While most seven year olds are home on a Sunday afternoon playing video games or watching cartoons, Freddy Cricien is at CBGBs in New York City, there to see his big brother Roger Miret's band Agnostic Front perform at a local hardcore matinee. Roger brings Freddy to the side of the drum kit, safely away from the rabid fans pressed up against the stage cheering for their favorite band to start the show. The lights go down and the madness begins. Bodies climbing over bodies, fingers pointed in the air with every line, and a wide-eyed Freddy watching his brother's every move. The energy escalates with each song as Freddy waits patiently for his chance to shine. Finally the moment of truth as Roger turns to his little brother, calls him up to the front of the stage and gives him the mic. Freddy seizes the moment, giving all in attendance a bite-sized taste of things to come.
Freddy had not yet reached his teens when he played his first Madball show in 1988. Backed by most of Agnostic Front, Madball's first few gigs consisted of un-used AF songs with Roger on bass, Vinnie Stigma on guitar and Will Shepler on drums. In 1989 Madball released the seven-inch, "Ball of Destruction", giving Freddy an outlet to take his show on the road. Three years of hard work followed, playing regional shows in and around the New York area. In 1992 guitarist Matt Henderson joined the band, turning Madball into a five-piece just in time to record the "Droppin' Many Suckas" EP for Wreckage Records. One year later Roger left the band, and was replaced by the young blood of Hoya Roc. Hoya was a familiar face from the local hardcore scene and a good friend of Freddy's. His prior band Dmize was just breaking up and Hoya was looking for a new gig. So when Madball asked Hoya to join the band, naturally he jumped at the opportunity. Finally Freddy had a lineup he could call his own.
Madball quickly earned a reputation as one of the fiercest live bands around, winning over punk and hardcore fans wherever they plugged in their instruments. In 1994 they caught the eye of New York-based Roadrunner Records, home to such acts as Sepultura, Biohazard and Machine Head, where they would release their next three albums, "Set It Off" in 1994, "Demonstrating My Style" in 1996, and "Look My Way" in 1998. Madball soon developed a national and international following with their relentless touring schedule that culminated in a 1995 Dynamo Festival appearance in front of 120,000 fans. The band took their music all over the United States, Europe, Japan, Australia and South America, sharing the stage with acts such as Black Sabbath and Slayer. Their powerful live show coupled with their notorious streetwise credibility rendered Madball the seminal hardcore act from New York City, headquarters for the music and lifestyle that they proudly represent. Unrelenting in its assault, Madball's music was the voice of the urban youth, stripped of unnecessary flourishes and delivering the goods with a true clear voice.
In 2000, Madball decided it was time for a change and inked a deal with the legendary independent label Epitaph Records. Based out of Los Angeles, Epitaph had made a name for itself with the success of west coast bands such as Rancid, NOFX and Pennywise, and was looking to balance their roster with some east coast flavor. So when Madball released "Hold It Down", it was a pummeling album in stark contrast to the more melodic punk music that Epitaph was known for. Nonetheless "Hold It Down" was poised to expose Madball to a larger punk rock audience, one that was ready to swallow a dose of something a bit harder edged than what they were accustomed to. Unfortunately Madball was forced to disband, due to legal and band issues, in early 2001, shortly after the release of "Hold It Down", and was unable to take full advantage of their newly found audience.
Now, after a couple years off, Madball is back and ready to pick up exactly where they left off. Their new material can best be described as "Hold It Down x 100" and should be available sometime this year for release. They have already hit the road, satisfying a new generation of kids' need to see for themselves what this hardcore legacy is all about. With Freddy and Hoya running the show, Madball's uncompromising attitude and perseverance have undeniably paved the way for something special in 2003.