Madball Talks Hardcore Unity: "It Should Be Us Against the World and Not Each Other"
Madball's Mike Justian, Jorge "Hoya Roc" Guerra, Freddy Cricien, and Brian "Mitts" Daniels.
Photo by Randy Blythe
Hardcore punk rock is the world's best music for unity, aggression, and positive mental attitude.
Just ask Freddy Madball, he's been doing it for decades. From the time he was a kid in Miramar, to starting a band on the mean streets of NYC.
Whether you've been going to shows since you were 11, or thinking about checking one out for the first time, everybody is welcome to the open arms of hardcore. Here's what Freddy had to say about Miami, the Black N' Blue Bowl 2015, and why fighting at shows is bullshit.
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New Times: Congratulations on over 21 years of Madball tours!
Freddy : Hell yeah, at least 21. For sure. Last year, we actually celebrated 20 years of Set It Off, but it's been, like, over 22 years of actual touring. It's crazy to think we been in the game that long, but it's true!
Thanks for coming and doing this Florida tour of Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, and Miami. What inspired that?
Florida is an important market for us. We've got a lot of roots there, especially South Florida. We've been touring there since '94, and I lived in Florida, off and on, since I was a kid. I was there when I was real young, then I went to NYC for a lot of years, and I've been back and forth as an adult. There's a real family connection for some of us. And Miami in particular is a real good market. People come with a lot of passion and angst and energy. The shows are always fun. It's always been a strong city for hardcore and I can remember shows there from 1994 till now. Jacksonville too. Last time we were there, it was off the hook. It just seemed like the right time to hit Florida again. We can't get to every single spot in the world, but we try to do what we can. We had to do Miami, and my brother [Roger Miret] is coming right behind us with Agnostic Front. We didn't wanna conflict 'cause they're kinda close together, but we talked on the phone, and it's cool. The way I see it, we all roll through and it's back-to-back New York hardcore. What more could you want.
Yo, that Black N' Blue Bowl 2015, your festival in New York, looks crazy!
We finally got it right. We're satisfying a lot of different people's tastes. We got the Regulators [a band with Bad Brains' Darryl Jenifer, Dr. Know, Mackie Jayson, and Cro-Mags' John Joseph] doing their Bad Brains crossing over with the Cro-Mags, then Sick of It All, Madball, and just a lot of great music for everybody. People been asking for Burn for years and we got it for them.
What would it take for a Miami band to get on there?
It's hard, because a lot of people submit to play the show and we wanna give younger bands a shot, but we gotta make the whole package exciting to the masses, so it's a tough balancing act. You just have to let yourself be known, whether you're from Miami or Oklahoma. If you're doin' your thing and people are talking about you and you do something cool or diferent and your name's out there, you might get a chance. We're not opposed to it. And we always try to bring international bands into the mix too.
Madball at Churchill's Pub.
Photo by Jacob Katel
What do you think of when some fucked up bullshit happens between people in the hardcore scene?
To me, personally, it's counterproductive. We're a niche genre. It's a small subculture to begin with. Yeah, it's growing, but we're still underdogs. It's an underground thing. It's small as it is, so to have separation within that is silly. It's just like, what's the point. What are people beefing about. Is there monetary gain? It's a lot of friction about dumb stuff. It's nonsense. These are pointless things. It's immature. And it's not hard. If people think they're impressing anybody, they're not. We been there and done all that. And there's even more that people don't know about. We're passionate about the music. We love the culture. And it's a platform for us to get stuff off our chest, for people to come out and let go of the stress and angst, but not to come and get into fights with each other. That kind of stuff is for letting out on the dance floor. That's the escape with hardcore. I'm not gonna front, it's an aggressive style of music and rough-around-the-edges types are drawn to it. I know that firsthand. But that doesn't mean we need to go to shows and make an environment where people are not gonna wanna go. That's counterproductive to the culture. If you got that much animosity with someone, you know what, go shoot a fair one with them down the block. To disrupt the show and get other people involved and that kind of stuff, that's not cool.
What is the meaning behind hardcore unity, tradition, legacy, family, and respect?
All those things are good things. They're all instilled in us in our family lives and brought to the hardcore world. They're key things.
Isn't it supposed to be us against the world and not each other?
Not to sound cliché, but it should definitely be us against the world and not each other. This is a small thing to begin with, so why divide it even more and make it that much smaller cause of this crew or that crew. It's all trivial and real stupid stuff.
Unity, Tradition, Family, Legacy, Respect
So if there was some fucked up shit happening do you have any advice, having been through and seen a lot of this shit for a long time, on how to deal with it?
People tend to associate us with the whole tough guy stigma. Not even just Madball but the whole hardcore world has all these different factions and New York always had the hard rep, and rightfully so, it was born in the streets of the Lower East Side and it was rougher than other areas. Even though it was made up also of kids from the suburbs, everybody still had to be street smart. You had to be a little harder, tougher, and I learned that very early. The point is, and I do have a point to all this, because we always had a lot of street commentary, people sometimes chose our shows to handle their stuff, and it's annoying. That's not what we're about. We talk about real life experiences and ways to get out or get through them positively, not to posture and play tough. Luckily, as of the last bunch of years, that hasn't been an issue at our shows. It does nothing but disrupt, cause a weird tension in the room, bum people out, and make it a weird thing. When something pops off, I try to shut it down. That's not the kind of environment we want to create for people. That ain't the kind of party we want. We try to keep it peaceful, positive, and fun. I'm proud of all our background and experiences negative and positive. They help form our character. Even the times we reacted negatively have shaped who we are and to know better. We don't want the drama. Leave that shit in the streets. Come in the club, check the ego at the door, and have fun. If you're a real person handle your business outside. Don't go to a show and do that. That to me is soft.
We're looking forward to Churchill's. Miami is always something we look forward to and it's usually a special show. We have family that come out, the Latin ties, connections to the state, all those things. Shout out for always supporting us, everybody who supports the cause, and go see Agnostic Front too, they're both gonna be dope shows.
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Madball. With Salvation, Rhythm of Fear, and Guilty Conscience. Sunday, March 15. Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami. The show starts at 7 p.m. and cover costs $12. Ages 18 and up. Call 305-757-1807 or visit churchillspub.com.
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