Agnostic Front: "Our Music Has Always Been Aggressive and Ugly. We're The Ugly People."
For over 25 years, Roger Miret has been the rough-hewed mouthpiece for New York's Agnostic Front. In that time, his band has become one of the landmark hardcore/metal outfits, releasing hyper-aggressive slabs of animosity that just seem to keep getting better with time.
My Life My Way, Agnostic Front's tenth studio effort, came out this past March and the music was as destructive as ever. On songs like "Us Against the World" and "Until the Day I Die" the 46-year-old Miret sounds as angry as he did back in the '80s.
Speaking from a recent tour stop and in anticipation of Agnostic Front's performance at Trees on Sunday, Miret was kind enough to talk with DC9 about punk, metal and the pros and cons of going to jail.
Are there still a lot of skinheads at the shows or are the bald people who come out just aging and losing their hair?
Whoever comes to the show is there to have a good time. The people have gotten older, but there are definitely some old skinheads and newer skinheads along with the metal heads and punk kids, too. There is always a very diverse crowd and it's always a good show, especially in Dallas.
The new album, My Life My Way, is as powerful as anything the band released back in the 80's. How have you maintained that intensity?
We're like a good wine that gets better with age. We are just genuine people. This has been a passion for all the guys in the band. We like to know what's going on in the world. We like to stay connected. It just comes natural to us. That's just the way it goes.
In your new song "Us Against the World," who are you referring to?
Us is still us. When you travel the world and see starving people in third world countries, people who are repressed, you get pissed off. In that sense, us is me. I've always felt that it has been me, my guys and what we do against the world. It will always be that way. Society doesn't accept us. It never really has. We were always doing really aggressive hardcore, never anything related to that soft stuff. Our music has always been aggressive and ugly. We're the ugly people. Here we are.
Is "A Mi Minera" your first all Spanish song?
I always wanted to do a song all in Spanish. Years ago, in 1998, we did some songs in Spanish as B-sides. Those ended up on a European edition of our album Something's Gotta Give. We visited South America and it got me thinking about doing more songs in Spanish.
Is it a fun song to play live?
Yes, it is. Especially in Texas. It can be amazing.
The band broke up in 1992. Why reform in 1997?
We never really broke up. We just took a break. I'm a father and I felt like I needed to spend more time with my daughter. During that time, I became better at what I do. I became a better technician. When I knew it was time, I got together with [guitarist] Vinnie [Stigma] and it sounded right.
In the '80s, the band's sound grew more metallic. Why did many hardcore bands go metal at that time?
I don't think anybody really turned any particular way. We were always into super-aggressive music. There were some bands that were getting softer and we didn't want to do that. We share being aggressive with bands like Slayer. It was the best way to stay powerful.
How sad were you when CBGB's closed?
It was hard. That place was legendary for underground music in general. It was at the core for so many bands. It was a shame it closed.
Your music and attitude have always been angry. How have you managed to stay pissed off for three decades?
Well, I've calmed down a bit. I am a father with three children. I am very happy with my family and my children. But there still is a lot of bad shit going on. You see it every day. Put on the god damn news and it will piss anyone off. Stop watching MTV and those reality bullshit shows. Those shows are designed to keep you away from what's really going on. The real issues will piss everyone off.
Why do you think 1984's Victim in Pain is regarded as such a classic hardcore record?
Because it is a classic. When that album got reissued, the Village Voice did this big article on what an important record that was. I think that record changed the New York hardcore scene.
Over the years, 15 musicians have come and gone from the band. Is that just a byproduct of being around so long?
People leave for different reasons. They are going through different courses in life, having children. Being in a band is a hard life. I lived in a squat for a long time, lived hard in New York City. Once you start having children and stuff, it's tough to go back to such a crazy lifestyle.
How did your time in prison change you?
Well, that was awesome. Our record called One Voice, that whole thing was written while I was in prison. Those songs told the story of my life. That was pretty damn cool for that reason. I had lived in New York; I could handle prison. What was bad was seeing my child crying. That helped straighten my ass out. But, if you're a man that can stand up for yourself, you won't have trouble inside.