INTERVIEW: Madball – “This isn’t jazz hippie rock, this is hardcore.”

Photo by Alex T. Rosso

New York City hardcore legends MADBALL has become very established within the hardcore scene since forming in 1988. They are one of the older NYHC bands who are still on top of the game. A chat with Mitts.

Mitts: “Agnostic Front were the first, then Sick Of It All and Madball was luckily to join that group. Agnostic Front and Sick Of It All never stopped and kept it alive, we try to do that with Madball as well. A lot of old NYHC bands did not last that long. Sometimes hardcore is huge and sometimes its not but we try to stay on the course.”

Madball is one of those bands that survived the trends and the ups and downs within hardcore.

We stick to what we do, we never tried to be another band, we never tried to play punkrock or metal. We have always been Madball, a hardcore band. We don’t change, we don’t compromise. We definitely try to bring some variety in what we do. If you listen to ‘Infiltrate the system’, there is a little more metal then we usually do. A record like hold it down is more a pure hardcore record but a Madball record will always have that Madball sound. Its not that we don’t respect all kinds of music but we stick to what we are good at,” Mitts, says.

Madball is going on for almost 23 years now and some music critics say that every Madball album is just the same record over and over again. Mitts does not agree, bands like Slayer and AC/DC make the same record over and over again but it’s a great record, they are the best in what they do, replies Mitts.

I don’t think we make the same record every time but the critics can say what they want. This isn’t jazz hippie rock where you experiment and go with different sounds, this is hardcore. We might bring something new into the mix but you always gonna have that Madball base. If you want variety go listen to jazz or whatever but if you want good NYHC, that is what we are going to do for you every time”, Mitts says.

In the song R.A.H.C. on Empire, Madball’s latest album, they are angry on the makers of the book/documentary ‘American Hardcore’ that only portraits a certain era of American hardcore. For Madball its an insult to everyone that came in contact with hardcore after the mid eighties. (fragment taken from the press kit of the movie: AMERICAN HARDCORE traces this lost subculture, from its early roots in 1980 to its extinction in 1986).

We saw an advertising for the movie that said ‘American hardcore from its beginning to its end in 1986, like they saying that its dead. I came into hardcore in 1985. All these bands like AF never stopped and bands like Black Flag were around for only a few years, its like a phase for them. Hardcore for bands as AF and SOIA is their life, they are around for 25 years now. Also everything is about perspective, my first hardcore bands were Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags and Sick Of It all, it would be like me saying that those newer bands like Cruel hand, Comeback Kid suck, that’s bullshit. If you are coming into hardcore today, than the bands of today is your music. The makers moved away from hardcore in their life, so they say hardcore is dead, bullshit”, Mitts says.

Anger is an energy that keeps Madball going.

No matter how much you changed in your life, we’re not the same guys when we were nineteen but you still have the same opinions and feelings. There is a lot more to our life’s now, everybody got families but hardcore is angry music and you got to write things about that. Its still inside us, but we are more developed people now. Not all our songs are angry or negative, we have songs about empowerment, girls and moving forward,” Mitts says.

Rag Men was a band Mitts started with current and former members of Hatebreed, Earth Crisis, Merauder and Freya. When I asked if there ever will be another Rag Men album, Mitts replied that someday he would love to do another Rag Men album, but the circumstances must be right. So about Rag Men … we just have to wait and see.


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