My chat with, Roger Miret, the frotman of one of my all-time favourite hardcore punk bands, Agnostic Front, is one of the ones out of a 100+ interviews, for my Conversations With Punx project (more info here), that has always stayed with me. Roger and I spoke for a couple of hours about things that he is (and I am) very, very passionate about: family, love, music and voicing your opinion on, as well as offering solutions for, shitty things that are happening in the world. Something that growing up in the punk and hardcore community taught me, was to always stand up for what you believe in and to help others, something Roger’s music embodies perfectly. Below is an extract of our chat. The full interview will be in my book that will be out November 20. In the lead up to the release I’ll be posting sneak peeks of the conversations here on my site. Get excited! Spread the word.
ROGER MIRET: I always felt I just wanted to say something. My lyrics are very personal. What I’m experiencing in life, there are thousands of other people experiencing the same thing. It’s proven because my first song, Victim In Pain, people still get it today and feel like I felt 20 years ago; people a hundred years from now will pick that up and feel that way. I feel I speak for those that are oppressed and I’m trying to find a solution. I come from a time where punk rock was kill yourself, this world sucks, hate yourself, kill this, kill that, it was very negative. There has been a lot of good stuff though. The Clash said a lot of good stuff for me. It had a lot of good information but it never had any solution, that’s why I wanted to voice my opinion and solution. Somehow it ended up being a lot of people’s opinions.
BIANCA: Is there anyone that has played a really important role in your life?
RM: The most important person in my life is my mother. She went through a lot and still does. She had me when she was sixteen years old. She tried so hard to get ahead, she made a lot of mistakes and I acknowledge that – I learned from that. I had the classic abusive step-father that a lot of people get and I swore I would never be a classic abuser father. I swore I would never put my hand on my children or my wife, and I don’t! I swore I would never be an alcoholic and I won’t be; I learned from the mistakes of some people. People can be a product of their environment, I’ve always looked at what the problem was and chose not to be that person.
B: Do you feel like you made a lot of sacrifices to follow your dream?
RM: I definitely made sacrifices to be where I am. I would never take anything back that I’ve done. My sacrifices have been sacrifices I have made not knowing I’ve made them. I’ve done some stupid things but I’ve learnt from it, those were my sacrifices. I can’t say I sacrificed high school or college for this, for music ‘cause I didn’t want to go to high school or college [laughs] it wasn’t me. I wanted to say something and to yell, I couldn’t yell at my step-father ‘cause he wanted to beat me up all the time. When we started to beat up each other that’s when I had to leave the house and that’s when everything became what it became. I needed someone to yell to, someone to tell how angry I was and to express this anger to, I guess it worked out. I live a really great life now with a lot of love—there is no value on that.
I could live in a cardboard box and be happy. I could live in Arkansas and live in a little house and grow tomatoes for the rest of my life as long as I’m in love, I don’t care. As long as my family, my children are with me and I’m happy that’s fine. Money doesn’t buy love, money can make it comfortable for people but, I’ve learned to live without it. I came from Cuba, my mom was nineteen years old and had three kids; I didn’t know how to speak a word of English and we lived in the ghetto. I know what it’s like to hit the bottom. I’ve never hit the top yet but I know if I did, I know that I am a very generous person and I’d do things for humanity. I already do things like campaigns for PETA. I know I can’t change the world but, you know what? I’ll make a difference.
B: You’ve dedicated over half your life to punk and hardcore what still keeps you believing in it?
RM: That’s just it I really do believe in it. When I make a commitment it’s for life. I committed myself to this and have never wanted to back out of it. I never felt cheated… there’s times I get angry. There was a quote in the book American Hardcore… I was really angry with the guy who wrote that. I was playing a show at CBGB’s in 2004 and he was having the book premiere at the CBGB’s art gallery next door… there were some beautiful pictures that ended up in the book and it was nice to see read the captions and in a way see my life come full circle but, when I came to the end of the book it said: hardcore died in 1988. It’s like its 2004 and CBGB’s is sold out with Agnostic Front playing next door, it’s like, how is hardcore dead? I was so pissed off he would say something like that. Two months ago I started realising that… to me what it was, was that he gave up. I never gave up. You shouldn’t say that something died you should just admit that you gave up. There are others like me that didn’t give up either like Harley [Flanagan] and Vinnie [Stigma]. I’m still yet to discuss it with the guy but maybe he meant that genuineness that we used to have is lost. It’s a bold statement to make!
You can red another Conversations With Punx extract here: Quicksand’s Tom Capone: “We were always just doing it from our hearts, never trying to make a quick buck.”
For more AGNOSTIC FRONT: agnosticfront.com
I cannot wait for the Godfathers of Hardcore documentary about Roger & Vinnie that director Ian McFarland has been working on. Check out the director’s statement below.
With love & light,