Gears of Rock

The Rock 'N Roll Sanctuary


Interview with Armand Majidi of Sick of It All

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

By Metal Israel
Contributing Writer

“I think the combination of government and religion is something that can only lead to war - in any part of the planet. The so-called ‘holy lands’ are obviously the most volatile part of the world to start a country based on this idea. What can I say? If governments based on religion have to exist, I hope that the voices of moderation can eventually be the loudest. I can’t envision peace in the middle east unless people are truly willing to look past their religious differences, which is even harder than asking people to look past racial differences. That’s such a tall order, because big organized religions are based on the idea that all other belief systems are inferior and don’t deserve to exist.”
-Armand Majidi

Here is the entire interview with drummer Armand Majidi from NY legends, Sick of It All.

Metal Israel: I’m from NYC, I know you if I hear you but I’m not like, the most knowledgeable or biggest fan (though Us Vs. Them is a song I live by).
What I do know, besides the fact that your music is hell of a lot of fun, is you guys are the godfathers of NYHC and that you always write things about honor, friendship, sticking together and having respect, so I think highly of you. What makes you want to write about these topics?

Armand Majidi: Thanks. I’m glad you recognize that fun is such a big part of it. We’ve always thought to use whatever voice we have to be used for positive influence in peoples lives. Even when we touch on negative subjects, we hope that people can relate to the words and use them as something cathartic, so some good can come from it. Hardcore is supposed to be like therapy for people that are frustrated with the world they live in. If it’s only used to spread a violent, negative message then it’s self-destructive and pointless.

MI: You guys have a long career dating back to the 80s, when there was a really cohesive NYHC [New York Hardcore] scene. I have this whole idealistic thing like for the most part everyone was friends in the scene and that helped each band in their career. Is that true?

AM: The NY scene was great back in the day because it was such a community. There were always some petty personal beefs in the scene that shouldn’t be ignored, but overall, we can look back at it as a time when this music flourished. Shows were social events as much as they were about the music.

MI: Do you ever see parallels of the NYHC scene in other countries?

AM: It’s always great to come across a music scene that’s thriving, and any time I see one it reminds me of how NY used to be, but musical innovation is such an important part of making that scene’s mark on history. A scene that’s just trying to imitate another city’s musical style won’t have much success.

MI: You’ve practiced what you preached since you started your career - have you ever lost out because of it?

AM: We’ve had the luck of having a combination of credibility (by giving our all at our shows and sticking to our guns on issues) and marketability (the dragon logo and being from New York,) which has given us the longevity we’ve enjoyed. We could have put on masks or costumes and pretended to be something we’re not, but we prefer to represent ourselves exactly as we are on stage as well as off. It’s a hard sell sometimes, because we’re regular guys, but it’s definitely more rewarding when people like the band for the reason that we do keep it real.

MI: I notice from the lyrics on Death To Tyrants (2006) that on one hand you guys are against the war in Iraq but on the other, you seem to deem it necessary. On “Forked Tongue” you’re very clear in your enmity towards Islamic extremism, so you know you have to fight it, but on the other hand it seems like you blame the government for the war. So I’m kinda confused. .. you wanna elaborate?

AM: Congratulations - you’re the first person to acknowledge what "Forked Tongue" is about! The album has been out for 2 years and no one has mentioned that before! Crazy. I figured it would be more controversial. Anyway, let me start by saying that war in any form isn’t something SOIA supports. It’s the single most terrible thing people can do to each other. The war in Iraq especially doesn’t enter into this discussion, because it’s a war for rich imperialist energy tycoons to become richer, not a war against terrorism or Islam. The lyric “silence the forked tongue” doesn’t mean to drop bombs on people unfortunate to only have radical Islamist schools to attend - I would hope there would be a better way to silence it, like offering other, more enlightening education. A fraction of the money spent on these wars, if used to improve schooling, could help the entire Middle East improve and move its people out of poverty and despondency. But unfortunately, rather than improving an area in hopes of a better future and better relations between cultures, war is a quicker way to earn big profits. "Forked Tongue" is about the sad effect a hateful philosophy can have on people, and the horrible things it can lead them to do - but then, any philosophy that teaches intolerance, coupled with elitist religious ideals should be silenced, and that applies to more than just the Islamist world.

MI: Do you guys have people out in Iraq?

AM: Pete’s wife has a brother in the Marines who has had the misfortune of serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. We’ve met a lot of our fans who have done tours there as well, with the horror stories to prove it. We had some very close friends in the first Iraq war, which seems like ancient history now. The American military is such a confusing issue. You always want to offer your support to people that put their lives on the line for you, but when they’re being used for such an obviously selfish cause by powers greater than the military itself, that support turns into something else. I really just feel bad for our people out there who are asked to do the bidding of the greedy, evil-minded corporations that have hijacked American foreign policy.

MI: What do you think about the situation in Israel?

AM: I think the combination of government and religion is something that can only lead to war - in any part of the planet. The so-called ‘holy lands’ are obviously the most volatile part of the world to start a country based on this idea. What can I say? If governments based on religion have to exist, I hope that the voices of moderation can eventually be the loudest. I can’t envision peace in the middle east unless people are truly willing to look past their religious differences, which is even harder than asking people to look past racial differences. That’s such a tall order, because big organized religions are based on the idea that all other belief systems are inferior and don’t deserve to exist.

MI: Have you ever heard any Israeli bands?

AM: Not yet. I hope they offer a new take on hardcore punk that we haven’t heard before.

MI: Are there any plans to record something new?

AM: Yeah, we’re getting ready to start writing the next record after we finish up our touring in August. We all have material we’ve been working on, so hopefully the next album should be ready by summer 2009.

Unfortunately, the upcoming Sick of It All shows in Israel have been canceled. You can read the preview that would have gone in the Jerusalem Post here.

Check out the classic Sick of It All video, "Step Down."

The Gears of Rock thanks Metal Israel for this exclusive interview.

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Interview with Billy Graziadei of Biohazard

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

 


By Metal Israel
Contributing Writer

Billy Graziadei gives the rundown of what’s up with the Biohazard reunion tour, Suicide City and his take on the music industry….

Metal Israel: Well, first question on my mind, is there a snowball’s chance in hell you would come to Israel on this reunion tour?

Billy Graziadei: I would LOVE to come to Israal…I think there’s a huge possibility, especially since we all had a great time there!

MI: Back when I interviewed you a year or two ago, you were basically like, well, it’s time to move on from Biohazard… what made you guys decide to get back together for the reunion tour?

BG: I was over doing Biohazard and moved onto Suicide City in 2004. I achieved everything I wanted to with Biohazard and wanted to move on, but that was with Biohazard as it was. I always missed the old days with Bobby and when the reunion
idea came up with it being our 20th year anniversary, I was really into jamming with the old crew again!!

MI: Is it a permanent reunion?

BG: For me, I love what I’ve done (Biohazard) and I love what I am doing with Suicide City. Our plans are to play some shows together and have a great time!

MI: Are there any plans to write new material?

BG: I’m working on the new Suicide City album right now.

MI: Obviously there have been severe changes in the music industry since you guys started 20 years ago, especially with the downloading issue and the fact that record companies aren’t signing bands as much. Do you think there have been any positive changes or even just existing conditions in the industry today that may you know, help Biohazard get things going again?

BG: Yes, record and release your own music on your own!

MI: Please explain the whole DFL mentality as you would to someone who never heard of you.

BG: Down For Life, meaning that you are friends for life!

MI: Why do you think Biohazard has stayed the course these past two decades? I mean, obviously you still have a big enough fan base to make it worth it to you on a financial level to do this tour. Why do you think people still care about Biohazard?

BG: All I know is that I love what I did with Biohazard and love playing shows….never really cared if people liked or disliked us, just that I liked it!

MI: This question arises from the fact that in Israel, there are a few bands that don’t want to play in bars. Several reasons I’ve heard is that they don’t want the small crowd sitting on their ass that bars usually provide, the sound sucks or that they don’t want people to get sick of them from playing too much. Especially coming from the Brooklyn scene I saw that if a band is more down-to-earth and plays whenever and wherever they can, it makes a fan feel more connected with the band and it’s a way to engender that diehard fan relationship Biohazard enjoys with a lot of its fans. What do you feel about the issue?

BG: With Suicide City, we love playing the bars/small clubs, the bigger shows always rock but there something more personal about a small club show that ROCKS!!! I learned this back in the day with Biohazard! Thanx for the time and support!

The Gears of Rock thanks Metal Israel for this exclusive interview.

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