This interview was made in Lyon, France the 3rd of december 2006.
Manu has met Rob Lind (Vocals).
How is this new your going?
tour has probably been the best European tour that I have ever done,
even with Blood for Blood. The turnouts, the amounf of people coming
out, their reactions, were way WAY better than I expected! I expected,
with this being our first tour of Europe, and Ramallah being a relatively
new band, I expected it to be... A lot less than it has been.
Yeah and youre good firends with the guys from Death Before Dishonor...
Oh Yeah. We've known them for years. Bryan and Frankie are old friends of Mine from back in Boston. They are FSU guys also, so it's been like family. This tour has basically been going out with your family, your brothers, so it's been a really really great time. We've toured the US, the entire US, twice With Death Before Dishonour, so this has been like a continuation of the last two tours.
Why did you decide to create this band at the beginning?
Basically I had a lot of heavy material, a LOT of heavy material, and a lot of bitter, agressive, hateful lyrics that didn't fit with Blood for Blood. Blood for Blood is what it is. Blood for Blood has a sound. Blood for Blood has a style, and Blood for Blood has a message, and a look and perspective that's very defined. These songs wouldn't have fit with Blood for Blood, or Sinners and Saints which is an entirely different thing. So I thought it would be cool to start an entirely new band and find guys from all over the country that were as serious as I was about music and take the whole thing on the road. That was the whole goal with Ramallah. Record a bunch of songs, that I felt needed to be recorded, that I felt strongly about, and then find a bunch of guys who are as serious about music as I am, and go take the whole thing to the fucking world, to the masses, haha. To my children, haha.
And you said the message was a lot different than Blood for Blood. In what?
my opinion, yes. In Blood for Blood, the lyrics, historically, were
very personal. They were anthemic in that they spoke for a lot of people,
but they were very personal to ME. They were my stories. They were the
stories of my youth, my outlook, the way I grew up, the people I grew
up with, etc. etc.
Why did you choose such a name for the band?
Ramallah itself is of course a city in what used to be in Palestine.
Arafat's headquarters... It was uhh, the epicenter of a lot of the conflict
of the president, the Fatah, a few years ago. But I chose that name
specifically to... prick Americans... To prick apathetic, ignorant,
lazy americans to kind of scare them, to kind of threaten them, to intimidate
them. Because I knew it would intimidate, and threaten, and scare them
a little bit. Not for shock value as much to... specifically... rile
up their fears. And so far, it's worked to an extent.
Do You think people in the States have the possibility to realize that the US are not as good as it should be?
The people that I know think the same way I do... The people I meet and see all across the country, my old friends, people in the hardcore scene, people in the punk scene, the friends I've made in every city in America, they all feel basically the same way I do. But a vast majority of Americans that I come across outside of my own social strata tend to either be dominated by fear, or ignorance and apathy. Or a combination of all three... They believe what they're told. They are dominated by fear. Fear dictates how they vote, what they believe... And it sickens me because nobody seems to want to get to the bottom of why the things that are happening are happening. Nobody seems to want to find out why there are so many people that hate us. To me it's obvious why. But most Americans don't know or don't care to know. That's not entirely true, but it's a good enough "ballpark" description. More and more people are starting to care now. Recently, the entire government just went Democrat again. ALL the conservatives are out... I mean across the fuckin' board... It took eights years... It took eight fucking years. But finally the majority of the people got tired of the bullshit they were told. But still I'm a little aggravated, and a bit disappointed because it took eight years. It took ME a week. I never believed any of the bullshit that the fear-mongers were throwing, that the last administration was feeding us. I never believed it for a minute, but it took everyone else a long time, BUT we got there. Well, not "We" because I'm not one of them, but people are, SOME people are coming around, but A LOT aren't. For every person that comes around, there are two more that willfully believe what they are being told and don't want to hear the truth, and don't want to know the back story, and don't want to know why "this person" feels this way, and why this person is willing to die for this, and why they are willing to kill for this. They want simple answers to complicated questions. THAT is what Ramallah is trying to react against in a lot of cases. Or at least with "Kill A Celebrity" and "But A Whimper"... Who knows where the band will go in the future... It could go anywhere... It will go where ever I feel like taking it. But that's what the first two albums are about. Trying to react against I guess.
I think that in a way you are lucky to be a musician because you can see what happens in other countries, in Europe for example, and maybe most Americans don't see what you see...
Yes, absolutely. That's one blessing my like has afforded me. This lifestyle...
I have been able to go all over the world and talk to different people...
To see how other people live, to hear what other people think and have
to say. The irony is... People are the same everywhere. People want
to get by, they want to live, they want to have a house, they want to
have food, they want to have a future. They want to be able to take
care of their lives. Most of the places in the world where you see violence,
what we call terrorism, is just people that are denied basic human rights,
and they are tired of it. Mostly... There are fanatics and psychos out
there of course, they are everywhere. There always have been and there
always will be.
Is the name of the record "Kill A Celebrity" link with what youve just said?
yeah, absolutely... More than any other element in American society
I DESPISE American pop culture. I DESPISE it. I am nauseated by it.
I'm sickened by it. I'm horrified by it. People would rather spend an
hour every night to find out who Brittney Spears is fucking than finding
out how many bombs are being dropped in Iraq. And THAT is fucking scary.
We're selling weapons all over the world. We're funding armed groups.
We're dropping bombs all over the world but people would rather see
who is the winner of American Idol than find out what's going on in
their name in other countries, I mean all over the world, excuse me.
The bottom line is if you spend the last fifty years dropping bombs
on people you're going to make a lot of enemies, and they are eventually
going to get around to getting back at you. And you can't acted surprised
when somebody gets back at you in the same way you've been getting them
for the past fifty fucking years.
Your music is a lot different than traditional hardcore... How are your Blood for Blood fans, for example, reacting?
Most of them... Blood for Blood fans, ahhh... I hate to use the word "fans"... People that are into Blood for Blood, they actually... If they believe in YOU. Like, if they believe in that type of person. If they believe in the type of person that is behind the music they are pretty open minded to the music itself. With Blood for Blood, every album sounds different, but the people that are into it stay with it. Like, they don't care what it sounds like because it's speaking for them. So believe it or not, I didn't really get any flack at all... I didn't get any backlash because Ramallah sounded so odd and different compared to Blood for Blood. Most of the old supporters and listeners were pretty open to it; pretty open minded. I was pleased, I was pleased, uhh, I expected a harsher reaction but I was pleasantly surprised to find that most people were pretty open minded to it.
Did you have any problems with White Power/Skinheads that enjoyed bands such as Blood for Blood and Agnostic Front? Did they have any problems with the name? Did some of those people come to you and ask you questions about the name?
We never had any problem, persay... We never had any problems personally with any of that. There would often be trouble at our shows because Nazi's and White Power people would show up. In Texas, for example. In Texas there would be 50 Nazis at the show, but there would also be 50 Mexican gangsters, and then there would be 100 or 200 regular people. There would be fights all nights, and brawls. But we very rarely had, no, we NEVER had any personal problems with our audience. Every once in a while someone would approach us and ask "Hey, are you White Power too?". Our answer would always be "no". We're NOT. But so far we've never been really contronted or antagonized. We have been asked why we think there are so many Fascists and White Power type people that are into Blood for Blood. My response was that it is really hateful music. Hateful music attracts hateful people of all different kinds. And there are all different types of hateful people. Like I said, in Texas we'd have 50 Nazis, but we'd also have a lot of Chicano gangbangers. So you get them across the board... If you're music is really angry, you are going to attract really angry people. And really angy people, act angrily (laughs); you know what I mean? So it was just something that was inevitable I guess.
Did you have any problems, not with the fans, but, didn't you get a letter from a Turkish gang?
no. We didn't get a letter, but last time we were in Europe a kid that
was Turkish that we met said that there was a hardcore crew in Turkey
that was really angry we used the crescent and the star... I didn't
choose the crescent and the star, that was something the label put together.
I guess they were really mad because it was their crew symbol. But I
also heard that this group that was angry we used the crescent and the
star were also really big fans of the band so... I don't know. I didn't
really know how to take that. You hear things like that all the time,
I just kind of ignore it. WE didn't choose to use that symbol; it's
not something that's necessary to Ramallah. It's no big deal to me.
I certainly didn't use it to steal it from anybody, or anything like
that, you know what I mean?
We got a lot of that. Well not a lot... But we did get a lot of letters from some college kids demanding responses like "ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS OR WE'RE GOING TO PUT YOU ON THE SAME LIST AS SCREWDRIVER AND BOUND FOR GLORY". That's fucking ridiculous, you know what I mean? But I did respond to them and I told them what we were about and they backed off, to my face anyway, but I protected myself and took those questions, and took my answers and immediately published them all over the internet so nobody can take them out of context... So the person that was accusing me couldn't take them out of context, what I said, and LIE. I just slammed it. I put it out in public so everybody knew what was going on. Most of the people that were accusing us of things backed off. At least to our face anyway. I'm sure they still run around and call us anti-Israel and pro-terrorist but we're not of course. I mean, anyone that reads Ramallah's lyrics knows we're not; we're NONE of those things but people love to accuse people of things
It's strange because from what I understand, you seem to be in the middle of the two parts?
A little bit; a little bit. There have actually been some pro-Arab / pro-Palestinian type people that said we were fence sitting, and that we weren't enough on their side. Not too much of that; not too much of that. In fact, most of that was in relation to the first EP. The full length is obviously about AMERICAN society. It's an attack on American Society and has very little to do with world politics. It's mostly an assault on American pop culture so we didn't get NEARLY as much flack on the second one as we did on the first one because with the first one, people didn't know how to take it. There was all the Arab imagery on the CD, the name was Ramallah, we had song names like Al-Shifa... So most of the accusations of that type came a couple of years ago. With the full length, we didn't get as much of that.
You have a song on "Kill a Celebrity" called "A Day in the Life", which was originally composed by The Beatles. You changed the lyrics a bit at the end of the song. Can you explain why?
A couple of reasons I chose to do that... I love The Beatles, but I specifically love John Lennon's shit. I don't know why, I just do. I thought that "A Day in the Life" was the most haunting, and beautiful, and CREEPY songs that I had ever heard. And it was very important when it was written. It was a song about... They lyrics to the original, to the John Lennon song, was a railing against public apathy. That's what the song was about, apathy. Well, that's what Ramallah is about. Kind of attacking, and taking a stand against I guess, apathy. So I changed the words to make them contemporary and kind of modern to what is going on now. And I also liked the idea that the album name was "Kill A Celebrity" and John Lennon was killed, and he was a celebrity. I like the irony of that. That was the basic motivation for doing the song. I love the song, and I wanted to do something interesting with it. At least what I thought was interesting... I wanted to take a crack at it I guess. I wanted to update the lyrics and make them relevant to today.
With your lyrics, a lot of people think that you hate everything and everybody... What's your feeling about that?
I am horrified by the human race. I can break it down like this; this is going to sound CRAZY. It's probably going to sound dramatic, but if I could DIE for the sins of mankind and save the world, I would. If I could press a button and murder the world, I would. I would do both. I would save the world if I could, or I would annihilate it. One or the other. But I think that mankind is too sick in its present state to go on like this. Humanity is all things good, but it is also all things evil at the same time. I'm terrified by it. I find humanity horrifying. It disturbs me... How do I put this? For every Leonardo da Vinci, for every Jesus Christ, there's an Adolf Hitler, there's TEN Adolf Hitlers. There's TEN Idi Amin, there's ya know, TEN mass murders. There's a lot of good in the world, but I see a lot more evil. I see a lot more inhumanity, and what scares me even more than inhumanity though, is people's casual indifference towards it. People that aren't affected don't care, and THAT scares the shit out of me. Sometimes people behave inhumanely towards one another because they, well they don't really have justification, but, they've been victimized, and they have hatred. But it's the indifference that scares the FUCK out of me. So that's basically, truly the way I feel... I told that to a psychiatrist once and the psychiatrist said that that was pretty much the darkest thing that they had ever heard in their life. But it is truly the way I feel about the human race. I'd save it, or I'd murder it, one or the other. But I don't think I'm going to be able to do either any time soon (laughs).
Can you talk a bit about FSU and the Boston Beatdown DVD?
Boston Beatdown... I've seen the video like twice. The only thing I can say about that is, believe it or not, the footage from Boston Beatdown, the fights and stuff like that, this is going to sound strange, but they were actually tame. They were tame, you know what I mean? They were not that violent. They couldn't, the guys that made the film, couldn't use the real footage, like some of the crazier footage, because it would have got people thrown in prison. So to me it was kind of just, kind of whatever, kind of like ehhh... FSU, they're just my friends in Boston. FSU is in a bunch of different states. But they are all people I've known for 10-12 years; they're just my friends. I know some crazy shit goes on, but I don't see most of that. I just go to different cities and hang out with my friends. That's basically it, they're just people I care for, and that care for me.
The original DVD is pretty violent. Do you think that it can be bad for the hardcore scene?
can be. It can be. But there's not a whole lot I can do about it. When
Blood for Blood started, I was an angry young man. If there were fights
and violence at our shows I didn't care at all. We didn't stop playing.
We didn't give a fuck. Now as I've gotten older if I see fights and
violence I try to calm it down. I'll stop the show try, to settle it
The turnout seems to be good for bands like Ramallah, Blood for Blood, and Death Before Dishonor. Are there any other bands you'd advise us to check out?
Yeah, there's A LOT of music. Let me think... Bulldog Courage. They are from Troy/Albany (New York). Let me think... Is there anything else I really dig? I LOVE Death Threat. They're from Connecticut. There was something new I heard... I can't remember. That's all I can think of off the top of my head... I'm SURE there's more, but I just can't think of anything right now.
You were supposed to go into the studio with Zeuss to record an EP?
Ahh, you talked with Zeuss? I had been talking to Zeuss quite frequently. He had some free time, some down time during the month. I couldn't get the material together in time to get in there and work with him because he only had a little bit of time that he could work with us. He was going to give us a price and everything. I REALLY wanted to work with him BAD! But it didn't work out in time; I couldn't get the material together fast enough to get the band in there. I really wanted to... And then my phone got shut off (laughs). I couldn't get in touch with him for weeks at a time. I really wanted that to work out. I hope to work with him someday. But I just couldn't get the new material together in time to work with him and the time that he had. That was basically it. But I hope to work with him in the future. I hope I still get a chance to.
So do you want to release something very soon?
I would like to do some recording when we get back. But we're not prepared. Not right at this very moment, it will take some time. We could feasibly be recording; the songs are done, I have all the songs ready, I just have to show the drummer, ya know, and show some of the band some of the stuff. I have to book the studio time... It could happen quickly, but we don't have any plans right now.
Are you going to release a new Blood for Blood record?
Yeah. I don't know WHEN the hell that will happen. It could be a long time before that happens, but me and Buddha did talk about it, and we liked the idea. We were excited to do it. We are excited to do a new Blood for Blood album, but we don't know when it's going to happen. It could be months from now... It could be a year from now. I just know that we both talked about it and we liked the idea. Hopefully it will happen soon, but I don't know... I really don't know when it will happen.
From what Ive heard, you also have a tattoo shop walled Wicked Tattoos...
For the last couple of months I have been working as the frontman for Wicked Tattoos. The receptionist, phone guy, customer service guy. Wicked Tattoos is Mike D., Daryl Maniac, Damian, and Donny Cox. All of them are... Donny is internationally know. He's known all over the country. Daryl is getting known nationally, and all of them are very well known in the area. They are all very good artists. I get work from all of them, except from Damian. I haven't gotten anything from Damian, yet! But that's where I was working. I just got work done by Daryl, a back piece that I've wanted since I was sixteen. It was the first tattoo that I wanted to get and I finally just got it. It's not done yet, but it's a samurai committing harakiri. It's traditional. It's a traditional suicide scene. But it's going to be gory. It's going to be black and gray, but the guts are going to be bright red, the teards are going to be bright red, and the spit coming from his mouth is going to be blood. And underneath it I'm going to get the word "redemption" with a question mark. I still haven't gotten that yet, but I got the piece done, just not shaded yet. But it's ironic, it's a piece that I've wanted since I was like fifteen or sixteen.
Your tattoo tear, is it any signification?
It's for the world. A tear for the world. I haven't murdered anybody that I'm aware of (laughs). I did some stupid shit when I was a kid, violence and shit. But nobody died that I was aware of. So when people ask me, I say I got it for the world. But I did do some stupid shit when I was a kid.