I NOTICED RECENTLY YOU’VE HAD A LOT OF STUFF POSTED ON MYSPACE ABOUT [SITES THAT HAVE MENTIONS OF THE BAND’S DOINGS] AND WHAT HAVE YOU…
Yeah. I don’t know if people thought we broke up or whatever, but I know they might’ve thought we disappeared – and we kinda did disappear in certain respects as far as outside of NY’s realm goes. We were looking for a new label, wrote a bunch of new songs, we got [drummer] Steve Gallo back in the band, so a few things happened in the course of the last year or two, so all of this has been culminating very slowly. But if you’ve been paying attention, we took a little bit of a break but we’ve never broken up. We just had to regroup and stuff. Plus, the schedule’s a little weird with Joe [guitar] and Steve being in AGNOSTIC FRONT, we have to balance it, but it all works out in the end because we know pretty far in advance what they’re doing. So this way we just work around that. Everybody in the band leads a busy life. Henry [bass] has another band he’s doing with the guys from TYPE O NEGATIVE. I’m doing a black-metal project, DEMONI. That’s just begun, literally, just over the summer. INHUMAN is all our number-one priority, though.
ABOUT THE LABEL, I THINK IT WAS MAYBE TWO YEARS AGO WHEN YOU PLAYED AT MANITOBA’S YOU WERE TELLING ME ALL THAT HAPPENED WITH A-F [INHUMAN’S PREVIOUS LABEL] HOW THEY HAD THAT FLOOD. SO, HOW LONG WERE YOU LABELESS?
Two years exactly. That happened in late-’04 and by late-06 we were in talks with I Scream.
HOW DID THAT EVEN COME ABOUT?
I Scream wanted ‘The New Nightmare’ for Europe when it came out in 2003 and we always had some kind of relationship with them, so A-F kinda screwed that up and that never happened. So I told the people at I Scream that in the future it would be great to work with [them]. And when Joe and Steve were in Europe with AGNOSTIC FRONT, they had seen Laurens, the owner, and talked to him about what was going on, and he said, “Yeah, I’m still interested in you guys.” It was maybe early-2006 when we first started talking to them. So it’s a long time coming.
ON YOUR MYSPACE PAGE YOU HAVE “THE DREAM IS NOT DEAD” AND “GRINDHOUSE.” WHY THOSE TWO?
“Grindhouse” because it’s a good heavy song. It shows the more metallic dynamic of the band and it’s one of my favorite songs that we’ve ever written. [Laughs] Probably because of the subject matter because I’m a movie nerd. It’s about 42nd St. and that’s probably one of my favorite things in the world to talk about. I could talk their ear off about those kinds of movies. And “The Dream Is Not Dead” because we thought it was a really good hardcore song that’s a really good representation of INHUMAN, both lyrically and musically. There’s a little bit of a late-‘80s SICK OF IT ALL/LEEWAY to it and there’s a little bit of a more modern hardcore sound in it as well. There are other songs on the record that are actually a little more on the melodic side and as a third track, we’d probably put up a song called “What You Wanted,” which is another really strong song kinda in the vein of “Killing Me” on the last record but maybe even more on the rock side, believe it or not. [Laughs] We just like to show the diversity of the band and I thought those songs were a good representation of that.RIGHT AND YOU HAVE THE DESCRIPTIVE BLURBS OF EACH SONG IN THE LINER NOTES… “GRINDHOUSE,” YOU MENTION WAS WRITTEN WAY BEFORE THAT MOVIE. [LAUGHS]
It was. Like, two years before. It’s funny when I heard that was the name of the movie, I was like, “Wow, that’s so funny.” In a perfect world, our record would’ve come out in April when the movie came out and we could’ve mooched our way onto the soundtrack. But obviously that didn’t happen. It’s funny because people think the word “grindhouse” describes a movie genre, but in actuality it describes a type of movie theatre that shows a certain type of movie. A grindhouse is a theatre, not a movie itself. I guess Tarantino and Rodriguez felt this was the type of movie that would be shown in a grindhouse. It is a cool, catchy-sounding name that unfortunately most America didn’t get, and I’m almost GLAD most of America didn’t get it because I feel like it’s its own special little club. [Laughs] And as you know, a lot of people hate when things get popular. […] I just always wanted to write a song about that. Not too many hardcore bands write songs about movies, really. [Laughs] We’re not the average band in that respect. We march to our own drummer.
BUT ALSO, ABOUT THE WHOLE GRINDHOUSE THING, YOU MENTIONED HOW LONG THE ERA LASTED – TO ’93. I THOUGHT IT WAS MORE OF A ‘70S/’80S THING. DID YOU EVER GET TO EXPERIENCE IT?
Not in Manhattan. There were some theatres in Brooklyn, one called the Oceana, which in my opinion was definitely a grindhouse. It was kinda scary as a teenager to go there. They played a lot of horror movies. It was a pretty sketchy theatre. I did not experience the grindhouses on 42nd St. In 1993 I was just turning 20 and was actually an MTV intern at the time and I remember running errands a lot, bringing video tapes to places and walking up 42nd St. between 7th and 8th Ave. everyday and seeing all the theatres boarded up and all these weird art signs written on them that were kinda sarcastic in a way about how a new time was coming. And sure enough the new time really came. As you see, it is tourist hell now. But back then – see the movie ‘Taxi Driver,’ see ‘Midnight Cowboy,’ that’s what that street was like. There’s a book that was also a big influence in writing the song called ‘Sleazoid Express’ written by a husband and wife who worked on 42nd St. and are kinda archivists of grindhouse cinema and in the book it states one of the last movies to be shown in a 42nd St. theatre was the movie ‘Falling Down,’ with Michael Douglas. [Laughs] That’s pretty much when the Giuliani administration and partly, believe it or not, the Dinkins administration was like, “Enough is enough. Everything has to go.” And go it went. There’s a lot behind the song, I guess you could say.
AND “THE DREAM IS NOT DEAD.” YOU GUYS HAVE BEEN AROUND 12 YEARS. OF COURSE YOU’VE SEEN PEOPLE COME AND GO…
Exactly. On every record there’s usually a song or two about the hardcore scene or my thoughts on hardcore. And this song is about being around at a time when it’s really not that cool to be playing hardcore, and there’s a line, “When the fire burns out and the smoke starts to clear, we’ll be the ones who are standing in the ashes, still standing.” That’s kinda what it feels like to be in INHUMAN. A lot of bands have broken up, a lot of kids have left, gone on to other types of music. It’s about what it’s like to be playing the music we play right now. But the cool thing is that some people can respect you for that and they take notice of you for that, and then of course the complete opposite of that happens: they resent you for that. There are people that don’t seem to want the band to exist for whatever reason. [Laughs] It’s almost like a “fuck you” to the detractors because we are still here and we’re doing what we’re doing and no one is gonna make us stop except ourselves. The song’s also about SICK OF IT ALL, who embody the spirit of the song ‘cause they’re a band that’s now 21 years old. They do what they do and they’ve done so much for the hardcore scene and have really carried the torch for NYHC across the world. And I guess it’s almost like a thankless job. But it’s not that thankless for them ‘cause there are bands like INHUMAN where SOIA mean a lot to us and are a very important band. And it would be a sad day when they call it a day. And you could also say it goes out to bands like KILL YOUR IDOLS who lasted over 12 years and never really changed their sound either and stuck to their guns.
YOU MENTION A THANKLESS JOB, BUT YOU KNOW, YOU DO HAVE THE FANS THAT ARE JUST RABID, THEY’LL STICK WITH YOU THROUGH THICK AND THIN.
Yeah, it’s not completely thankless. It’s thankless in a sense that I don’t feel INHUMAN gets the respect we should get. I don’t. And while we do appreciate everyone who does support us and care about us and looks forward to our new records and comes see us live and buys our t-shirts, I feel that there’s a whole sector of the hardcore scene that have ignored the band for whatever reason and never gave [us] a chance or just kinda fell out of favor with the band. And I see people talk shit on bands that’ve been around for a long time and it’s like are you upset that they’re around for a long time? Do you want them to leave? I don’t understand it. So many kids clamor for bands that were around for a year-and-a-half and then broke up and completely left the scene and went on to a hard-rock band or emo bands or electronic bands. Why don’t you have that admiration for a band that’s been around for a long time, that it wasn’t a summer vacation for? I think that’s a warped way of thinking. There are a lot of bands that get praise who really don’t deserve it, and the bands who do deserve it, like the SOIAs and the KYIs, I think maybe years down the line will be the much more important bands than the bands that lasted a year-and-a-half. [Lots of talk about history and respect…]
WHEN YOU WERE ON A-F, YOU THINK SOME PEOPLE MIGHT HAVE LISTENED TO YOU BECAUSE THEY ASSOCIATED YOU WITH ANTI-FLAG?
Yes! As a matter of fact, that did happen. It didn’t happen enough, I don’t think. Then there was the opposite effect – kids from the hardcore scene said, “What the hell are you doing on that label?” There was some of that and there was some of “I never heard your band before, but I bought it because it’s on A-F Records and I liked it. And there was some of “What is A-F doing signing a band like this?” I probably would’ve liked it if more people complained, but that’s just me. I would’ve gotten a kick out of that. But the problem with A-F is they just don’t function as a real label that promotes their bands and it wound up hurting not just INHUMAN, but pretty much every band that was on the label. It functions as a company to promote ANTI-FLAG and that’s why a lot of bands on that label broke up or were dying to get off the label or had problems with the label because it basically exists as a vanity label to promote ANTI-FLAG and manage ANTI-FLAG and piggy-back the efforts of the label ANTI-FLAG is on. That’s it. The guy who signed us is still a friend of mine and I like him a lot. He’s always really cool to me, but it was kinda out of his hands what went down at the label. So what can you do? You pick up the pieces and move on, and that’s what we’re doing.
TO THE NEW RECORD, THEN, ‘LAST RITES.’ I WAS WONDERING HOW LONG YOU WERE WORKING ON THE NEW MATERIAL, BUT YEAH, YOU HAD “GRINDHOUSE” IN 2005.
Let’s say a little more than a quarter of the record is from 2005, another chunk is from 2006, and two songs are from 2007, so it’s like a two-year period of songwriting.
WHICH WERE THE LAST TWO YOU WROTE?
“Ghost,” which is one of my favorite songs on the record, is the last song we wrote. And the song Joe sings on, “Bitter & Jaded,” is brand-new as well.
FOR HIM, WAS THERE ANY TREPIDATION ABOUT SINGING?
Oh yeah. He was kinda nervous. What we’d like to do is get a second guitarist so he can sing the song because he can’t sing and play at the same time. It’s just a fun song that came together in the rehearsal studio. We were like, “Let’s have Joe sing a song on the record.” But he actually wasn’t that nervous. He did it in like two takes. He banged it out better than I do my vocals. So if something happened to me, maybe Joe can take over on vocals. We flirted with the idea of getting a second guitarist – not just for that song, but for a lot of songs that have different guitar work and leads. If you listen to the record, there’s a lot of guitar solos that don’t sound as good as when you have another guitarist underneath that. So you may see a fifth person in the band sooner or later. ‘Cause there are a few songs we can’t really play and it sucks.
BEFORE WITH “TDIND,” YOU SAID YOUR RECORDS HAVE ONE OR TWO SONGS ABOUT THE SCENE. “FASH-IST” WOULD FIT INTO THAT.
Yeah, that’s the number-two song about the current state of the scene. The song may upset some people but it will also make some people very happy and just make people sing along with me. Basically, I wouldn’t say the song was written as a joke because it’s really not a joke, but you can take it as being light-hearted. I wrote it as someone who’s seen everything in the past 19 years going to shows and I feel the fashion-core movement – and just the misrepresentation of the word “hardcore” by people who are to me the modern equivalent of the late-‘80s glam rockers – has just gotten a bit too much for me. It’s just watered-down and the complete opposite of everything this is supposed to be about. It’s the new glam rock basically, and I don’t think it’s right that hardcore has been dragged into that. Don’t call it hardcore. Don’t even call it metal-core. Hell, there was a time when metal-core meant a band I was gonna really like. [Laughs]AND IT WASN’T GONNA HAVE BREAKS WITH WHINY, WUSSY VOCALS.
Right. And it wasn’t gonna have five words in their name. They weren’t gonna have acoustic parts in the middle of bad death-metal vocals. It meant great bands [like] D.R.I., C.O.C., CRUMBSUCKERS, LUDICHRIST, hell, it meant LEEWAY, it even meant THE CRO-MAGS. Now it means something I’m probably instantly not even gonna like. I just feel again maybe it’s the elder statesman in me, maybe it’s just being fed up, but I just think a lot of people will agree with it. [Discussing other NYC bands with records coming out in ’07 like AGNOSTIC FRONT]. I feel like maybe, just maybe, hardcore could make somewhat of a comeback if the people allow it, as they say. Maybe kids are getting burnt out on metal-core and bad fashion-core and mall-core, who knows. There are a lot of younger bands making headway that aren’t from NY that I think are really good bands like THE FIRST STEP who are playing more traditional hardcore and doing pretty well. Maybe not as well as, say, the metal-core bands, but they’re getting people excited about hardcore, which is a good thing. I listen to a lot of different stuff and most of it lately is of the black-metal variety, but I still check out new hardcore bands and I still listen to hardcore fairly regularly. [Laughs] If I didn’t, I don’t think I should be playing in INHUMAN. The day I completely stop listening to hardcore, I don’t think I have the right to be in a hardcore band. I don’t think that’ll ever really change.
ANOTHER SONG I WANTED TO MENTION: “HERETIC.” I LIKED WHAT YOU HAD BEHIND THAT. IT KINDA REMINDED ME OF REAGAN YOUTH, LIKE “BE YOUR OWN GOD”-TYPE THING.
Right. To me, religion and hardcore/punk rock don’t mix all that well. I’m not against people being Christian or religious, but I do feel it’s very personal. I feel it’s more personal than straight-edge and anything else. You can be a spiritual person without being a preachy douchebag, so to speak, and on the flipside, you can be a great person and not be Christian.
OH PLEASE. I KNOW.
If you live your life and you’re good to yourself and your family and your friends, why do you need to go to church every Sunday? Why do you need to go to confession? Why do you need to give some of your money to your church or your temple? I feel like it is unnecessary and people who force religion on other people are horrible. People can say what they want about people who are interested in Satanism and the occult and things like that, but if you look at your history, when was the last time a war was raged in the name of satan? When was the last time genocide was committed in the name of satan? Never. When was the last time you heard of a practicing Wiccan wiping out a whole village of people.
YEAH, AND WHAT ABOUT ATHEISTS? IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE IN A GOD, THEN YOU’RE SOMEHOW AMORAL OR IMMORAL.
Yeah, there’s a terrible thing going on in politics today about having to rally against these people who are godless and all this bullshit. And there should be a separation of church and state and you shouldn’t be preaching god to people who don’t wanna hear it. The song “Heretic” is kinda about my own take on it. Although I went to Catholic grammar and high school, I would say at about 17 or 18 I pretty much threw in the towel and opened my eyes and pretty much never looked back. [Laughs] [Getting deep into the Christianized/Evangelical state of the ruling administration.] Bush and his pals have rammed this country into the ground in the name of god, for the most part, and it’s really sad. So, it’s a song that speaks for itself. [Laughs] It was almost gonna be a series of anti-religious songs on the record, to be honest ‘cause it slightly goes hand-in-hand with the title of the record, but the title track wound up being a song about death really. At one point it was gonna be yet another anti-religious song, but I felt like one for this record was plenty.
IF I’M REMEMBERING CORRECTLY, THE LAST TIME WE DID AN INTERVIEW IT WAS ABOUT HOW YOU DON’T REALLY GET INTO POLITICS. YOU WERE JUST GOING ON A LITTLE RANT THERE.[LAUGHS]
Yeah, isn’t it unbelievable? I tell ya, how could you not be in a hardcore or punk band and NOT have feelings about it?
I KNOW, I KNOW.
I’m 34 years old and I have the luxury of being able to write songs and lyrics that people are gonna read and I have the good fortune to be interviewed once in a while and give my opinion. I feel like if you’re in your 30s or 20s and DON’T have an opinion, that’s terrible. Hey, you can be a pro-Bush guy, but at least be a well-informed pro-Bush guy. [At least] you know about your guy. [Laughs] I just didn’t wanna be so apathetic anymore because I felt like I was for a long time. I don’t consider myself a liberal or left-wing or Democrat, nor a Republican or conservative; I’m kinda in the middle. I’m a registered Independent who sees the atrocities of the Bush administration. There’s Republicans for Obama. It’s not just me. It’s not just people who are liberals anymore. It’s anybody. It’s registered Republicans. …So that was the political moment. Was that shocking?!
[LAUGHS] BACK TO THE RECORD, MUSIC-WISE, YOU WERE SAYING IT’S MORE DIVERSE. WAS THAT A CONSCIOUS DECISION OR DID IT JUST HAPPEN?
It is and it isn’t. A lot of times a band will say, “It wasn’t a conscious decision,” meanwhile there’s a manager saying, “Write a hit!” There’s no one telling us to write a hit or write a punk song, but what does happen at rehearsals is Joe will come in with something and if we like it, we keep it regardless of musical styles. One of our favorite bands collectively is TURBONEGRO. And while when one thinks of INHUMAN they don’t think TURBONEGRO, we are fanatic about that band. I feel like on this record maybe it did rub off a little. The guys in my band like GWAR. I don’t really like [them] at all, but Joe and Henry love GWAR, maybe that rubbed off on this record. I’m a big fan of THE DAMNED, TSOL, and maybe some of that rubbed off on this record.
WELL, YOU ALWAYS HAD THAT DARKNESS TO IT…
Absolutely. Sometimes a feel like there’s a portion of people who like the band and get that, but there’s an entire portion who does NOT get that and doesn’t even see it because they just associate us with NYHC, breakdowns, SOIA. But like I said, we can appeal to a lot of different people. Songs like “Heretic” and “Lost Rites” and “Grindhouse” are heavy songs and can appeal to someone who likes HATEBREED, whereas you may not think of INHUMAN when you think of HATEBREED, but we can go toe-to-toe with that style. If we wanted to, we could consciously write a whole album like that. But that’s not how we function. We write for ourselves. If we like it, we’ll write a song around it. And Joe is a really good riff writer. We’re not too punk, too hardcore, too metal. We don’t really do that all that much. If we wanted to we could write an entire record of brutal metallic hardcore, but I think we’d be a little bored after a couple songs. I’ve often flirted with the idea of making an EP, four or five songs, of just total fast, fuck-you hardcore kinda a little on the crusty side, just completely violent, fast stuff. I feel like we can do anything and sometimes some people just don’t get when a band wants to do something a little different. But I think the early word on this record is, somebody said it’s almost like if you took all three [previous] records and put them together, that’s kinda what this new record is like. And I kinda somewhat agree with that, but at the same time there’s some new elements too. […] There’s some very traditional hardcore songs on the record and two kinda melodic hardcore songs, which I enjoy doing. I like some of that stuff, like DAG NASTY and GORILLA BISCUITS and I don’t hear too many bands doing that stuff that still sound like hardcore bands. I feel like we did that and still managed to sound like a hardcore band. And the last song on the album, “The Lost,” kinda sounds like the mid-period AFI, like when they first started…
OH, LIKE ‘BLACK SAILS’-TYPE THING?
Yeah, like that meets DANZIG [laughs] meets INHUMAN. It’s got the dark element to it.
UNFORTUNATELY I HAVEN’T HEARD ALL THE LYRICS YET, BUT YOU DID ALLUDE TO THERE BEING SOMEWHAT OF A CONCEPT GOING THROUGH THE ENTIRE RECORD.
Yeah, that concept is in some ways death. This album has songs about heartbreak and loss and endings and death, and you can say the concept of the record is of like…
JUST THINGS ENDING.
Yeah. Finality. Things like that.BUT YOU’RE NOT BREAKING UP! [LAUGHS]
Oddly enough, no. I had to say that to somebody else the other day because they thought it was about the band. Not to our knowledge. [Laughs] Hey, it could all end tomorrow, but there is no preconceived break-up. If anything right now, we’re pretty positive about the band. Reinvigorated in some ways. But it’s not a concept record per se, but there is that concept flowing through it with a few exceptions like “Fash-ist” and “TDIND.” But pretty much every other track has some negativity, feelings like that, endings.
Mike’s final words in parting: “Buy a fuckin’ CD from a hardcore band because we need the fan support just as much as Beyonce does… more so than even Beyonce and THE ROLLING STONES and certainly more than METALLICA.”