Freddy Cricien - Vocals
Hoya - Bass
Mitts - Guitar
Rigg Ross - Drums
When it comes to the claims of who the "legends" of the hardcore scene really are, some prime factors need to be taken into consideration-namely: influence, longevity and reputation.
Madball - a pummeling staple of New York Hardcore since the band's inception in 1988 - is one of the few groups that can lay claim to achieving high marks in regards to all of the above, while also maintaining an undying spirit that, to many, represents the heart of what hardcore is all about.
Originally coming to fruition as an Agnostic Front side-project, featuring a junior-high aged Freddy Cricien - younger brother of legendary Agnostic Front frontman Roger Miret - on vocals, Madball quickly established a reputation as being one of the hardest-working and most visceral hardcore bands in the scene, which still holds true to this day. In fact, Madball has shared the stage with nearly every reputable hardcore and metal band of the past decade, and even after years of existence the band can still outperform most of its contemporaries. The group's influence has affected many of the modern giants of the scene--Hatebreed and Terror, among countless others, being notable examples.
Many, however, have to wonder if, in retrospect, Cricien thought Madball would have such a lasting impact when he helped form the band at the young age of 12. According to the now 29-year-old vocalist, the maturation process for Madball has been like a roller-coaster ride.
"It started as a hobby and it's turned into something really amazing that we never thought would happen," Cricien says. "We originally started by doing a bunch of throwaway Agnostic Front songs, but since then we've carved our own sound; our own niche. I'm proud of what we have accomplished."
Often imitated but never duplicated, Madball has managed to perfect its patented chugging, grooving New York Hardcore sound, while always maintaining the same street-life inspired attitude that originally ignited the band's ever-smoldering flame. The final results - which have taken the outfit to nearly every corner of the world - have allowed the group to experience things that many from the same rough New York neighborhoods would never have thought possible.
In celebration of the group's 15 plus years of influential existence, Madball recently inked a deal with Ferret Records and with it comes the band's most ambitious release to date, the aptly titled Legacy. Produced by renowned heavy-music specialist Zeuss (Hatebreed, Shadows Fall, Throwdown), Legacy is a continuation of all of the standards that any fan could expect from the group: bruising rhythms and riffs, commanding vocals and an overall confidence that most hardcore troupes couldn't touch with a ten-foot pole.
"It's like our last record, Hold it Down, times ten!" longtime bassist Hoya beams. "We're definitely stepping up our sound, but we're still a hardcore band. It's not like we're a jazz-fusion group or anything. We do what we want to do--the sound is up to date, but we never base what we do on any kind of trend. I think we're a band that can hang with anybody. We're representing New York hardcore and heavy music all around."
While Legacy is reminiscent of the best of Madball's past material, the sound of the new record also finds the group expanding its horizons a bit.
As Cricien sees it, "We stick and move. People should expect certain things from us, but we always try and keep it fresh. Musically, it's the same formula, but just a new and improved version; lyrically, we're touching on some new subjects but we're still giving people the real-life themes that they would expect to hear; production wise it's our heaviest album ever!"
One of the stand-out points of Legacy is its simple yet effective title, which touches upon a profound theme throughout the history of the band in more ways than one.
"Legacy means a lot of things to us," the enigmatic Cricien states. "A lot of the bands we grew up listening to passed on their legacy through hardcore. We feel like we're doing the same thing-we're carrying on the legacy of hardcore, but we're also passing it down to the younger kids. This is definitely something that has played a big role in our lives."
Hoya echoes his longtime friend's remarks: "Music has kept us alive all these years; it's kept us off the streets and out of jail. It's something that was handed down from generation to generation and we feel like we're helping bridge that gap to the next generation like a lot of the old school bands did for us."
Though Madball has had its share of changes and worked with a variety of both major and indie labels (Roadrunner, Epitaph), Cricien and Hoya, as well more recent members like drummer Rigg Ross and guitarist Mitts, have maintained the soul of the band while weathering the group through each and every challenge, including a two-year hiatus from 2001 to 2003. From the crew's 1989 debut E.P. (Ball of Destruction) to its classic Roadrunner LPs (Set it Off, Demonstrating My Style) and current Ferret Records magnum opus (Legacy) Madball has remained one of the most respected bands in hardcore.
And, in fact, one of the prime factors in the rise of Madball's popularity in both the hardcore and metal scenes is due to its take no prisoners mentality when it comes to the live performance. Backed with a full-force live show that has wowed the eyes of fans and musicians alike for years, Madball will play anywhere anytime and has consistently toured North America, South America, Europe, Japan and Australia, while playing shows with the likes of Sepultura, Slayer, Black Sabbath, Sick of it All and Hatebreed.
These trips, trials and tribulations have been taken in stride and, in fact, are mainly what fuels the fire of this potent, mosh-inducing outfit.
"We do it because we're passionate about what we do and there still seems like there is always a light at the end of the tunnel," Cricien says. "There are always new opportunities and new ways to take the band to another level. That really keeps us going."
After a band has existed for a certain amount of time, some might wonder whether or not that original "magic" has dissipated. Madball, however, continues to look forward to new challenges and sees new experiences as being just as vital as anything gleaned from the past.
"I want to continue to take the band to the next level," Cricien says with excitement in his deep voice. "I want to knock down the borders but still represent the core of what Madball has always been. We feel even more strongly about Madball than we ever have."