Madball's Freddy Cricien Talks Cuban Food, Hardcore's "Golden Era," and the Pit

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New York hardcore icons Madball and the crowd that goes to see them this Thursday will most likely destroy the Vagabond. We wonder if club owner Carmel Ophir even understands the awesome brutality about to take over his bar. He's gotta know, right?

The Madball show will start a couple of hours before the club's usual Thursday throwdown, Shake. And everyone in attendance is invited to hang out afterward and party. Remember when Studio A would kick everyone out once the live music finished, only to hustle the club kids inside? If anyone pulled that kind of stunt on Thursday's crowd, it would be riotous mess, guaranteed.

We caught up with Madball frontman and ex-South Florida native Freddy Cricien to get his take on the hardcore scene, his home sweet home, and the importance of the pit.

New TImes: What do you expect from the Miami show?

Freddy Cricien: Man, it's always been a good time down there. The last time we played a tattoo expo, a different setting than we're used to, but the energy and love was still there. I expect nothing less at this upcoming show. We always get shown a lot of respect down there. I expect a chaotic, fun time!

What are your ties to Miami?

My family relocated here many many years ago. I actually lived in South Florida for 10-plus years, as a kid. A lot my family still resides here, it just so happens my wife's family does as well. We met in NY. But by chance or fate, she's from down there. We spend a lot of time down there. There's, of course, the whole Latin connection, as well. I think there are a lot of kids in the scene down there with a Hispanic background. That's always evident in the South Florida shows, especially Miami. But hey, we don't discriminate. There's always a mixed bag at an MB show: all races, all religions, backgrounds. Everyone is welcomed with open arms!

What's your favorite place to get Cuban food?

My mom's house! [My favorite thing is] whatever mom makes: picadillo, carne con papas, arroz con pollo. Mom Dukes is no joke with her cooking skills! As a matter of fact, the guys from the band will be partaking in wonderful homemade Cuban cuisine before the show. Ha!

How's the hardcore scene changed over the years?

It's changed in so many ways over the years, but not necessarily for the worst. Actually, I feel it's changed for the better. It's more cultured and more global these days. As long as people getting into the genre do their homework, it'll be all good. Growth is good, as long as you know what's up and stay well informed. This is a special thing, this hardcore scene. Don't take it for granted.

You've been around for a while and have seen bands come and go. Year after

year, you hear people in hardcore say the scene "ain't what it used to be." Has it really gotten worse or is that just people talking shit?

People are always going to say that kind of stuff. When they get into the scene, that's their "golden era." Funny thing is, it's different for so many people. Of course, there are certain things, bands, people that I miss from earlier years. But I've also met new people, bands, and friends in recent years. I've also seen this scene and my band grow globally, which is amazing! So, I can't get stuck in the past. Reminisce, but keep it moving and enjoy today. Because when the vibe is right, the shows today can be just as good, if not better then the old days. It's all about the spirit of it. Right now we are living someone's "golden era." Look at it that way.

On that note, in a scene where many don't survive for more than five years, what has been the secret to keeping Madball together for so long?

Insanity and also individuality. Being unique or original in any walk of life will make you stand out. Combine that with drive and tenacity and that equals longevity. This is not only our "career," it's our passion. That shows with every record and show. But it all comes back to being crazy and unstable. Hahaha! Oh, and generation after generation, people still dig us. So really, it's thanks to them!

What was it like to grow up in the hardcore scene as the singer from Agnostic Front's little brother? How is he doing?

It was crazy and amazing, ugly and beautiful at the same time. I'm happy my bro introduced me to this subculture. It's not everything I am, but it is a big part of me. I embraced it immediately and maybe that's how it was meant to be. Being under the wing of AF taught me a lot about the scene and life in general.

My bro is great, by the way. They are still touring strong and about to drop their newest release called My Life My Way. I produced it, and I'm proud and honored. People are going to be floored by this record. It's amazing!

What would a Madball show be without a pit?

What would the ocean be without water? Hahaha! Hey man, moshing, dancing, or whatever you want to call it goes hand in hand with this kind of music. It shows the bands that you are connecting with their energy. It's important with this kind of high-energy music. That said, you don't have to go in the pit. It's not for everybody. As long you're feeling the music in some way, that's what's most important. As far as fights, they happen a lot less these days. They are actually pretty rare, considering how many shows we play a year. That's a good thing! We don't encourage that, it kills the vibe. There's a time and place for all that, and it shouldn't be while a band is up there giving it their all. People need to respect that. Go off, go crazy, but have fun. Leave the fantasy tough shit at home.

Madball with Bitter End, Lionheart and Homestretch. Thursday, December 9. The Vagabond, 30 NE 14th St., Miami. The show starts at 7 p.m. and tickets cost $15. Call 305-379-0508 or visit thevagabondmiami.com.

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