Heart of Steel: Interviews

Hardcore Metallers Return

Interview with guitarist/vocalist Billy Graziadei
Interviewed in Late December 2001 by EvilG

I know this band will not appeal to metal purists because Biohazard are not a "pure heavy metal" band. I also know that they do have metal elements in their music, enough so that I think they fit our format. I've liked this band since I first heard URBAN DISCIPLINE. In recent years I haven't kept up with the band, but with the new album, UNCIVILIZATION, the band have made a big step in the right direction with their best album since STATE OF THE WORLD ADDRESS. So without further ado or justification on why I chose to interview this NYC Hardcore/metal band, here is an interview!




I want to start off talking a little bit about the new album UNCIVILIZATION. Let's start with the title; and you could tell me what the title means to you.

To me it signifies how everyone kinda sees how times are right now. For every step in the name of progress we move forward, it ends up being two steps backwards. September the 11th was a wake up call I think, and to smack everybody upside the head and make them realize that ignorance is no longer bliss. You cannot live in this world being ignorant; everyone knows what's going on, everyone has had their faults and security shaken to the point of disbelief. UNCIVILIZATION came out on Sept.11, a timely release for a record full of prophesies and full of subject matter that deals with where we are right now.

So obviously that hit home more for you being from New York?

Yes definitely.

Relating to the album cover title cover art; when I first saw the cover art, the first thing that popped into my mind was "this looks like a picture of a Hitler youth party from WW2 or something". What did you have in mind for the cover art or was it related to that at all?

The art on the cover exemplifies exactly what the title is. Having respect for the future, and if you poison the youth; the youth being the leaders of tomorrow, you poison the future. And if you treat it with respect and if you put the proper value into education, you're investing in the future. And that photo kinda hits that right in the head.

Was it and new photo that was taken or was it an actual historical photo that was edited to put the Biohazard logo on?

You don't have ruin our artistic creativity by analyzing the whole thing....but you are right. [Hahahaha ok.] One of the now many horrific times in our history is the Holocaust. Hitler used the youth to spread the hatred. And we have a lot of that in America with parents instilling a lot of hatred in them. Hatred and racism is now being added to the list of terrorism. But that was just one example; the slaughter of the Indians, a whole race of people. I remember writing about dating a German woman once and asking her "how could you people just blindly turn your cheek and disregard what happened here?". And to that she said "well, you did it when your people came to those lands you conquered and destroyed a whole race of people". "What are you talking about?" I said. "The Indians" she said. When you're a kid you're taught that we bought land, we traded land, but what we did was slaughter and swindle.



So what types of topics or personal experiences influenced some of the songs from the new album?

All of our songs come from direct influence. We draw inspiration from our lives. Waking up Sept.11, right there became enough influence and inspiration for another two records. Everyday life is constantly influencing us.

So you're not the type of band that writes about things that don't affect you personally and you won't write a fiction story or any kind of thing for your lyrics?

No. It's just easier for us to express something that we've experienced, you know what I mean? And I think that's why you get the heartfelt sincerity from Biohazard.



Another thing about the new album that a lot of people are asking about; is the number of guest appearances. It's a pretty impressive line up of people that have contributed in some way. Was this planned from the beginning, did you ask these people specifically? How did it all come together?

It did just happen. It wasn't planned. We usually have the chance to tour with bands that we've looked up to and some bands that we've grown to be good friends with. And it turned out that bands happened to be in New York while we were recording and they just came down to the studio and we did some stuff together and it worked out. In the end we went back and said "holy shit there's a bunch of friends on this record". It was just like a natural thing for us.


Cool. One of the standout appearances that took me a little bit by surprise was Peter Steel from Type O Negative on "Cross the Line" I believe. Can you tell me how that one in particular came about? And how you found working with him?

 How did that surprise you?

Ummmm well I can understand the Pantera and Sepultura, not that I'm not a fan of Type O Negative, but musically it just seemed a lot different from the other guys that made an appearance.

Like I said before; it's friends. I was a roadie for Pete when he was a kid and with Type O Negative, we've been friends with all those guys for years. I think we took them out on their first tour with us and Type O Negative. Pete's friend in the song "Cross the Line", he gelled  with, and the subject matter in the song related to him. He wanted to do something and we were totally into it. We went in the studio and fucked around and came up with what we came up with.



So what songs on the new album seem to be going over the best live and do they happen to be your personal favourites from the new album?

All the songs are my favourites. We cut songs and they don't make it to the record but we all like them. But all the new stuff that we're playing live have gone over good. We just recently added a song called  "Getaway" to the set and that's gone over pretty well every night.

Cool. How do find playing up here in Canada?

Besides cold? We like it.

Much of a different type of audience or scene that you get from playing down around home and kind of thing?

 There's been a lot of bad luck on our side as far as touring around through Canada over the years. We haven't spent a lot of time here and it's changing now. We were here a month and a half ago in the eastern part. Now we're back again; we came through with Clutch. We went to Alberta, Manitoba, Vancouver, on this tour with Clutch and Candiria, which were some great shows. And now we're back here in Toronto with Clutch and Candiria. And we were just here not too long ago. So it's good to be playing here but what I'm finding is it seems fresher. I mean a lot of people have heard about us but never had the chance to see us. Because maybe 5 years ago when we were here they were too young to go see us maybe or something. It's good to be here with a fresh crowd.



Your new album credits also mention the additional lead guitar but Tristan. How did that come about and how much in terms of lead guitar does he contribute on the album?

We did this record ourselves, we produced it ourselves. Andreas (Sepultura) plays some guitar stuff, Igor (Sep.) did some percussion stuff, it was the same kind of situation with Tristan.  He wasn't in the band at the time, he just came down and jammed and did some stuff. And what we did when he did stuff we would just record record record and at the end when we came down to mix everything it was like "what do we have to play with?". So it wasn't really like he did this and he did that. It was just like mismatched stuff.

Is that the same Tristan who played in the band Red Dawn?

I don't know. I don't know about that.


I seen your video for the song "Sell-out", and the first thing I noticed when I watched the video; and this brings us back to how the interview started. And that was in the video you see the skyline of New York City and the World Trade Center. The first thing I thought was "I wonder if they considered editing their video", because it happens to show that?

We never considered it but we had certain 'channels' asking us to edit the video. We told them to go fuck themselves. It's bad enough people are gone but we are not going to erase the memory. That video was shot on August 27th, 2 weeks before. For us, we were appalled that someone would even have the balls to ask us to re-edit it. It's funny when people step up to us and say "we need you to edit your video or we won't play it". And we're like "fine, fuck you, we're not going to edit it so don't play our video". And of course they played it anyway.



Again to the new album. This is your first on Sanctuary Records, well at least here in North America. So far are you happy with how the label had been treating and promoting the band?

The Canadian label is great (laughs because the label rep is with him hehe)! But you're right actually....I can't really answer that. They are actually picking up dinner, so if I answer well we eat well. If I answer shitty we eat McDonalds. It's great. We've been through the major labels game and we got our ass reamed; it sucks. it's business first; profit margin, and all those things way before the band. And half the time they just usually get involved with people that we like to call 'yes men'. "ya ya you guys are greeat" "we loooove the record". And they can't even hold a beat to your song when they listen to it. And being back on a small independent label is like a breath of fresh air. I think that we would have had a better time if we would have stayed with our first label Roadrunner. It stayed on the independent side of the industry rather than make the leap for major labels. Sometimes I think major labels are slowly and surely being dismembered; I think that they are going to fall apart. And as for the independent labels, business is business you want to make money, but it's not your main motivation. And when you have a limited budget you become more creative with your money and you make the dollar stretch a lot more. When you have an unlimited budget like the major labels have, you don't give a fuck. You get a limo to go two blocks and you have all these overpaid/under worked people that get incredibly large fucking salaries and then their only there for a year and when things aren't happening for the label they get fired and go work with somebody else. ONLY after getting a couple million dollars for severance pay. And then the whole radio game.... I think that's part of their demise. When you don't have to spend as much money and you make more profit, because you have less overhead, who's winning?



Wasn't this record written and recorded before you were signed to the label?

Yeah, for the first time we did this record without any influence. There was no bullshit around us. No producer, no engineer, no label, no manager, just the four of us and our studio at downtown Brooklyn underneath the Bridge. It was just us and the rats.


And did you send out very many "demos" to labels or did they come looking for you kinda thing?

Ummm...I don't remember, we were on tour..... We ended up signing different deals for Europe and American Territory. We hooked up through word of mouth and I think the band had enough reputation. People heard new stuff because we sent out demos.


So in comparison of how Biohazard does in Europe as opposed to here in North America, can you compare in contrast how you do? Is the USA your biggest market?

I don't know. Depends how you look at it. Right now the record is doing better in Europe than the states, but we've toured a lot more in Europe over the years and have had a lot of problems doing excessive touring in the states. So as we tour the states we do better. So I think the market in the states is probably biggest per capita, you know the show in Europe are much more packed.


Seems like metal or hard music in general has never went out of favour.

A lot of the masses are dictated to by radio and MTV. Whereas people in Europe seem to be less concerned with what's played on the radio or what's being played on TV.



In terms of what's happening with heavy music these days; is there any particular bands; new or old, that you are listening to or have found recently?

Candiria, ummm...Chimera.......

And are you still listening to the bands that made you want to pick up a guitar and start playing?

Yeah of course. There's a really good new band coming out called Damn 13 and they're awesome.

Are they from New York?

They are from Canada. 



In my opinion you're one of the bands who started and fused together a new type of music which a lot of bands are doing now. That is the mixing of metal, hardcore and hip hop. Back when you guys did it, when I first heard it, it was something fresh and new. Now we have a zillion bands doing a weak imitation of something that you started and they are the ones getting all the props and the glory....does this bother you?

Not so much the glory, I think more just the popularity. I think you can imitate but you can't duplicate. When you have your own style you do what you do and it's yours. You can't call it that you know what I mean? We are just Biohazard and it's our style and we do what we do. I've always listened to all kinds of music from all different styles of music like hip hop and metal and punk rock, and it comes out naturally. It's not forced, it's not contrived. We don't sit there and analyze what's happening on the radio or MTV and decide to mix this or that type of music or this kind of music could be the new thing. A lot of the bands out there are a huge but it's formula music for me and it's weak. Often imitated....never duplicated!  I think when people see Biohazard or hear us and then come and see us, think "oh yeah fucking Biohazard!". My older brother came home once a few years ago from a Biohazard show with a bloody nose and a bloody Biohazard T-shirt and said "It was the fucking sickest show I ever went to in my life", and that's in a good way. And when they hear us it's undeniable 'that's cool', this is what the fuckers are imitating. You know we do what we do and we don't have any apologies and we take no hostages.



My favorite Biohazard album to this day is the first album that I really got off on is Urban Discipline. The song "Punishment" being one of my favorites and it also has a line from the movie "The Punisher". When that song was written was it written with the idea of the movie in mind or was it something that was added on after kinda like "hey cool, we can use this" kinda thing?

Yeah it was added on after. 


So what happens to be your favorite Biohazard album besides your new one? Which every artist likes to say is their favorite. :-)

It is definitely a cop out and some kind of marketing plan. It always is and if you don't strive try to express yourself more fluently than before or top what you did in the past, then you're dead. Our next record which we're working on now, tops UNCIVILIZATION. So you have to strive for that you know?

So you've already started working on a new album you mean?

Yeah but I don't look at it as "working" on an album. We're constantly writing, even before Sept.11, which is enough inspiration forever right there.



Besides the new album, is there any other particular album you look to and say " I'm more into this album than say a certain other album" maybe? or is it all kinda equal?

I think that musically it's all equal. Certain records give you a certain vibe because of the time during our career you know what I mean? It's a reflection of the music. So I'm not going to give you a certain record for that one.

No, you leave that up to the listeners.

Yeah it is. That's the beauty of art you know.



So what are the future plans for Biohazard after the tour? I guess you're going back to Europe for the rest of the tour again?

We stay in the states in January, go back to Europe in February and take a couple of months off for personal stuff, and then we'll be out all spring and summer. Hopefully back up to Canada.



And then a new album again I guess?

Yeah, oh yeah. A whole lot of material waiting to be put out.

Is there any other happenings or things going on with the band that you would like me to let people know about?

Come and see us! Go pick up the record and you won't be let down. If you can't afford it, steal it! haha!!!

Well man that's all the questions I had lined up for you.

Thanks for your time.

And thanks a lot for your time, for the album, and good luck with the rest of your tour.

Thanks a lot! We'll see ya on the rerun. Peace.

Official Biohazard site: www.biohazard.com

Thanks to Ronnie and Joel for the transcription!!

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