Finally getting to interview Roger Miret is for me a personal crowning achievement. Although by no means an easy interview. Roger Miret is one of the pioneers of NYHC, and without question a current day presence in the HC scene. Here is the second part of the interview with the hardcore legend. You can find the second first here:
Part 2: Interview with Roger Miret to his autobiography My Riot: Agnostic Front, Grit, Guts & Glory
AFL: In chapter 11 you talk about Harley and how you were degenerate brothers in crime. As well as making music with him and performing with him, Paris and Eric in 1984 as Cro-Mag Skins before John Joseph and the formation of the Cro-Mags. What’s your take on the whole feud between Harley and the rest of the Cro-Mags over who actually wrote the music and lyrics to their songs.
Roger Miret: Oh man you know it’s an unfortunate thing that it’s turned into pretty much a National Enquirer with all that stuff, if you ask me. That’s one thing I’ve tried to distance myself from that whole situation. Because I was really good friends Harley, Mackie and John. I’m friends with all of them. I hold no grudges with any of those guys. It’s just an unfortunate thing the way it played out and still continues to be played out. Especially with the internet. Who wrote what, who did what. In my book I wrote my recognition of the band prior to John being there. I know the songs that were there already. As far as what they feud about, I don’t really pay attention to that. That is one of the things I don’t want to get involved in, if you know what I mean. I know there is feuding and so but I don’t get into the drama. Like I say if you get trapped up in all that, you fall into that trap. I kinda am like alright whatever, let me find something good for me to do in my day. There is definitely some beef there and has been played out in the internet. So there are no secrets there. I think Harley released an early demo, which was the tape he played for all of us back then. In my book I talk about a time when John was not in the Cro-Mags yet, some of the songs already existed. I’m not sure how many songs were finished back then, but Harley had a tape he played for all of us. If Harley released it then you can tell who did what. I’m sure John had his role in the band especially when he joined. To be honest I think a lot of the problems with the Cro-Mags, the unfortunate problems really came from the management at the time. This guy who was managing them at the time, Chris Willams, he brought a lot of drama and problems to the New York Hardcore scene. He started managing a lot of bands and brought a lot of drama . He was also running Profile Records, which he managed and ran. With bands like Cro-Mags, Murphy’s Law and Leeway. All of a sudden it was them against everybody else. Not! the bands but the management. It was unfortunate, but what you gonna do.
AFL: Throughout your book you talk about how people have misinterpretations about your use of symbolism and how it’s left an negative impact on you and the band. Leading to the band being labeled as Neo-nazi amongst other things. How bad has it impacted AF financially.
RM: Well you know there is always going to be somebody who is going to say something negative about the band. The people who know, Know. The people who know the band personally, know what we’re about, and stand up for us. For example there is that one club in Leipzig, Germany, the Coney Island club. There was a situation the first time we played there, shit had to be handled and shit was handled. They know who we are and what we’re all about. People are going to say what they want to say, believe whatever they want to believe. In the end when you meet us personally and we develop a connection, you know who we are, what we stand for and what we’re about. Like there is that one picture of me where it looks like I’m doing the „Sieg Heil“ Hand in the air greeting. It’s ridiculous, what’s funny about it is that i watch videos of myself and see the pictures all the time. But at that moment I was on stage and was like everybody unite, unite! Putting my hand in the air. I was looking at a clip of it and was oh man, look what I’m doing, you know what I mean? It was a clip of an earlier show at the A-7 club. I’m looking at it and i have the whole footage of the entire show. It was a 22 minute set, it was great. I’m talking about everybody unite, Black and White, Punks and Skins. It’s funny looking back at it, everybody is freaking out. Then they listen to the lyrics and are like oh, I get it now.
AFL: In chapter 25 you talk about how there were benefit shows and sales of the repressing of United Blood to raise money for your criminal defense. Looking back, do you think it was right to ask people for money to help pay to keep you out of jail even though you are an admitted criminal?
RM: Well I’m not sure if this came across in the book or not but. it wasn’t until I went to prison did I realize how much of a jerk I was. To be honest with you I didn’t realize all of the people that I was hurting and disrespecting, the lives that were affected by my actions. I wasn’t a petty drug dealer. I was actually more of a mule, courier. I didn’t realize that I, myself, being a mule and doing what I did, that eventually somebody could pass away from it. I didn’t put that together till, I was going to prison, I didn’t put together the extent of the benefit show at CBGB’s. It was a phenomenal show that was put together for me, by the way. All the things that were done for me to help out with my legal fees, I didn’t put it together till I sat in prison. Then I sat in prison. I sat there with nothing, no friends, no family around. It was just me, and plenty of time to think. Then did i get it, man there are all the different people. They have different beliefs and they care about me. They went out and did stuff that was against their beliefs. I mean the straight edge youth crew bands that played that show. They knew what I was arrested for. I’m like they knew something that I didn’t. I think that the bands and the people knew that I just made some bad choices. They knew I just got caught up in some stupid shit. It changed the way I think. I used to take life for granted , you know. I realized that I can’t do that anymore. I have a lot of respect for the bands that did that. They went out of their comfort zone. Especially since Hardcore and Punk fans could be confused. When a band says don’t do this and don’t do that, trying to set a positive standard on how to live your life. And those bands still supported me because of the hardcore brotherhood. Is was just phenomenal. It really touched me, maybe not so much then, because there was so much going on , at that time. Mentally it was a mind fuck. I was getting ready to leave my family and kid to go to prison. It took a while for me to process all that. Including the rerelease of United Blood and benefit shows and what it all meant. I am very grateful of all the stuff. A very important period in my life. It did change my life.
AFL: On page 205 you write „nothing toughens a guy up and builds character like going to war or prison“. In prison you definitely had some positive experiences, you got your G.E.D. became Vegetarian and sober. Would you say prison saved your life?
RM: Yeah definitely. I feel like as defined in my book. There are three huge changing points in my life. Prison being number two. I think that after putting the book together and re-reading it, it truly is three parts in one. Prison being one of those pivotal points. Sometimes when you’re the main focal point of what’s going on around you. Because you become the object of your own attention. You can become detached from day to day reality. Sometimes it’s good to step outside of that circle. To step back and look at it from the outside in. Instead of me how I looked at it from inside out. Being incarcerated, I was on the outside looking back into it. I started realizing shit, like what the fuck. What am I doing to these people. I’m hurting these people. I’m watching my kid come to visit me. I was hurting my family. I learned to be unselfish. It has changed me personally completely. I wasn’t the big star anymore, not saying I was a star you know what I mean.
AFL: Would you say to the youth of today think twice?
RM: Yah absolutely. At the end of my book in the epilogue. I think, I tell the story of how I’ve changed but just to a certain point. Like when I was a kid and threw that fucking garbage pail through a McDonalds window in broad daylight. In the book I say I would still do that. Well I would probably go at night (laughing softly). I’m saying that as long as I’m disturbing the system, that’s Punk Rock enough for me. Give ’em a hard time. They won’t open on time and lose money.
AFL: Are you still vegetarian and sober today?
RM: Hum well (Pauses for a moment before giving a response). I am trying to do the vegan thing again right now, believe it or not. But I slipped out of that lifestyle. There are a bunch of reasons as to „Why ?“. Let’s just say I eat very healthy. Especially now that I’m a family man. Our family tries to eat vegetarian and at least eat consciously. I eat as healthy as possible but I will say that once in a while I enjoy chicken. The same goes for drinking. I don’t drink except for once in a blue moon. For example when I’m in Germany I might have a good beer here and there. Nothing crazy, like if I’m in Germany for let’s say a month. I would have two or three beers during the length of my stay. The beer is good in Germany, but here in America it sucks, so hell no. It’s very rare that you’ll find me hanging out drinking beers with the guys.
AFL: Back to the book and chapter 30. Honestly till now I thought we would have heard more about Stigma. Until now and throughout the rest or the book it’s mostly you and other people who write music, lyrics and produce AF. Only here do we get a little insight to Vinnie’s role in the band. Unfortunately aside from you talking about how he is on stage, and as in real life and being a great entertainer, his contributions to Agnostic Front go mostly unmentioned. Are you saving your story about you and Vinnie for the next book.
RM: Well here’s the thing. Twenty eight pages of the book got lost during the three edits. It’s weird you’re mentioning stuff. Because by the time I got the third edit of the book. I just speed read through and honestly there was stuff that I just didn’t remember if it made it into the book or not. All the stuff about the Rumblers car club didn’t make it into the book either. Like I said there were a lot of pages that got lost. There was stuff with Matt Henderson and stories with Craig Setari, that just got lost. There was definitely more Vinnie stuff for sure. What it all came down to is that the editors wanted to keep the focus on my personal life. It really wasn’t or at least intended to be a book about Agnostic Front. It is a book about my life, although Agnostic Front is a very big part of my life. At first I was a little upset when they got rid of some of the stories. Especially the ones I thought were really cool. I saw all these different additions coming out in different languages. I wish I had known because we would have added some of those stories. I get it now why they removed some of the pages. It is what it is and I don’t think it was done deliberately. I think the point was made. Everyone I know really loves the book and read it really fast. They wanted a book that you could pick up and the book would grab your attention. The kind of book that once you started reading you couldn’t put down. I think the editors achieved that and in a way I’m like mission accomplished. There is definitely material that could have made it. At the same time I think the three stories are about me coming to America. Then it’s about me joining the band and then going to prison. And finally about where I am today. There are quick shots at things happening along the path.
AFL: The rest of the book, from circa 2001 till present in my opinion seems rushed. I would think that with all the touring and places that you’ve been you could write another 300 pages, or is there not a lot to tell except from been there done that? Of course not to minimize the role your wife Emily or the rest of your family plays. Do you sometimes think that they held you back from reaching the maximum on telling about your life as a Hardcore musician?
RM: Well, the thing about that is: When I put the whole layout of the book and everything I wanted to do in it. At first I wanted to go as far as the Cause For Alarm era. Then do another book up till the next record, see how that went, then do another book. I just decided to do the whole damned thing in one shot. I knew I didn’t want to make a big book, rather a thick book with too many pages. I think, that not everyone wants to read such a long book. So I wanted to keep it in the 300 page range. I wanted to keep it interesting and exciting. Writing the book is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. There is definitely another book, that will come out. Writing the book was not an easy task. It took a long time. I started back in 1999. I like how it went, Cause For Alarm and that stuff. You know I wasn’t even going to put the prison stuff in. I went through a lot of therapeutic stuff. Which helped release and deal with all of those memories. One thing is true I rushed through everything after the prison stuff. Then again, A: I lost a lot of pages, B: I wanted to keep it short. I get it a lot of peoples interest is with the band and everything. Mostly the early stuff anyway. It didn’t make sense to talk about all the other eras. To go on talking about all the members and concerts. It may seem to be a kind of a rush talking about how I got to where I am Today. I don’t think anyone noticed I crammed so many years in so few pages. I did put more importance in my writing the early years. In my view that’s what most people seem to be interested in. So I think It’s ok.
AFL: Earlier this summer I meet up with Craig Silverman back stage at the Mission Ready festival. He told me how he and Mike Gallo had been working on new Agnostic Front songs and a new album is in the works. Have you passed the torch so to say as far as musical content is concerned in Agnostic Front music?
RM: Um, no not entirely. I think all the people in the band write the songs. Usually it’s me and Mike Gallo and has been for a while. So it’s me, Mike and whoever is playing guitar at the time whether it’s Joe or whoever. Craig is new to the band. He’s been with the band since the American Dream Died. which is now four years. He joined the band about a year before that, so let’s say he’s been with us for five years now. Craig’s involvement is definitely more prominent this time. Writing the music is pretty much equal all the way around. Which we are really excited about because. When Craig first joined the band we were already writing the American Dream Died. There were a bunch of songs written already. His contribution on that, aside from his guitar playing, which is awesome, by the way, was to help us out on a few songs and fix a couple of things. On this New Album there is a lot more contribution coming from him.
AFL: When can we expect a new Agnostic Front Album.
RM: We will start recording next year. We plan on being finished with recording by May. We will then release it a little later. Most likely by September latest October. Next year there are a lot of things planned for the band. The Film ( The Godfathers of Hardcore) will be out as well, somehow, someway. So we will be celebrating the Film. We will also be celebrating 35 years of Victim In Pain. So there are a lot of things happening.
AFL: Your also set to release another solo album as Roger Miret & the Disasters. Can you tell us about the line-up for the new album and about the songs that will be on it.
RM: Well, what’s been going on with that is as always. We have been writing songs here and there. Basically Rhys and I are the main guys. He’s in Texas and I’m here and thank god for the internet. We basically go back and forth. He was just here with his new band Liberty and Justice. They have an upcoming record, which I produced in the studio. It should be out soon. You know for years we have had songs going back and forth. We would say we are going to save this song for that record and another song for something else. So we just are gathering together everything we got. And of course we are going to gather the last people we had in the band. Even a lot of the old people came out of the woodwork offering their service. Mostly like: Hey I’ll play bass or I’ll play drums, if you need me! For recording we would like to work with the same people who did the last record with us. Like Roy, who recorded our last record with us. With Pete, who is also in Street Dogs currently. These are guys who never left the band they were just out doing other things. They know I’m busy and they just love playing disasters music. So there is no set time line or line-up. I’m sure Johnny would like to come back, or Luke. Those guys are always down to play. Plus I have some local guys here in Arizona, who toured with us last time. I would like to keep them on board. Like I told them, I just need a break. I don’t want to disrespect anybody, you know. I could technically go all over the place and record a few songs with all the old guys and have a pretty cool record if I want. I don’t have a release date or tittle for that. But who knows.
By the way we don’t have a title for the new Agnostic Front album yet. There’s a lot of things happening man. Just when I thought I was slowing down, guess I’m not.
AFL: In November you will be back on tour in Europe. Are you looking forward to it.
RM: Yes! I think there will be a show in Cologne, Germany. We are doing a bunch of dates in France as well.
AFL: Thanks again for taking time for the interview, any last words or something to add?
RM: No man. That was a good interview. I think we covered a lot of material. Once again keep an eye out for the film, „The Godfathers Of Hardcore“ directed by Ian McFarland.