On October 12, 2003 at Free Bird Café in Jacksonville, FL me and my friend Ryan had a chance to interview and eat dinner with the legendary Roger Miret (The Disasters, Agnostic Front) and Al Barr (DKM).
Al: Roger is very picky when ordering his tea.
Me: So for those reading this who don't know who you are, tell us your name and what you do in the band.
Roger: My name is Roger, Roger Miret and I sing and play guitar in a band called the Disasters.
Roger: Very legendary
Me: Legendary indeed, it's exciting to be interviewing him.
Al: Well, its always exciting to be sitting here with Roger, he is like my big brother.
Roger: Were like brothers, remember he yelled at me about what to get to drink.
Me: How is the touring going so far.
Roger: Tour is great, everything is sold out, its awesome, tonight will be sold out too.
Me: What kind of venues having you been playing?
Al & Roger: Big ones
Roger: This is actually the smallest one of the tour.
Me: It's the third biggest in town next to Plush and Club Five, which was the Marquee
Roger: I remember that place, this is venue is cool, but it is the smallest club on the venue we've been in 1000 and up seaters. 2800 was the biggest
Me: This club is only a little bit bigger than where my band played a few days ago
Roger: Where's that?
Me: Jack Rabbits
Roger: I played there
Me: it's my favorite club.
Ryan: Not counting the pay, but do you like playing in smaller places or bigger places better?
Roger: that depends, like to me this is a small place, I like more intimate places. This why I like playing with these guys because they don't like barricades and like to be intimate with the crowd. Even if there is one (a barricade) they always have a meeting with the manager or whatever and let them know its ok for the kids to surf and get on stage. But I've been on tour with other bands that need big barricades and people so far away from them; I don't know what they are afraid of.
Me: How has the reaction from those who haven't heard the disasters been on this tour?
Roger: so far is been really good.
Al: Let me answer that question, awesome these guys rip it up live forget about it, forget about it, with the experience of roger, he has years of touring under his belt. What was that band you were in before?
Roger: Bad Brains
Roger: and that was before I was in minor threat
Al: right and your stint with the misfits.
Roger: I introduced Johnny rotten to Sid vicious, biggest mistake I ever made
Me: o yeah
Me: how was the reaction on that, um, tour with good charlotte and less than Jake
Roger: that was a great reaction, those kids were really loving it, we didn't come this way but we came by here with a hardcore band from Carolina. It was a good tour, it was interesting to see what it feels like playing at that level then coming back down and playing at this level, it was a dose of reality.
Me: did you like playing in front of those huge crowds
Roger: yeah I'll play in front of any body at that show there would be 20,000 people a night the whole floor is going crazy, sometimes 7,000 people down there, you come down and you play a regular show and you have the kids up front who are really into you and then you have the guys in the back who are think they are too cool to be into you cause they have been around
Al: been around like a year
Roger: so yeah there is a lot of ignorance at both levels, more so on the smaller level, you would think it would be the other way around
Me: will you play with any band?
Roger & Al: not every band
Al: there are a lot of bands out there that come off like they are really cool but when you go deeper they aren't that cool.
Roger: that was really an interesting tour, and I probably never would have done the tour had I not known the kids from good charlotte before, they would come out to the disasters shows and they were really friendly and ate dinner with my family, and chad from new found glory is a really good friend of mine too so it came from a friendly, so they invited us on the tour as friends, they said lets go have some fun you know, if I wouldn't have known them I might not have done it I wouldn't have known what to expect, but they are really cool people
Me: if you open cd booklets a lot of people thank them and they thank a lot of people you wouldn't think would be talking to them
Al: I didn't even know they thanked us til my friend who died recently of a drug overdose, Jason, told me hook on oxy cotin
(Waitress comes and food is ordered)
Al: like I said this guy who died came up and asked me do you know those guys and I said yeah they are nice kids, not really into the music but they are nice kids. It was like you guys were thanked on that records. I looked at it, I didn't buy it, I got it at a radio show we played with them for free, and I was like no shit, nice kids really nice kids, not for nothing and I realize this is his interview but there are a lot of fuckin people that talk talk talk talk talk about how they are gonna do this and do that for people, good charlotte at least did what they said they were gonna do and they took roger on tour
Roger: I heard a million times from a million different people and those guys, and we like sure you wanna do that, and they were like yeah we really like the band and we wanna take you guys out. I didn't know what to expect, but there are a lot of people who talk and don't do it, ive got nothing bad to say about any of those bands, even less than jake they are really nice guys. People like those bands they got lucky and successful and there is nothing wrong with that. Its every persons dream who starts a band to actually make it
Not for it to break up in a year and not do anything, theres no point in that, what I mean by make it is do it for the rest of your life, for me this has been more than half my life
Me: do you feel that you have made it
Roger: yeah I do, ive accomplished a lot, more than I thought I ever would have
Al: let me just interject again, 15 years old I saw his band agnostic front at YMCA in Boston in 35 years old now that's how far back we go, his band made such an impression on me, they came out opened with Victim and pain, they blew my socks off next day I went out and bought their record, fuckin amazing, skinheads were free that day everybody else $3 murphy's law, void from DC, those were old school bands
Roger: we didn't know we were kids I was 15, no 19 we were kids playing music not actually knowing we were making a scene. All the bands Minor Threat, Agnostic Front, Black Flag, Circle Jerks everyone of those bands
Al: Negative Approach
Roger: I'm just saying we didn't know what we were doing, I mean all of these bands we were all influenced by each other and all sounded different to each of us, I mean punk rock or hardcore was such a rarity unlike today, not every kid was in a band it was a lot of work and if you got paid $50 back then you were lucky
Al: shit $50 bucks back then was like you had a field day you could get a hotel room and everything.
Roger: I think I have accomplished everything I wanted to in life, I mean there are others things but to say if I quit today and went to work at dunkin donuts, that's just not me that's not living my life, im gonna live my life and hopefully you will live yours, Al is living his and so are those other bands like Good Charlotte and even Rancid
Al: Thing is roger he is not gonna sit here and be an egotistical guy, that's why I'm here to tell you he is a pioneer, you guys are doing what you are doing right now because of this man, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing with all the bands I've been in if it wasn't for this man. And this guy he aint gotten fucking rich off of punk rock, he has been doing this shit for over 25 years and he is still doing it, he is still in a band, he is still touring. And its like he is still fucking doing it that takes some fucking dedication
Ryan: So its not like you just got rich and quit
Eddie: Do you guys work regular jobs outside the band too?
Al: of course and if you get rich you deserve every fucking penny you get.
Roger: that's what im trying to say, in like Rancid's case is their fault success fell to them and a lot of people like them, they are still being real and true to what they believe in and writing what they feel, you can't blame a band for any type of success and turn your back on them.
Al: what you have to worry about as a music fan is are they making music you like
Roger: yeah, they aren't censoring anything they are continuing to keep doing what they are doing playing the music you love
Al: who cares what label its on or where you have to go to buy the cd as long as they keep putting good music out, but its like then people go and they are like oh they are wearing green sweaters now and before they were wearing blue sweaters so I don't like them anymore, that's ridiculous. When your at a job and your working and you get promoted every is like (claps hands) and say good job you deserve it. Not in Music we work our asses off and you get successful then you get hated whats up with that?
Roger: what is up with that, we work our asses off ive been doing this myself for 20 years
Al: that's where the kick in the balls is
Eddie: well its kinda like now everyone is like well rancid's video is on mtv now we can't listen to them, though they had videos on there almost 10 years ago
Al: rancid spent like what $2000 bucks on that video that got played on mtv, that's not even enough to cover puff daddys fucking catering, not even a fucking third of these big name peoples catering
Roger: not even
Al: not even, wont even cover one guys fucking salary for a day on one of those video shoots
Eddie: so whats your favorite city to play
Roger: NYC, its where im from, I like a lot of cities its been a lot of fun, like Boston is very good to us, weve been lucky to have a lot of good shows in boston
Were about to hit the west coast for the first time so were excited about that and everywhere we've played has been pretty good. Except in Columbus
Eddie: what happened in Columbus
Roger: nothing bad sound man, and they people were standing there and they couldn't hear a fucking thing, but they liked the band, it was a bad night and you get bad nights. Its like when you go to base you cant hit a homer everytime.
Eddie: how did the disasters get started?
Roger: like this (everyone checking out waitress) actually I was writing and bunch of songs and honestly al was the first person to hear any of it
Al: I was on tour and he kept sending me a bunch of cds
Roger: al helped me out with a lot of vocal ideas that we used on the record and actually al sang on our record and before that we had a bunch of ideas and we were like try this try that, I go back I listen to those tapes they are horrible, horrible stuff
Al: the thing is whenever you start a band and you can out and play and play but when its time to record its hard to bring the spirit of the live to the record its like these guys they recorded and now they are out touring, it's the opposite, they didn't really have a chance to develop as a band, they had a guy quit on them in the middle of recording bail on em, the bass player he wanted to take the fucking tshirt picture then he bailed
Roger: he bailed and its just like that, you have friends get together and show up and do vocals and backups and we were really happy with the record when we were done with it everything is cool
Eddie: do you plan for a second album or a third?
Roger: we already got 14 songs written an this time I took a different approach I let the guitar player write most of the stuff with an exception of the songs I wrote and im still feeling it out its kind weird, cause im used to putting my stuff together and with this I gotta feel it out but they are good songs and hopefully we are gonna record in January, February at the lastest.
Eddie: so you wrote most of the songs for the first album
Roger: all of the songs , wait I take that back I think rhys wrote two
Roger: its tricky writing songs when the other person writes them cause then I have to find and hear things, if I do it I know exactly what im gonna do, im gonna sing this and change here
Al: (showing tattoo of Joe Strummer on his arm) that picture was taken in 1979 at the Casino in NYC, you were probably at the show
Roger: 79 the casino that was um yeah
Al: you were probably at the show, I own this photograph too
Roger: do you? Get me a copy
Al: ill get you a copy
Roger: they played palladium, I was at that show
Ryan: what about kiss
Roger: actually I was at the show too, that how I got into punk rock was through kiss
Eddie: they are coming to town soon
Al: yeah with fucking aerosmith
Roger: I went to go see kiss, my cousin was dieing, he never died strange thing , they had to remove his kidneys and he kept swaping kidneys
(cell phone rings, chad from new found glory calls, roger says he will call him back)
Roger: chad from new found glory just called, see we are all friends and we all stick together, but anyway my cousin was dieing and he wanted to go see kiss, and I didn't know who kiss was at the time to straight up honest with you I wasn't really into rock music, I grew up with latin and Motown I loved Motown, I wasn't too crazy about disco but I liked some of the stuff like blondie and shit like that
Al: punk rock disco
Roger: so I went to go see kiss and after that he says you wanna go to this punk rock show
Al: not to interrupt you but when your talking about disco your talking about like the prerap disco right
Roger: yeah, so anyway he took me to go see my first punk rock show and then from there I was hooked, It was weird that I saw kiss and I was like wow, It was at Madison square garden, then after that punk show was over I was like that's the worst thing ive seen in my life cause I had just seen kiss
Al: its like fuckin rico he tells a story
Roger: but I didn't know and later I knew that was the good stuff
Al: well rico tells a story about going to see the NY Dolls he was like 12 years old, ricos a friend of ours, 12 years old and he goes I was never so scared in my life those were the ugliest girls ive ever seen in my life, but didn't even realize
Eddie: favorite drink
Al: he likes long walks on the beach too
Roger: ive got specially made rainbow colored speedos made just for my long walks on the beach
Eddie: what particular message does the band carry?
Roger: basically its really cool its really retro to my life, about growing up or stories about my life in different characters and basically im trying to bring back the real reason for punk rock and existence like the clash instead of all these corny little pop punk songs and I mean all that show us your tits stuff is all just really stupid, nobody has anything important to say anymore, im saying not that your band doesn't, but a lot of bands today don't, we got our own style but were not really inventing anything new, im not gonna say we are pioneering something new but the style of music going on today its different it sounds different, it defiantly sounds like a NY punk record its got the attitude and it's the style of playing its not your regularly chunkin its got more open chords that kinda style. I think it's a great punk record. The way it should be down
Al: if the bass tracks were redone it would be even better than it is
Eddie: so how do you feel about politics in music?
Roger: well you know ive always been into like the street politics, I say leave the politics to the politicians, and the music to the musicians but of course sometimes, obviously with punk bands, we've got something to say ya know we cant be ignorant and blind to stuff. But im not to crazy about it, to me social politics are ok like stuff that goes on around you everyday , like I went outside and across the street there was a dead body write a song about that I mean im not watching the news to write songs
Eddie: go to the doctor got no health insurance
Roger: exactly, plus I like bono's lyrics
Al: of course but I mean how many people do you know in the general mass that actually concern themselves with politics or whats going on
Roger: look at the president of the united states today, voting doesn't do shit
Al: that was a sham
Eddie: in this county right here 3000 votes were thrown out
Roger: yeah FL
Al: we were in france when that was all going down
Roger: it's the biggest joke
Eddie: yeah and all the countries are laughing at us
Al: we were in paris doing a press tour for sing loud sing proud and um we wanted to make sure our absentees got in, cause we did not want bush becoming president
Roger: not only did he steal the election but he took this country to war, made us look like fools again
Al: now we got the whole fuckin world against us and now we got the poor bastards over there dieing and more soldiers have died since they said they were done.
Roger: and its sad because the people that are dieing are minorities the lower class people
Cause all the ones with money are the ones in the higher ranks, its all about being a fortunate son of a bitch
Al: fortunate son of a bitch
Al: see that's a real punk rock song I wrote that one fortunate son of a bitch, its about getting out of the draft, getting daddy to buy you out of the draft, but going back the initial question politics are boring
Eddie: they are a lot of people just saying the same thing
Al: leave all the politics to Jello Biafra that guy knows his shit
Roger: I don't wanna be a politician I wanna change the system but I don't wanna be a politician.
Al: If you wanna bring people together you have to do it under one common thing and a sure way to alienate people is by getting on stage and soap boxing they came to see a show, not to see you talk when you have their attention and they wanna hear you speak then go from there and maybe squeeze in something
Eddie: you came here a couple months ago with agnostic front how was that?
Eddie: how do feel about the shit today they are trying to call hardcore that sounds more like metal when hardcore was the stuff you guys were playing long before
Roger: well that's why agnostic front came back and did those last 3 records like, riot riot upstart, somethings gotta give and dead yuppies, its kinda like were reintroducing the vintage hardcore the 3 chord 4 chord progression style with lyrics that mean something its just a reintroduction of the roots, and the problem is and I realized this later is that the roots of these kids aren't in punk rock their roots aren't in the pistols, the clash, minor threat, agnostic front, their roots are metallica and slayer that's their roots, I don't like those bands
Al: slayer at least on the edge but fuckin metallica the first few records were ok but look at the shit that happened with the bass player when the bass player left we kinda got a birds eye view of what was really going on, but I mean whatever I aint judging nobody they all have their own soap opera inside
Roger: I never liked slayer or metallica anyway, never cared what they had to say, I don't care about death
Al: hatebreed is good though
Roger: don't get me wrong I like hatebreed and Jamie is a friend of mine but they are one of those bands whos roots are in a different place, but I like Jamie he is one of the ones whos roots really are in punk rock that's a different story, but he does like the heavier stuff its just preferences in different styles and different roots. Same with punk rock a lot of these punk kids don't have roots in the clash they have roots in nirvana
Al: nothing infuriated me more than in 1990 when they were like the year punk rock broke, nirvana and ill tell you something I don't like that fuckin band I never have liked that fuckin band and all of a sudden Seattle became the big place for punk rock in America and I was like what the fuck, east coast NY to Boston to DC have always been a huge punk rock bed and they never talk about it its always these huge fuckin giant magazines that decide where the new hot spot is
Roger: they all got it out for NY whether they are jealous or whatever, like the ramones give them some fuckin credit
Al: the ramones don't even have a gold record in America whats wrong with that picture I mean cmon the ramones for Christ sake
Roger: and they are the band and they are the reason
Al: as even joe strummer would say, when the ramones came to England to tour the clash, the sex pistols and all the british bands showed up to see them and they were all scared shitless of the ramones cause they saw the picture of these guys with the leather jackets and the hair and the sunglasses and never smiled, not knowing they were just a bunch of clowns. And joeys first conversation with joe was like, im joe strummer ive got a band and joey was like yeah where do you guys play and joe goes no no no we don't play anywhere we just practice we are always practicing were not ready to play and joey just looks and him and goes well wait til you see us were really terrible. It was like ya know we suck too that's was like the funniest thing ya know cause they are all just human beings
Eddie: so have the disasters played here before
Roger: yeah at the club you guys play at, I wanna say we've played here twice but I think im wrong so im gonna say once before for sure with the voodoo glow skulls at that place you guys played at I wanna say that was back in December, January or February
Ryan: do you like that small place
Roger: yeah the one with the bar right by the stage
Roger: yeah it's a good place
Al: what club is that
Roger: jack rabbits
Eddie: so that's about it any last words
Roger: o man I hate this part I never know what to say
Eddie: well then do you have any message to say to all the young people who wanna play out there?
Roger: follow your dreams and do what you wanna do, and you'll figure out later on down the line if it's the thing for you or not. Visit the website www.thedisasters.com that shit looks pretty good
Thanks to Roger Miret and Al Barr for sitting down and doing this interview.