Don’t call it a comeback ~ Freddy Madball and New York Hardcore’s been around for years
It’s been said that the last original form of Rock’n’Roll was punk rock, spawned from the grimy depths of New York City’s lower east side in the late 1970s, leaving behind the legacy of groups like the Ramones.
Since then, another influential movement that arose from the LES called New York Hardcore continues to make an impact to this day and a band that can be counted as one of the kings of the genre – Madball.
And the front man whose unmistakably raspy voice that is the band’s trademark is none other than Freddy Cricien, a.k.a. Freddy Madball.
Together with bassist Hoya Roc, Cricien helped set a new standard for NYHC through Madball’s vicious repertoire of blast beats and crushing breakdowns woven together with songs about life in all its brutal simplicity. After 13 years, four albums, two 7-inches and a two-year hiatus, the group is back to carry on the tradition of showing everyone else what hardcore is all about.
For Cricien, that tradition began at the age of seven when his older brother Roger Miret of the legendary Agnostic Front took him to his first hardcore show in 1983. Twenty years later, the Passaic, N.J. native can boast with accuracy that hardcore is his life.
“It changed my life. I didn’t think it at the time, but now looking back on it, it changed my life,” he said.
Hardcore became the soundtrack to a life filled with craziness along with both good and bad times. For Cricien, music and touring with his big brother became an escape from school and the chronic problems plaguing his home life. But all that, according to him, just made him stronger.
“I’ve managed to keep close with my family to this day, me, my mom, all my brothers and sisters, we’re still mad tight. I’d like to say my coming up was fine and beautiful, but that wasn’t exactly the case. It wasn’t the worst either, I’ve heard worse stories, so I’ve got no complaints.”
Another life-changing event occurred when then 11-year-old Cricien went on tour with AF. His temper, combined with a popular toy commercial and guitarist Vinnie Stigma’s sense of humor, led to a moment when hardcore would change forever.
“He used to love that commercial, with the song “Madball!” “Madball!” Cricien paused and then added, “It just stuck. He started calling me Madball because I was like a Madball. I was full of rage. I hated it for the longest but it just stuck.”
Besides going to all of his older brother’s gigs, Cricien got his first taste of vocals by singing the AF classic, “Last Warning” off of their classic full length, Victim In Pain. Eventually AF became a back-up band for Cricien and even recorded a seven-inch in 1989, Ball Of Destruction, which were old AF songs and a hardcore classic in its own right.
After Droppin Many Suckers, their second seven-inch, and a European tour with AF in 1992, Madball went from being an occasional side project to a musical force of its own. When AF broke up a year later, Madball went on a recording and touring blitz that ended in 2001 after the release of their fourth album, Hold It Down. The band broke up due to a combination of band and legal issues and never toured in support of the album, a decision Cricien regrets.
“Instead of thinking it through, we were like, ‘fuck everything,’ we’re not going to make a spectacle out of this, we’ve done good up till now, let’s just leave it at this,” he said. “But at the end of the day, I’ve come to realize that Madball is the priority.”
As Madball tours and prepares to record a new album for release in early 2004, Freddy Cricien looks back on his life and the city that spawned both his band and the person he is today. For Cricien, New York will always be inextricably bound with his identity, one that will fill him with pride for the rest of his life.
“Lower East Side is where I represent. That’s where I got my start in hardcore and I became a man in the LES. I represent New York, that’s in my heart, that’s what I am and that’s what I’m about,” he said.
Madball will be appearing with Agnostic Front and Murphy’s Law at St. Andrews Hall, located at 431 East Congress Street in Greek town. For more info about Madball, check out www.madballnyhc.com.
By Ali Moossavi
South End Staff Writer
Interview courtesy of Stone City Music