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Vicky Milne interviews Billy Graziadei and Bobby Hambel of Biohazard
After travelling for 12 hours from their gig the previous night in Germany, and sorting out their sound check, it was time for some RnR and to satisfy the need to indulge in some proper British pub grub for the Biohazard guys. I was honoured to be invited along to join them for dinner and have a good old natter;
Vicky: Well, wow thank you for agreeing to let me interview you today
Bobby: Thank you!
Billy: yeah thank you
Bobby: thank you for giving a shit!
Vicky: Oh I totally give a shit!
Billy: we always looked at it like, why are people always interested in talking to us and for like 20 some odd years, it’s still the same thing, ‘oh thanks for your time bla bla bla’, you’re taking your time to talk to us about stuff that we like to do, you know, so we’ve always remained humble like that
Vicky: Yeah but it’s taking time out of your busy schedule though you know, you’re sound check and setting up and that
Billy: we did it! Now we’re just having dinner, waiting for our shepherds pie!
Vicky: Well, you haven’t got shepherds pie coming, but it’s a shame they don’t have it though!
Billy: I got, salted pig
Vicky: Salted pig pie ha ha
Billy: salted pig, chicken and peas, and mashy peas!! The best fuckin vegetable in the world ha ha
Vicky: Aaah mushy peas Ha ha ha!
Vicky: When I was reading up on you guys, it dawned on me, you’ve been going 26 years, on and off
(Billy & Bobby together knock on the wooden table)
Vicky: Yep, keep on going!
Vicky: How do you feel about that, the scene has changed so much since you guys started
Billy: it hasn’t changed
Bobby: When we’re on stage it’s like, we look at each other, we laugh all the time, cause we’re like, ah this is just like that day when we were 20, and you know, that shit happened at a show. It’s like the same shit, same show, same songs, same feel, same vibe, we’re basically doing the same exact thing that we were doing back then. I mean I can’t believe that we have like ,a blessing or diano or just, the good fortune to just keep playing our music. It’s amazing, we’re very lucky people, I think so. We’re never gonna stop, we’re probably just gonna keep fucking going till we fall apart
Vicky: that’s the best way!
Bobby: yeah we beat the shit out of ourselves, literally
Vicky: but you still love it
Bobby: every tour you need like physical rehab and like fuckin pain medication and doctors, but yeah we love it, we love playin. We love playin with all the new bands, yeah you say the scenes changed a little bit, we watch all the trends come and go over the years, we just soldier on like you said and just do our thing you know. So we always kinda had that attitude. When we were younger, there seemed to be a very closed minded attitude in the scene, there were rules! ‘Well if you’re gonna be a hardcore band, then you can’t do something with a hip hop crew’, ‘you can’t go on tour with Fishbone’, you can’t play with a metal band like Creator or Slayer’, you can’t do that you have to stay with the fucking ‘politically correct’. You know, whatever, fuck you! We believe in Biohazard being it’s own individual thing and not being afraid, not holding back on whatever we wanna play or say, write or speak, instruments, piano, melody, blues, whatever we wanna throw in there that kinda takes us outside of the box you know. Being creative in that way led us to get on tours with bands like the bands I just mentioned. We would jump from a metal tour to a hardcore tour, playing with funk bands, and they started putting us on all the festivals in Europe back in the day, and they were like, man, these guys just fit in wherever we stick ‘em, and we’d go on right after bands you’d never guess!
Billy: last week we played with Bob Geldoff
Bobby: we’d embrace the challenge, we love the challenge to play in front of the new kids, you know come check out what we do
Billy: Biohazard and Boomtown Rats
Vicky: you played with Bob Geldoff? See you’d never put that together in a million years would you!
Bobby: yeah it’s amazing!!
Billy: when we started we were into like, Slayer, Run DMC, Beastie Boys, Agnostic Front, Cro mags, Carnivore, Iron Maiden
Bobby: Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin
Billy; yeah, so like if somebody said one day you’re gonna play with…ah who’s that band from Australia?
Daan daa daaan…..
Bobby: what? ACDC?
Billy: no, he’s a politician
Bobby: OH Midnight Oil!
Billy: we toured Dope, David bowie, Prodigy
Bobby: and Sinead O’Connor man! Like aaaarrr what the fuck are we doing here!??
Bobby: we did five shows with umm, Blue Cheer! Slayer, Pantera, Sepultura
Billy: but that’s what’s weird, Biohazard is a band that we like so many different styles of music, Bobby just said it all, I think we attracted people who weren’t closed minded and only liked one style of music. You know what I mean, it was almost like the red headed step child, the outcast, and everybody else who feels it was like ‘yeah it’s ok to like funk and hip hop and metal and hardcore’. That’s pretty cool, you know what I mean. And the cool thing about it is, the people that don’t like hip hop, still like Biohazard, people that don’t like hardcore but like metal, we had such a diverse audience, especially at that time, it was a new thing
Bobby: yeah and we were getting respect from the hardcore hip hop world too, they were like ‘yo what’s up, we’re down with you, we respect what you guys are doing’ and like, that led to a whole climbing the ladder of business. We started out after we moved from our first manager who was more like one of our friends, we moved up to an artist management label under Russell Simmons, it was like 45 rap groups, and us! They took us under their wing
Billy: remember when we met Flava Flave!!? He was like ‘YO! You the Biohazards!!’ we’re like, there’s no ‘s’ it’s just Biohazard ‘YOU THE BIOHAZARDS’, dude there’s no ‘s’! whatever dude ha ha
Bobby: he demanded that we sign a shirt for him
Billy: yeah wearing his big clock ha ha!
Vicky: ha ha ha so he actually wore the big clock just normally, like everyday?
Billy: he was a character, that’s who he is
Bobby: he was like ‘welcome to the family!’ these people really believed in us, and later on they put us with Onyx, they kinda helped us get together with Onyx with a crossover thing we did, but that wasn’t the initial idea, they just dug what we were about. ‘Cause we had a bit of that bop and rhythm to what we were doing as opposed to the real fast, more rigid brutal metal stuff, we were strumming open chords and grooving and bouncing a little bit, and I guess they picked up on that, and plus our style of vocals was very influenced by a lot of rappers and stuff also
Vicky: so you’ve got 9 studio albums in the bag, is there going to be another one??
Billy: yeah! This one, we’ve been writing it for a while. I think this will be the best Biohazard record. We never had the conversation that we’re having now about the direction of music. What that conversation is, let’s fucking, not have a record that doesn’t have a song that we can’t play live. We let like, the musical side of the band flourish on a lot of our records, and those songs, as satisfied as we were with them, they became album tracks. Songs that didn’t work live well, but were cool on the record. So this record, we want a record full of songs that we can play the whole record live and it’s gonna move the pit, and that’s the goal
Bobby: yeah, we wanna be able to come out and do the whole album, front to back
Billy: we’ve never set out to do that before, and have it stand up to Punishment, Shades of Grey, Urban Discipline and songs like that
Bobby: well, yea, it’s great that we have a lot of support from those old songs, like every night we do Punishment, and we get taken back to like, 1990
Vicky: I think you take everybody else in the room back to 1990!
Bobby: yeah and it’s great, we wanna make a statement on this next record, this is for you, this is for this
Billy: this is who we are
Vicky: back to your roots
Billy: we’re a live band, everybody says ‘uuurr back to your roots’, but it really is, our roots are live.
Bobby: that’s how we learned to be a band, we learned on stage, we don’t practice, we don’t rehearse, this IS rehearsal. It’s like ‘yo, I’ll meet you in Spain’, we go on separate planes, we meet, we get on stage, how you doin, how you been, and we just play!
Billy: Like tonight we were trying to go over some old songs, and Bobby was like ‘holy fuck, I haven’t played this in like, 15 years!’
Bobby: more! 20!
Billy; but that’s what it is. Who’s the dude that walked with us here?
Billy: John said to me, ‘when you guys played Donnington, I was there, when you came on stage, did you guys plan that?
Bobby: plan what?
Billy: I know I can’t believe he asked me, I said ‘plan what?’. He goes ‘the stage invasion’. I’m like what? Did we plan for the kids to come up on stage and go crazy?
Bobby: yeah we called all of those kids in advance
Vicky: ha ha ha!
Bobby: ‘cause we had their numbers and we know them all, right!
Billy: we don’t plan anything!
Bobby: We showed up got on that stage and kinda said, our stage is your stage, which is what we do in little clubs!!
Billy: he said ‘the rumour was that because you had a show later that day, you guys planned to do that’. What rumour was that? Shit just happens, we haven’t planned anything in our career, we’re not that type of band
Bobby: what we did, the mistake we made, was we were still young, and green to these big festivals
Billy: oh yeah
Bobby: and you know, when I say green I’m saying there’s a different way to act on those stages then there is on a little stage like we’re playing tonight. You get away with a lot more shit in a little fuckin room like this one tonight, and we just completely wrecked the fuckin place, it’s great. But up there, you gotta watch, it’s very long distance with the barricade and everything, security, if the security doesn’t understand what you’re doing, kids get hurt, there’s a lot more going on, there’s more red tape with the whole business end of it, it’s a big production. We didn’t know, we went on stage and we just spit out the words that we do in the club, ‘come and take this fuckin stage’ our stage is your stage
Billy: that’s it yeah
Bobby: and we didn’t respect the fact that they were like
Bobby: no, ‘don’t do that! We didn’t respect that. We showed disrespect by saying that, but we didn’t mean it, we were just doing our show, it’s our show ‘yo we’re Biohazard, our stage is your stage!’ that’s what we say every fuckin night, you don’t realise that when you say that in front of 80 thousand people….
Vicky: you’re gonna get 80 thousand people trying to get on stage!
Bobby: it was like a waterfall!
Billy: like roaches, when you turn the light on and they all scatter! I looked and Bobby and was like ‘holy shit this is insane!’
Bobby; ‘keep playing keep playing!!’
Billy: the vibe at that time in our career, we hadn’t played in front of that many big crowds with a barricade, so we hated barricades, this is stupid, this isn’t hardcore, this is not what we’re about. The band was getting to a level where we had to just accept that was just the way it is. So it was the separation that was hard to get over, and then, when that happened, we were like, shit this is fuckin awesome, we got through one song while this was all
happening, and all of a sudden they cut the power! It was like, and pardon my French in how to explain it, but for a man it’s like, you get a chance to be with a chick that you wanna be with, you’re fuckin there all naked and in bed, you’re rock hard, and she goes….NOPE!…..Whatta ya mean no!!!
Bobby: it’s more like ‘I’m your cousin!’ ha ha
Vicky: ha ha ha nightmares!!
Billy; Bobby freaked the fuck out
Bobby: I did, I freaked the fuck out, I got into a fight with the security guard
Billy: he trashed the dressing room, he ripped the heater off the wall, threw the chair, because we were so angry about that situation
Bobby: the next day on MTV, the lady in England (in his best English accent, which was very good) ‘Somebody mysteriously smashed Biohazards dressing room, security nightmare at Donnington’
Vicky: good accent!! We need to get Bobby on the news!
Billy: I remember trying to calm him down, it’s not a bad thing, ‘it was only fuckin 3 songs!’. We had played Dynamo and we experienced it throwin it for us in Europe, but England was tough
Bobby: it was a big show for us, very important show
Billy: it was a big show
Vicky: Donnington is a massive show
Billy: and they pulled the rug out from under us
Bobby: it was humiliating
Vicky: I mean, size wise, Donnington is like Ozzfest, it’s huge
Billy: yeah, I was trying to calm Bobby down, like, ‘it’s not that bad’, this is gonna fuckin work in our favour, they’re gonna fuckin write about it, it’s gonna help us more than hurt us and it turned out to be good for us. Fuckin Kerrang everyone was like BANG. ‘Cause nobody had done it before, nobody had said ‘FUCK you, fuck your rules’ this is our stage, you go do what you want. Not only that, when they started fuckin with the kids, Bobby got in a fight with the security guards, some Scottish dude
Vicky: Glasgow kiss?
Bobby: ha ha ha no they didn’t give me a Glasgow kiss, but you know what I love about the Scottish, is they’re like Brooklyn guys too, cause you’ll have a fist fight with them, then 2 minutes later you’ll be having a beer with them
Billy: just like Brooklyn
Bobby: so it’s over, it’s not like grudges and bullshit. But anyway, after a while, these people started realising, hey, this is Biohazards thing, and if a lot of kids come up, aaa we understand this is Biohazards thing, they don’t fuck with us anymore. We earned that. We don’t plan it, we don’t tell anyone we’re gonna have all these people come up on stage, cause we don’t know when it’s gonna happen, but when it does, now it’s more like, ‘yeah we know we know’. We used to have to explain to security guards, but now they know and we don’t have to
Vicky: No matter what genre of metal or punk anybody is in to, all over, everyone knows Biohazard! How does it feel, that you can mention the name Biohazard to anybody, and they’ll be like ‘aahh yeah I know Biohazard!’
Bobby: I feel like they know us cause we’ve, been around
Billy: yeah like ‘oh, oh yeah one of those old bands right? They were round before the internet?’ ha ha ha!
Bobby: you guys used to put out Vinyl? Cassette tapes? Ha ha!
Vicky: what do you guys get up to on your down time, whenever you do get down time? After this epic 34 date tour over the summer
Billy: it’s more
Vicky: you’ve added more?
Bobby: yeah it’s like 44?
Billy: yeah, the whole summers like 62 dates or something
Vicky; bloody hell!
Bobby: downtime is mostly spent with our families and you know, working and other stuff, getting ready for the next tours. We always just keep playing, we like to go see shows, hang out. We all have different issues. Like, I collect reptiles, snakes and shit, I’m trying to build up a new collection
Vicky: oh right! I have a friend who is a zookeeper and reptile expert!
Bobby: ah that’s awesome!! See that’s amazing to me. If I wasn’t touring I’d have like, 500 fuckin snakes, tour is the only reason I don’t have a lot. I’d have venomous ones, everything
Vicky: and a fridge full of anti-venom to go with it ha ha
Bobby: ha ha yes
Billy: I remember coming over to his house once, he had a rattlesnake, and he was like ‘look at that over there’, what is it? He’s like ‘look at it closer, in the cage, tap on the glass’ this thing came at me! Holy shit!
Bobby: Mojave rattlesnake, he almost ended my music playing, and me too. I misjudged, I thought he was hiding in the corner when I went to take his water dish out, but he was hiding under the dish, he went WHAM and I felt the breeze on my hand, he just missed my hand!! I was sweating, I was like, oh shit, if you woulda hit me!! His name was Lucifer, Louis for short! Ha ha
Vicky: Ha ha!
Bobby: If he would have tagged me, even if I would have lived, my hand would have rotted, and turned black. It’s not something to do unless you really know what you’re doing. I DON’T RECOMMEND THAT KIDS!
Vicky: so when you’re travelling around, do you all listen to the same thing, on stereo, or do you have your own ipods on, or what do you find yourself listening to the most?
Billy: Katy Perry, 100%, all day long
Bobby: Justin Bieber
Billy: that’s where we got our influences for the new record, it’s gonna be really heavy
Vicky: you’re gonna create a new genre of bubblegum hardcore ha ha
Bobby: we have a really good shuffle of all kinds of stuff, when we left Germany, Banana (tour manager) was spinning the best shit man, he was going from like, Motorhead to like crazy old underground punk stuff, to 70’s grand funk railroad. Whatever songs don’t match one after the other, you know what I mean
Bobby: that’s cool, it keeps you like ‘oh shit’ we like to play along with it when it’s playing, we used to rehearse like that, like acapella, humming the parts, playing on the table you know. Listening to stuff on the road, it’s what keeps you sane. One answer, I will listen to anything that isn’t Biohazard ha ha, that’s the last shit I wanna fuckin listen to when I’m travelling
Vicky: do you have similar tastes, do you listen to the same sort of stuff?
Bobby: we tolerate each other’s, we’ll be like ‘yeah I see what you’re saying about this’, you know one guy can be really enthusiastic about something and the other an take it or leave it
Vicky: so it’s really random then, like mine personally, mine will go from like, Cannibal Corpse to the Carpenters ha ha
Bobby: Exactly! Yeah! Tina Turner, into Slayer, into Bob Marley or you know whatever
Vicky; just for a little something different, I asked on Facebook if any fans had some questions that they wanted to ask you guys, you know, just a bit of fun
Bobby: yeah, that’s cool!
Vicky: well, the first one is ‘What’s the strangest gig or venue you’ve ever played?’
Bobby: oh my god
Billy: The Owl Sanctuary
Vicky: ha ha!
Bobby: There was a really cool place called Terminal one in Munich in Germany
Billy: oh yeah the old airport
Bobby: yeah it was an old abandoned airport it had the luggage thing and everything, they just filled it with a stage and PA, and just filled it with people, there was tunnels underneath,
Vicky: oh wow! That’s awesome
Bobby: that was, really cool.
Billy: you know what, recently, landing in Israel while the rockets are flying over head
Bobby: yeah the broken ceasefire
Billy: and they were like, ‘we can’t believe you guys are here, every other band cancelled’, fucking amazing, it was unbelievable, and we had an amazing show
Bobby: we’ve done some interesting stuff. I love playing in crazy places, like in Europe, what’s really cool about Europe is they’re crazy motherfuckers, they’ll turn anything into a club. Like an old Church and old warehouse, a factory where they used to build bombs, ‘wow this will be a great club, don’t change a thing! Leave everything where it is!’
Billy: ‘leave the asbestos in the wall, it’s fine’
Bobby: ha ha yeah. We played in a castle once, on top of a hill in Salzburg, Austria. Our dressing room was in the old dungeon, shackles on the wall and everything
Vicky: okay so who tied who up….
Bobby and Billy: *coy laugh
Vicky: Well the other one I had was, cast your minds back to 1994, you came to Norwich and played the Oval Rockhouse, okay so his words were ‘the air con broke leaving everyone sweating their tits off…
Vicky: in a full 400 capacity venue, it was an all-day event, 2 supports dropped out at the last minute leaving Downset and DogEatDog as the main supports. Do you remember it and how was it for you?
Billy: we sweated our tits off ha ha, my balls were shrivelled and wet for days ha ha
Bobby: yep ha ha
Billy: it was great! Is this guy coming tonight?
Vicky: no, he couldn’t get a ticket, you guys sold out!
Billy: damn, that club, that is such a great memory, and we never understood why we never went back there
Vicky: sadly it closed down, it’s now just a normal, foody pub called the Cherry Tree
Billy: that’s a shame
Vicky: so to finish up, have you got a little message for the fans and Metal Gods TV?
Billy: yeah, what’s up, we’re Biohazard, for 25 years we’ve had the support of England hopefully it’s another 25 years, we’ve got a new record coming out, hit us up on Facebook Biohazard BFL. PEACE
Vicky: in your best English accent again Bobby! Thanks guys
Interview – Vicky Milne
Recorded by – Ani Bull