Sick Of It All Interview

This interview was made in Paris the 28th of January 2010.
Pierre and O.S have met Armand, the drummers.

Before we start, we have to ask you how does it feel to have your name written in big red letter on top of the Olympia?

Oh, I still haven't made my way outside yet. We saw it while coming in, but I got to go and take one! You know, I don't know enough about this place, I should know more. I know that Edith Piaf made this place world famous. The Beatles played here, and all kind of hugh artists.

Tonight you are open for Dropkick Murphy's, how many dates are you doing with them?

I think all together it's 9 shows with them. We haven't done an opening show in Europe since ever. I think it's our first support tour we've ever done here. We toured with them a lot in the US, but never here, so we've been trying to hook this up. It worked so well in the States, I think they like the fact that we are aggressive and we get the audience kind of wild up. So the audience is ready to go when they get up on stage. I guess the 2 bands complement each other that way. Some of their fans don't quite understand what we are doing but I think that the aggression get them warmed up.

How long are you going to play tonight?

45 minutes. It's a good amount of time for us. I mean I whish more hardcore shows could be a little shorter. Because sometimes when you go to see a band, no matter what kind of band it is, no matter what kind of music they play, once you get to the hour mark, you get kind of bored. That's the way I feel personally, maybe it's my short attention spend. So I wish even when we did headlining shows I whish we could play a little bit less. You could pack it with more intensity instead of drawing it out for hours. Sometimes when we play the headlining shows they asked us to play 1h30, and we're like, do you know what it would be like if we did. It wouldn't be fun. It's too much for people to stand that long. I guess it's the same in metal.
At least the Dropkicks they play a very long time. But some of their songs are really melo. And they have the dynamic, so it switches it up. They don't play just a bunch of really fast and aggressive songs. They break it up all over the place, with different feelings, which make it more entertaining that way.

A few days ago, we were in Montpelier and you played some songs of your new album, are you going to play them tonight?

Yes. We've been doing 2 songs every night.

So can you tell us about this new upcoming album called "Based on a true story"? What is the meaning of this title?

This title is taken from the first song of the album. It's about how some of our friends that we grew up with, that came from similar backgrounds, and they just at a certain point in time, took a different path than us and ended up in really bad places. Fully criminal and ended up hanging out with some really bad people, not thinking about their life. And for us it's a strange think, because we never wanted that of our lives, we didn't wanted to take that path. We wanted good things you know. That's why the whole idea of based on a true story. It's not just that we are saying that Sick Of It All is based on a true story, although that we like to think that we are authentic people. We don't talk about a fantasy world. We always sing about reality. But this title in particular has to do with this song and how the people that we are singing about are real people that lived real lives, and unfortunately are no longer with us.

Is it going to be a mane theme on the whole album?

No, we've never done like a concept album, well Death to Tyrants was the close as we came to that because of the political situation, so there were a few songs that went back to deal with that, you know, the Bush administration, and how America felt about that. So that was different, But this time, each song has it's own message.

Is the album going to speak about the Obama election?

There is a song called "Good Cop" which is about Obama. Because every time you see a policeman, you always have the one who is a complete prick, and you also have the smiley face, like in the movies. And that's what we feel about Obama. He represents the same old system, but he has a different look, but in fact it's just the same old thing over and over again. The whole idea of change, we don't think it's going to bring to the American people.

When he was elected, there was a feeling in France that everybody was excited in the US. But after a while, have you seen any real changes?

The only thing I've seen is people being way more open about being basically racist. Because there is so many anti-Obama. You wonder why they hate this guy so much, what has he really done to deserve that much hate. You have to think that all this hatred that is thrown at him is based on racism. So a lot of American people are showing their true colours and how ugly they can really be.

We've heard that he is working on the healthcare system, to change it. Is it going to be difficult to move things?

I think that the problem in America is that the corporations dictate what the government does. It's always been the case I guess. Wars are started just that corporation can make money, have what they want. At least the American companies. It's like the imperialism, American companies grabbing what they want using the military. And somehow the government is manipulated by the corporation, and then the people are manipulated by the government to believe that all the stuff that's happening benefits them somehow. But in reality all it is helping to do is live a certain lifestyle, you know, drive your big ass gasoline car and don't worry about it. They want people to have that consumerist mentality where they think that they can leave way out of their means. They false idea of what Americans should live like.

So you said that nothing has changed. But during your travels around the world, have you notice a difference in how people see the Americans after this election?

This is the one time that America get like a good feeling. Because before you would never see in foreign countries t-shirts with the face of an American president on it. But now he's so marketable, and the fact that it's a race issue too, a lot of country see him as a boost for their ethnic group. Ethnicly it makes people feel a little bit proud. And it is a pretty cool thing. I was ready for Jessy Jackson back in the early eighties to become president. I thought he was really cool, almost thirty years ago.

Don't you think it's like in the show business? In front everything is beautiful but behind the scene nothing ever changes?

I don't see things are going to change. The fact America is based on a two party system is what the problem is. Because no matter who the bigger head is, of either party, they still have the control over whatever happens. If there is no better chance for at least a third party to get in there, and challenge those two, then unfortunately there is always going to be this way. That's why I always vote independent. I always want to see a third party make some kind of challenge. But the democrats and the republicans dominate the political situation so much, because they have so much more money to do whatever they like, and they control the media. So it's really difficult for a third party to really make an impact.

About the new album, who produced this album?

Tu Madsen, the same guy who did our last record death To Tyrants. But this time we wet to him, instead of flying him to New York. So we went to Denmark and recorded in Copenhagen. It was just a few blocks away where Metallica recorded Master of Puppets and Ride the Lightning. We were just hoping that some of that would rub up our mess (big lough).

In which way it was better for you to go there instead of making him come to New York?

Well it was a benefit to our pockets! It ended up being cheaper. When he works in his own country he doesn't charge as much. It all worked out moneywise. Otherwise we would have better stayed in NY because I would rather see my family every night, but instead, I spend 3 weeks in Denmark.

You choose the same guy because you like the sound of the previous album?

Of course for the sound! He understands what to do with hardcore. I can't just say Sick of It All, but every hardcore band I've heard him mix he does a great job, he gets that that punch that the music needs. I don't know what he did but there is a big difference compare to anybody that we worked with.

What are your plans for the new months?

We have to wait until the album comes out. It's kind of tough because the other tour that we have is a UK support tour for AFI. That would be interesting to see how the AFI audience deals with us. Because playing with them in the states is like hit & miss. Some nights are really good, some nights the audience just look at us like we re from another planet. It'll be interested, but at least we get to play in front of Hugh crowds. And hopefully win over some new fans. Just trying to push ourselves a little bit further than just the hardcore audience.

And when is the album coming out?

April 20th right now. That's what is on the label itinerary. But we'll see. It depends, we haven't seen the artwork right now. So if there is any kind of trouble, we may have to consider a may release. But hopefully everything will go fine!!!

Have you heard the final product?

Yeah, it's all mastered. It sounds really good, really powerful, aggressive. I think if you liked Death to Tyrants you are going to love this one. I think it is a more consistent record.

So it's going to be out for you to play some summer festivals. You're going to be at the Hellfest, but are you going to do some other dates in France?

We are thinking about doing a headlining tour in the fall. We're not sure who will be opening yet. I have a feeling it is either we do a tour in the fall or wait or do the Persistence Tour again. I don't know, what do you guys think? What should we do?

You should do both of course !!! The Persistence tour is great because it brings more people, but it's only one date in Paris compare to a whole headlining tour in France.

Our booking agent, MAD is German and is in charge of the Persistence Tour. Maybe he doesn't feel the deals are strong enough or whatever. That's another reason. What if there are no other French dates again. Obviously in that case it would be better for us to do our own headlining tour. We love to play dates in France, we love to play Spain, those are places we do not play on the Persistence Tour. It's basically just Germany and Benelux. That's the big discuss right now. But if we do the headlining tour, it would be September or November, something like that.

So I guess we'll wait for the album, then the Hellfest and we'll see…

Yes. When you release a record it's like a whole new thing starts. There are so many countries that we have to go back to now. We opened up the eastern European market as well on Death to Tyrants. We are going to be expected to go back to Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, and Greece, places that we played for the first time on the previous record. We'll have to follow up on that. That is usually a separate tour than the rest of Europe because otherwise we'll be over here for more than 2 month and nobody wants that. And we have to tour the states too. So we need to make it all work. It's going to be busy! But we've done it before. This is the life we made for ourselves. The travel is tough. Even when we were younger, and now I'm a family man, I have a wife and 2 kids. Lou is expecting a baby in May. That's going to play into the summer touring. He doesn't want to travel all that much, he wants to do just some quite things here and there, so that he could be at home and help his wife with the new born.

When you grow older, it should be more difficult to tour with all the engagement to your family?

Yes it is. At least with me, both my parents retired now. They no longer work. So before it was difficult, cause if I was away on tour, it was just my wife, and now she's working. So now my parents help out, and having that helps incredibly.

Good luck for your album and your touring, and thank you for your time!!!

Interview Pierre & O.S.
Translation Pierre

Copyright Hammerock - Spiritribe 1999