Biohazard: Kill or Be Killed Interview

This interview was conducted in-person at Biohazard’s rampage through Orlando with the new breed of Hardcore kings Hatebreed at the House of Blues in October 2003. What an honor for yours truly (Mattdaddy), a Biohazard fan from the early days! Metal Hailz to Tracy Huberdo for the interview, as well as Billy and Danny from Biohazard for sitting down with us.

From Brooklyn New York, Mutha Fukkaaaaaa!!! The words pour into the crowd as though a General commanding his troops to prepare for battle. After more than 15 years, the simple statement still stirs the crowd into a frenzy of unparalleled aggression! This is the scene on this fateful night as a horde of devoted hardcore fans pile into the House of Blues for an unforgettable evening with Biohazard, Hatebreed and the pioneers that started it all, Agnostic Front. Having formed in 1988, Biohazard was one of the first bands to mix heavy metal and hardcore with elements of hip-hop and rap. Criticized by many when starting out, for their crossover style, Biohazard persisted, and have gone onto become revered as one of the most influential and important bands ever to come out of New York.

Persevering through bad label deals, inner demons, and personal conflicts, Biohazard have stayed true to their music, themselves and the fans despite the many hardships that follow a band throughout a 15+ year career. Now Biohazard have returned stronger than ever with the release of the crushing new album "Kill or Be Killed". An appropriate album title inspired by the events which took place in Biohazard’s own backyard on that infamous day, September 11th. We had the chance to sit down with founding members Danny Schuler (drums) and Billy Graziadei (guitar) and discover what keeps the fire burning for this blue collar band of brothers who seem to have reloaded, refocused and come back with their most brutal and heaviest album to date,

Matt: "Kill or Be Killed" is a very pissed off, angry sounding record with a very raw "live" feel to it. What was the mindset of the band when you began writing the music, and before you guys ever pressed the record button for the first time?

Danny: We were just pissed you know? I mean, even before Sept. 11th happened, it was just like all these fuckin’ bands suck you know? All these shitty bands playin’ really shitty music! A horrible waste of people’s time and energy, and it’s an insult I think to a lot of people’s intelligence. We just really wanted to do a record that really fuckin’ affected people somehow. Like make you angry, make you bug out, disturbed you, or whatever it did. We just wanted to do something that means something! So many bands are just crankin’ out music that just blows! That new Metallica album Sucks!

I didn’t wanna say anything, but, There just so many bands putting out records that just don’t matter. To me, it was all or nuthin’, let’s put out a record that just totally represents the purest rage, ya know? Then Sept. 11th happened, and fuckin’ we were all home in New York watching that shit happen, having friends of ours die. It was just the most horrible thing, ya know? After that, we didn’t want to do anything. We went to Europe 10 days after that, did a tour, and we were all just in a daze. After that we all decided to just do something that mattered, or don’t do anything. We didn’t want to waste anybody’s time making a record that didn’t affect somebody, even if it didn’t sell nothin’. There isn’t anybody who can listen to "Kill or Be Killed" and not go "Holy Shit!", you’ve gotta understand the emotion behind it right away.

MW: My personal favorite song from the new record is "Dead to Me". Can you give us a little background information and/or personal meaning behind that song? From where did the inspiration originate?
Danny: That song was just about a bad relationship that just wasn’t healthy, and it was just like, it’s over, it’s completely over, when that person is just dead to you. We always write stuff that’s very personal to us.
MW: That’s one thing I’ve always admired about BIOHAZARD’s music. I can truly relate to the lyrics on that song on so many levels. "Hallowed Ground" is another song that really stands out to me. The writing style is completely different than that of any previous BIOHAZARD song I’ve ever heard.
Danny: "Hallowed Ground" is a song that directly deals with how the state of New York felt after 9/11. Our record "Uncivilization" came out that day, and I didn’t even think about that record anymore after that happened. There’s just no getting over that, you know what I mean? People will never get over it, it hurts forever, it will never get better, we will never forget about it, and that’s that.
MW: Yeah 9/11 changed everyone’s lives. Even thousands of miles away here in Central Florida, that day had a grave effect on everyone no matter how far away they were. I know it had a devastating impact on my own life.
Danny: The "Kill or Be Killed" record was just our way of dealing with all the emotions that we were feelin’. We had crazy shit happenin’ man, my own mom works across the street from the World Trade Center, and that morning I couldn’t get her on the phone. So for about the 2 hours before the first building went down, I could call, all the phone lines were dead. I thought my mom was there, it was scary man! My best friend called me, his sister worked on the 101st floor, right above where the first plane hit. He called me up crying, I didn’t even know what to think. People I grew up with were killed there, people I knew my whole life. People I used to hang out with at our shows, and do what we’re doin’ right now. They fucking died.
MW: The message that shines through on "Kill or Be Killed" is "Never Forgive, Never Forget" (the original title of this album). What else would you like this message to stand for or say?
Danny: "Never Forgive – Never Forget" to a lot of people is really a negative thing to say, OK, but I think we owed it to people. Especially during a time like 9/11, being honest about something, and I think it just represents the feeling of fuckin’ dealing with something horrible like that.
MW: With that in mind, it sickens me how certain "celebrities" and others with "power" acted after September 11th. These terrorist attacks were nothing short of a punch in the face to all Americans, and I swear, you punch me in the face and I’m coming for your fucking throat!
Billy: Yeah, a lot of celebrities definitely jumped up and started shootin’ their mouths off, but you know what? I think it’s unpatriotic to not speak your mind for or against what goes on in our country. I’m all for anyone saying what the fuck they wanna say, BUT, Don’t burn a fuckin’ flag in front of me! You’re allowed to do whatever the fuck you wanna do, and that’s a great thing, but you know, I love the idea of America, love our country, I love our people, and especially love the people who have fought for the freedom we all have. I definitely disagree with a lot of the policies of our government, and I’m for the people man, but I ain’t going to go out there and criticize the soldiers that are defending my shit. Those guys got balls man, doin’ what they gotta do.
MW: Shifting gears, Is there a chance in HELL that we will ever see a re-issue, or re-recording of the first BIOHAZARD record? Being an old bastard, that was always my favorite BIOHAZARD record. I haven’t heard that record in some years, but I could probably sing the lyrics to every fucking song! I recently saw a copy of that CD on Amazon.com for sale, but I remember how you guys got totally fucked in that record deal. I also remember stealing that album from my local record store after reading an interview with you guys talking about how you never saw a dime from that record!

Billy: We’ve been trying to find that fuckin’ scumbag from our first record label, and if we ever find him, We’re gonna kill ’em! Before we kill him, we’ve got to get the fuckin’ tapes back, and re-mix them. We don’t want to re-record anything; because Suicidal did that, and it takes away that "special" something that everybody loves about that shit!

Danny: We always hated the way it sounded because there was a lot of stupid shit that they did on those tapes.

MW: Hindsight is always 20/20, so with that in mind, how has your relationship with Sanctuary been? Have they come through with all of their promises, or is BIOHAZARD just another "heritage" band on their label? What is your commitment with them, and what do you think the future holds for BIOHAZARD?

Danny: Sanctuary? Well, it’s our record label ya know? A big fuckin’ business that has nothin’ to do with what the fuck we do! They’re a buncha suits sittin’ in an office somewhere. They don’t know what’s goin’ on, what we’re out here living for, what we do, working our asses off for it, and they’re just lookin’ at numbers, and product and all that.

Billy: 20/20? We’ll tell you when they’re behind us! The only "good" label in my opinion was Road Runner, no one else can do what they do. With all the other labels, they all left a band taste in my mouth.

Danny: I loved Warner Bros., when we signed with them they allowed us to do what we wanted to do. They acknowledged the fact that they didn’t totally understand what BIOHAZARD was all about. I mean they were an independent label first, and guided us into making our first major label record "State of the World Address". There was a lot of press, there were a lot of great experiences, they were doin it right, and that was an incredible time for us when everything was working and they had done a lot of great shit. After that the record label lost their focus and it all just began to fall apart. It sucked!

Billy: Really? I thought Warner Bros. Sucked! All they did was work off of what Road Runner did. Warner Brothers took it, capitalized it, and made money off of it. If they were that good, they would have at least made the 2nd record.

MW: How about your European label SPV?
Danny: They’re OK; it’s a small independent label that’s made up of good people that like good music. They are like our best label so far, and what we expect from a label, but they’re not RoadRunner!
MW: Speaking of Europe, it always seems that despite being a "smaller" market, the fans eat up any, and every kind of "heavy" or "extreme" music. I imagine that those kids go fucking crazy over there when they hear BIOHAZARD is coming to town. How differently is BIOHAZARD promoted and accepted in Europe as opposed to America?

Billy: We just got back from Europe yesterday! It was cool, but it’s not like a media machine. BIOHAZARD is a hard working, blue-collar band, and what you see out there is what we do.

Danny: In general, that’s what makes SPV better for us. It doesn’t have anything to do with what the label does, because the kids in Europe don’t prescribe themselves to trends and the people there who are "fans" of what we do are people who have been into us since 1990 when they heard the first record. They’ve been faithful allies of BIOHAZARD since the beginning, they aren’t trendy ya know? Once you get inside their sould, they don’t ever forget you, and if you go back and are loyal to them, they’ll stay with you forever! In America, kids don’t do that man. Like kids who went out and got an Ace Frehley tattoo, then KISS took off their makeup, Ace left, and they went and covered it up with something else! Kids love LIMP BIZKIT and then they turn their back on them when they grow up.

MW: It’s been a while since BIOHAZARD has made it down here to Florida. How is the current tour going for you guys out on the road with HATEBREED and veteran maniacs AGNOSTIC FRONT?

Danny: Cummon man! I wanna go watch HATEBREED!

Billy: Always a fuckin’ pleasure! We feel honored to be out there with those guys! We love ’em, HATEBREED represents the newer crop, ya know, we’re here to keep it real, and AGNOSTIC FRONT started this whole shit! To be in the same room with those two is an honor and a pleasure!

Danny: You know what the greatest thing is? The same package went to Europe and HATEBREED got to front BIOHAZARD. You know it’s cool to play last, but first is better! When you play last and you get on stage, everybody’s gone, but when we play first we get to hang out! We’re just lucky to be here, there aren’t a whole lot of bands that we can tour with in America!

MW: Do you guys get time to be tourists, or is it strictly business on the road?

Danny: Yes! We’re really lucky that we get the time to enjoy a lot of the places we’ve been.

Billy: Besides today!

Danny: Yeah, we just flew in!

MW: The press has always perceived BIOHAZARD as being a "Political" band. Do you feel that is a correct assumption, or a result of being "Politically Incorrect" and speaking your mind?

Danny: I don’t think so, I think we’re just socially conscious, we speak what’s on our minds, and we don’t care about anyone else’s opinion and that alright! We’re not really concerned with being politically correct, or incorrect!

Billy: It seems like there is this trend to like, knock BIOHAZARD off of this pedestal, but we were never on any pedestal! Everyone else put us on this pedestal; they’re always looking for something to attack the bands for. None of the bands in our genre of music except for SLAYER and the bands that broke out big sold, and got as big as we got. You know in our Hay Day back in the mid 90’s. As soon as you stick your head up above the crowd, people love to throw rocks at it, and that’s what it was. We were a band like, alright, ya know, we’ll take a shot in the face, we don’t care, we’ve been knocked down many times, we’ll just stand right up again. Been punched at, been swung at, been shot at, not physically I mean, people are always trying to knock your shit. We do what we do, and we’re not makin’ no apologies!

MW: I fuckin’ HATE reality shows, however, I think a BIOHAZARD reality show would truly be kick ass! What would you imagine the show would be like? A day in the life of BIOHAZARD?

Danny: It would be sickening! I watch TV like when I’m watchin’ a film, I wanna escape mother fuckin’ reality! These shows are just a bunch of idiots! Privileged fuckin’ idots, fightin’ with each other, and can’t deal with their lives, and the real world, and their problems, and all that shit. My wife loves it, and if I watch it, I get sucked right into it and like "Get me the hell away from this TV!" Reality shows have revolutionized television, and it’s sad and pathetic, but it’s fuckin’ hilarious man! Showin’ everybody how fuckin’ ridiculous everybody is! A day in the life of BIOHAZARD would be the most dysfunctional fuckin’ reality show you’ve ever seen in your life!

Billy: Evan just told me a funny story. Someone wanted to do a show ya know on Evan’s dating Tera Patrick. To do a day in the life of BIOHAZARD and a PORN STAR! I thought it was a stupid idea!

The following are a few questions sent in via email from our readers.

Nate from Asphalt asks: Have you guys heard anything good out of Orlando (as far as Metal is concerned)? Or the least something about our "local" scene that made them take another look?
Billy: I heard something good out of Orlando man, the new Justin Timberlake, it’s fuckin’ great! Iced Earth is cool.
Chris from Filth Tree asks: How much local support from other bands and the surrounding community did you get when you guys first started playing out? Were there many obstacles to overcome, like clubs not wanting to book you?
Danny: We didn’t get much support people always told us that we sucked, and we’d never go nowhere. We were surprised when there were more than four people other than our girlfriends at our shows, then 4 turned into 8 and 8 into 80, then 180 and so on. Everyone in our scene totally dissed us for having a hip-hop influence to what we did, non of the bands in NYC were ever cool to us. The only band was AGNOSTIC FRONT; they were always cool with us!
Rex from Iron Cross asks: What were your reasons and/or inspiration for covering the Black Sabbath song "After Forever" on the NIB Sabbath tribute album?
Billy: Because they RULE! It’s a great song! When they asked us to do something for the compilation, they asked us to do something that wasn’t covered a million times, we loved the song, and that was it!
Dennis from Perpetuating a Stereotype asks:After so many albums, how on earth does BIOHAZARD stay so grounded to make a CD so fucking unbelievable like "Kill or Be Killed"?
Billy: When these motherfuckers crashed a plane into our reality and our backyards, that’s enough influence for anybody to make a record called "Kill or Be Killed". As the world comes tumbling down daily, more destructive as each day passes, that’s what drives us to do what we do.
Wednesday from Aid for Bands asks: As a recording band, what have been the most difficult tasks (on a music business level), that you’ve accomplished so far in your career?
Billy: Being on 7 different record labels, or is it 8? Soon to be 8!!!
Stan asks: Tell us about BIOHAZARD STUDIO. What is it like opening, operating and recording there, and will anyone else be recording there. What happened to Rat Piss studio?
Danny: Right now we still have Rat Piss Studios, we just opened up Biohazard studios in scenic Slayerville, Jersey, and it’s a fuckin’ great thing for us, we’ve had a lot of bands record there! We’ll never let anyone else touch our music, or poison it with their bull shit! I recommend to all bands that they do it themselves, you don’t need anybody else!
LJG361 asks: What were your individual musical starts? We you exposed to it at an early age, raised in a musical family, or what else?

Billy: Piano was my main instrument, I studied when I was a Kid, Danny’s always played drums, Evan still doesn’t know how to play Bass!

Scott: I started on piano! Billy you did too? Oh, I guess you were a fag too!

Danny: We were all raised in musical families, except Evan. Scott’s first time on stage was in church when he was 2 years old!

Tyle from Zombie Rage asks Evan: What was the spark that inspired you to get back into diesel shape? What’s the main staple in your diet, and do you feel a positive effect on stage with your energy levels?
Billy: I don’t know, but he need to spark again, cause he’s fuckin’ lost it! Evan was on the Adkins diet, he needs to go back on it!!! (Eveyone dies laughing!)
Cammie asks: Do you get your ink in different places, or was it from certain people?
Billy: Everywhere, anywhere that will let us in!
MW: Before we go, any final thoughts you’d like to give our readers?

Danny: Go Fuck Youself! Steal our records, don’t pay for it! It’s a good record, it kicks your fuckin’ ass, but it ain’t worth $17 (and then blows a kiss!)

Just then Mike the guitarist for AGNOSTIC FRONT yells to everyone "Dude! Fuckin’ Carrot Top’s in the Pit!!!" Everyone then scrambles to the nearest window pointing out a kid with a huge red afro throwin’ down in the pit for HATEBREED!

Danny: I knew he was a Hardcore fan!!! Can’t blame ’em!!!

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