“It’s good to still be a part of this,” says vocalist Roger Miret, “it’s something we bonded with a long time ago.”
In 1982, Agnostic Front was born. Guitarist Vinnie Stigma had a vision to start what would be one of the most influential bands that the New York hardcore scene had ever seen. To say that AF is just another NYHC band would be a severe understatement, considering the number of subgenres the group has either pioneered or on which they have had substantial impact.
Miret and Stigma have been primary members of the band since the early ’80s and remain the basis of the group through the 20+ member changes over the years. After 10 studio albums and four EPs, their original 1984 release, Victim in Pain, still remains one of the most remarkable NYHC albums to date.
“It feels good to still be a part of this,” says Miret.
Since the earlier sound is what received the most praise from fans in North America, the band has garnered some criticism for changing their sound a number of times over the years. In 1986, Cause for Alarm, had taken a more much “metal” influence with the addition of Alex Kinon as a second guitarist. In 1987, the sound changed again, with new members, returning to their hardcore roots but still adding metal riffs, creating some of the earlier productions of the cross-over genre with Liberty and Justice for All.
After some brief jail time, record label signings, even more member changes and a four-year hiatus from the studio, Agnostic Front released metal/thrash-based releases One Voice in 1992 and Last Warning in ’93 before breaking up, yet again. However, Miret and Stigma continued to play music in Miret’s brother’s band, NYHC heavyweights Madball.
The real comeback for AF was in 1998, when they fully reunited and released Something’s Gotta Give, taking the band back to the fierce, aggressive, true hardcore sound they created in ’84.
But, enough with the history lesson.
Last year, AF released their 10th studio album, My Life, My Way, combining what Miret says is “a collage of all (the styles covered in) 30 years.” A lot of AF fans like to criticize them for conforming to the style of hardcore that will sell records, but I find that the band changes their sound to stay current and at least somewhat relevant.
“Hardcore is something I am very passionate about, something that I really love and adore. I have ADHD or something, and I need outlets for things. I see the news and I see the things going on in the world and I still get mad about it. Sometimes people lose that over the years, but it’s (the passion that) has made me who I am,” explains Miret.
All members of AF currently reside in New York, except for Miret, who lives in Arizona. Miret laughs about how the band will practice at least once a week and he will fly in and have to go along with what they’ve got going.
“Sometimes, we have little wars,” he grins. “It’s pretty much one against three, too. There’s nothing we don’t want to play, and we never really have a set list. We kind of just go with whatever is happening, go with the flow. America likes the older stuff, whereas Europe likes the newer stuff. It’s been a long time since we’ve been to Canada, so we’re ready to see what they’ve got.”
The truth is, I don’t know how these bands do it. They make great records and they make records that aren’t your favourite. They’re nearly 50-year-old men that are still putting on a better show than many ever have. They have wives and kids, day jobs and no retirement plans. They stay connected to the fans, young and old. I’ll never understand it. It must be passion. And passion, my friends, that is what separates bands who come and go, from bands like Agnostic Front. They’re still going strong 30 years later.
Agnostic Front makes a stop in Calgary on October 21 at Republik during a short and sweet six-date Canadian tour with guests Death by Stereo and West of Hell. The show is all ages.
By Sara Mohan
Photo: Todd Huber