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Interview: Agnostic Front

mit Roger Miret vom 29. Februar 2012 im LOGO, Hamburg
Mitten unter der Woche machte sich Metal Trails wieder einmal für euch auf den Weg in die Studentenstammkneipe LOGO im Herzen des Hamburger Universitätsviertels, um mit Roger Miret von der amerikanischen Hardcore-Metalcore-Speedmetal-Punk-Crossover-Formation „Agnostic Front“ nicht nur über die stilistisch vielseitige Vergangenheit der Band zu sprechen.
Agnostic Front waren im Zuge ihres internationalen Tourgeschehens nämlich nicht nur in den typischen Konzertländern wie Deutschland oder den Staaten unterwegs, sondern besuchten wie selbstverständlich auch musikalisch oft herzlich vernachlässigte Exoten wie Singapur, den Irak oder Malaysia. Es gab viel zu feiern, denn die Formation aus dem Lande von McDonalds und Millionenklagen rund um Katzen und Mikrowellen zelebriert 2012 ihr 30jähriges Jubiläum! Das ist eine stattliche Zeit, in der man so einiges erlebt hat und den Wandel der Szene von einer reinrassigen Untergrundkultur zu einem Welt-Genre von ihren Grundfesten an mitverfolgen konnte.
Aus dem zunächst recht stilistisch angehauchten Gespräch entwickelte sich dann gegen Ende eine hochpolitische Unterhaltung zum Thema Sozialstaat, in welchem Roger seine Lebenserfahrungen zum Thema Systemschmarotzer, Obdachlosigkeit und gewissermaßen auch Altruismus darlegt. Dabei lässt er weder Vietnam-Veteran noch Suppenküche aus und beweist eine sehr grundständige und nüchterne Auffassung vom Leben und unserer Gesellschaft. Ob man seine Ansichten teilt oder nicht – dieser Mann sich einige Gedanken um sich und die Menschen gemacht, unter denen er lebt.
Wie genau Roger die vergangenen drei Dekaden resümiert, inwiefern sich Musik und Menschen verändert haben, was ihn an der Welt stört und wo er die Band in Zukunft sieht, all das erfahrt ihr in einem diesmal recht schwermütigem Interview der „etwas anderen“ Art.
Viel Spaß beim Lesen!

Das Interview

Arne: Hi guys! It’s Metal Trails and today we’re here in the LOGO in Hamburg, talking to Roger Miret from Agnostic Front. Hi Roger, how are you doing?
Roger: I’m doing good, man! I am really happy to be here in Germany. It’s been our home for many many years. We’re celebrating our “My Life, My Way” album release which has been very successful. All the shows have been great and a lot of them were sold out. A lot of good times and a lot of good people. Our expectations should be great! We give a lot of energy and a lot of energy comes back in the same way. So it’s really powerful shows!
Arne: You’re playing in the LOGO today which is a quite small location. Do you prefer the direct fan contact of such venues or do you like bigger stages best?
Roger: I prefer the better fan contact, because our music has always have had a “one on one” level intent. We put out so much energy and it just feels good when the people are right there, giving it back. Direct in-your-face energy!
This is our 30 anniversary tour from when I joined the band in 1982. The band has been around since 1981, so it’s over 30 years. But we’re doing great, like this is the anniversary from our first single as well. It’s just a big party – anniversary worldwide! It starts here in Europe and it goes to Asia, to Australia, to New Zealand, back here to Europe, then to South America. It just keeps moving.
Arne: That’s a long time, especially for a musician! A time in which you certainly have seen a lot of places and met a lot of people. Are there key moments in the band’s or your personal history you remember in an instant when you’re looking back?
Roger: That’s a hard one, man! It’s been a lot of great years. But it’s also like a giant rollercoaster ride where there are always a lot of ups and downs. But we’re right at it. We’re passionate. We’re dedicated to what we do and we believe in what we do. So as long as you want to see Agnostic Front, Agnostic Front will be here. You know, with the good, with the bad – we’re here!
Arne: Has there ever been a point where you actually thought about giving up?
Roger: No, not really. There was a moment were I took a little break for two years – I think it was in 1994 – to go to university and finish some studies I wanted to do. But the band was still there. Then there was another moment where I was incasterated for two years. The band was still there, it was just that I was in prison. Or I took a little break to be with my family. But we’d been always there. We were doing things and wrote stuff for the show. We were just not playing it for a life.
All those things have formed me, of course. Who I am! What I am. It just kind of guided me to whatever necessary areas I needed to be guided through. I’ve always spoken about my journey in life. It’s pretty much documented in my lyrics and stuff like that. Everything is a lesson! Every day is a lesson. Every single day is a little of something new in life. And I’m thankful for that. You know, I’m not that kind of guy to sit back and say “No!” and “Whatever …” I’m grateful to learn something new. The world is unbelievable! It’s a magical place.
Arne: So it’s still an amazing job for you to do and not at all like feeling burned out or something like that?
Roger: No, no! I’m not burned out at all. I’m just … well, you know. Besides the music that I do I’m a family man! I’ve got children. I’m not only in Agnostic Front. I do Roger Miret and the Disasters. I also have a new thing, The Alligators. So I’m really musically into a lot of different things. I’m very busy. Then I’m a mechanic. I do a lot of things and I like to use my hands. And I’m a family man, as I said. I don’t find time for boredom, and there’s no need for boredom. You can always test your mind and expand it. Just go to the internet and learn. Just every day is a lot of experience, and that’s great! You know, you can be home and just do nothing, be a couch potato and watch MTV, drink a beer or whatever you want to do. Or you can explore the world. And that’s what I’d rather do.
Arne: Is it sometimes hard for you to manage this professional life besides personal life with your family?
Roger: Sometimes it can be a little bit difficult because my children miss me and I miss my children, of course. But this technology today makes it a lot easier, like Skype! We get to “see” each other. But I feel like it’s a necessity for me to do because it keeps me as a well-rounded person and makes me happy to be who I am. Yeah, it’s something I need to do. Something that keeps me in good spirits.
Arne: Stylistically, you changed a lot over the past years. How do you personally see that?
Roger: Here’s the deal. Agnostic Front has always been leaders, not followers! People give things names, and again Agnostic Front has always been on the leading front of stuff. Then we recycle ourselves. We go back and forth. The most important thing about the band is the lyrics. They have always kind of remained the same elements.
Musically, it’s like how we feel. If we feel ugly today then we’re gonna play an ugly song. If it feels poppy we’re gonna play it more happy. There’s no limit. We do what we feel is right. What we love to do. I guess we’re inspired by ourselves. Our past albums have always been on the leading edge of all those so-called “cliché musical things”. But as for us, we’re just a band. We live it in our music and that’s what the people can hear.
Arne: I think the scene has changed a lot over the years.
Roger: Yeah, it’s changed a lot! When we started it was a very small and personal thing. Like everything else that grows, it’s got quite a downside too. But there’s passionate people. The scene can grow to 3.000 people, and in this 3.000 people you’ll probably find two hundred or three hundred passionate people. And these are the people I pay attention to, the people that keep returning to my shows. The ones that believe it. You know what I mean? There’s a lot of people being there for the time, for the moment, because they like a song or whatever. But I like to focus on the true – you know – “Vikings”! On the true believers! That’s what I go for.
Arne: When you’re touring the world and you’re meeting so many people, is it like you actually see them again every here and there? Or isn’t it so many that come and go that they’re merely faces for you?
Roger: No, it’s really that we made a lot of friends too! And we’re very happy. Today, there’s gonna be so many friends we know. We look forward to going to cities because we know our friends are gonna be there that we’ve met for many years. And of course there’s new faces too! We’re excited to make new friends. We just put our heart and our passion into it and people see that. People want to relate to something that is real, that is genuine. When they see that in Agnostic Front, they want to be a part of it.
Arne: Have there been any disturbing experiences? Maybe fans that went “too far”?
Roger: I don’t think so. Everybody’s got his moments. There’s always somebody who is too drunk or who really does something, but no one’s ever really been crazy or unordinary.
Arne: Some critics are worried about your music being anti welfare state. How much truth is in that? Is it merely a hangover from past days or still accurate?
Roger: I think those people – people who say that – obviously don’t live in America and don’t know what they are talking about. I’m from Cuba, from a minority. We were all on welfare. That’s just ignorance. Cause what we speak about and what I believe is: What’s good for one person should be good for everybody! If there’s a pot of money, then share it with anybody. Some people will need more than others. And that’s acceptable too, because some people have a harder life and they need it. You know, maybe there’s no Father around or something like medical reasons. It’s a necessity welfare of course. And it’s good for people. I believe in all that stuff. But I don’t believe in people that abuse the system. People that take, take, take, and they don’t want to work or better themselves. That’s what I’m against. Now, if you need it, you need it! A mother with 3 kids … absolutely! We should help these people! We should help the people of need. Everyone should have medicine. So medication should be socialized. Education should be socialized! So that’s it.
Do I hate welfare state? No, I’m with it! See, I don’t know why people are talking all this shit, but they do. It’s more about being ignorant. What I am always against is – I can tell you because I’m from Cuba, I’m Hispanic, I am a minority coming right from the horse’s mouth – I’m against people that abuse the situation, that abuse the system. Those people should be out! If you’re gonna be on welfare and you’re gonna get assistance from the government, from the tax payers, from America, then you should go through a mandatory drug test. You shouldn’t do drugs, you should be taking care of your family, of yourself or whatever, and better yourself! That money should be used for education or food or just to better yourself. This is normal life! If people can’t deal with reality, they just shouldn’t talk shit. It’s reality. It’s an abuse of the system. You see, it happens worldwide. It happens here in Germany! But it happens a lot more in America.
I think if somethin’s good for a black person then it’s good for a Spanish person. It should be good for an Asian. It should be good for a white person. It should be good for everybody! I’m into equality, into keeping things equal and everybody having to share the pie. That’s what my beliefs are.
Arne: So it’s against capitalism?
Roger: Yeah! I mean, unfortunately we’re in a capitalist country. But everything’s got its ups and its downs. I’m for the people! Agnostic Front has always been for the people. You know, we speak about oppression and overcoming oppression. We just talk about the truth. And when you mention the truth, when you mention something that is so hard and yet so true, people want to point the fingers at it.
Arne: Do you think that’s mainly an American problem or do you see it in other states as well? How about Europe?
Roger: Well, I live in America so I can only speak for America. I do see some of it in Europe, but Europe is such a beautiful place. There is so much poverty in America, while I walk through cities in Europe and just think “Wow, this is so beautiful!” You don’t really see Bums, you don’t see homeless people that much. I’m sure that there is! I’m sure that bigger cities have them and I’m sure that Hamburg has a couple of them. But America is devastating with homeless people! Devastating with Vietnam vets that fell for their country or whatever and who are crippled and nobody cares about them. You know, stuff like that. America is full of it! And there’s no way of really reaching out to those people. That’s really sad. That a person who’s put his life in his hands like for war or for whatever is out on the streets living as a homeless person. That person should never have to do that. Something went wrong in his life, something went wrong somewhere, and I am all about helping people like that.
Arne: What’s your personal way of doing that? Through your music?
Roger: My lyrics speak worldwide! Everybody that feels like I feel, they understand what I mean! Directly affecting and helping people, that’s kind of hard because every state, everyone has his own way of doing that. But Agnostic Front has done a lot. I used to eat at a homeless shelter and we would do every year in October a show just for food and a can full of money and get it to a homeless shelter. Every year in Christmas time we would do a show and give all that money for the kids that are dying of some kind of terminally ill disease. We would do that! Agnostic Front did that. I haven’t done this in years now, but things have changed here. It’s difficult … a lot of things. But we’re active in a lot of different ways.
Arne: What’s up next for the band?
Roger: I never know what’s up next, you know? We travel. Of course I need to spend as much as possible quality time with my family too. So … what’s directly next to this tour? We’re going to Singapore, Malaysia, Bagdad I think. And then we’re going to New Zealand, then Australia and then we’re gonna go to South America. Come back here to Europe, too. A couple of stuff in America. We’re active! We’re always playing, we’re always doing stuff. And the same time we’re always returning home to our jobs. We all work. Nobody goes home, sits and does nothing. Everybody goes home and works. Everybody goes home and attend to their family. We’re a very working class band.
Arne: Well, then. Thanks for taking the time for this interview! Do you have some final words to the fans out there?
Roger: I want to say thank you for all your support! For all these years! We greatly appreciate it. We know deep down inside that if it wasn’t for you – our fans, our friends we like to say – we would never make our dreams come true of coming here and performing and just having a good time. So thank you!
Moderation: Arne Luaith
Hört hier in's neuste Album von Agnostic Front rein:

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