Roger Miret And The Disasters (12 mai 2005)
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Hi Ė Roger?
Hey, this is Catherine from Montreal, for the interview for PunkMeUp.com, how are you?
How are you?
Iím good, and how are you?
Good. How you doin?
UmÖ not bad, uh, can you hear me ok?
I can hear you pretty good.
Alright, so where are you right now?
Iím actually somwhere in transit between um, letís say between umÖ last night we left St-Petersburgh, Florida, so weíre somewhere betweeh St-Petersburgh and Atlanta, Goeorgia. Weíre supposed to be in Atlanta GA sometime today.
Youíre on tour with Agnostic Front, right?
Howís that going so far?
Itís going pretty good, you know, just out on tour supporting that new record Another Voice.
And whatís the reaction so far? How are the people liking it?
Kids are going nuts you know, thatís what itís all about! (laughs)
Alright! Um, to me and to so many people out there, there is absolutely no doubt that youíve contributed to the HC movement like know one else, you are the godfather of HC to so many people; how does that affect you as an individual?
Um, as an individual, I think Iíve always been you know, one on one with the people that come out and see us; I know Iím an outcast, a misfit, probably just like all these people who come out and see us. I never felt like I was better, or functionning Ė what, because ďso calledĒ what they think of or what they thought of me as or whatever, you know what I mean? To me, Iím grateful of it because ití s people just giving respect to all the work that weíve been doing, it means that at least some people are very respectful of it. But Iím just one of everyone, you know?
Youíre pretty humble about it, thatís cool. Nowadays, whether we like it or not, um, punk and hardcore and all that, itís a big industry. There are bands that are all for that, but thereís others that get sucked in, chewed up and spitted out. Youíve experienced a time when the business side of things wasnít so predominant Ė can you tell us a bit about that time?
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Hey, do you mind holding on for one second?
Iím gonna tell this guy to hold on.
No problem, go ahead.
Yeah, that guy was late for calling me, so I told him to wait.
So what was that question again? Iím sorry.
I was just talking about how punk and hardcore and music altogether is a big huge industry and that youíve experienced a time when it the business side of this wasnít so big, and I was wondering if you had any insight about that?
Well, like anything else, you know, it grows; just like every movement, with popularity, some of the stuff will get watered down, some of the stuff will remain true and underground and as hardcore punk as it always was. I like to always say that Agnostic Front always kind of remained that way. But then again you canít flag a band for being succesful, because somebody heard it somewhere and all of a sudden a million other people liked the song, you know? As long as they still remain the same, true to themselves and true to the people following them, then thatís fantastic. Iím thinking of bands like Rancid, who are great bands, and even Green Day, itís not their fault they had commercial success, you know? They just happened to be there at the right place at the right time, but they still remain true to their beliefs and stuff like that. Iím not the type of guy that will tell you that this and this or that or whatever, sucks; I would rather put on the radio and I would rather turn on the tv and see our kind of music being played, because itís just awareness of whatís going on in this world, thatís what the whole goal is; the more people know, the better it is. So itís social awareness, Iím all for that.
How do you manage being in two bands once, full-time?
Well, itís difficult because Iíve been non-stop touring for a good three years, but I like doing both of them at separate times because it kind of refreshes me from one to the other. Iíve been doing Agnostic Front since December 23rd and Iím gonna be straight out until August 1st. So by the time I get back with The Disasters, Iíll be felling really good about doing that, you know what I mean? And theyíre both really different musically and lyrically. With The Disasters, Iím a lot more personal than I am with Agnostic Front. With The Disaster I can get more personal because I donít feel thereís so much tension whereas there is more in Agnostic Front. Itís a little weird. But um, you know, one is my life as with Agnostic Front, and the other is my life prior to Agnostic Front, and going into it now and reminiscing is what itís all about.
Thatís cool. And what makes you want to keep on playing music? Whatís the reward in it for you?
Well, you know, the reward is just doing it, really. You know how youíll have these people that will tell you ďI donít feel this way anymoreĒ or ďI grew upĒ or whatever? I feel the same way. I go homeÖ You know what it really is to me? Itís New York City, itís like my refueling center; like you know, just when you feel likeÖ maybe this, this or whatever, and all of a sudden you go home and you stillÖ where Iím from, I still see all this shit and this worldís really a fucked up place, you know what I mean? You still put on the news, and itís the same things, you know maybe a little cleaner here or there, but someoneís still getting mugged, somebodyís still bombing somebody, itís the same thing. And I donít let it grow out of me, you know? To me, it means something.
So youíve been in New York for a long time. Do you still enjoy the spirit?
Youíve been in New York for a long time, I mean youíve spent most of your life there. Do you still enjoy the spirit? Is it still the same?
Well, I mean the actual city itself has changed a lot since when weíve been there; The Lower East Side is not the Lower East Side that it used to be. But myself, as with the people who actually grew up on the Lower East Side, and eventually New York City, the rents and stuff became so expensive that we had to move out, including myself - I live in Queens, which is more a suburb of the city, but thatís where all the stuff that was going on in the city is going on now, because we couldnít afford to live in the city. So I still live in the Latin community, Iím Hispanic, Iím from Cuba, and I watch all the stuff that happens around there.
And if there was one thing that you could bring back from back in the day, what would it be?
If I could bring one thing back it would be the values from back in the day. I feel like back in the day there was a lot more family values, it was just a lot more like, you know, a lot more intimate and thatís because it was a lot smaller you know? The scene back in the day was thirty people, tops. Iím talking about a real scene, a scene that didnít need no band to be playing or nothing like that, just to be a scene. Every day, we all knew we were gonna hang out in some park, and just hang out there all night and listen to our little cassette player and whatever, listen to music, you know, do our thing the whole time or hang in some squat or whatever it was. I mean, a lot of those family values are gone and thatís because the scene grows; any time that something grows, people come from all kinds of other places and thatís cool, but the core of the scene kind of gets a little bit washed out, if you know what I mean. But thatís the only thing I really miss, I mean, other than thatÖ plus all the bands that originated this whole thing which is fantastic, well a lot of them are gone, and thereís a lot of new bands Ė I prefer the older bandís sound, you know? My favorite band in the worldís The Clash, and Dead Kennedys, that whole era of bands and all that shit which was fantastic, I miss those sounds, you know?
And speaking of your musical influences, theyíre definitively rooted in the old school world. Are there any contemporary artists that have been an influence on you or on your music or your lyrics?
Well Joe Strummer has always been my idol. Besides Joe Strummer, thereís been Roger Daltrey from The Who, he had incredible lyrics, just the way he thought, he was my number one guy, especially when I first started signing, Roger Daltrey wasÖ I mean The Who to me was like one of the first punk band, you know? And I thought he was always fantastic. And then Joe Strummer, of course, those are my two main guys.
How did the time you spent in jail affect you personally, and how did it affect your band and your music ultimately at the time?
Well, it definitely affected me; It shows you how to appreciate life and not take life for granted, if you know what I mean. You donít know what youíve got until you donít have that freedom any more, or you canít do this, canít do that, youíre under someone elseís command. You really donít know how much you appreciate the life you have. Itís an unfortunate thing that happened to me but, at the same time, it was kind of fortunate because it just re-valued my whole life. It was an incredible learning experience. Now I appreciate things a lot more than I ever did.
Do you have a favorite city on tour? Youíve toured all over the placeÖ
New York City! I love New York City, itís everything to me. I represent New York City and the hardcore punk community Ė itís my baby.
Thatís cool Ė thereís no place like home.
Ok, weíre gonna talk about The Disasters a little bit. Can you tell me where the name comes from? Does it relate to the people that are in the band, or is it more about experiences, orÖ whatís it about?
Originally, letís get to that becayse originally, the band was called Kids Kids Kill Kill. Thatís what I always wanted to call the band, it was my favorite punk rock store back in the day, and it was also a song from umÖ I canít remember what band, maybe it was a Damned song? noÖ I canít remember right now, it was an early punk song, but I always thought it was a great name, Kids Kids Kill Kill. But the record label Ė we signed with Hellcat Ė they just thought it was, likeÖ they thought it would be better if people knew that it was me and whatever, and I never liked that at all, I always thought that was really clichť, I donít see the difference Ė me or somebody else, you know what I mean? So I went along with it, which I kind of wish I didnít because then all of a sudden you have like - this is right about the same time as youíre doing interviews and this and that, and I was like shit this is so clichť. But it was already too late, my record had just come out. But I decided to stick along with it because the people know it now. The second name that we came up with as a band was The Disasters, so since then weíre been Roger Miret and The Disasters and thatís the way it is. I just thought, you know, I always like the name The Disasters, thought it was really coool.
Your new album, it sounds really genuine and true. Can you talk a bit about what 1984 means to you?
Well, 1984 is exactly what you just said, itís very genuine, itís very true; Itís about a certain era Ė itís not really about the book or anything like that, which is ironic. Even my Janie Hawk song, itís a tribute to Bowie and stuff like that because basically, it has always been in the collage of my influences. At the point of 1984, even with the ďoldĒ, the original self-titled Roger and The Disasters album, itís pretty much my life prior to Agnostic Front; and with 1984, itís my life now and being in the band. 1984 is about a certain specific time in my life with Agnostic Front which was the most glorious time in my life, when it was all about the family values and things felt real, you know what I mean?
Do you miss those days?
Yeah, of course I miss them, but I canít dwell in the past. You know, to me, today thereís a great scene, thereís kids out there, thereís people as genuine as myself, as I was back then, that are looking to discover bands like Roger Miret and The Disasters. Those kids are going to big shows like that, and for them to discover more street-level bands than myself or a bunch of other bands, well thatís where my heart is and thatís what Iím hoping to accomplish.
Cool. Whatís your take on the whole internet thing? Youíve seen the days when none of this was in place Ė how do you feel this is a tool for bands? Is it a good thing? A bad thing?
Well I think itís a great think of course, for bands of my level and, you know, smaller bands too of course Ė every band, really. Itís just instant information on whatever musical band you want; One thing I donít like about the internet, and this is very very important, and thatís another part of the intimacy of back then and what made the scene so great, the kids, they all just download their music - I mean itís ok if you download some music, but then they donít go out and follow-up and pick-up the record. To me as an artist, an artist thatís been around since í79, itís not just about the music, itís about eveything. I put so much dedication into putting eveything together, from the artwork to the cover to my lyrics, to everything. The whole presentation of what the bandís like, when you see the whole thing; I remember when I used to go to record stores in 1981 or 82 and Iíd pick up a record and Iíd be like, wow, this record looks cool, and Iíd look at the band picture and artwork, Iíd give it a shot and then if I liked it, Iíd go looking for the thanks section and see what bands they had thanked, and buy those records, you know, cause I hoped they were kind of similar. It was just like going to a place and discovering things on your own, not like everythingís right there and then Ė which is cool, but then they download the stuff and then thatís it! They donít care about what youíre signing, what you talk about, they donít care about your lyrics, donít care about anything. Thatís what has to change.
If you had to put out a benefit show, what would it be for and what bands would be playing?
Well, most of the benefits Iíve ever done, and we try to this every year or every other year, I like to always do a Thanksgiving one for people on the streets, Ďcause Iíve lived on the streets. I usually do it at CBGBís and Iíll go back to the same shelter which I used to go and eat at, and I just go there and donate all the canned foods and the money we put together. I haven been able to do this one in like two or three years cause Iíve been away, but Iíd like to do another one around Christmas time for the children that are dying from AIDS and stuff like that. What I usually do is Iíll do the show at CBís, go to Toys R Us and pick-up a bunch of stuff, and show up to these kids and play Santa Claus.
Thatís really cool. So what do you have planned for the year ahead, either with Agnostic Front or The Disasters or whatever?
Well, Iím touring right now with Agnistic Front, and thatís gonna stop around August 1st, itís a lot of heavy touring. Weíre going up your way I believe, pretty soon on this tour, I think in June Ė youíre in East Coast Canada?
Oh yeah, yeah weíll be up there in June.
And then, Iím gonna pick-up with The Disasters and start touring for that probably in August soÖ
Hopefully lost more good stuff.
Anything else you want to add?
Iím ok, I think this was a great interview, Iím really happy with it!
Well thanks a lot for your time.
Ok, bye bye.