Biohazard Guitarist Looks Past Singer's Porn Career, Gets Back to Basics
Gino DePinto, for AOL Music
The band continued unabated until original guitarist Bobby Hambel left in 1995 because he was unable to stop drinking. The group continued with various guitarists until their eighth album 2005's 'Means to an End,' then splintered. Vocalist and bassist Evan Seinfeld pursued a life in adult films with his porn star ex-wife Tera Patrick and drummer Danny Schuler formed the group Bloodclot with Cro-Mags vocalist Jon Joseph.
"We all grew apart in so many ways," guitarist Billy Graziadei told Noisecreep. "Evan had a totally different lifestyle and wasn't interested in music. So he went on with his adult acting career and got married to Tara, and I did my thing with my new band, Suicide City."
Even after Seinfeld returned to making music with his new group the Spyderz, Graziadei couldn't imagine getting back together. But when he found out Hambel was sober and wanted to play with Biohazard again, Graziadei set the wheels in motion for a full band reunion.
They started chugging again with a 20th anniversary reunion tour in 2008, which was followed by the Persistence Tour in 2009. Soon after, the band announced it was working on a new record. Fast forward three stressful years, and the yet-untitled new disc is now finished. Graziadei insisted it ranks right up there with anything Biohazard has done. It will be released in the spring on Nuclear Blast in most of the world and a still-undetermined label in the States.
Shortly after finishing a well-attended tour with D.R.I. and recently-reunited Boston band Blood for Blood, Noisecreep talked to Graziadei about getting back together with Biohazard.
When you did the 20th anniversary tour in 2008, did you think it would lead to another studio album?
No way. We made some decisions and did some tours that we thought were gonna be reunion tours, and maybe we'd be able to keep it together for three or four months. But it lasted for a year and a half. And then we started talking about new music. And I thought, "New music. This is crazy. You're insane."
What convinced you to do another album.
For one, Bobby was back with us. It was the old lineup, and we hadn't written with that lineup for more than 15 years. To me, when Bobby left we should have broken up, because it was never the same. In a way we were like a three-legged dog. But with him back, we were playing great, so we decided to start sharing ideas and making music.
When did you officially start working on the new album?
We went in about a year and a half ago. We kicked out eight to 12 songs in a week, and we were like, "Man, it's easy to write a Biohazard record!" And then I sat back and examined the songs, and I was like, "Yeah, this is pretty cool. It sounds like Biohazard." But then I realized if we do a Biohazard record that's easy for us to write, we'll go on tour for a year or two and then what?
I decided I'd rather be really critical and make a f---ing record that all of us are just blown away by, and possibly reignite our career and have 10 years out of this -- or at least another record. Our biggest accomplishment would be to finish this and be able to say, "Holy f---, we made a great f---ing record!" Not, "Yeah, we made a Biohazard record."
Gino DePinto, for AOL Music
We scrapped those songs, and we went back to the drawing board and said, "Let's be brutally honest and throw out everything that sucks, everything that's weak, everything that doesn't have the hundred percent emotion behind it, whether it's mellow, aggressive, groovy, rhythmic, super fast or whatever. It's got to be phenomenal in all areas." We really got into that serious frame of mind last fall.
Was it harder to write with those guidelines?
Totally. There were many blow ups. But to me, that's the beauty of creativity -- that tension. And the best work comes out of that. Compromise is the middle ground of two great ideas, which means it's not great. Any band who can really honestly claim their record is one of the best of their career will have a story of the trials and tribulations they went through to make it.
When you have four writers and everyone has an opinion, you butt heads. And if I have an idea, of course I'm not gonna bring it to the band unless I think that idea's great. And Bobby's the same. I'm really a firm believer that as a producer and a musician, you can't settle for things, because then no one's idea is fully realized -- whether it's a tempo change or a key change or a melody or riff idea.
Did you have any major physical confrontations?
Sometimes, being from Brooklyn, it comes down to who can make their case more strongly. It's not really a respectful debate, it's more like a f---ing yelling match. Sometimes it gets heated, and you have to choose to walk away to save the relationship or you stand there and fight. If you turned back the clock 15 years ago, we would definitely have come to blows because we have so much passion for what we're doing, and we're so confident in our own ideas.
But we're older now, so that'll never happen. We don't use our fists, but s--- gets thrown and stuff gets broken, and that's just because everybody knows we're all trying to create the best record and we don't always agree. And nine times out of 10, we resolved things over a phone conversation going home from the studio or on the way to the studio the next day. Someone would go, "Listen dude, all I want is the best for the song, and I know you want the same thing." And in the end, we win because we come up with something that's awesome.
When did you go into the studio with Toby Wright?
We did three songs that we were really proud of in that new vein of working. And we started talking to Toby in February of this year and started working with him in March.
Would you say this is the proper follow-up to 'State of the World Address'?
We had some great follow-up records to 'State of the World.' Unfortunately, they got caught up in the business side of the industry and didn't really see the life that they deserved. But it's hard to say this is the follow-up to that or anything, because that was 15 years ago. This is a 'now' record, a great record, a more mature Biohazard that knows where it came from, knows where we are and knows where we want to go.
Is it harder to write Biohazard lyrics 15 years down the line?
I don't walk down the street looking over my shoulder anymore, because I don't have to worry about gangbangers robbing me the way I used to when I was a kid. Things that I worried about when I was 19 or 20 aren't on the front of my brain anymore.
So now I think about raising kids, running my studio, writing music or helping a band with their music. And then I think, "Well, how are people going to relate to our lyrics?" I'm writing about the environment. OK, that's cool. That's one thing that works. But I remember specifically thinking to ourselves if we write about things that are important to us, they have to be equally important to our kids.
I want to write lyrics that my daughter or my son are going to read one day and say, "Wow, that really makes sense. I feel that. I understand that." I don't want my daughter to worry about kicking a crystal meth habit. That's not going to happen to her in her life, and I'll do everything I can to prevent that. I do everything I can to give her the opportunities in life that she doesn't have to go down that path I went down. And I want her to like hardcore and punk rock music because she wants to, not because she has to.
But the thing is we have lyrics that we're proud of, that we stand behind, that people can relate to. They're not old and tired lyrics. And we're not singing about the same old thing, but it does have that same conviction, same angst, same passion we had when we're 20.
What are some of the lyrics about specifically?
We have a song called 'Vengeance Is Mine.' And on the surface, we've sung about similar issues before with people judging us for being the outcasts of society. They are the 'them' and we are the 'us.' But on a deeper level, the song is about the legal system judging Evan for his lifestyle and him looking the way he does and being the way he is and them not awarding him custody of his son. It's about the battle he went through mentally; dealing with that bulls---, which is something that plagues him every day.
How do you feel now about Evan being involved in the adult entertainment business?
When I did Suicide City and I called it quits with Biohazard I said, "You know what? I don't want to tarnish this thing of ours." And I was afraid it did and it would. But then I realized, "You know what? It's rock 'n' roll." If Evan were to become a rabbi and live in a Kibbutz in Israel, that would be way more shocking.
The music business is about sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. It's all balance. When he got rid of the drugs and the alcohol in his life, he had to stack up everything else somewhere else -- so he went deep in on the sex side. My daughter doesn't know. She's [8 years old]. I have no desire to tell her. When she's old enough to understand it, she'll probably figure out on her own. But it's not something that had as much impact on the band as I was afraid it would -- although it comes up a lot.
Are you and Evan tight?
A lot of people dislike him, but he's my brother forever. We come from different mothers and have made some great music and will continue making great music together. It's one of those things where I can talk s--- about him, but you can't. So when people have something to say about him, I take it as a personal attack and insult.
But in the end, what he's doing isn't so crazy. He's just a guy who's making money with his d---. And morally, I wouldn't do it. I have no desire to do it, but I don't look at him as less for what he does.