I was raised on metal and even though I had listened to some punk in the mid 80's I was still firmly rooted in metal. Actually the first punk song I heard was the DEAD KENNEDY's 'Kill the Poor'. I thought it was goofy as hell. I wasn't convinced. But even as I was introduced to Black Flag and the Circle Jerks I was still a metal head. The crossover movement is what finally pulled me over (and the fact that all my fave bands at the time [SLAYER, ANTHRAX, etc] were wearing punk shirts in their pictures) to the land of hard core. DRI, Corrosion of Conformity, etc, that was the shit and what really finally got me to embrace punk.
At the time 'Cause for Alarm' by the mighty AGNOSTIC FRONT was a new release and one of the albums really responsible for grabbing my long hair and buzzing it all off. It was just like that. I went home from school one day with long hair and came in the next with my head buzzed down to a 2 (that was pretty radical back then) and my 'Cause for Alarm' shirt on. That was it man...The transformation had begun. That was in the 80's...Now I am sitting in a bar across the street from the Marquis Theater in Denver talking to a living legend of the US Punk and hardcore scene while his band celebrates its 30th anniversary. Our chat with Roger Miret took place on October 28, 2012 at Scruffy Murphy's. My buddy Val and I were honored to get to hang with Roger before the show and shoot the shit.
ThrashHead: 30 years is a long time. How has AGNOSTIC FRONT managed to stay relevant for so long?
Roger: That's just it...We are relevant; we are very passionate about what we do. We love what we do. I mean, how do you grow out of a movement that is so great like this? Why we are so relevant is because we constantly tour. We know what's going on...Ya know what I mean? We are kinda' current on the scene. We're not like these bands that get back together that are stuck way back there and they don't understand ya know.
ThrashHead: AF had VERY close ties to the crust / peace punk band NAUSEA. The bands were rooted in two different scenes. How did this paradigm exist within the bigger scene? Was there ever any conflict?
Roger: Never, I mean it was the same scene. People want to separate it now but back then it was pretty much what we called the New York Hard Core scene. To me it was always the punk scene. If you ask me 'Victim in Pain' was punk record. People say "oh it was hardcore record" . I don't care what you say. We were just a bunch of punk kids doing what we were doing ya know. The same with NAUSEA. I was with the singer for a long time, we had a baby together. She's 25 years old now. They were super political in one way, we just never stayed political just more the reality. Their politics were pretty hardcore, we never wanted to do that. Stuff didn't matter...The scene was so different back then, now things are so separated. Back then we were into the music with a passion and it was so small. You could sit next to a vegetarian, you could sit next to a straight-edge kid, you could sit next to a drinker...One thing we all had in common was we loved the music. There was so much in common. We have always been the band that spoke of unity. "United and Strong Punks and Skins"...we've always been that band. We've always been about unity and NAUSEA...that was just one of our bands.
ThrashHead: I think what we've experienced is the whole world looking through a window and "studying" NYHC. What you described is different from what maybe this audience on the outside looking in has created. This audience tried to categorize things and separate things.
Roger: Right. People have dissected it like a frog. Dissected it like a fuckin' frog! And that's what it is. It's New York Hard Core. It the mixture of all of us loving the scene and our friends and supporting each other. It's always been that way. 'The Way It Is – NYHC compilation' you've got bands like YOUTH OF TODAY, NAUSEA, YDL...everything is in there. That's the way it is...the way it was. We were the only band that wasn't on that compilation! They never asked us! That's weird, but that's the truth. If they would have asked we would have been on it. But that's just the way it was...
ThrashHead: Again, from the outside we heard all these stories or rumors...Like the straight-edge kids beating up the drinkers outside of CBGBs.
Roger: That never happened. Not that I saw. I've never seen that. I mean there is stories. You know how stories get. One thing leads to another thing and people want to believe what people want to believe. But I've never seen anything like that. The straight-edge scene itself is a very positive scene. At one point people get bitchy with each other, people press each other's buttons, they can do that. But I've never seen anything like that.
ThrashHead: There were stories of AF being banned.
Roger: We were banned from a few clubs but it was never because of us. It was because of the show. It's a rowdy fuckin' show! It was never because of us, just rowdiness ya' know. The rumors, the stories...There is a lot.
ThrashHead: Recently you've been in South America and Europe...With the stuff that's going on in Greece or in Spain....American's tend to be ignorant of the world's view of us as a country. What do you see or hear from your perspective of being overseas in regards to the US, especially now that we wallowing our way through one of the nastiest elections ever?
Roger: To be honest I haven't heard much. Most of the shit that people were pissed off about in the US is from before Obama was elected (the first time – Ed). Just about everybody...I think the whole fuckin' world hates Bush. We all know this. Once Obama got elected I think it went from everybody hating America to everybody likeing America. I don't know how the world feels about it now. They expected, even Americans expected, a lot to happen out of the Obama camp, but I don't think a lot did happen. But then again I don't think he had enough time. How do you clean up a mess that has been happening for 8 years in 4 years or whatever? Any way you put it, it is going to be a shitty election. It's almost better to vote for the better of the two evils ya know. But at this point I kind of don't believe in any of them. I don't believe in one of them for sure! I'm not going to mention who, but you've probably guessed that. I'm just saying that both side, the Democrats and Republicans, are bought out by the corporations.
ThrashHead: And the banks. Look where they both get their money...JP Morgan, Wells Fargo...
Roger: Exactly! We don't have a voice anymore. It's just who's got more money and power to make stuff happen?...I'm a little bit crazy about conspiracies, I study this stuff myself. You see what's going on in New York City right now (Super Storm Sandy – Ed) right before the election. Isn't that weird?...The biggest hurricane ever is going to hit New York City and do so much damage that power is going to be for a couple of weeks! What's happening in a couple of weeks? Elections! That's me...Maybe I'm crazy...
ThrashHead: We can manipulate the weather...
Roger: Of course we can manipulate the weather...What do think is happening?
ThrashHead: In the UN charter...In the rules to engagement to war, rules that were written 40 years ago, it says you can't manipulate the weather on your enemy. Why would that be written in if we didn't have the ability to do so? Here we see it, we know it. The ski areas seed the clouds, I've know that since I was a kid...
Roger: I surely believe the weather is manipulated. You have that tsunami hitting Hawaii now too...What can we do? Like I said now it's just a matter of the worst of both evils. Me, I like to vote Libertarian or vote for the third guy but I feel like "what is that but throwing your vote away?" It's far fetched. That guy has no fuckin' chance anyway. You and I sitting here know it's going to be about two people. So what do you do? Waste your vote? So you might as well not vote. It's a shame but that's the way it is. All these corporations are backing the two heads.
ThrashHead: I think it's as more people, a greater percentage, start voting for that independent every 4 years it is going to make a splash at some point. That little ripple in the pond is going to turn into a wave at some point. In 2016 is it Jesse Ventura sitting there as a third candidate?
Roger: That'd be awesome!
ThrashHead: I'm all about it!
Roger: I'm all about it too man! I was all about Ross Perot too man. I think he was a genius, he's a smart man.
ThrashHead: There is the whole story behind that too. The death threats, they threatened his running mate and his family. They were going to kill him, their kids, their grandkids...they pulled out!
Roger: It's all fuckin' realistic man...Look they can do anything they want.
ThrashHead: Even on the way down here we were talking about how the VP of MSNBC, his kids were murdered...There was a story that came out yesterday that he had run an article exposing Wall Street crooks. The article was taken down after his kids were killed.
Roger: What about all the stuff that was going on with that shooter? That movie theater shooting. Apparently his Dad was gonna tell where all the money is, where all the banksters put...pin point where all the money is from the downfall of the world wide economy. His Dad was supposed to tell who's who and tell who has money hidden where.
ThrashHead: That's so fucked up. That story fuckin' disappeared! No one talks about it anymore. It was fuckin' huge and no one talks about it. There were two shooters. You can go online and pull the dispatch calls and listen to them and they're saying "don't tell the press, keep this from the press. There is another shooter, go after him. Switch channels". I'm reading the dispatch and police radio transcripts and I'm "how come no one has ever talked about this?"
Roger: (Gets a call). Hey, sorry to cut this short but I have to take care of some stuff.
ThrashHead: No problem. Let's wrap it up. Not to bum us out, but let's face it...We're all getting older...
Roger: Not me!
ThrashHead: What are your plans for a post-AF life?
ThrashHead: I do a lot of things. This is my passion and this is where my heart is but this is not what I live off of. This is not what I am going to retire off ya know. I've got my other two bands that I play with, the Alligators and the Disasters, that's just my passion. I work for Iron Fist merchandise, that's one of my jobs. I am also an electrician, I'm a Harley mechanic. The way I look at life right now is I have been living my retirement. When it comes time to work full time then fuck it. I'll do that until I die. A lot of people work their whole lives 'til their 65 and then retire. What are you gonna do then? You can't even surf! What are you gonna do? You can't ride a skateboard at 65. Go to a punk show at 65? I suppose you could! So I'm living now. And then in my retirement I'll work for the rest of my life, I have no problems with that.
ThrashHead: Where do you live these days?
Roger: Arizona. The Phoenix area.
ThrashHead: Last question. Any comment on the Harley Flanagan shenanigans?
Roger: I don't have any comments really. I wasn't there. I don't know what happened. (Long pause) I have no comment.
Thrashhead (Val): How were you received in South America?
Roger: South America is the shit! From young kids to old kids. Europe is very open minded...The way music should be. South America is kind of the same way. South America has such a passion for their scene. They are kind of living in true oppression. Their economy is shit, but they're there. The passion is there! America is a spoiled scene. The younger generation is spoiled. They don't know how to...They learn everything on the internet; they don't know what to do. Ya know what I mean? It's not as passionate. Basically if you're the newest band you're it ya know? Everywhere else it's totally the opposite. To discover things they go to the record stores, it's so real. But it is what it is. Whatta' ya gonna do?
ThrashHead (Val): In 30 years what's been the most surprising gig?
Roger: Oh shit...In 30 years that's a lot of gigs. I guess the, even though we are talking about AGNOSTIC FRONT, the best thing that ever happened to me was the birth of my children. In fact that's my daughter, the one I had with Amy from NAUSEA, texting me. I have to go.
ThrashHead: No sweat. Take care of the family! I could talk conspiracy shit all night.
Roger: No doubt. I love all that shit. There are a lot of ignorant people going through life. It's a shame. Everybody is so into MTV and Hollywood, every new movie and that bullshit. I don't look at movies. When I am at home I reading, I am watching RT news. They know what the fucks going on. I want to know what's going on in the world. These fuckin' kids...All they worry about is video games, what's the next movie...They are so brain washed they have no idea what is going on. This is why people make fun of us (America-Ed) and laugh at us...In Europe, Jersey Shore they think these people are retarded. They know what's going on in the world, they speak six languages. They are on it. In America they want to keep the people in fear. Now they want to take the guns away from people...They want to keep everyone in fear, everyone on red alert. We are the only country in the world that has military bases all over the world. We go there and we stay. We even have one in Guantanamo Bay and we don't even like Cubans. I'm Cuban, I was born in Cuba. I just became a US citizen 6 years ago. Do you think they would allow the Cuban army to set up a military base here? Do you think they would allow, the German army, the French army...No! We are policing the world and we are not taking care of our own people. And I speak about that all the time. We should be taking care of our own people first! There's vets, Vietnam vets out there in the streets. There's people that are homeless, there are people that are struggling and all our money goes to police the world. That's why the world hates us. We are bullying them. You want military bases...put all over the country if that's what you want to do. But let's talk about Americans taking care of Americans. If you go to Germany there's no fucking "bums"...There's no bums! It's incredible. Everyone is taken care of.
ThrashHead: You speak that way here and you get labeled Socialist as an insult.
Roger: Well I am if that's what you want to call me. I don't care what anybody says! I'm from Cuba, there is great stuff here in America. But why I am in a fuckin' punk band is because I believe the government is fucked up! I speak now because things are fucked up! We should have socialized medical, we should have socialized education. Not having the gift to succeed...That poor kid who is a genius should have an opportunity. Now you have a lot of people that go through Yale or wherever that don't belong there like fuckin' Mr. Bush! He got away with it. Money is power! Those two things alone...If you could socialize medicine and socialize education this country would be great! It really would be. And considering we are such a world power it's a shame that our education level is so low. You know who is the number one country in education? Look it up. It's Cuba. It's insane. I gotta go!