Madball Frontman Freddy Cricien Discusses "Empire"
Madball is undoubtedly one of the hardest working bands in the world of hardcore. Having start when lead singer Freddy Cricien (aka Freddy Madball) was only nine years old, they have made a name for themselves as true legends of hardcore music. I was lucky enough to ask Freddy a few questions lately about the new album, "Empire," the situation with drummer Jay Weinberg and what he thinks of the modern day hardcore scene.
Diamond Oz: You guys are getting ready to release your new album, "Empire" at the moment. How has the approach to writing changed from "Infiltrate The System" to "Empire?"
Freddy Cricien: The approach was very similar except we had a little less time to work with. There was more pressure on this one, but I think that actually helped! There was no time to over think stuff. We used the riffs, etc that we felt good about, then we had to just go in and execute in the studio, no playing around. It worked, in my opinion.
Diamond Oz: You worked with Erik Rutan on the album, who is of course more associated with death metal. How did the pairing of Rutan and Madball come about?
Freddy: We linked up through a mutual friend. Erik knew our background and was a fan of our band. So, he knew how we wanted to approach this album. Him and I spoke many times about that. I felt a good vibe with him. He was excited about working with us, happy to be doing something different. He wanted to prove that he is a diverse producer. I had faith he would do us justice. We both took a chance, and well, you be the judge of the end result.
Diamond Oz: You also have a new drummer now in the form of Jay Weinberg, how did he become a part of the band and what does he bring to Madball?
Freddy: We recently let Jay go. There's a statement from us circulating. He just wasn't a fit on a personal level. He played well on the album and wasn't a bad drummer. As far as writing with us, he didn't really bring too much to the table. He sort of just played what we told him to. Which is not a bad thing. He did add his some of his own little flares and accents, like any drummer would. But the "meat and potatoes" was written by Hoya, Mitts, and me. He was just at the right place at the right time. We needed a drummer and he was there. Had I known he want going to be a fit, I may have opted out of using him for the record. But hey, it's a done deal and we have a hell of a record,in my opinion.. Regardless of who played drums on it.
Diamond Oz: Lyrically, what subjects are covered on "Empire"?
Diamond Oz: Well, there's 16 songs and every story is different. So, I cover all kinds of topics, based on reality of course..ha. And NO, they're not all about the hard core scene! I wrote a song about my wife once, and how she helped me through a really dark period in my life. I heard kids saying, oh that's about his love for the hc scene.. Get a life! Check out the lyrics, but read before making assumptions. Of course there are songs about our movement. But there's so much more as well.
Diamond Oz: Another change for you is that you're now on Nuclear Blast Records. Which party made the move to join forces and how have they treated you so far?
Freddy: Yes we are on NB in Europe and select territories. We are with good fight in North America. NB showed interest in us when they heard we were looking for a label in Europe. My brother Roger (Agnostic Front) who is also on NB, he helped make the connection. But, there was a lot of interest from both parties. So far they done well. Let's see after the album drops.. Haha! I'm sure they'll do fine.
Diamond Oz: Are there any plans to release a music video for the album?
Freddy: Absolutely. We are doing 2 for this album.
Diamond Oz: Next month, you'll be heading to Great Britain with Sick Of It All (which I already have my ticket for,) which is obviously a dream tour for fans of hardcore. Why did you decide to bring this package to the U.K.?
Freddy: This package, which we're calling the NY United tour, is starting in Europe then heading over to the UK. It wasn't just specifically planned for the uk. But I think it's good for both bands to play together there. Looking forward to it!
Diamond Oz: After the U.K. where are you guys planning to tour?
Freddy: We have some in the states, then back to Europe next year. Japan and Australia after that, and so on..
Diamond Oz: By now, you guys have performed in countries that many bands can only dream of. Where is your favourite place to play and is there anywhere you'd like to perform that you haven't had the chance to yet?
Freddy: Hard to pick on favorite to be honest. We've had the good fortune to have good shows all over the world! We definitely want to play South East Asia, Africa, and we'll probably do Mexico soon!
Diamond Oz: In 2007, you contributed to the Sick Of It All tribute album, "Our Impact Will Be Felt." How did you feel about paying tribute to one of your contemporaries and if plans were made for a Madball tribute album, who would you want to hear cover you?
Freddy: It felt good to contribute. I have the utmost respect for those guys, they deserve to have a tribute album. They've earned that. When we were asked we were all about it, happy to participate. As far as an MB tribute. We have a ways to go before that happens. But if/when it does happen, I'd like to hear bands who I know genuinely respect us cover us. Not just band wagon bands.. Know what I mean? But I'm not opposed to bands from any and all genres covering us, I actually would prefer that. It would make it interesting.
Diamond Oz: Last year, you released your debut hip-hop album, "Catholic Guilt," which features some of the best names in modern rap such as Vinnie Paz and Slaine. How did these colloborations come about?
Freddy: Yes "Catholic Guilt" is out and circulating and being well received... I'm happy to say. As far as the collobo's go, I know both Slaine and Vinnie. Slaine is Family. Vinnie, I know him for a few years now,good dude. I like both their styles and respect what they're doing. So, I asked them to jump on some tracks. They were happy to do it!
Diamond Oz: Are there any plans to release a second hip-hop album?
Freddy: Yes there are. I'm starting to work on it now. It'll be titled- The Road To Sin.
Diamond Oz: How do you view the hardcore scene today, both in New York and worldwide?
Freddy: It's great. Growing everyday globally, I'm happy and proud to see that. But remember folks, respect the old school and the new. There's no progress without the two.
Diamond Oz: How has the hardcore scene in New York changed over the years?
Freddy: It's changed in size, it's bigger, It's changed with fashion, like everything. But the spirit and essence are very much intact. That tradition has been passed on and continues to be.
Diamond Oz: We have a segment on MetalUnderground.com called "Pit Stories," where, as you might expect, bands tell us about some of the craziest and funniest things they've ever seen while performing. Do you have any tales from the pit that you'd like to share with us?
Freddy: Saw a guy moshing naked. Pretty damn funny and horrifying at the same time!
Diamond Oz: Thank you very much for your time, I'm really looking forward to seeing you live again next month. Do you have any parting words for the hardcore faithful reading this?
Freddy: Thank you! Hardcore still lives! Pick up Empire you won't be disappointed!
Madball's new album, "Empire" will be in stores everywhere from October 12th.
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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