– interview by keith carmen

At this point in music history, the term “hardcore” holds about as much weight as describing yourself as “punk.” Words that once struck fear and excitement into the hearts of young and old alike have lost their meaning through overuse and bad examples.

Unfortunately, although some are quick to, the blame can’t be placed on any one person though. Seeing the passion, sincerity and weight behind such a term, it is inevitable that it will eventually work its way into mainstream culture. That pretty much explains how you see bands, companies and television shows misuse a word like “hardcore” to describe their innocuous products and creations.

However, there is one band who wants to make sure you don’t forget what the term hardcore really means. Reformed after a four-year hiatus, New York hardcore veterans Madball (vocalist Freddy Cricien, guitarist Mitts, bassist Hoya Roc and drummer Rigg Ross) are back with a furious bang, releasing their EP “N.Y.H.C.” (Thorp Records). And as Mitts states, they’re out not necessarily to reclaim a lost title…more to ensure that its rightful meaning isn’t forgotten.

“Madball is one of those bands that won’t mince words about who we are or what kind of music we are,” he says, taking a break from rehearsals. “We’ve never hid behind any other labels like punk or rock. I don’t think anyone’s to judge about all of it—we don’t want to pick who’s hardcore and who isn’t—but people should understand what that word really means. If (some bands) want to call (themselves hardcore) that’s great, but we know who we are and what we’re about.”

To that extent, the N.Y.H.C. EP is nothing less than one would expect from an old guard band like this. Monstrous guitar riffs and bone-rumbling bass lines collide in adrenaline-fuelled fury against thunderous drums. Over it all, you hear the embittered screams of personal torment and tragedy. In fewer words: aural testosterone. Looking towards some of today’s more…lyrically adventurous bands, Mitts notes that with one listen to the EP, it will be decidedly clear how fast Madball has stuck to their roots of private demons exorcised through aggressive music.

“To (Madball), hardcore lyrics aren’t about fantasy topics like metal. I’m not putting it down…I’m just explaining the differences. Hardcore is about personal experiences and I don’t foresee that changing. Sometimes bands may become more experimental about what they want to deliver through the lyrics, but to us it’s about moments we really know a lot about…personal things, you know?”

Gearing up to write material for a full-length, Mitts feels that the EP has already stated the band’s intentions: to stay true to their hardcore roots without becoming stagnant or dated. The fact that they’ve managed to wade through internal woes and business wars (from living in the shadow of Cricien’s older brother Roger Miret Agnostic Front’s vocalist to imposing legal issues) only makes them stronger. Receiving heaps of accolades from press and fans alike, he hopes that this incarnation of the band might actually manage to break the black cloud hanging over them.

“This band has a lot of integrity. We haven’t had the easiest time, but we wouldn’t appreciate it if it did come so simply to us. Hardcore is about the shows and the live performance. A tremendous amount of it is about the give-back from the crowd. The best part of the day is to get up on the stage and play. We’re lucky enough that people like our music and we want to keep that feeling. I think that this EP has given people a taste of what’s to come from Madball. Hopefully that will carry on and people will appreciate it for a long time.”