out. We want it to be good you know, we want it to be a good documentary of Madball. And we want it to be long, we don't want to hear "Oh it was too short…". We want to go way back.

Yeah like many DVD's!

Yeah many DVD's, many videos… So it's gonna take a little time but when it'll come out hopefully people will appreciate it you know! Because we never did a DVD so…

Yeah, we don't want to be disappointed by this Madball DVD! (Laughs)

No, no! Definitely not!

We talked about that with Jamey from Hatebreed and it's quiet the same problem for them to put it together…

And you have to find the right persons if you want it to be good.

Now about your others projects…

… Which one? (Laughs)

First can you tell us more about your hip-hop project with DJ Stress. How did you start it?

Well it's not a surprise to people that I like hip hop, I mean it shouldn't be a surprise because I've always talked about it since the beginning, I've always said that I was a big hip hop fan, I've always impress that culture, it's part of me. And I always wanted to do a hip hop project and I just never find the right situation and just when I started to do something I get distracted by Madball or Hazen Street or something else so I never had the time to do it. And finally a good friend of mine, Paul, from Ferret introduce me to Jeff aka Dj Stress. He grew up with hardcore and stuff but also with hip hop. And then he played me the beat and I thought "that's the guy I wanna work with!" He has a studio, not too far from New York, near Philadelphia. So basically I met him, we spoke, he's a good guy, a nice guy, he's a very talented producer making beats so I started to work with him and we just put out some songs together really quick, but it's still work in progress, it's still a very new thing, he haven't done a record but we're gonna do a record, maybe get it done this year and put it out. Hopefully at the end of the year, maybe next year. Definitely next year but maybe this year.

That was one of my questions… (Laugh)

(Laugh) Yeah yeah!
But I've been a hip hop fan my all life and I've always wanted to do a hip hop project and I just never had the time, but now I've found the time to do it and I find the right people to work with so I think it's now the time for it, and I hope people will enjoy it. I think people will gonna be surprised, I don't know only just yell (Laugh) I can do a couple of other things.

And you have good influences coming from New York with House Of Pain…

Well those guys are west coast but I grew up listening to older old school shit like Rakim, Public Enemy… all the good old stuff so… I'm pretty confident that it's gonna be good, I don't wanted to do it different than anything out, I just want it to be good, I want it to be quality.

With this project you also did some shows with Necro like in London a few months ago…

Yeah 2 shows! My first show ever was in London. That's why I did those songs, because I played one song to my friend who manages Necro, he liked it and said "I want you to play a show!". And I said "I only have one song!" (Laugh) And I've never done this with the rap. So he said "well, If you can get some more songs together, you'll be able to play the show!". So I made more songs, like 5 more songs and I said that's enough for 20-30 minutes for the show. So basically the songs that I have were made for that show, so they'll definitely get even better I hope. But that was great to play a sold out show in London for my first ever show, I can't complain!

What was the response from the audience? I suppose that there was some Madball fans there…

There was a few! Not a lot lot lot but there was some! They were definitely supporting me. Obviously there are some Madball fans that like hip hop, because there's a percentage that like hip hop and a percentage that don't like hip hop. So it was obviously the ones that do who were definitely there, and they were very supportive. And then the other people didn't even know who I was but it was a good response, no "Get out here!" (Laugh) It was cool! People were clapping, lot of headbobbing. I pretty much couldn't ask for a better response for a first show.

Well we did an interview with Necro after the London show, and here's what he said about you and let us know what's your felling about it :

"Freddy is a cool cat, Im real good friends with Lord Ezec, and I know Jorge from Merauder for years, so the DMS crew has always showed me love, so my crew, PLR and DMS are real tight, and so when my new management team brought up including Freddy on some shows it was a no brainer, I was down, he is doing his thing with the hip hop music and I wish him the best, and I definitely feel Madball, they're real rugged brutal shit. One of my crew members, Carbone, has the Madball face tattooed on his leg, so we got diehards in the crew, I respect the whole hardcore mentality because Im a hardcore dude, and I always been about loyalty, respect, friendship and integrity, although very few humans really practice these values, and I have always been first a metal head, death metal and thrash, but real recognizes real, so I click with hardcore cats, especially the legends, we all New York street cats".

Haha! I have to agree with him! That's the truth in a way. He's been doing his thing on the underground level in hip hop for while and he's been successful and with Madball we've doing our thing on the underground level in hardcore, and we're pretty much successful considering, you know what I mean? But yeah, like he said, "real recognizes real" that's street thing, we recognize each other and we respect it. He used to like heavy music and we like hip hop so it makes sense. He grew up with heavy shit, with metal so he appreciates what we do. We're close to hip hop guys, we love hardcore, we love what we do but we're also hip hop guys so it kind of makes sense, we met a couple of times. But I definitively appreciate that he gave me an opportunity with the hip hop that I wouldn't do with Madball even if it's an established thing. We're actually doing a show together, September 12th, when we get back from this tour, Necro and Madball, which will be our first in New York. But yeah he gave me a chance with the hip hop stuff which was really a cool thing for him to do coz he's very established you know, he sold out the Scala in London. I wouldn't be able to play in front of so many people for a first show. So based on my background and where I'm from he gave me a shot in the hip hop stuff in a way. He put me on the first couple shows and I'll never forget that, I don't forget things like that. He's a good dude man! What can I say? He's definitely unique and I respect that, he's definitely original, he's got his own thing on the hip hop thing so…

Can you tell us more about Black N' Blue Productions? Why did you create this structure?

Yeah me and my friends created it. It was basically created for the Superbowl Of Hardcore which was the show which been around for many years but the last 3 years it was under control of me and my friend Joe. We needed a name as company to do this kind of thing. The main thing right now is still the Superbowl Of Hardcore for Black N' Blue Productions, we're also doing some smaller shows in the city sometimes and other event. We're involved and stuff, and that's another one of my thing that I hope to develop. That's another extension of what I'm trying to do in music, that's another side of me, producing things, making shows…

You do all that to give back and to help other bands in a way?

Yeah! But I'm' not gonna sit here and say that there's no financial gain from that, of course! If the shows are successful, I'm' gonna make money! And at the end of the day we have to pay rent and I can't do things for charity even though I'd love to, but I'm not always in the position to do that. But in a way, yeah it is giving back because the Superbowl was something that got lost in the shuffle, it left New York and people forget about it so we kind of brought it back and put it on the map and it kind of gives New York some more attention more than it needed now so it definitely giving back to where we come from, and to the hardcore scene. Of course we hope it's successful because we don't want to loose money (Laugh). It's both you know, a business and a way to give back so it's good on both sides.

Do you plan to produce the Superbowl of Hardcore 2008, and do you have an idea of the bands you want to have on the bill?

Definitely Agnostic Front! Death Before Dishonor, maybe Terror… It's gonna be good next year! I haven't had Agnostic Front yet since I've been doing it so I think it's time! (Laugh) The new album is sick so I think it will be perfect in time for Agnostic Front. I wanna get some good bands, I try to make a good solid bill every year so there's definitely a lot of bands that I'm working on getting to make it good.

You produced the new Agnostic Front record called "Warriors". What can you say about this new record?

For me it was an honour that they actually asked me to produce it. Outside of personal stuff like Madball, Hazen Street or the hip hop project, of course I did some producing within my own stuff but outside of that I haven't really officially produce anything. So for my brother to ask me was a big honour for me because he started me, so that mean a lot to me, that mean he respects my opinion that much, and when I heard the songs I was even more excited, because it's a great record man! They all rolled it, no outside people and I think that's important because you feel like it's a band, you feel that this record was written as a team effort. So then I just put my opinion and my things in the mix, I'm really excited for people to listen this new Agnostic Front record, it's great! It's like "One Voice", "Cause For Alarm", a little bit of "Victim In Pain", it has a little bit of "Something's Gotta Give", it's like everything, it's good balance, very powerful…

…It's like a best of Agnostic Front in way…

Yeah! But it's new! It's not like only old songs! It's some new and fresh songs!
For me it's a big step in my life for that happen. For them to ask me, and for me to be a part of it and for the record to be such a good record... If it's a bad record and my name's on it well… And I'm a big fan of the band you know, but I have no doubt that this new record is gonna do well, and I was just happy that I could be a part of it. It definitely doesn't hurt my career with doing other things you know! So that was a very good experience!

You also designed some shirts for "Familia Clothing" in the Pitchfork gear…

Yeah, I've been slacking on that, I got one shirt and I've got one more in the making but I've just been so busy it's hard to do that. But I'm still doing "Familia Clothing"! For me that's like back to the Cuba thing. The shirt is my uncle in Cuba, that tee-shirt is a real thing, that's my uncle posing on the picture in Cuba, so that's the all theme, I'm trying to use black and white pictures of my family, to show them some love, give them some props and that's the whole theme of "Familia Clothing". Maybe I'll use other black and white pictures from other families whatever, but that's the idea. I just need to keep a few more things to keep running with it. But it's definitely gonna be out there for sure. And Pitchfork is my friends so it's kind of connected with that.

I've been on the Pitchfork website this morning and it seems that the "Familia Clothing" shirts are out of stock right now…

Are they? Oh I have to call before I get back! (Laugh)

When will you launch the new collection?

The new collection will be launch I think in the next couple of month, I only have ideas for the shirts so it's just a matter of getting everything's home. It should be cool!

And what about Hazen Street? Do you plan to record a new full length?

I think so! Everybody's talking about they want another record. A lot of people's been asking me about Hazen Street on this tour and on the last one, everyday! That's good and I think we'll work on something soon. Maybe we'll come out and play a couple of shows because we never played Europe with Hazen Street so that would be cool to come here and play some festivals and a couple shows. That's very possible!

During a tour with Madball and H2O… (Laughs)

Yeah! (Laugh)

Actually there are 3 Madball band members in Hazen Street right? You, Mitts and Hoya?

Mitts is been feeling in for Hazen Street on guitar and we'll probably continue to do so, and there's Toby and Macky, and Dave is kind of floating, I don't know where is he at the moment, so we'll see but I think we'll get together and do another record.

Even if it's a lot different than Madball, the first record was really good in that style…

Thank you! That's another thing I'm very proud to be part of my life even if nothing would really happened with it, I would still be very proud of this record. It's very different and a lot of people seem to appreciate this to.

And do you know if Mitts thinks about making a new Rag Men record? (Laugh)

Hahaha! You have to ask Mitts! But I think he will! He loves writing stuffs, he has stuffs different from Madball that he wants to do and Rag Men's perfect for that!

The first record is also really good!

Yeah that's a very good record! I think a lot of people slept on that record a little bit but that's a good record. Jorge's (Rosado - Merauder) got a great voice, Rigg plays on it and he's a solid drummer… So I think he would probably make another record, I would say "yes"…

We met Jorge a few months ago and we asked him about a new Rag Men record and he said the same thing: "Ask Mitts!" (Laughs) But it seems that he would love doing another one…

Yeah that's his band, his own project so… But we've been so busy with Madball that it was hard but I think it's gonna slow down a little bit now, in September so we'll go back home and have the time to do some stuff. I'm gonna work on my hip hop project when I get back in September and try to finish that. So everybody's gonna do their own thing a little bit so it's a good possibility that a lot of stuff will come out next year: Hazen street, Rag Men, Hip Hop, 50's band… (Laugh) Every fuckin' kind of music!

But you'll also tour a lot to promote the new record…

Sure! But we're already doing it pretty much. I mean the album comes out in a few days and we're already touring for this record, this tour is basically for this record, before and after you know. We also have some tours planed at home to, we have tours with Sick Of It All, and other tours in the work.

To finish we once more have something to make you read. It was last year at the Hellfest'06, we did an interview with Zoli from Ignite, we talked a bit about you & Madball but we completely forget to tell you about that :

Spiritribe : Do you have something to say to Freddy as we'll make an interview with him in 2 days (Sunday)…

Zoli :Yeah, for me if you wanna watch a true hardcore band, I love Agnostic front, but I think Madball took a one step further where they have the true old-school New York style. When you hear it, you just get that fuckin' cool feeling where you wanna work out or something. I think they have the best energy. And Freddy is a master at keeping the crowd completely focussed on him and his band. They are one of my favourite bands of all time. Everytime I'm in a bad mood or down, I listen to Madball and it gives that little extra push. When I have a very rough day and I need some extra energy, I listen to Madball.
First of all, I really care about those guys. They are really great people. Freddy is a very dangerous man. Seriously dangerous guy but he's a really nice guy on the inside. He doesn't hurt people for no reason, he's just a good guy, and obviously I don't want to be the one to make him mad! (Big Laugh)
Seriously I care about those guys and they are very talented at what they do.

Spiritribe : Did you listen to their last album "Legacy"? Did you like it?

Zoli :I've always been a great fan of Madball, so everything they will do I'm gonna love it! The only problem with this album is that there isn't Zoli from Ignite singing on it! (Laugh) Tell him that!

(Laugh) I should have ask Zoli to be on the new one! Zoli's my friend, I love him! It's very nice kind words from him. I think their last record is amazing, it's fuckin' unbelievable! I love it because they're one of the few true melodic hardcore bands out and there's really not many. There's them and H2O and I can't think of too many more, but beside that this Ignite record can appeal to some many kind of people. I love those guys, they're my friends, we toured together many times and every time we see each other it's like family and I'm a big fan of their music as well, so that's very nice he said stuff like that.

We thought the end was really funny…

Hahah yeah! We should have get Zoli on it! That would be something really interesting to have Zoli on a Madball record, maybe on the next one, we'll see! (Laugh) Or maybe on the Hazen Street record!

Have you read on our website the interview…

The one with me and Roger? Yeah yeah yeah! (Laugh) That's funny! We both said some things wrong but we both trying to say what the other one would say and it was funny, that was cool! That was a good idea!

Any last word for the people who are going to read this interview?

I enjoyed doing the interview with you guys, you guys have always your way of doing stuff so it's always a good time. To our fans it's always the same thing, thank you for the undying support that keeps us going as a band. In the last couple of years this band get even stronger and stronger and that has everything to do with the people who support us. The European scene is a very big facture, there are lots of supporters for Madball and that's always appreciated. Hopefully they'll enjoy the new album as much as we enjoy it, so check out the new record, it's the next step of evolution of Madball. Thank you for the support!

Interview Manu & O.S
Translation Sophia Coss/Manu

Copyright Hammerock - Spiritribe 1999