For years, metal and hardcore have been regular bedfellows but that wasn’t always the way. Back in the ’80s, metalheads regularly ran the risk of getting beaten up if they attended hardcore or punk shows. Skins and Mohawks did not take kindly to long-hairs stepping onto their turf, and vice versa. It wasn’t until the emergence of more popular bands like Slayer who, by straddling both genres, showed that the two sets of fans were capable of co-existing without confrontation.
Ghost Cult recently chatted with musician and director Ian McFarland, whose latest film is the acclaimed documentary, The Godfathers of Hardcore (McFarland & Pecci Films). The film is a candid and deep examination of the lasting influence of Agnostic Front on Hardcore music and the enduring friendship of Roger Miret and Vinnie Stigma. In addition to making the rounds and earning accolades in the global film festival circuit, it has been showing on the Showtime network in the United States and Canada ahead of its wide release on April 30th. The film is absolutely essential for anyone who loves and appreciates hardcore. We chatted with Ian about what inspired him to make the film, how his professional work as a commercial director prepared him for the different medium of making documentaries, the lasting bonds he built with Roger and Vinnie, and the future of the project. Continue reading
Tonight’s the night! The award-winning Godfathers of Hardcore film, the essential documentary about New York Hardcore and its cornerstones Roger Miret and Vinnie Stigma of Agnostic Front will make its cable debut on the Showtime network, tonight, December 12th. Links to find your local broadcast can be found below. Continue reading
The award-winning Godfathers of Hardcore film, the essential documentary about New York Hardcore and its cornerstones Roger Miret and Vinnie Stigma of Agnostic Front will make its cable debut on the Showtime network on December 12th. The news was broken via the films Facebook page. Director of the film Ian McFarland of Pecci Films was understandably elated by the news. Continue reading
Roger Miret, best known as the frontman of the legendary New York Hardcore band Agnostic Front held a book signing event earlier this week at Generation Records, in New York’s West Village. Miret signed copies of his new memoir My Riot: Agnostic Front, Grit, Guts & Glory, out now via Lesser Gods Books. In addition to a who’s who of famous punk band members and personalities on hand to hang with fans, the event was hosted by film director Drew Stone (New York Hardcore Chronicles, Who The F*ck Is That Guy), co-author Jon Wiederhorn, and featured a performance from Miret acolyte and AF bandmate Vinnie Stigma, and his solo band Stigma. The two performed together as well. See the photos and videos below! Continue reading
Agnostic Front vocalist and New York Hardcore legend Roget Miret is signing copies of his forthcoming memoir My Riot: Agnostic Front, Grit, Guts & Glory on August 28th at Generation Records. The book releases from Lesser Gods Books the next day. Details about the event, an excerpt and trailer can be seen below: Continue reading
New York hardcore godfathers Agnostic Front have taken their sound around the globe and spread their music around to a wide variety of audiences. While many have experienced their music and lifestyle, there is one specific country that has set on frontman Roger Miret’s mind – his motherland of Cuba.
He shared his thoughts on the matter:
“Absolutely! I was born in Cuba and I just became a citizen in 2006. There is a band called Arrabio and we’ve played a bunch of shows with them in Canada. They’re a Cuban band who plays in Canada. Two years ago I got them to play the Black N Blue Bowl in New York, which was pretty amazing. A hardcore band from Cuba to come to New York City to perform and then go back – that’s unheard of. It’s a shame they didn’t get the publicity they should have gotten or nobody would have cared unfortunately.”
“They had invited us to go to Cuba. We did all of the paperwork and I sent it into the Department of Treasury. That’s where we had sent all of it to, about two years ago. We were supposed to play a special show in the city that was 500 years old. We were looking forward to it but we sent in our paperwork eight months prior to the show and fast forward four months after the show, I got an email – I still have it saved…and it said ‘we’re reviewing your request here but your date has passed. So there’s no need to move forward with this.’ That was it.”
“You had eight months to do this and four months afterwards…how many people do you think are trying to go to Cuba? So I left that alone, but it’s a dream of mine to go to Cuba, where I was born to perform and play, and from what I understand, we have a lot of fans out there who know I’m Cuban born. It will be amazing. Hopefully we can make that happen.”
Miret shared his thoughts on the changing tides on the US-Cuba relations, and where things could shift towards following bettering diplomatic relations between the two countries, and how that impacts him personally.
“I see all of the relations going on right now, opening the gates, which is really cool, but I hope it works not just for the Cuban people [and] it’s not just a political gain on both sides – the Cuban government or the American government. I predict there will be a McDonalds in Cuba pretty soon – give it a year. I hope it works for the people. I see there’s a lot of anger in America, especially Miami, where a lot of the Cubans who left Cuba like my whole family, just because they didn’t believe in the government’s regime and Castro – whatever that’s cool. They had to leave. I left. My family left…whatever.”
“The mother’s side is all still there. My father’s side is the one to come to America. But now the crazy thing is they all want to claim their property, all of their stuff back. It’s making it harder. All I have to say to that is I understand but what about the people living in the houses that you left and abandoned to come to America in search of liberty and justice and freedom. Do you think it is right to throw them out into the street? So that’s what my big question is. People need to be humanitarians first. Everybody’s so greedy. It’s always about materialistic stuff. Let’s think about the people and let’s hope that it’s a good thing for the people.”
“I read an article a year ago in Time Magazine or LIFE that the Cuban population is dying off because there was no hope and people don’t want to have children. There’s nothing worth it for them to have children. Funny thing is eight months later the gates are opening up. So it’s giving the people hope. Let’s see if it works out.”
2015 saw the 35th anniversary of New York hardcore godfathers Agnostic Front, where aside from reaching this milestone moment for the band, they have helped shape a sound and a lifestyle that fans as well as other musicians over the years have embraced.
“That’s right. I joined the band when I was 16. I’m going to be 51. I’ve been with the band for 35 years. They were around a year earlier than me – possibly a year and a half. Yeah with me as a vocalist…they had three other vocalists prior to me. I’m the only one who’s ever had anything recorded with them. Actually I lied. There might be something out there with John Watson somewhere, but nobody ever released it. There might be a demo,” said frontman Roger Miret, about reaching this, along with his own time in the band.
Miret shared his thoughts on Agnostic Front being coined with the Godfathers of Hardcore tag, and what it means to him.
“I don’t know. I’ve never thought about it. I guess it’s an honor to be the godfathers of hardcore because we are one of the pioneering bands of the hardcore scene that, like I’ve said, has remained very active through so long from the heydays – the golden days of hardcore. There are a lot of bands out there too but I’m saying we’re probably one of the prominent bands out there from that day and constantly moving and playing. It’s an honor. People give us recognition I guess for putting in our time.”
While 35 years of existence shows how well they have held up over time, but Miret refuses to give into showing their age when approaching situations, whether it is musically or thematically.
“Well everyone’s gonna get old eventually! It’s the inevitable. You’ve gotta go with the flow,” he said.
“Of course you’re going to get old. I’ll tell you what…being in this band and touring the world has kept me young. I see a lot of people at my age – they’re kind of rough, you know! Myself or Vinnie [Stigma], for instance, if it weren’t for what we do…who knows? We’re so alive and not just musically or on stage but in general. We have young hearts.”
“We are older men but that’s what it is. There are a lot of newer bands and hopefully they will have the same longevity and same stuff we’ve put through. Hopefully they’re just as passionate and committed to it as we have been.”
He shared a story from the past, and what revisiting these stories meant to them. He has taken many of his experiences over the years and has helped enrich his life ongoing.
“It’s been a hell of a ride. It was a great ride. It had moments. It was an intense ride. I have seen friends of mine get murdered. I’ve seen friends of mine go to jail. I’ve seen friends of mine go through divorces…through everything. Some of them are with us today. Some of them are not with us today. We were living amongst criminals and crazy people who would rob us. We came together for something we love.”
“We all felt [like] outcasts but for some reason this was our own. I’m not talking about Agnostic Front. I’m talking about the movement – the whole thing. It’s been a wild ride and when I think about all of my friends who have been on this ride, what makes me the most happiest is sometimes I wonder where this person is or that person is, and all of sudden I see them and they pop back up. I feel happy because I don’t know where their lives went. I’m just glad they’re alive.”
He recalled one specific moment from his past who re-entered his life recently, and someone who he thought was no longer doing well turned out the complete opposite.
“There was an ex-girlfriend of mine which is a classic example of I thought she died. Everyone thought she died. Me and Vinnie [Stigma], because she was a user at the time, we were playing in Canada about two years ago in Toronto, and we were about to catch a cab. I opened the door and she pops out! How odd and weird is that? We all looked at each other and ‘what the f@#k?’ and was like ‘I thought you were dead!’ She ended up coming to the show and we still remain in touch. It was really great.”
“How odd and crazy is that? It’s been a long ride. It’s been hard but it’s been a very tough ride. A lot of good and a lot of bad memories, but I like to thrive on the good ones as much as I can now.”
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.”
New York hardcore pioneers Agnostic Front have posted the first video in their webisode series the band filmed documenting the production process and the background for their new album The American Dream Died here.
The American Dream Died was produced by Madball singer Freddy Cricien and engineered, mixed and mastered by Paul Miner (H2O, Terror) and will be released April 7, 2015 via Nuclear Blast Records.
The record will feature guest appearances by Cricien, Toby Morse (H2O) and Lou Koller (Sick Of It All). The band also announced the collaboration of legendary Agnostic Front/Madball guitarist Matt Henderson on the song “A Wise Man.”
Agnostic Front has announced that as a special bonus in each vinyl edition of the album, every copy will also contain a download code for the album Your Time’s Up by The Alligators, a rowdy punk project featuring Agnostic Front singer Roger Miret and members of legendary Anaheim, CA hardcore band Insted.
The American Dream Died Track Listing:
02. The American Died
03. Police Violence
04. Only In America
05. Test Of Time
06. We Walk The Line
07. Never Walk Alone feat. Freddy Cricien, Toby Morse & Lou Koller
08. Enough Is Enough
09. I Can’t Relate
10. Old New York
11. Social Justice
12. Reasonable Doubt
13. No War Fuck You
15. A Wise Man feat. Matt Henderson on guitar
16. Just Like Yesterday