Maintaining the status as the godfathers of New York hardcore has been something the members of Agnostic Front have held very highly over time. For over 35 years, they have created the mold for a form of music that became more of a lifestyle than a genre.
Their latest album The American Dream Died keeps the flag for this music alive, and is felt all over this release. They have managed to create new music while maintaining themes reflective of current times, which frontman Roger Miret uses songs as a commentary on things he sees in the world.
“You know the thing with us is we’re constant, we’re out there. We’re still a band that’s still active. Being active we always see what’s going on at the same time. We’re current music wise. We know what the hell’s going on. We play with a lot of current bands. Our style is our style. Our anger is still out there. We haven’t stopped so there’s no lapse in time. There are all of these bands who stop and then come back. They’re not in touch with the times. We’ve always been current because we’ve been out there.”
“Lyrical wise, the last five to seven years has been aggravating the shit out of me, and I had to say what I had to say. It’s the way it goes,” he said.
Miret said the themes behind The American Dream Died was based on topics such as the current economic crisis in the United States, and felt he had to let loose his thoughts on where the world stands today. This is nothing new within Agnostic Front, as he tries to stay up to date with things happening around him and works them into songs.
“It’s watching the world around me. Most of my lyrics are directly related to myself or something I see in my own eyes.”
“It all kicked off when the housing market when to hell. It really pissed me the fuck off and that’s how the rest of the record kicks off. That’s how it is – one thing leads to another. It’s a whole snowball effect. From that led to the….you got to see all of the corruption on the higher levels, all of the governmental greed, all of the housing went down, the Wall Street greed, the World Banks and it just escalates. Then you kind of see all of the police violence going on. There’s just so much, like all of these wars we really don’t want to be part of. It’s all based on greed and corruption.”
He admits that sometimes his curiosity gets him fired up over so much negativity that is portrayed in the news, but also it did get him and his band to spark up conversation over what was going on around them.
“I can’t help it but maybe I shouldn’t watch the news. Maybe that’s my fault. I feel like a lot of people in America are too busy watching reality TV or ‘when’s the next new big Hollywood movie?’ Who gives a shit about Kim Kardashian’s ass or Kanye West or any of that shit.”
“I may be an idiot…or I may not be an idiot, but I prefer to watch real news. I’ll watch CNN or the British news. I think a lot of the American news is party related and have been corrupted by whatever party wants to tell you whatever news they need to tell you.”
“You know what’s funny? Everybody’s worried about ISIS right now, and I’ve known about it the last three fucking years. They always hide it until it blows up in your face and they have no choice.”
“I want to know more plus I travel the world and I get to see a lot more. I get to see the poverty level’s so unbelievable in America. You can say in a place like South America, it’s a third world country – you see all of that stuff. But we’re not a third world country. We’re supposed to be a powerful country – a number one country. I can’t explain why we have places like Detroit, why we have homeless vets on the streets – I don’t understand this and why there’s no money to help these vets or the people in Detroit, but there’s $40 billion to send to Iraq. I don’t get it and I probably will never get it. It doesn’t involve me personally or it doesn’t involve you. It’s all for the gain of higher people. That kind of stuff frustrates me, so of course I love being in America. I love everything about America. The government and all of that corruption fucking pisses me off and that’s why I’m in a punk rock band and I sing about it.”
Miret’s younger brother Freddy Cricien (of Madball) returns as producer on The American Dream Died, and working with his sibling once again brought back a special meaning to him. Cricien also produced their previous two albums (2007’s Warriors and 2011’s My Life, My Way).
“Nobody knows me or Agnostic Front better than Freddy. Freddy grew up in Agnostic Front ever since he was seven years old. He grew up in our scene and that being said, he knows exactly what Agnostic Front – (A) who they are and what they should sound like, (B) we’re one of his influential bands. So it’s perfect. It’s good that I also get a chance to work with my brother and those times are kind of getting harder as we’re getting older and he’s got his own band and he’s touring. So it’s hard for us to see each other besides two or three times a year. I’m in Phoenix and he’s in New York. Working with him, it’s fun.”
The album brought back former guitarist Matt Henderson on “A Wise Man,” and his return on an Agnostic Front played a key role on this song, and Miret said he was the guy to complete the song.
“A lot of the people who have been in the band – I can’t think of anybody that left the band, they left…it’s always been hard. You have your growing families and the people you have to deal with.”
“With Matt, we had this one song (‘A Wise Man’) that a good friend of mine, Ricky from a band called Backfire from Long Island in New York City had written. He’s like ‘I have this one song that sounds like One Voice song. I don’t know what to do with it. I’d like to give it to you if you want it.’”
“I heard it and went ‘damn it…it does sound like a One Voice song.’ Then the band heard it and said let’s record it and see where it goes. To make this right, to give it the icing on the cake…we happened to be in California. He lives literally about ten miles from the studio. Let’s give him the song and let’s let him do all of the guitars on the song. He’s the original guitarist on the One Voice album and he also did the guitars on Another Voice.”
“He sure as hell came over and we cleaned slate for him…whatever guitars we had recorded as a band, we wiped them clean and said you’re on your own. This is all you. He was shocked. He thought he was a guest guitar player and play along with the band. We’re like ‘no. This is all on you buddy.’ “
“We already had left so he had to go to the studio on his own and we didn’t know what it would come out like. He sent us the song and we were really impressed. Then we went back and redid vocals. That’s how impressed I was. This is got to be to the next level, and we were already at the mastering stages. I went back and redid four of the songs because of the situation like this.”
“It’s cool to hear something coming back to you…I hear this now. If we were doing it all together, it would have been different. I would have heard it right off the gate.”
While bands like Agnostic Front have gone against the status quo and questioned ideas around them, in recent times many musical acts have shifted in reverse and sided with the popular viewpoints of the world, which has not sat well with Miret.
“I think that’s what happened with this record and myself. I’ve gotta get frustrated. We’ve always spoken about oppression and overcoming oppression. We’ve always touched on war and political stuff on every one of our records. You can hear a song or two like that. But man…it’s just…I don’t think it’s just the bands. I see a lot of good messages in a lot of good bands.”
“I don’t think these kids read lyrics any more. I don’t think they care. I only think they care about downloading the songs and they don’t care about what the bands have to say in their packaging or their art or lyric wise. They just get it and if the song sounds good or cool, then they want to sing along to it. It used to be different. It used to be people really cared. They really gave a fuck about lyrics, especially lyrically when a band had to say. They wanted to get your record, open it up and see what the message was – all of that stuff. I’m hoping I can bring that attention back. I’m hoping that along with all of the controversy along with this record…not everybody will agree with me of course…it will have people talking and people caring again.”
“Any conversation – I don’t think I’m right about everything. I like to challenge a person and learn from that too. I’d be ignorant if I think that I’m the only one that’s right and everyone else is wrong. That’s ignorance. I know and I’m sure I’ve made mistakes in my past. I’m open for conversation – not only me but I’d like to see people are open to this. There’s also going to be a lot of rudeness going on, which is normal. Everyone is quick to jump on something and say something. That’s kind of the way we are here as human beings in America unfortunately.”
As for future touring, Miret talked about how their schedules have changed over the years with financial and life situations factoring into their decisions. While things may not quite work out like in the past, Agnostic Front have restructured things to make each appearance a bit more special.
“We’re working it out. We’re all older and all are fathers, have jobs we need to keep. We need to come home and feed our children and make sure we’re working to continue that. So our touring went from jumping into a van for three to four months at a time and not giving a fuck. We used to tour for nine months out of the year, all the way up to 2006. We used to do that. In 2006, it slowed down. I needed to be with my family. I can’t do it that much.”
“Now touring is different. We do it in pockets, like we’re about to do five dates in Florida, then we’ll come back home and then we’ll do two or three shows in New York and then go do Europe for two to three weeks, and then come back home and see what we’re going to do.”
“One of our members is having a baby in September. So we have to allow that time. Family is important to us. But eventually we’ll get to the cities. We’re going to do a six to seven dates in the Northeast. We used to play every little town trying to get everywhere. I don’t think we can do that any more, because we keep coming home and to keep our jobs. We’re trying to make it more of an event show so people will come out towards us this time. The same thing with Texas – do three or four shows. California – we’ll do six or seven…stuff like that. It has to be a little bit different because we do have people we love very much and care for.”
Aside from touring with Agnostic Front, his daily life consists of him working with his hands on motorcycles and as an electrician. Being crafty in this way has kept him busy, even when he is not on the road.
“I’m a certified Harley Davidson mechanic. I’ve been working on motorcycles since…certified since 1994 when I got my certification, but prior to that I’ve always been working on motorcycles.”
“I’m also a certified electrician which I got that in 1989. I like to work with my hands. I’ve always done trades. I’ve always come back from tours and jumped into something. It’s always been that way.”
“When I moved to Arizona, I thought I could do the motorcycle stuff a little bit more, but it doesn’t pay as well out here. The school I used to go to to do the specialty courses from for Harley Davidson is here, so they hire graduates right from school. It’s cheaper. So I do my electrical, which works very well for me here. My boss is a nice guy. When he needs help, he gives me a call and at the same time, if I need to go away and do some stuff, he totally understands. He’s in a band so he understands everything and it’s really cool.”