Interview with Roger Miret | By Gen Handley
For close to 40 years, New York’s Agnostic Front has made an indelible impact on the New York hardcore scene and punk rock in general. From helping lay the foundation of New York hardcore, to releasing one pummeling album after another, Roger Miret and his long-time bandmates continue to spread the empowering word with their new album, Get Loud!, released on November 8 via Nuclear Blast Records.
During a tour stop in the City of Brotherly Love, Miret spoke about the new album, the secret to his band’s longevity and the biggest misconception of Agnostic Front.
What’s the story behind the album title? Is it about being vocal?
Yeah, pretty much. The lyrics to the actual song “Get Loud” is about stopping living in the same old rut, in the same old circle if you’re not happy. It’s time to make that difference for yourself and get out of the same old routine if it’s not where you want to be – because a lot of people get stuck in those routines. They’re living that daily grind and they’re not happy… So it’s time to get happy… to get loud.
What inspired this album? Politics? Family?
When I approached the new album lyrically-wise, I wanted to release another theme-based record like One Voice but this time based on my autobiography, My Riot, which had just been released. I went for that approach for songs like “Urban Decay,” “Spray Painted Walls,” “Get Loud,” and “I Remember,” for example. But then, I just wanted to write other content. We write more socio-political stuff and what goes on around us on a day-to-day basis. We don’t really touch on the world politics as much – it’s not really our thing, I guess. It’s pretty much what goes on around me on a day-to-day basis.
Hardcore has evolved a lot since Victim in Pain in 1984? Do you think its wider acceptance is an overall good thing?
Wellyeah, for sure. There’s a lot more…punk in general is more accepted now. But it’s ok. The point is getting the message out whether it stays underground or out to the masses. It’s good people that are noticing these scenes…for hardcore and punk and metal. What I set out to do is to voice my opinion, to talk about oppression and overcoming oppression. If it gets to whatever level it’s getting to, that’s ok – it’s about creating awareness. If it’s small and nobody’s talking about it, you’re not going to create any awareness.
Do appreciate the indelible impact and influence AF has had on the New York hardcore scene and beyond? Do you feel like a pioneer?
I don’t know – I feel like a normal guy…I’ve just been doing this for so long and I love it. (Laughs) I don’t feel like Christopher Columbus or no shit like that. Yeah of course I appreciate it. There’s that level of respect and notability. It makes us feel good because it makes us feel we’re not doing it for no reason.
Looking at your Instagram account, you’re clearly a family man. How has that part of your life affected you as a musician?
It affects me of course. On the road, I miss my kids and I love to be home. We can’t really travel with our families. The few times they have come with me, they just wanted to be home and be with their toys and stuff. Whenever I’m back I spend quality time with them. I’m not reckless as I used to be and I have these other people to care for now.
You’re known for your many tattoos – even when tattoos weren’t as popular as they are now. Are you still getting tattoos? Running out of paper?
Well if you see my Instagram account, I’m getting rid of some. (Laughs) I’m removing some to make room for others – I want to do other stuff now. I don’t know. They all have a story and have meant something. I don’t want to get a tattoo just to get a tattoo – but that seems to be the trend.
How many do you have? Do you know?
I like to tell everyone one I have one big one. (Laughs) Because I really don’t know.
Why did you use Sean Taggart (1986’s Cause For Alarm) again for the album artwork?
Well, the songs we were writing had that throw-back vibe – but newer. I saw that he did this really cool painting about a year and a half ago. That stuck in the back of my mind and the back of my head. So when it came time for the new record, it just clicked and right away he said he’d love to.
You wrote My Riot, Agnostic Front – Grit, Guts and Glory in 2017. Any plans to do another book?
No. (Laughs) It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It was hard to put a lot of stuff down in so many words. I went through so many edits and I started in 1999. Having my family made it harder because I just didn’t have the time.
What’s the biggest misconception out there about AF?
I don’t know. Biggest misconception? Just a sec. (He asks bandmates what the misconception of Agnostic Front is.)
Bandmate: That we make a lot of money. (Laughs)
Yeah, that we make a lot of money. (Laughs)
As a 55-year-old singer in a punk band, what do you think you have to offer younger fans coming to Agnostic Front shows?
We love to play for everyone. Age was never a part of this movement and this scene. In America it’s a bit sad because it’s divided and trendy. The sad thing is that America was the birthplace of it all. It’s just become subparts of subparts of subparts. Most people want to build walls instead of break down walls. We always come to play and have a good time. The only thing we ask is that everyone gets along, has a good time in the pit and doesn’t hurt each other. We want everyone to go home safely.
Any plans for another Disasters album?
There’s songs written but I don’t know when they’ll be released. Maybe next year? Right now, I just want to focus on this new album, which I really like a lot, so I’m excited.
12 albums later, what keeps you going? What do you attribute the longevity to?
I think the longevity has to do with the fact that people want to be a part of something that they feel is real and genuine. I think the secret is being good to people and try to make a connection. As long you treat other people with respect, everyone is welcome to an Agnostic Front show.