AFL: Greetings I’m Franz from AWAY FROM LIFE here with Stephan and Timo from Punkrockers-Radio and we are interviewing Freddy „Madball“ Cricien lead singer from the NYHC band Madball on the Punk Rock Holiday 1.7 in Slovenia.
AFL: For our first time readers tell us about the band, a quick bio, where the band comes from, who plays what instrument, how long have you been together, how many albums have you recorded?
Freddy: Oh man um, we are a NYHC band and we have been technically together since 1989. We realistically became active with touring in the early 90’s but yes since 89 we put out a 7“ called Ball of Destruction and it’s been on from there. I am closely related to the guys from AGNOSTIC FRONT; Roger is my older brother and that’s how I got introduced to the Hardcore scene and basically at’s how Madball started. It was pretty much a side project of Agnostic Front; it took on a life of its own, and here we are.
AFL: Is it correct that Vinnie Stigma wrote the early MADBALL material?
Freddy: The stuff early on and 7“ Ball of Destruction was Vinnie and my brother. Sort of things that were not used for the AGNOSTIC FRONT Album United Blood, things that were floating around and actually some things that were on United Blood and we redid it. That was all Vinny and Roger, I didn’t write any of that. I didn’t write anything on our second release, Droppin’ Many Suckers either. That was a lot of Roger and some Mat Henderson.
AFL: Tell us abnout the current line-up.
Freddy: the current lineup which has been together for quite a while is my partner in crime Hoya (Bassist). He’s been with me the longest. Hoya has been in this band since 93, he’s as close as you can get to original member aside from myself. Then we have Brian „Mitts“ Daniels on Guitar, he’s been with us for 15 years. The youngest of all is our drummer Mike Justian who’s actually now been with us going on seven years, I keep thinking he’s the new guy but after 7 years you are pretty established.
AFL: Is there a person from the Hardcore and Punk scene who has especially influenced you other than your brother?
Freddy: Well I was going to say my brother would be my first choice he is directly responsible for bringing me into Hardcore. Vinnie would be a close second. A lot of those early guys influenced me. In what regard, performance wise or as a person?
AFL: Performance wise, as how you present yourself on stage and bring your energy across and how you interact with the crowd.
Freddy: For me I just kind of respected the energy of Hardcore in general. You know there is a lot of great frontmen, starting with my brother, then you have guys like John Joseph (CRO-MAGS), HR (BAD BRAINS) and Lou from SICK OF IT ALL. There a lot of great frontmen that came out of the scene, I’m also influenced by the energy of the music, it’s an upbeat energetic form of music. So when you are performing this kind of music, the music energizes you. You don’t have to be the most energetic person in the world, but you have to at least feel the music to some degree. It’s music with a lot of angst and if that’s not coming out you’re not going to be believable. So I’m influenced by the feeling of it and certain guys that I’ve always respected and what they do.
AFL: Do you remember the first Hardcore/Punk record you got and do you still have it?
Freddy: Oh that is easy, United Blood and Victim in Pain. For me, that’s one of those questions. You know I was given that. My brother gave me one of the first pressings; you know Victim In Pain came out and I got one. Me I’m particular, because we have other siblings, and I’m the youngest and was particularly into it. I was the one out of all my siblings that really took to hardcore. I would be eager to get those. Anything Hardcore was handed down to me, all music exposure was handed down to me by my family whether it be Rock, Hip Hop, Disco or Salsa anything. Vinyls, that we had in our house that I would grab, put on and listen to, was oh I like this I don’t like that, this is not cool. That’s how I grew up listening to Vinyl.
AFL: In your opinion who are the top 3 most influential people in Hardcore and Punk today?
Freddy: Not 10 just 3? Bands or People? I have to count my brother (Roger Miret). He and so many others. My brother just wrote a book and is making a movie. He and the people who are still involved in the culture. There were a lot of people that were involved in hardcore, not just NYHC but hardcore as a whole. There were people into it early on and got out of it, moved on to do other things. A lot of the New York people kept it going so, to me that’s very important. The people who are keeping the movement and the culture alive on the grand scale. So among influential people, Roger is definitely one, trying not to pick just people in bands. I’m trying to think of peoples accomplishments and how it impacted our whole thing. I have to say ??? (we don’t understand the name, if you do in the audio-version, please contact us), even tho they are no longer what they were, but as a band, not one person in particular, but as a band they were very influential to hardcore as a whole. Wow who could a third person be? I don’t know oh man. I would say Stigma but I’m so biased, because that’s like my family.
AFL: After a longer pause I interject, „How about Drew Stone?“
Freddy: Drew Stone yeah! He definitely takes part, I mean because when you narrow it to three. I mean Drew Stone has done a lot he’s been in bands, he’s been around the scene for a very very long time and now he is contributing by putting out this movie that he’s done. He’s done many videos, I would definitely say he’s been part of the culture. He is defiantly an influential figure. For sure I’ll let you throw his name in there. Why not?
Punkrockers-Radio: Freddy we’ve been talking about a lot of history of hard core, but MADBALL is not a band that is just stuck in the past. Especially during the last decade you’ve released stuff, and it seems that you’re up to release new stuff. Would you say that the philosophy of MADBALL is not to be stuck in the past but to look forward and release new stuff?
Freddy: Yes, that’s correct. It’s a very big thing for us. Respect the past and know your history. We were second generation even tho i knew guys from the first generation. Being related to Roger, I was a little kid during that first wave. I consider myself and our band second or even their generation coming out of NY. We were newcomers at one point doing something different that the old-timers didn’t agree with. So we know what it feels like to be in the new guy position even tho’ we had credibility because of who we are, and not everyone was 100% sold on what we were doing, that something different. I believe that you need that to evolve and progress. You can get stuck in the past. When we first started this band we were in school, we were learning our craft. Now we’ve hit out stride and kind of figured out this thing that we do from the performance aspect to the writing aspect and every aspect. I don’t think of myself as an old school guy, because, at the beginning, I was in school learning.
PRR: Would you say Madball is still developing, and hasn’t reached the creative high point?
Freddy: That’s right, when people are like wow Set It Off is it!! Hey that was our first album. We were like babys, still trying to figure it out. What can we bring to hardcore that AGNOSTIC FRONT hasn’t, or MURPHY’S LAW or CRO-MAGS. We are the young guys what can we bring to the table that other bands haven’t done. So we were learning. I didn’t know how to write songs it was all learning. Now we know how we’ve learned to write songs and have had life learning experiences. It’s a good time for us right now.
AFL: Which Hardcore / Punk band is in your opinion the most underrated?
Freddy: WISDOM IN CHAINS from Pennsylvania, they are the most under rated band. Now they are known and are becoming more so. They aren’t new kids who started yesterday; they have been around a few years, have had some really good releases and in my opinion are one of the best hardcore bands out there today.
AFL: You are going to be releasing a split CD with WISDOM IN CHAINS, can you tell us a little bit about that?
Freddy: Well it’s just based on friendships and a respect thing. They respect us for who we are and what we have done and vise versa you know. I see them as an underrated band sort of band, sometimes. Part of it has to do with the fact that, they have families and work and stuff that sometimes prevents them from touring as much as they would like to and things like that. Life just in general. I always thought that they were a little underrated because of things like that. I think that maybe with us combined we could help each other, out you know, if we could give them some more visibility. Regardless of visibility it’s something we have been talking about for a long time. We share a friendship; there is camaraderie of the bands. It just made a lot of sense to do it.
AFL: So can we look forward to new music from MADBALL?
Freddy: Yes absolutely. There’s a song coming out on that split that’s going to be the title track of our upcoming album. I know it’s a little bit unorthodox to do that but it’s kind of intentional because we want to give people a taste of the new album.
AFL: And the name is?
Freddy: „For The Cause“.
AFL: Will we be able to hear that live tonight at Punk Rock Holiday?
Freddy: No we are not doing that yet because, not that we don’t know it but we want to hold off till we get closer to the release of the split7“.
AFL: You mentioned in your interview with Drew Stone; kids not researching their HC history, I saw a kid with a nice MADBALL logo tattoo and D.M.S. and he didn’t know anything about DMS. He said he got it done because it looked cool. Is this the kind of thing you meant?
Freddy: Oh boy that’s a big. No! No! First of all the MADBALL part as we see it is, we are very flattered by that. You know the fact that anyone would get our bands logo tattooed on them is for us like, wow respect. The DMS (Doc Martens Stomp) part, the person that did that should listen and reconsider and get something else scribbler on that because the thing is that DMS is a brotherhood that came out of the hardcore scene but it’s not an open door thing where anyone can get a tattoo and say hey I’m in DMS. It’s not like that. It’s a group thing, it is about a group of people that have been through a lot of things together and those letters are exclusive to that group. You know we have always shouted it out in our songs and have used it as metaphor, but it’s not to be used by the public.
AFL: Being the front man and or an integral part of the band do you feel pressure when kids (fans) look up to you as a role model of what HC is all about?
Freddy: Ah man, you know I never would consider myself a role model. I know that, I guess that when you do music or whatever and you’re in a band, that is somewhat established even on an underground level, I know that there are going to be people out there who respect and admire you, and I am who I am and if that’s something that does something for you or inspires you in any way I’m very very humbled by it and that’s cool. i try to present myself in a way that’s dignified but you know I’m also human, and I am a flawed human, I make mistakes. You can take something from our music or what I do cool, take something positive.
AFL: In view of recent acts of terrorism at concerts and other spectator events in Europe and most recently the attack on Gary Meskill from PRO-PAIN. Have you taken steps to tighten and elevate your own personal security while on tour?
Freddy: Oh man I didn’t know that with Gary. What happened, I know him a long time, is he ok? Just be vigilant man that’s all we can do. I think we are lucky because we have more friends than enemies, scattered about the world, (laughs quietly), we are lucky in that a lot of cities that we go to people respect us who we are and how we carry ourselves. We also have a lot of eyes on us. I’m sure that we have a few people out there that don’t like us, but who doesn’t? But yeah, you just have to be vigilant. We don’t have a security team that’s going to come and protect us from a terrorist attack. Even if we did you never know when or how it’s going to come about. So really you just have to be vigilant and let the street smarts kick into play a little bit. That’s the best we can all do. Nothing is going to stop us from walking outside our doors or playing our music, or taking our kids to wherever we want to take them. Just in general we have to on point and be ready for whatever…
PRR: We have one last thing. It is about another New York Band. It’s about the RAMONES. I’m doing a project about them, so when I do an interview I ask that the interviewee recite the lyrics of one of the Ramones songs. It’s called Ramonetry and I started an exhibition about it, and in October it will conclude with an Internet presentation. Please choose one of their song texts out of our catalog.
Freddy: Oh I like the Ramones. A song that I like or relates to me does it matters?
(Freddy read / rap / sing the lyrics of I Wanna Be Sedated of THE RAMONES?
AWAY FROM LIFE: Listen to the whole interview here: