INTERVIEW WITH MADBALL’S FREDDY CRICIEN
With tracks like “Time Bomb”; Darkest Days”; “Dammed”; “Hardcore Pride” and “For My Enemies” you could say that NYHC legends, Madball, haven’t changed much during their nearly five-year hiatus and thank God for that. Madball, (who includes vocalist, Freddy Cricien, bassist Hoya, guitarist Mitts, and drummer Rigg Ross), have reformed and are ready to rip some heads off this summer with a new album and summer tour. The NYC based band recently signed with Ferret Records and are prepping to drop their latest album, LEGACY on August 2nd. Produced by Zeuss (Hatebreed, Shadows Fall, Throwdown); Madball promises that LEGACY is their best record yet. “All the songs are a combination of all our elements,” says front-man, Cricien, “a little of the old/ a little of new- it’s just Madball.” Don Sill caught up with Cricien in the studio during their last day of work on LEGACY and got the skinny on the new record as well as his perspective on the current hardcore scene.
Congrats on signing with Ferret.
CRICIEN: Thanks, man, I’m psyched.
How is everything going so far with those Ferret guys?
CRICIEN: So far so good, you know. I had a good gut feeling about working with those guys and so far they’ve come through on everything they said they would and we did our part. We’re all expecting a good year ahead. Sounds good, bro.
How far have you guys gotten on this Ferret debut?
CRICIEN: Albums done, man. It’s officially done. Today was our last day doing all the little fine-tuning stuff and now we just have to get the whole order of it together and take it to master.
LEGACY is the name of this new one- how do you feel about this record?
CRICIEN: I feel great; I feel this is our best record yet. Now, I know that a lot of bands say that about a new record coming out but I just feel that we’re way overdue, you know, we haven’t done a record in a while and we’ve been through a lot of things, personal and otherwise, and I just feel that with this record everything just came together fairly smooth. The new label, our sound, our writing, everything- it just feels right. All the songs are a combination of all our elements- a little of the old/ a little of new- it’s just Madball. For anyone who knows us and knows our history knows that this is one hundred percent hardcore; one hundred percent Madball. It’s us with a new touch, a new flavor and a touch of new production.
This record is highly anticipated, a lot of Madball freaks are waiting for this thing to drop.
CRICIEN: [Laughs] yeah, I know. I feel confident about it, the boys feel confident about it, the label had heard the record and they’re psyched. So, I can’t see why anyone, especially people who were already into us, wouldn’t like it.
How about new fans?
CRICIEN: Yeah, man, I’m looking to get some new people interested also. You said that you guys have been through a lot during the past few years.
How does that translate in your lyrics?
CRICIEN: I try and always keep things in the context of Madball, but at the same time we are a little older and we have been through some things these last few years, so I have to touch on that. I mean, I’m still talking about street-stuff, you know what I mean, the music is in your face and it is aggressive and people expect to lyrics to be talking about this; that and the other thing. I still tell stories about things that happen to us on the rougher side, but I also touch on family and people we lost and the whole state of the hardcore scene- where has it gone? Where do we wanna take it?- I think there is a good balance. [Laughs] I feel kinda goofy talking about my own lyrics. My guitarist, Mitts, told me that he was really proud of the lyrics and that it was very well balanced, so I’m going off on what he said.
Would you say that Madball is showing more range with LEGACY?
CRICIEN: We’re still giving people the hard stuff, but we’re not one-dimensional people, you know, there’s a lot other aspects to our lives. Even thought his music does bring out more of our aggressive side, it tend to do that [laughs] we really vibe off aggression, but we do tend to talk about everything.
You guys are legends of the hardcore game…
CRICIEN: Naaa, we’re not legends, not yet. [laughs] I appreciate that though, I’m flattered. [Laughs]
Okay, as a “veteran” of the hardcore scene, what are your feeling of the scene today? It seems that some of it is beginning to cross-over somewhat.
CRICIEN: I think it’s great. I think that heavy music is starting to get a little more light shined on it as a whole. From a band perspective, from someone who has been doing this for a long time, who wouldn’t want that? You wanna elevate as a human being, especially with your music…even hardcore, which is always underground- it’s worldwide- but it’s underground, but what’s wrong with elevating? What’s wrong with bringing it to another level?
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, I’m all about that. Right, everybody is entitled to a slice of pie.
CRICIEN: Look, this has become my career, by default or whatever, this is what I do. I never went to college and I never ended up going other routes that people go. I ended up, for whatever reason, going with this. So not only am I passionate about playing but I also want to help raise this music to another level as soon as possible.
It’s long overdue for hardcore music to leak out into the mainstream and reach that next level.
CRICIEN: Yeah, but when I say “take it to another level” I’m not even being unrealistic. I’m not talking gold or platinum status; I’m not even talking that. I mean “another level” for where we come from. Music, in general, is going through rough times and being in the hard music scene is even rougher, but now there’s a lot more avenues to showcase and if hardcore is going to be showcased on a bigger level then I wanna be a part of it. New York, well Long Island, has been producing a lot of emo bands.
What are your thoughts on the whole emo-wave?
CRICIEN: [Laughs] You know what…I’ve learned something, man, I’ve learned that it’s all good and I don’t knock nobody for what they do. I can’t get caught up in pointing fingers and we have to stop thinking about everybody else and just be the best with what we do, you know, the best with our sound. We kinda carved our own sound within the hardcore scene and we just gotta do our thing and be the best at what we do.
Do you like emo music? Do you listen to it?
CRICIEN: My taste in music is endless, I love everything, from the heaviest of heavy to like…sometimes I listen to the softest, weakest shit [laughs] I’m a sap, man, I like all kinds of music. But my whole thing is that if you really want to be hardcore then you gotta stop segregating it. If we’re all gonna be under this hardcore umbrella then first of all you have to have some kind of roots in the scene and second we gotta stop dividing it. I even wrote a song on the record about that shit.
That’s the track “H.C. United” right? Solid track.
CRICIEN: Yeah, that track talks about how people are out there diving the scene. Like that whole mentality like, “I can’t hang out with you because you eat meat,” and all that other goofy shit. [Laughs]
Exactly, it does get crazy. That’s a good point about diving up the scene, we all need to unite in order to excel.
CRICIEN: This scene is small enough already so why chop it up and make it even smaller? Good pint.
So at this level of the game what are the goals for Madball?
CRICIEN: Our goal is to take it to that next level. We kinda put our work in and we grinded and cemented our position within our world, and I say that with all humility and modesty, but I mean it’s time to elevate. It’s time to take this thing up to another notch. Coming from the hardcore scene there’s nowhere else to go but up. www.madballnyhc.com A video for the first single off LEGACY entitled “Heavenhell” was shot at Kenny’s Castaways in New York City with director Dale “Rage” Resteghini (Hatebreed, Shadows Fall, Mudvayne, Agnostic Front)