by Christopher Lee
Agnostic Front, New York City's Hardcore Legends have been bustin' heads for 30+ years, pioneering a sound that helped put the city on the map as ground zero for hardcore punk! The band are set to release their 10th studio album "The American Dream Died", and these veterans show no signs of aging or slowing down, with another great high energy assault that will pummel you over the head, with anthems that will have you screaming along in protest! Pace yourself and brace yourself for a beatdown New Yawk style! Crypt Magazine recently spoke with founding member and guitarist Mr. Vinnie Stigma before their recent show at Churchill's Pub in Miami, prepare for what is without question, one of the most entertaining interviews we have EVER done because for a man who is all business, Vinne is one funny guy! Imagine reading/hearing his words with a thick New Yawk accent! FUGGEDABOUTIT! READ ON!
Crypt: We are here in Miami with Vinnie Stigma of legendary New York Hardcore band, Agnostic Front! How are you doing Vinnie!?
Vinnie: Hi, how are you? How you doing, I'm doing GREAT! Florida's great, we love it, getting away from the cold, you know we had a brutal winter up in New York, and you know, we've just come down here for a couple of shows, and then we're hopping over to Puerto Rico for one show, coming back to Florida, Roger got to see his family, we're having such a great time, seeing allot of our old friends, you know what I mean? Our brothers, and our family, we do great in Florida, it's really like another home for us!
Crypt: So when does the new album "The American Dream Died" come out?
Vinnie: It will be dropping on the 7th, the 3rd, and the 11th, Europe, England, and America!
Crypt: So how many shows are you doing on this run, just a handful to get ready for the release of the record?
Vinnie: Just a handful on this leg, and then next month we're going to San Diego, we're doing Kirk Hammett's festival...
Crypt: Fear FestEvil!
Vinnie: Yeah, he invited us, so we're gonna play that, that'll be great fun!
Crypt: And I am sure he pays you nicely for that!
Vinnie: A lot of great bands, we're gonna have a private dinner, so I was like "I'M GOING FOR THE DINNER"! HA HA!
Vinnie: I'm going for the great time, and the good weather, everything's great and I love them guys, it's very nice, I appreciate that they invited us, so that was very nice!
Crypt: Ok, so are you going to run for President in 2016?
Vinnie: Definitely! AND THIS TIME I'M GONNA FUCKIN' WIN!
Crypt: So what are your favorite songs off the new record?
Vinnie: Oh my god, that's a rough one! Because I really love the whole record, I think, I don't know, you know what it is? It's not the songs, it's the pace of the record, first we do an intro, then we do a song, then we do a short hardcore song, then we do like a regular song, then we do 2 short hardcore songs, then we do a 2 1/2 minute song or whatever, and the pace of the record really keeps you involved! And it's like, I got a new guitar player, Craig Silverman from Boston, great guy, love 'em, he just became a dad, he has a new baby, a new band, a new album, and a new guitar! So I think he's doing pretty good this year!
Crypt: Who came up with the album title, and what does it mean to you?
Vinnie: Well, I really didn't come up with the exact title, per se...
(We get interrupted by a few of Vinnie's old friends who come backstage)
Vinnie: OK, well I didn't come up with the title or whatever, you know maybe the thought of it, MAYBE, because we're writing songs and the gist of the record and stuff like that, but what it means to me is, it's just so hard to make it today, in this world! Ya know? Everybody's having a hard time, it's really hard! When I was younger, you know, you could have got an apartment, no problem, today they want like, ya know, they want your blood! You know what I mean? It's hard! Especially in New York, the real estate is off the hook, the cops are off the hook, our politicians are off the hook, nobody's accountable for nothin'! They're giving away the fuckin' whole store, it's like, how many years am I gonna put up with this fuckin' shit!? Ya know!? So you try to do whatever you could to, I was in South America in the middle of the riots and it was awesome!
Crypt: Ok, so after 30+ years of doing this, when it just gets harder and harder for bands to survive economically, what keeps you doing this?
Vinnie: Well, I'm in pretty good shape, you know what I mean? So that helps! I really don't drink or do drugs, I'm not a drug guy, I'll have a couple of beers with the guys, ya know, I'm a regular guy! You know, now I do wine and cigars more cause I'm a little older, and uh, this is what I do, I don't know anything else to do, and I love doing it, and I'm having a great time doing it! Besides, like I said, family...friends, all over the country, for 30 years all over the world, and I miss my friends! I mean, I think about this guy right over here, on a Tuesday night, when it's snowing in New York City and I think "I wonder what my friend Craig is doing tonight"! (Referring to our mutual friend Craig who helped with the interview).
Crypt: HA HA!
Vinnie: I swear to god! I'm not joking! I mean that! And then I'll think of a friend of
mine in Germany, or maybe my friend in Japan, and then it's "fuck that, I'll go drink a beer"! You know what I mean? But this is what I live for!
Crypt: So what makes you angry, what pisses you off, what inspires you to keep going?
Vinnie: Like I said, the state of the world affairs...
Crypt: What do you think of New York City in this day and age with the gentrification and cleaning up the Bowery for example, and getting rid of CBGB which was a home to you guys?
Vinnie: That's been happening for a long time, and I'm only one man, I just tried to do whatever I could, and I help a lot of bands out, we were running the radio station Black And Blue Radio, and I got the New York Hardcore tattoo shop, a lot of bands stop off and do signings, they do record signings, what do they call that...
Crypt: "In Stores"!
Vinnie: And I try to build up a band that nobody like, the struggling band, you know what I mean? Cause they need any kind of exposure they can get, so I'll do the meet and greet, I'll take 'em to the radio show, I'll get 'em a show, they need any help, boom! They got me! They even need a place to stay,I'm always there for 'em, especially the younger kids, ya know!? Cause I know I have a kid, and if my kids out there somewhere, and a guy, like a Mike Ness type of guy, and if my sons there he would take care of my son, and that's how it works! And it could be his kid, could be Craig's kid, or your son, I know you, you know you're my friend, "Vinnie my kids coming to New York", I'm there!
Crypt: My introduction to Agnostic Front when I was a kid was hearing the song "The Eliminator" on the Combat Records "Bullets" compilation, any memories from your time with that classic label?
Vinnie: OK, well Pokey used to work in the warehouse for Combat Records, and I'm glad I'm on that label, I'm so proud I'm on that label, I think that's one of the greatest labels ever! It was all the real bands! Ya know like Slayer, Agnostic Front...
Crypt: Abbatoir, Venom, Celtic Frost...
Vinnie: Carnivore, unbelievable! What's the one from Canada?
Vinnie! VOIVOD! Yeah, all the bands! All my great friends, all those guys! I go to Canada, I hang out with them guys! As far as Combat Records, even Bobby Hambel from Biohazard worked in the warehouse! He's a record guy ya know, I just called him, talked to him about 10 minutes ago!
Crypt: 1992, Agnostic Front did the "Hangman's Ball" tour with Cannibal Corpse, Malevolent Creation, and Obituary! Any funny stories, or memories from that tour?
Vinnie: Oh yeah! I got a million stories! First of all, that was 92'! And I was there with
Malevolent Creation, Alex (Marquez, drummer) was just here, Big Al, I love Al, he's the greatest! Cannibal Corpse, Malevolent Creation, Agnostic Front, and Obituary, that was the tour! We're all great friends, I'll probably see Obituary soon, because I'm usually John Tardy (Obituary, vocals) on Halloween!
Vinnie: Yeah, I got the wig ya know!? And I wear a Miami shirt, ya know!? And flip flops! And shorts! You know how they dress, them hillbillies down here, and I love it! Ya know!?
Vinnie: I'm always somebody that we know, one year I was Dino from Fear Factory! I'm always one of my friends, I was Mike Gallo (bass) my guy in the band, I put duct tape on my eyebrows! Ya know!?
Crypt: What do you want people to get out of listening to "The American Dream Died"?
Vinnie: I want them to WAKE UP! I want unity, I want people to wake up and do, I want them to fly under the radar screen!
Crypt: "Get off The Grid"...
Vinnie: GET OFF THE GRID! You know what I mean? You know something's gonna go down, Stay away, be good boys and girls!
Crypt: So you're not into all this technology, and the social networking, with Twitter and all this crap!?
Vinnie: Yeah, ya gotta be! Well you know what I mean, they do it for me, the Facebook stuff, you know what I mean!? WAIT, EXCUSE ME! I'll be right back! I'm gonna go tweet myself to fame! I can do that ya know! I'll press my own button thousands of times!
Crypt: LOL! So who usually writes the majority of the lyrics for you guys?
Vinnie: Uh, Mike and Roger, and they always rob lines from me, and never give me credit, which I don't care anyway! Fuck 'em! As long as I play in the band, what do I care!? And Mike writes allot of the stuff, and of course I write, and this guy puts, that guy puts in, it coagulated all together, we calibrate it, "hey, you got a good riff? We're gonna stay with it! We're gonna work on that riff! I got a good riff, We're gonna work until we get it right"!
Crypt: How long did it take to write and record this record?
Vinnie: To write this album took 35 YEARS!
Vinnie: Well, we hadn't written a record since 2012, so every 3 years we write a record! You figure it will take a year to write it, a year to tour it, and a year to get it back together where you can write a new album!
(Vinnie: can't argue with the beer guy, he's coming back here!)
Crypt: So I take it you guys plan on doing A LOT of touring for the record?
Vinnie: Yeah, we're all booked up! I'm booked up 'til next year!
Crypt: And how do you feel about Nuclear Blast Records? Great label!
Vinnie: Oh, forget it! Let me tell you something, I have been on a million labels in my
life, OK!? And besides Combat, I love this label, why? Cause I believe them, THAT'S WHY! And not only them, but the whole fuckin' staff!
Crypt: I assume you know Markus Staiger (Nuclear Blast president and label founder)?
Vinnie: Yes, and I believe him, I believe in what he does! And you know, we were one of the first hardcore bands, I think we were the first hardcore band on that label! (Hey close that door on the way out, eh?)
Crypt: What were your musical influences growing up, and what got you into hardcore?
Vinnie: OK, go real back, I like Enrico Caruso, I like Frank Sinatra, WHY? Because I felt the music! Ya know what I mean? I felt the power and the arrangement of the songs, ya know what I mean!? Of course as I got older, cause I'm old, then The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix...
Crypt: So you were like what, 7 or 8?
Vinnie: I was already old, 80, no 90 by then!
Vinnie: Other than that, right from there I got straight into punk rock! I was one of the
first New York punks! I'm pretty proud of that, ya know!?
Crypt: So what do you think when you remember all the shit you caught for being a skinhead back then, and you see these kids now doing it, and it's accepted?
Vinnie: OK, I hear ya there, well the world changed with the cameras, and the internet and everything, there's so many divides in music now, but I really never lived in the streets cause I lived with my family, I still live in the same spot, ya know!? So I never was a squatter or nothing like that, but I WAS a street kid!
Crypt: I know Roger did right, cause he mentions it in the book "American Hardcore"!
Vinnie: Oh yeah, Roger did that...
Crypt: Ok, so Is there any truth to the rumor that you don't play plugged in?
Vinnie: You have to come to the show and find out for yourself!
Crypt: And what's your motto for 2015, what advice would you give people? Wise words from Vinnie Stigma?
Vinnie: Just try to fly under the radar screen, be good boys and girls, try to stay out of trouble, try to stay off drugs, I'm not preaching nothin', but you know right from wrong! Right? So there you go! Are you stupid? No! Right? Your not stupid! So then there ya go! Listen to your sub-conscious, not your conscience!
Crypt: So if you were describing Agnostic Front, to a metal fan or anyone unfamiliar with
the band, how would you describe your music!?
Vinnie: If you like hard, real down to earth music, honesty, you want some lyrics, ya know, what kind of lyrics you want? You want "lyrics from the grave" or do you want lyrics that are real life!?
Crypt: That's why as much I enjoy Cannibal Corpse for example, the reality is, you are not doing the things you lyrically represent, no one is getting fucked with a knife, etc!
Vinnie: Look, I don't mind a song here and there, ya know? But it get's to be too much with the guitars, too much with the drums, just too much!
Crypt: No one knows how to write a fucking song either, everything now is a blast beat, just play a good simple Johnny Ramone type riff, and that's why the new record is perfect, it's shorter than "Reign In Blood", and every song just beats you right over the head, it's like being pummeled! That's what it is, ya know?
Vinnie: Yeah, and it's got a good pace to it too!
Crypt: What would you like to say to the people reading this interview, some who may never have heard of Agnostic Front?
Vinnie: Well, now that you've heard of Agnostic Front, please come to the show, check it
out yourself, get in the pit, have a good time, make a friend, and that's the end of that!
*Ok Crypt Magazine readers, take the mans advice, check them out on the road for an over the top, high energy show, and check out the new record "The American Dream Died" released on Nuclear Blast Records this April 7th! Pre-order the album here:
For more info on AF visit:
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