Sick Of It All Interview

This interview was made in Sélestat the 4th of august 2006.
O.S and Manu have met Lou Koller, the singer.


So, you’re actually on tour...
... Yeah this is the first show. We just did South America a week ago. We did 3 shows in Brazil, 1 in Argentina, 1 in Chile, and 1 in Columbia. We had about 7 days off, and we came right over here.

How was the tour there?
Ah, it was crazy! The last time we were in South America was, like, 8 years ago. Brazil was insane, Argentina is one of our best places to play, down there, and we went to Chile and Columbia for the first time, which was fucking amazing, it was just out of control.

So they were waiting for you, there?
Yeah, it was like being in a zombie movie. We were walking into the venue, and there was a huge crowd of people. They see you, and swarm round you. It’s pretty scary.

We see on the Internet that in Brazil, and in South America, Hardcore is
becoming more popular.
Oh yeah. We were there about 8 or 10 years ago, it was very popular, and then it started to die out, but now it’s on the upswing again. They’ve always had their scenes, but they’re saying it’s getting bigger now.

You played with some local bands there?
Yeah, that’s all we played with, but I can’t pronounce the names. We played with so many, there were so many good ones, it’s insane.

You’ve just released “Death To Tyrants”. How was the response from the fans and the media?
Fans, it’s been great. And the media too, which has been good. It’s weird, with all the ones we put out on Fat, the critics usually love them, but our fans, for some reason, it was always a mixed response. Some of them really loved it; some of them didn’t like the fact it was on Fat Wreck Chords. Then we finally left Fat, and now we’re on Century Media here, everybody seems to really love the direction we took with “Death To Tyrants”, which was more back to basics. We took what we learned over the years, experimenting and just put it to our original sound. We came up with what we felt was a very strong record. We wanted it to be a very strong record because it was coming out this year, on our 20th anniversary.

Yeah, we also think “Death To Tyrants” is the strongest SOIA album, we think it’s catchy and the songs are interesting, and the lyrics have a stronger message than perhaps, those on “Life On the Ropes”. Is this album ‘the roots’ of SOIA?
Yeah, like I said, we took what we learned, experimenting all these years, and we wanted to get back to straight hardcore. We just mixed it all together, and we’re really proud of it.

On the booklet of the record, we read some thoughts from Herbert Marshall
McLuhan, and William Lloyd Garrison. Can you tell us more about them, and this message?
The thing is, we only knew certain quotes from these people. I don’t know the whole history about them. I knew this question was going to come up and I kept telling myself ‘ I should read up more about these guys’. And I never did. We just wanted strong statements about against tyranny, and we had tons of quotes from famous figures all through history and we just liked the way they stood out to us.

The name of the record, is it dedicated to George Bush?
Anybody could apply it to where they live. We just wanted to make a strong statement: it’s time for a change. We’re not calling for people to go and kill the president, or whoever their leader is. It’s more trying to change it. I think, finally, now, people in America, are starting to see how much the administration there is out for themselves, they don’t give a shit about the people.

Can you tell us more about the lyrics?
It all came very political, this time. We’ve always had political songs, but it was just what we’ve been feeling for the last few years. It all just came out on this record. It’s like a call to wake people up. We wrote it from our perspective, living in the United States, but again, most people could apply it to their lives anywhere. On this record, the message is more clear.
We’ll wait and see what the next one’s like. The next one’ll be really brutal.

And you decided to work with Tue Madsen this time. Why did you want to work with him?
We were looking to get a really good producer. It was going to be the guy Zeuss who’s worked with Hatebreed, Madball, and I think he did the new Terror. He wanted to work with us, and we were thinking about it, but the timing wasn’t right. He was very busy when we had time, and when he wanted to work with us; we were going to be on tour. But Tue Madsen who, we loved his work like The Haunted, Born From Pain, and others, and we liked his sound. He approached us and was saying that he wanted to work with us too. He would show up at our shows in Europe, just to check out what we were like live. He said, “Whenever
you need me, I’ll drop what I’m doing, and fly to the States”. So we used him. We hit it off as friends, and I think he did a great job. And we’re talking about doing the next record, too.

So do you think it sounds a bit more, “metal”?
Yeah. It gave us what we needed to make the sound thicker, beefier. We tried to do it on our own on “Life On The Ropes”. It just came out muddy. I don’t like the sound, but the songs I love. But the sound is not too good. Let’s see what happens on the next record. We now have a clear idea with what we did on “Death To Tyrants”. Now we have to take it a step further.

As you said, you moved from Fat Wreck to Abacus/Century this time. Why did you choose them?
We’ve been sitting at Fat for the last 6 or 7 years, and they’ve treated us well, they’ve paid us well, and they’re really cool people to work with, but they didn’t know how to keep in touch with the hardcore scene. We were losing touch with that. And we were getting complacent. There was no fire, no spark, and we really needed to make a change for ourselves to get excited again. On Fat, it got so easy to sit back. “Do you want to make a record? Here’s a bunch of money. Do what you want”. And we got paid really well with royalties, but it didn’t make us excited. We wanted a change. Abacus was just starting out. And we liked some of the bands on there, and some of their ideas. We knew we’d be working with Century Media in Europe. That’s something we’ve always thought about. It all came together at the right time.

They have Ignite, Backyard Babies, a lot of different styles...
Sworn Enemy. It’s a good mix of bands

You wanted to feel that you had a new beginning?
Yeah. I think it shows on the record, how we were excited about writing.

You keep going for 20 years!

On the song “Forked Tongue”, Freddy from Madball guests. Can you tell us the story behind this?
For us, Madball is our favourite hardcore band. When Madball started, it was funny, when they played, you’d get guys from H2O, 25 Ta Life on stage, and me and Pete would be in the pit, when I used to dance. I’m too old now. But when Madball played, me and Pete were the first ones in the pit, going crazy, having fun. Sure, everyone else was on the stage, being cool; we were in the fucking pit. Madball is our favourite hardcore band.
We always wanted to do something with Freddy, and he was on tour on the time, but we lucked out. They were playing New York the next night, they had a day off. Freddy came to the studio. His wife was sick, he only had one day off in New York, but he still came, did the track, we all hung out, had a good time and the next night, we went to see Madball. It worked out perfect.

And you are touring with Madball very soon?
Yeah, in November and December, I think we’re doing a tour together.

But no shows in France, it seems that there’s a problem, there’s no French promoter for the Tour from MAD Booking...
We started out with MAD years ago, like from ’92 to ’95, ’96. Then we left MAD, and tried a lot of booking agents. Nearly as many as we’ve had labels. But with MAD, we know they have some problems, but it’s like a family thing. We know there’s problems, and mistakes, we give them the benefit of the doubt. We grew up together in the scene.

There’s a lot of demand for your shows right now.
We haven’t done a club tour on the new record, we’ve only been over here playing festivals. So in November, that’s why we’re coming to France, even without Madball. I would love it if Madball could do it. That would be great.

Have you toured with Madball before?
We’ve done shows, but never a full tour, which is odd, really. I wish there was more shows. There’s only 8 or 10 shows with Madball.

Last time we were with Freddy, we asked him about New York bands. He said : “One of the most important band that comes from New-York, next to Agnostic Front and bands like that. They definatly help to put New-York on the map and definatly one of the most representative of New-York Hardcore, of the New-York Hardcore imperium. They became a legendary band, definatly a band that I apreciate a lot, and definatly help to carry the touch for hardcore along with bands like Agnostic Front, and now ourselves etc, etc... If you're in hardcore and you don't know Sick of It All, you have problems”
Wow! That’s nice! That’s great! “If you don’t know SOIA, you’ have problems”! (Laugh) That’s very nice, I’m flattered!

Maybe you’ll guest in their next album...
I hope so. I’d love to. That’d be fucking amazing! I thought their last record “Legacy” was a great, amazing record. I hope it does really well for them. They’re doing really well in the States. They’ve been playing a lot of shows with metal bands, so it’s getting their audience bigger. That’s something we used to do, but haven’t done in a while. We have a weird situation. We’re a big enough name, but we don’t draw a lot of people from outside the hardcore scene in America anymore. We still get a few metal people coming, but to go on tour, they’d want to put us on as the first band of the show. We could do that, but would we reach the audience we want to reach? We want to expand. A lot of the metal bands don’t like to take out hardcore bands because hardcore bands live are much more exciting. On stage, there’s more movement. Look at say Lamb of God. Great band, great music, not much stage presence, they just shake their heads, and the singer stands still. You put someone like Madball or SOIA on stage opening up, a lot of bands are afraid to go on after us. Like Rancid, who are really good friends of ours, we’ve heard from them, we really hate coming on after you guys, we really have to work hard!

How do you explain the rise of the hardcore scene, and you and Madball made the best albums again?
We had to! There’s a lot of young bands coming up! We had to show everyone we were still on top. It’s hard, some of these young bands come up, and it’s like, “Holy shit! That’s some good stuff!” From all over the world. When we were in South America I can’t remember how to pronounce it. It’s a band called Hatred, but in Portuguese. They’re a fucking good band. They had a little metallic side, but mostly hardcore, and they mixed it together really well, it was original. I was like”wow, these guys are good!”. We were in Bulgaria at the start of the summer, I can’t remember the name of the bands there, but again, a good new generation of bands. Hopefully they can tour outside of Eastern Europe, get to Germany and France, and everyone can get to see them.

Are you tired with all the touring and making records?
We took a long time off to sit and write, “Death to Tyrants” so now we’re excited to be on the road again. After “Scratch the Surface”, and “Built to Last” and some of those records, we’d tour for 11 months out of the year. You just wanted to go home. Now we do it smarter. We tour for a month, and take a few weeks off. We did mostly festivals, so we’d fly to Germany and do 2 weeks, and then go home for 3 weeks, and then we flew to South America for a week, then home for a week. Now we’re here for a month. You’ve got to break it up.

Of course you know Sob from Merauder. Do you have a funny story to tell us that happened him ?
We knew him for years, we grew up with him. I just remember watching him grow up over the years, growing his hair long. He was always fun, always smiling, that’s what I remember.

Is it special, playing with Agnostic Front today?
Yeah! It’s all exciting, we get to see our friends, we haven’t seen for a while. We did a tour in the States with Hatebreed, Agnostic Front and Madball, and Chimaira, the metal band. It was fun for us to be on the road with them all.

Have you heard the new Hatebreed record?
No I haven’t, and I’ve only heard one off the new Terror record. But I liked it. I haven’t heard anything from Hatebreed. I know they had a single out, “To The Threshold” but I haven’t heard it yet.

It’s very good. Have you heard the Icepick record?
They were meant to come on this tour with us, but Jamey had to do something with Hatebreed, so he couldn’t do it. I would have loved that, that would have been fun. Ezec told MAD he wanted to ride on the bus with SOIA. He used to be a roadie with us, on his first tour as one of our roadies in 93. We took him across the States, it was fun!

Interview O.S. & Manu
Translation Mike Winter

Copyright Hammerock - Spiritribe 1999