Freddy Cricien (vocals)
Torhout (Belgium) – Friday January 26, 2018
“My hat off to the Hellfest men: they’re doing a great job! As long as they keep inviting us back!”
How the tour has been so far, Freddy?
The tour (Persistence Tour 2018) has been great. Lots of sold out shows and good crowds.
Do you have time to listen to some music from time to time during that tour? What’s the last record you had a chance to listen to?
I do listen to music from time to time. But to be honest with you, right now, I’m writing so the only thing I’m really listening to is Madball’s new record. Because before this tour, we finished arranging all the music and so now, I’m writing. I have some lyrics but I’m continuing to write lyrics on this tour. I’ve been listening to the record to try to write to our record mostly. And in between that, I’ve been listening to a bit of everything: rock, hip-hop… Just backstage, just to get ready for the show. As far as close listening, I’ve been only trying to write music, really.
Because non-Madball music would be pollution for your mind?
Well, not pollution necessarily but I’m definitely not listening to other hardcore stuff because that would be pollution for my mind! It’s just a weird time because when we get home from this tour, we go straight to the studio… So I have to be ready, yeah!
Would it be fair to say that nowadays, the heart of hardcore punk music is pulsing in Europe rather than in the United States?
It’s fair to say that. It’s not to say that hardcore is not existing in the USA because that would be unfair to say. There’s a lot of cities that wave the hardcore flag in America. I mean, it’s still underground music over all. No matter where you place it. But I would say that the heartbeat, the pulse of it has been in Europe for quite some time now…
But the major bands are still American rather than European though. How do you explain that?
I don’t know… That’s an interesting look. I mean, there’s definitely some relevant European hardcore bands, for sure. I guess the leaders of the pack are from America and I guess that’s just the way it is. It’s sort of the pioneers so I suppose people in Europe respect that and sort of attach themselves to that regardless of whatever. Hardcore as a genre in an America thing so I guess it makes sense for the Americans to be on the frontlines. But there are European bands on this tour that are great bands. Born From Pain has been a band for 20 years, you know. There’s a lot of great bands in Europe like Nasty, Broken Teeth… There’s a lot of good bands in Europe but it just happens that we have maybe the seniority, a little extra time put in from everyone…
What’s the point of releasing albums for a band like yours? Is there still a challenge or an ambition about it?
Absolutely. The way you gotta look at it from my perspective: we started doing it very young. Your mind, your lifestyle, everything that you were doing at that point has changed. Because you evolve as a person so, naturally, the music is going to evolve. Not to the point where we wanna change the style of music that we play as this band, as Madball. No. We’ve always waved the hardcore flag so we wanna keep it up that way but you grow up and you evolve as a person writing music: you get better at it. We started out playing live shows, we always had a lot of angst, a lot of raw energy. So it was sometimes messy and crazy the way it was put together. Getting older, you figure a way to be still be pissed off but it’s better put together, you know? That’s the same thing that applies to writing the music. It’s like I look back at our old stuff and I’m sometimes like “Wow, we didn’t know the hell that we were doing”. We were doing something and it was different but we know better now than we did then. We have a better idea of who we are and what our music should sound like now. So yeah, we look forward to new stuff because we have a better grasp at what we’re doing.
You might disagree with that but from my perspective, there seems to be a “metal-isation” of the hardcore scene at the moment. Almost the main bands are signed with Nuclear Blast while the brotherhood with hip-hop seems to be fading away…
That’s a fair perspective, I think. Well, you know, that’s not the case with us. Because I think that there’s always been some kind of metallic influence with us, from Set It Off, from Droppin’ Many Suckers even, til now. But it’s never been overbearing. There’s always been hip-hop influences in us because we grew up listening to hip-hop. But it’s never been rap-rock or rap-hardcore. It’s just there, you know. But I’m speaking on Madball. Now the current scene – I would have to agree to a point with you – I would have to agree that the current state of hardcore , aside from maybe us, Terror, Sick Of It All and a few bands… I think that the current breed is getting a little bit more metallic. What people are considering hardcore is becoming like… I’ve watched bands that are considered as hardcore bands and it’s just full-on metal. So it’s a little bit weird, yeah. Not that I have a problem with metal, don’t get me wrong: I love the metal crowd as well as the metal genre: I think it’s cool. I mean I think that we’re closely related and some of the metal fans are great to us and they treat us with a lot of respect.
About two years ago, Terror did a tour without Scott Vogel on vocals. Could Madball tour without you as a frontman one day? Could it be possible?
It’s not impossible! (laughter) Let me tell you something as I have a perfect story for you. I hurt my ribs on the second show unfortunately. It’s a great tour, an important tour for us. It’s a great package. But I hurt myself pretty bad. I didn’t quite break my ribs but I came very close. I’ve dealt with elements on the road, had broken hands, sprained ankles, sciatic nerves… I’ve had things that I had to deal with but I never quite dealt with that sort of debilitating thing. It’s like the middle of your body, it’s your ribs, you know… Even if your mind wants to do one thing, your body doesn’t let you. I could have said “hey, men, I can’t really perform the way I want to perform because I cannot represent the band the way I want to represent it… Maybe I should back off?”. But I didn’t. I can afford to but that’s just not the way I am. My point is it would be very hard, I think, to do an entire tour without me. But again, it’s never impossible (laughter)!
You’re still young despite being labelled a veteran. Your words count for many kids out there. Do you think that, as some kind of role model, you have a responsibility towards kids?
You know, I’ve never viewed myself as a role model. Now, doing this as long as I’ve done it, I do realise that my words do mean something to people and at the same time I have to tell my stories the way I tell them, whatever the outcome is, whatever it is. Now that I’m older and that I have children, I see young kids coming to shows and I understand that what we say can maybe reach some people. I do know that. Is it gonna stop me from being honest or telling the story in an honest way? I don’t know if that will stop me from that because then, I’m not being me and I’m not being Madball. Madball’s always been about honesty, authenticity, you know. But I do think about that and I do have a lot of people who come up and say “you mean a lot to me”. I think that the way I carry myself, hopefully, is something that people can respect because I carry myself in a certain way when I address people and when I meet people and when I interact with people.
Before we switch to Hellfest issues… Do you think that America has become great again over the last 12 months?
(laughter) That’s a good way to ask that question! Oh, man… That’s great, the economy is wonderful, the best it’s ever been as long as we’ve been a country, hundreds of years ago… Hum… Oh, man…That’s a funny way to ask this question… Who’s not gonna be a patriot and who doesn’t love the country they’re born in? You’re French, right? And obviously you love your country: you’re born there and you have great memories, that’s where you’re comfortable with the surroundings: that’s your country. Everyone’s a patriot. I mean most people are. But the state of our political situation is… I have no words! It’s crazy! I’m just trying to figure out who were the people who voted for this guy and why didn’t anybody else came out of the house so that guy didn’t become the president! It’s confusing! I’m confused! Sure, the man may be an alright business guy, he knows how to sell real estate or whatever but… It’s crazy, you know. Our world, the political climate of the world is weird. The whole world! Money and greed are playing a big part in a lot of things unfortunately…
This is gonna be your 5th time at Hellfest. How good is that?
We were actually talking about Hellfest the other day. And I have to say that – not because you’re interviewing me – but we came to the conclusion that Hellfest has become maybe the best European festival. It’s up there, it’s very hight up on the list for heavy music festivals and for festivals in general. I mean when we played it when it was an arena like this I think. It wasn’t even called Hellfest, right?
Yep, it was called Fury Fest back then.
Yeah, Fury Fest! It was on a smaller scale. We’ve always had a good connexion with the people at that festival. It’s sort of like Resurrection in Spain: we started playing that when there was nothing and we always connected with the people. As the festival has grown, we still manage to connect. That’s the same thing with Hellfest. It’s one of those festivals where we connected early on and then every year that we’ve played it’s almost like it’s got better and better and better. The last one we played, in 2015, that one was great, man! The crowd was all the way full and the set-up was beautiful. What they’re doing with that festival is a really good job. Everything from the catering to the stages and to the bands that they’re picking… I got say “my hat off to the Hellfest men: they’re doing a great job”! As long as they keep inviting us back (laughter)!
Can I ask you a few words about the bands sharing the Warzone stage with you on Saturday 23 June?
Get The Shot: these guys I’ve heard a lot about lately. I don’t know them personally but they’re making noise in America right now. My Life Is War: they’ve been around for a while and they’re doing shows again so that’s cool. Respect! Turnstile are the young guys. Their energy… It’s good positive energy, good songs, good catchy songs. Terror is hardcore done right! Modern harcore done right is Terror. Cro Mags: Mackie (Jayson) and John (Joseph)… They’re my people! Classic! Madball? I think our album is coming right around Hellfest! Hatebreed: man, they’re a breed of their own! Incendiary: they’re from Long Island and they’re a great band! I’ve seen these guys when they started. We’ve put them on shows, we’ve toured with them and put them on Black & Blue. Nothing but good things to say about these guys. They’re keeping the young part of the hardcore scene going. Them, Backtrack: like this kind of bands are sort of the next generation for the New York scene. Keep going: we need youth as much as we need the old guys. We need both! Without the old guys? Forget about it (laughter)!
Interview : Wombat.
Many thanks to Valérie (JMT Consulting for Nuclear Blast) and Rob (tour manager)