Sick Of It All Interview
This interview was made in London as the band are in European Tour 2004. Ben have met the guitar player Pete.
How is going this new European tour?
It has been great so far. We have played I think seven shows and all of them were sold out. It is going really good

Will you go in Japan and South America?
I am not sure when but we definitively want to. After this tour, we will go to New Zealand, Australia and do the United States again. Then we will come back here for spring and summer festivals.

"Life on the Ropes" reties with "Built to last" and "Call to Arm". It has the ardour of the HxC Old School and the power of current sound. How do you define this new record?
Hum, I think we just wanted to try to capture more of our live energy. It sounds really good. All our previous album were very sound produced what we didn't want to do on this. And it's cheaper which is even better (Laughs).

What does the "Life on the ropes" artwork means for you?
If you look at the cover, there are those characters: a drug monster, a religion monster, a government monster and all those other shit. It's like pressure on people or the innocence of the world being attacked by every moment by all this things.
"Life on the Ropes" means boxing. When you are on the rope where all the shit comes at you, you have to learn how to fight!

Lou's lyrics are about lies and power. Did he find his inspiration from all the stories related to worldwide companies who rigged their financial balances and abused of their power?
Oh yeah, obviously. And from the government shit too. It's like "How Bush became president?" Everything was heaven and it was like "OK, here is the new president". No one even knows how that happened! I guess his family was richer than the other guy's one. That's all depend of who has the more money, and it's pretty much everywhere. Who can make the richer richer. That's all about that actually

What is for you the most change in this new album?
It is more aggressive. When I was writing the songs, I was like what going to make me dance in the pit. I went to several concerts and I was like "yeah, this riff rules!" And when I get back home, I tried to do even better.

Do you feel angrier?
Hum, as usual I would say. We have tuned the instruments down what makes a
sicker sound.

Are you satisfied of the result? Would you change something if you had the possibility?
I am very satisfied. But since we have played several lives, I play things differently.
I wish I could go back and do some few guitar, add some parts … It is like that with every album! But you can't! (Laughs)

About "Live in the Dive", at the end of the cartoon inside the CD book, is "To be continued…" seems that it would be a second part of The Medallion of the Mighty Dragon story?
We would like to do another comic but we don't know when, probably with the next record. The guy who did the artwork on "Life on the rope" did that too.

Will it be on another live album?
Oh, I don't know. Probably before. But we definitively want to do another live album, but in a couple of years.

A while back you switched labels to be on Fat Wreck Cords, and it was somewhat controversial. What prompted that decision?
We were on a major label when "Scratch the surface" came out. Things were going great in Europe and kind of suck in America. And when "Built to Last" came out, it was completely the opposite: pretty good in America and absolutely sucked in Europe. The metal division of the major really sucked this year. During the same year, a Pantera and an AC/DC album came out, and nobody knew it! We came in Europe,
and it was weird: we opened in front of 17 000 people the Dynamo festival and we first played a song of our new record. But nobody knew it and the album was out since five months. We were like "What a fuck!" At the end of our contract, they asked us if we wanted to stay with us and we said no. It was like a mutual thing. And after that, a couple of independents and majors were looking at us. We met Fat Mike in a couple of summer festivals in Europe, and one day he told us "you guys are off of labels, you can come with us". He gave us a better deal. And when we have a problem, it's not like in huge company because we only have to call Mike on his cell phone.

Would you say from experience that independents labels are better than major labels?
It all depends. Certain things are good about majors like tour support, when they advance you the money. Be sure you always have to pay everything back! And in independent label, it is like "we going to use this money in advertising instead"

After twenty years of music, what does SOIA means for you?
It' my entire life, what I ever ever wanted to do!

What was your motivation for playing hardcore at the beginning of SOIA?
We were pretty much the outcastes at school and every Sunday, the only thing we have to do was to go to the CBD and see all the hardcore bands and guys like us. Seeing bands first in the pit dancing and after on stage playing, like there is no separation between the bands and the crowd. It wasn't like Hollywood's shit like a movie star or all those guys whoa are in a band and act like movie stars. Fuck that! Like a lot of stuff in America, like the rap artists. The sing about being gangsters, but they are actually movie stars, they are living in Hollywood, and they are millionaires and not gangsters. But the kids who listen to those people will go out, hurt people and get in troubles.

How do you explain the longevity of SOIA?
I think because this is what we ever wanted to do. We have always loved aggressive music. We write to please ourselves and the people who like the same style as us. When a new trend comes out, we don't say "we're going to do stuff like that now", because changing your style every single month suck! So many bands do that now, like wearing make up one week and not the other one! I hope they feel stupid when they look at us in magazine and realize that they act like shit! I think our longevity comes from that we are true in what we do. If you want to talk with me, you only have to come and talk! We are not from the hype motherfuckers who are hiding in their hotels. Just knock at the door of our freezing tour bus! (Laughs)

What are the band's projects nowadays?
After the tour, we will have few weeks off and then we will go in New Zealand and come back to Europe for summer festivals.

Isn't it sometimes hard to live 24h a day with its brother?
Oh no!! When we are not on tour, we go to the gym together, go to each other home…

How would you define the hardcore you play?
New York Style. Between the coasts, the east coast is more minor and aggressive.
I think it comes from the weather, it is always sunny there. New York is always shitty, always too hot or too cold. (Laughs)

How do you feel, if kids call you founding fathers of hardcore?
They can, but many bands came before: Agnostic Front, Murphys Law, Bas Brains … Our goals was to bring our music all around the world, where hardcore bands have never been before.

What do you think of actual hardcore bands?
I think it's great, because they have a different style. The people who get in hardcore through Hatebreed should always go to see where the roots are! Many persons who like new hardcore bands have never listen to Agnostic Front, Madball or us! It's strange!

What are your favourite up and coming bands in the hardcore industry?
Definitively, Most Precious Blood. We are taking the road with us every time we can. My wife's band, a 100% girl hardcore band called Schyzonesian. A great band too.

You have travelled all around the world with SOIA. How the hardcore scene has evolved in all the countries you have visited?
It's actually pretty good; of course much bigger than when we first start to tour.
In Europe, it's so much bigger than in America. It's kind of like depressing in America!!! We've toured from New York down to Florida, it was really shitty!
The best show was the New York show, and in the other cities, it was crap! This is probably because so many kids are influenced by MTV: they only know bands that are on TV. Us guys are more "The Doors are dead guys, and I can go to the city and see Agnostic Front.!" We all prefer dive off the stage and go nuts! Kids are told what to like now, and it changes every ten minutes!

As a New Yorker, what did you fell when you saw the twin towers fall?
Wow, it was the most horrible things ever. We were in Tokyo in tour with AFI during few days. We tried to cancel the tour but no flights were going back to America.
So we did the three shows tour and flew home on the 13th. We flew over the city and I live one mile away from the tower. It was horrible. The weeks before, in the news it was like "it's going on better here …" and it happened! The worst thing ever! I still can't see it on TV: when it comes on, I just change the channel or look away.

Since those events, does the N.Y. City way of life change?
It did first but now everything is back to the same old shit! It's a little more secure, more cops.

The Presidential elections are in few months. What do you wish and hope for your country for the next 4 years?
(Laughs). I don't know because it is so hard to judge, we don't really know this people. They come from rich family and I don't want to know them. Power and money are driving their lives! I don't know, we have to wait and see.

What do you think of the Bush's politics inside and outside the USA?
It's completely wrong! All his efforts are for rich people and his family.

Now it's time for a stupid questionnaire we all love in France (Pete laughs)

Questionnaire of Pivot :

What is your favourite word? Love
What is the word you hate? (Laughs), Hum, this question!! No, interview!
What turns you on creatively? I really don't know, just music I think, other music.
What turns you on spiritually? Love (Laughs)
What turns you on emotionally? My wife, she drives me nuts! Nut I love her
What turns you off? Close minded people
What sound do you love? My guitar
What sound do you hate? My guitar when is not working
What is your favourite place on earth? That' a good one! The City (New York)
And the one you hate? I don't know if it's a place, it's being on a plane. I really hate that, I can't stand it! Laughs)
Which persons influenced you the most during your life?
My parents. Lou and I always get in trouble, but the kept us out of serious shit.
Who were your heroes when you were a kid?
Before music, I was really into soccer. My favourite players were Franz Beckenbauer and Pele. When music happened, it was a lot of bands like Black Sabbath.
Which person dead or alive, do you wish to meet?
Hum, Bruce Lee! Because he is a guy who has been focused on his life work.
He is now a legend because of it.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
It would be in the music industry showing bands things not to do.
What profession would you not like to do? All the office work.
If Heaven exists, what would you like God to say when you will arrive at the Pearly Gates? Welcome, come on in!

How do you do to be so energetic on stage and play in tune?
I tried to play in tune, but if you listen carefully, I'm not always in tune (Laughs). Last night, I was out of tune for a couple of songs.

Do you have something to say to the young generation?
Do everything at 100%

How did you come to tattoo?
When I was a little kid, there was all those bikers on TV and I was "Wow, they look cool"! As soon as I get one, I just wanted more and more! I love the way it looks! And it's a part of the hardcore style.

Which one is your first one?
It's a skull and a dragon on my chest.

Among all your tattoos, which one do you prefer and Why?
The demon's head on my elbow. It is so colourful. It looks really good!

Which one is the last one?
My last one? Oh, it's a coloured skull on my other elbow.

Do you have an idea for the next one?
I would like to finish this one first (Pete speaks about his elbow) and add a blue rose and a red spider web.

Is there a tattooist's works that impress you?
The guy who did this elbow, his name is Jime. He is from Electric Superstition Tattoo in Detroit He is really colourful. He did many other things like my wife's portrait in cartoon at the back of my arm. He is a very nice guy!

For you, what's the importance of tattoo in the rock's spirit?
You don't really need! Like he rest of the band! Lou has two very very little tattoo. It's a personal thing and it's not really important.

What do you think about the new rise of tattoo?
Everybody have a tribal tattoo in America, and all the girls have one near the belly button or on the lower back! That's cool if it's something you get because you want. But if it's because it's a trend, you are stuck with it forever! We see kids who get their first tattoo on the neck! How are they supposed to live with this? Think first!

Do you have a message for kids who want to be tattooed?
They should definitively think first, don't get what somebody else has instead of a symbol. Don't something on your hands or neck first! Do something you love, you have created ...

How do you react when you meet somebody with a Sick Of It All tattoo?
It's great! Last night, there were four guys very close to the stage with the dragon on the fore-arms. This is cool! The band we created, some of the fans have the symbol tattooed!

See Pete tattoos there !!!!

Interview & Translation Ben

Copyright Hammerock - Spiritribe 1999