Originally published in ‘zine issue #5, 1992
The New York hardcore god Agnostic Front is touring its new album, One Voice, and I was lucky enough to talk to vocalist Roger Miret in the nation’s capitol once more for the following interview.
D.U.: About the new album’s lyrics, is this the closest thing AF has to a concept album or a theme album?
Roger: This is the second-closest album. Victim in Pain was a theme album. They both have the same type of themes.
“You know how you say you’re innocent until proven guilty? It’s not really that way.”
What’s that sample before “New Jack” and the quote on the new one about?
That’s from the Attica prison riots, what was going on in the courtyard, what the inmates were talking about. Everybody think of inmates as animals, of course, or whatever. Not everybody in there is in for murder. I mean, there’s people that deserve it, like the people in for rape and shit like that. There’s a lot of people there just in for, like, stealing cars. So people do learn in jail what they’ve done wrong. That’s happened to me.
So, what was going on back then is that they had no rights at all, and they should have some type of rights. I mean, they’re being fed and treated as animals, and it just got crazy.
Do you think that is the biggest problem with the prison system today?
The biggest problem with the prison system is just the way you’re treated before [pause] I mean, you know how you say you’re innocent until proven guilty? It’s not really that way. You’re guilty and you’re gonna be guilty. Once they got you, you’re just guilty. That’s the way it works, and when you’re in there, they use a lot of racism. They pit blacks against whites, whites against Hispanic. They like that. They manipulate people.
What should we do to change this “innocent until proven guilty” point?
Kill them all. [laugh] Listen to Public Enemy. They’re right, you know? Just go out there with a gun, blow ‘em all away. There’s really nothing you can do, because it’s such a corruptive part, you know? There’s a lot of money involved. Every inmate that goes in costs New York $36,000, and believe me, we don’t get no $36,000 worth of service. We eat the shittiest food you can think of. If somebody is not spending $36,000 on us—I say maybe they spend 10 per year—the rest, who knows, different pockets.
While I was in there—I do electrical work—I was doing electric for the sergeants and lieutenants in their houses. They use us to do all their repairs, you know. It’s all full of shit.
So do you like the way the album came out?
Yes, I do. It could have been better in a lot of different ways. But for the situation—we were rushed to do something—I think it went alright.
Why don’t you have a band with you on tour? You’re just having local openers, right?
We usually like local bands because we wanna know what’s going out there too. The only way for us to know what’s going on, like, in local scenes is by having an opening band. And I’ll go out there and watch them and stuff like that.
Is Relativity Records treating you okay?
They’re treating us like [pause] a stepfather, you know what I mean? Like a stepfather doesn’t really treat you like your son? We used to have that relationship. Now it’s a little bit more distant. I think it’s prob’ly because 49 percent of Relativity is owned by Sony, so that might be the reason.
Who are you voting for president?
I never vote. I can’t vote to begin with, because I’m not a citizen of this country. I’m from Cuba. I still have a green card. I don’t like none of ‘em. You ask me to vote, I won’t even bother, ‘cause to me they’re all full of bullshit. I’m not into any type of authority. I’ve always been anti-society, anti-religious, stuff like that.
Besides Cause for Alarm, is there an album you don’t like playing songs off of?
Normally, we’ll be doing a lot of the new stuff. Just about two from each one and four from Victim in Pain. Cause for Alarm’s prob’ly the most. That and Liberty and Justice.
What are some types of music that the average person wouldn’t think you’re into because you’re in a hardcore band?
Well, at home I do not listen to hardcore. I am Latin. I listen to a lot of Latin music. I used to play in a Latin band. I listen to a lot of club music. I listen to a lot of stuff. I’m well-rounded with music. I listen to Cyprus Hill, I listen to Ice-T, I listen to Madonna, you know. I’m a well-rounded person.
Will the Grammys ever open up to hardcore?
Hell no. Nah, they won’t. Because I think hardcore bands are too ugly, so they’re not gonna bother.
Do you have a last comment?
Uh [pause] lemme see, what’s a last comment? Gimme a last comment.
An AF roadie: Yo, tell people to watch Cops if they wanna know about the system and innocent until proven guilty! ■
Photos: top: Agnostic Front and a roadie (left) backstage after the interview; center, bottom: the band playing that night