Freddy Madball = New York City hardcore.
But did you know he came up in Miramar on salsa duro, Grandmaster Flash, and Miami bass?
From singing with Agnostic Front at age 7 to starting his own band, Freddy Cricien and his Madball cohorts have turned the world into one massive mosh pit. And now they're coming back to Churchill's Pub in Miami for a $10 Sunday show.
Here's what Freddy has to say about his South Florida roots, working-class ethics, and Trayvon Martin.
Crossfade: Your family moved to Florida when you were a kid. What part of Florida did you move to?
Freddy Cricien: Umm, when I lived in Florida, I lived in Miramar. First Miami. And then Miramar. I was born in Jersey, but my family moved down here. People comin' from different places started to relocate here. I spent some time as kid and as an adult too. I've also been back and forth later in life as well, because of family.
What did you think of it when you first saw it?
I was a little boy. I was like 5 or 6 years old. I had a lot of my first childhood friends here and all that stuff. My first little group of friends playin' in the street, football, and front yards. It was cool. There was some crazy family times and some cool times.
What was some of the Latin music you heard around you?
Joe Arroyo, Grupo Niche, so many vallenato guys... that's my Colombian side, and then on the Cuban side, Benny Moré and a lot of old-school cats like what the Buena Vista cats came with later, on that whole vibe, that whole sound of Cuba, and a lot of salsa and Hector Lavoe from Puerto Rico, Ruben Blades, and that whole scene. That whole circuit has a lot of talent.
I read that some of the hip-hop you were into was Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick. Were you influenced by any Southern rap?
I mean, I dug some of it, for sure. First I bought Sugar Hill Gang because of my brother Rudy, Grandmaster Flash, and all that kind of stuff. The New York stuff came first no matter how you look at it. But I remember when Luke first came out, the whole 2 Live Crew movement, and that early Miami Bass -- I definitely got down to some of it.
A lot of that early New York hip-hop stuff, the records were actually pressed in Hialeah...
Ha, look at that. I had cousins in Hialeah. I used to run around there a lot. Carol City too. Me and my cousins. I used to spend weekends all the time in all those areas.
Did you go to any shows, concerts, or clubs while you lived down here?
I went to a lot of early hardcore shows actually, my brother being in Agnostic Front in the early '80s; any shows that they ever played in Florida I was there for sure. I remember Cameo theater and some of the crazier places in North Florida. South Florida had cool spots, and Miami always had a good scene. I remember all that. I would usually go up the coast with Agnostic Front to New York or go up there myself and work back down with them. Good shit.
Talk some about your Black N Blue label....
The Black and Blue label exists cause I just wanted to put out our own music. That's the whole purpose essentially. It may develop into more. It's the whole movement including Black And Blue Productions. My partner Joe and I do the Black and Blue Bowl and other events mostly in New York, sometimes other spots. That's my production company. This is a branch of that. A label that the last Madball EP came out on and the next album, and my hip-hop stuff. I'm tryin' to branch off that whole Black and Blue movement.
What does Black and Blue mean to you?
A lot of stuff just with our whole brotherhood in New York. That Black and Blue has a personal meaning to us. A lot of things. It's always our favorite colors, and it also has a lot of connections to our brotherhood and so on and so forth. It just came from that essentially.
How did you meet Hoya?
I met Hoya early on in New York. A year or so after moving up to New York. I met Hoya through Ezac, and I met Ezac through Toby, and that's how it is and how it got together. We connected and became family, but yeah man I was like 16 years old maybe 17 and y'know we been ridin' ever since.
What do you think about the media?
Y'know its good and bad like anything. I think media sometimes takes thing and blows it out of control. It just depends whose running it essentially. Like if somebody cool is running a record label and has a perspective on things chances are it's gonna be cool to work with them. If you're genuine about what you do and respect your job and cover accurately and do things right you're good. Then there's people that take that outlet, that platform, and kind of mess it all up. Either they're not honest enough, or hatin', or this, or that. It all depends. I got a problem when they take a name and slander it without knowing about you or where you come from or what you do.
You had a lot of different jobs throughout your career...construction jobs, longshoreman, security, legal, illegal, all kinds of shit....
Yeah man, yknow, livin' and learning, you gotta do it all man. When I got to New York I was a youngster. I had help and friends but I also had to fend for myself and had to do my part. Whatever it took. Little this, little that, but I worked hard, I always worked hard.
I worked at a freakin' rescue place, then UPS, then as a longshoreman, plumber's assistant. That kind of stuff builds chartacter. You gotta experience work with your hands and sweating and goin through things. You get involved in the streets you learn things too. I'm not glamorizing, but you learn from it all, and it builds character, and hopefully you channel it into something like music.
What about working class ethics?
I respect it. I come from that. My dad is a mechanic. My mom always worked in factories, besides being a homemaker, and then a manager, she always had factory jobs. Both my parents worked hard to get wherever they're at, and they're still working, and still working hard just to survive. So those ethics passed on to me and to be honest in some ways I'm more fortunate than others in my family, but at the same time I'm still working class. I'm in the working class of the music business. Hardcore music, this scene, this genre, out of all the others out there, this is the working class scene of the music business. You grind it out. It ain't easy, there's no overnight success. And y'know, there's nothin' wrong with bein' succesful. People have that misconception. You wanna do well, take care of your family and yourself. That's what drives me, my wife and son. I wanna do well. But it ain't easy. It's a lot of hard work.
Hell yeah, and you doin' all that shit independent...
Independent is a grind in itself in any kind of music or genre. We keep it working class, that's the ethic we apply.
Can you tell about the writing of Para Mi Gente?
We got the Latin background, and that's just part of who we are. Not everybody in the band is, but that's part of our heritage, and I think we always felt like shouting that out.At the time there were not tons of Latinos doing hardcore, not that there weren't hispanics in the scene, there always was. In Miami tons of Latin kids would come represent. Certain cities always had contingencies of Hispanic kids, but overall in hardcore it's not predominantly Hispanic. We wanted to remind people that we got Latin kids in here doin' crazy shit so we always wanted to throw Spanish in the mix for that flavor. Not to slight any race or anyone else, but to pay homage to family and so on.
Would you ever do an all Spanish album?
Umm we're not opposed to it. We were talkin about an all Spanish EP. We thought about that. Maybe an entire album would be hard. It would be possible, but we have a lot of other fans that don't speak Spanish and we don't wanna completely alienate them. But and EP, with 3 or 4 songs all in Spanish, boom, one for South America and the Caribbean, Hoya and I were definitley just talkin about that, and Roger and I have been talkin' about it for years.
What can you say about Churchill's...
What a place man. Look, I played places like Churchills as long as I've been in a band. All over the world there's always those places that are like divey, kind of a smaller stage, that whole vibe. We played other spots in Miami for years just to play a good stage with good sound and make sure people get their moneys worth and get a good show, but it turns out you get the right guy behind the boards at Churchill's and it has a certain vibe. It's like CBs was. A dive. No fancy nice shit. You may have some Hollywood motherfuckers wearing the shirt, but it was a shit hole, a complete shit hole. But it was our shit hole. So that's what it is. And hardcore comes from places like that.
Hell fuck yeah...
Now we play huge festivals around the world, but we do club shows between all that, and some are nicer than others but there's always that one place...that spot that's not in the best neighborhood in the world but that's hardcore for you. Hardcore shows always go down in the illest neighborhoods in the world.
Working on next record, writing now?
Absolutely. We're working on the next album. It's happening slower than we like cause we keep getting offers to play. We gotta play enough shows for diaper money. Gotta survive. Gotta eat. If we're not on stage we die from famine. We gotta play and take care of family and stay afloat and take care of business. But in between we manage to bang out some songs. I cant put a date on it. I can't promise when. But, we're workin' on it.
What do you think about gun laws?
Tough one, man. I'm for it. I'm for people having the right to bear arms, and y'know, I'm not political in the sense of party cause I got my own party, the Black And Blue party. I mean, I supported Obama when he came out as like an equal rights thing. Like, at least he's not some old white guy with the same old bullshit. But there are some things where I lean more on the Republican side, even though I'm not and I don't associate with any of that shit. But the reality is, I believe in the right to bear arms. And people should have the right to protect themselves. Not that you should abuse that, or shoot at a random unarmed young kid when it's unneccesary...Certain things are just stupid and out of control like with anything, but ultimately you should be able to have something in your home to protect your family, or with you in case someone attacks you with a dangerous weapon. If somebody comes at me with hands, that's fine and dandy. I can handle that shit all day. But if they come with a gun, and I got my kid in the car what am I gonna do. It's a tough thing. It's case by case. It's hard, but constitutionally we have the right to bear arms.
Trayvon Martin case?
Profiling is one of my pet peeves in life. African Americans are not the only people that get profiled either. Some places are extremely racist, and we live unfortunately in a racist society. People are gonna look at color and freak out in certain places. Profiling happens all the time. I can never catch a cab in New York. Ever. I don't know if I got a scowl on my face or what. Maybe it's the tattoos. Whatever it is, it's profiling, and it's unfortunate but it happens. You look a certain way and people assume you're up to no good, or that you're a bad person. And what happened with that kid is really unfortunate man. It didn't have to go to that. The guy was profiling. Even if it went to a scrap. Even if the kid got the best of him...for him to pull out a gun? I don't know the whole thing, but it's black and white simple. It's obvious to see what happened, and the poor kid got gunned down, and that's terrible. I think it's really messed up.
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When I first heard about it I was like "this guy got loose and shot this little kid cause he got the better of him." And that's where that gun shit is one of those things where it's hard to say who should have one and who shouldn't.
Getting back to the music, you're playing this awesome fucking last minute $10 Sunday show at Churchill's...
Bringin' it back. We got a late start with announcing it but we said let's do something special, a $10 show, somethin' kind of old school style, and hopefully a lot of people come out. We're definitely coming down, and we're gonna bring it.
MADBALL, Code Orange Kids, Expire, Tex Railers Doom Town, and Enough, Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE 2nd Ave, July 14th, 7p.m., $10