be_ixf;ym_202305 d_30; ct_100
Assets from the 2022 Music festival, Rolling Loud, in New York, NY.

Rebellion Tour 2023: Interview with Freddy Cricien of Madball

Mar 212023

When you talk about New York Hardcore (NYHC) one name comes to your mind, MADBALL. They are one of the most respected bands on the hardcore scene, performing all over the world for more than two decades, bringing an incredible energy on stage anywhere they go. We were lucky enough to see them at the Rebellion tour 2023 in Ostrava and talk with their frontman Freddy Cricien about music, touring, state of the scene and future plans.


Read the interview below:

So first of all, thank you very much for your time for this interview. You're in the middle of the Rebellion tour. We are in Czech Republic, Ostrava. You’ve played here many times and you have a solid fan base over here. Do you have any memories of the Czech Republic?

Many memories. I love Eastern Europe in general. I think we're a band that's always made it a point to come here throughout the years from very early on. We have a long history of coming to the Czech Republic and a lot of other countries in the east. There are so many memories. The shows are always full of passion and good crowds here. So yeah, many good memories.


What is it like to be back on tour after COVID? How does it feel to be back in clubs all around the Europe?

We were doing stuff in the States, but to be back here feels great. Our touring has always been a combination of states, a lot of Europe, South America, everywhere. We don't just tour America. That's never been the case for us. So, it was very weird to just be playing shows around America, like on the weekends or whatever. It was hard, I'll be honest with you. We're very happy to be back in Europe. Somewhere we've been coming to for over 20 years. It's like a second home to us.


What did you do during the time without live shows? Was it hard to stay at home and trying to find something else to do?

Very hard. I tried to get creative with doing some merchandising thing with a guy that I work with back home, my buddy Zak. We do some merchandising stuff together, so I tried to get creative with that. I was building a lot, doing a lot of construction in my own house. Being with my family, really, just making sure to keep my family unit tight. That was probably the best thing about it. But it was hard. I'm not going to lie; it was very hard.


It must have been the longest period you were at home for like last 20 years, right?

Yeah. And people have to remember that Madball, besides that we love doing music, is our job too. So, we were pretty much not making money for a long time. So that was bad.

Did you work on some new music?

Yeah, we wrote some stuff. We had some stuff written, and then we wrote a little bit during the whole break. It's just been hard now trying to get back up and running again. It's been hard to figure out a studio and all that, but we wrote some stuff for sure.


Can we expect some new music this year?

I would hope so. Yeah, I would hope so.


Do you see any changes in the audience at your shows throughout the years?

I mean, the shows, to me, since coming back, are back to what it was, what it's supposed to be. The only thing I noticed, yeah, there's newer kids, maybe, newer, fresher faces because in that gap of time, sure people got into hardcore. Somebody told them about this and so now they come like: “Hey, let's go see it live.” Because even in America, I definitely noticed new people at the shows, young, new people. That's cool.


Why do you think you are still so influential to younger generation?

I'm very grateful. I'm not getting younger, so I definitely feel grateful about it. I think with music in general, it's like if you put forward an honest message and an authentic message that's like... I don't know if there's really a timetable on that. I hate to say timeless, but when you're real and you put it out there, I think people appreciate that. It doesn't matter what generation it is. I think they appreciate the honesty, and they appreciate the experience. These are things that we've lived, that we've seen, that we're speaking from our heart. So, when you speak from that place, I think that's important for any music. I think with any band, especially a band that's been around as long as us. I think the second most important thing is what you give out on stage because you can be the realest, most authentic, coolest people in the world, but if you don't bring it live, the people will start to go: maybe don't play anymore. And for us, we still feel good enough that we can put out a good live show. So, the minute I stop doing that, then I'm not saying I would not do music anymore, but I would probably do Madball less if I couldn't put out the right show.


What's the main difference between playing for the US audience and the European one?

When it's a good audience, it's not really a difference. It's just a good show is a good show. I think the difference about America and Europe, and this is pretty much a broad answer, is that America gets really caught up in hype stuff. Europe is very ingrained in the culture. And I'm not disrespecting America because obviously I'm American. I was born there. I love living in the States, but the music scene there sometimes gets too caught up in the hype stuff. And it even works against us sometimes. I mean, we do pretty good in certain areas. And then there are areas that are pretty weird for everybody, but people get sometimes just caught up on the hype stuff and start forgetting about the guys that paved the way for those bands. So, they don't support those bands as much as they should. And here it's the opposite. Bands must prove themselves in Europe. And I'm saying Europe overall. We've proven ourselves year after year after year from a long time ago. So that's why we have the loyalty and the fan base that we have. It's a built. We built it from nothing. Some people now are coming like: Hey, it's already there. That's cool. God, no problem. But yeah, America is sometimes less invested in the depth of the culture.


Maybe it's also because American bands don't come to Europe that often, so maybe we appreciate it more when they come and going to a concert is a must...

You're less spoiled. It's true. And I have to say that you're right about that too, because yeah, exactly. US bands are from that area, so it's easy to say, hey, let's go check them out in New York this weekend, or somewhere else next weekend.


If you miss the show in the US, you can go the following week, but here's another chance in a year...

That's very true.


How do you feel about what is the hardcore music evolving into? There are lot of different kinds of hardcore and even some other genres are inspired by hardcore music. For example, some rap artists are sampling old hardcore songs etc.

It's cool, I guess it's flattering, really. My only thing that I would say is, for example, if you're going to wear a vest and have all these patches on it from all these bands, at least have an idea of what you're wearing. But it is not like you are not welcomed because you just finding out about hardcore. We all started out somewhere and learnt about it.


Young fans often find their way to the OGs when they start researching who were the influences of their favorite new bands etc…

Yeah. And that's how it's supposed to be, right? That's how it's supposed to be. I mean, before you would buy a record, you look at the credits and see who they were thanking to, or you saw maybe what band shirts the guys in the bands were wearing. Yeah. All that stuff is still valid, man. I mean, even though there is now Instagram and this and that, it's still valid to be put on to hardcore. And I've always said Hardcore is all inclusive. Like, everyone's welcome. Just don't come in here disrespecting the culture. It’s like with anything. It's like with hip hop. I'm a big hip hop fan. I go back to the 80s with hip hop. You can quiz me on hip hop. I'll tell you all about it, but I respect the culture. And we were doing that in the early days, we kind of dressed like hip hopish, and people were like, what's that about? Now? The new kids, that's the only way they dress.


You have Cuban and Colombian roots; can you tell if there are any Latin influences projected into your music?

think it is projected into music for sure, because yeah, I'm Latin. I'm Hispanic of, you know, Latin roots. I'm actually first generation American, so both my parents are Latino, my dad's Columbia, my mom's Cuban. So, yeah, that's my ethnicity. And Hoya also. So, I think that when we write music, whether we know it or not, just like with hip hop, there's something there. Like, even with me, with my cadence, I never tried to sound like hip hop when I was doing hardcore, but it always came out a little bit because I listened to it so much and then so same thing I would say, with rhythms. Latin vibes. Hoya writes a lot of music. I write a lot of lyrics and orchestrate a lot of things. So, it's like, naturally, I think that there's probably some sort of rhythmic influence in there of Latin vibes. Yeah, I would bet it. I would bet it.


Your shows are always very energetic. How do you keep fit on tour?

I try to eat some decent food, drink coffee, do some push ups, stretch. Just try to take it seriously after so long of doing it. When we were kids, we could afford to be a little wilder because we were young. All right, it's time to play. Go on stage, whatever, go crazy. But it's like now everybody takes their job a little more seriously, but you also still keep it fun. You can have a couple of drinks. You just don't get bombed. You don't get drunk before you play. Then you're going to be a sloppy mess. You don't eat too much because then you're going to be weighed down. Just common-sense sort of stuff. But as far as playing goes, you just got to feel it, right? You can't buy that or prepare for that.


Do you have a lot of rehearsals before the tour?

We're the worst about rehearsal. Luckily, we play enough that we're usually on the same page. I'm thankful to the team of guys. I have the Mikes, Mike Justian and Mike Gurnari and Hoya, of course. These guys are good, man. We can go like weeks and weeks without playing and not get a rehearsal and maybe do a little sound check and they'll do their job, man. They're on point. So, I'm thankful that I have these guys that are really good players because some people go into rehearse for a week before a tour and all that. We don't have that luxury because everybody's sort of spread around, living in different areas.

The Rebellion tour line-up also includes your other band Hazen Street a band, we don’t get to see much in Europe…

Yeah, I don't think Hazen Street has done many gigs in Europe. We did Groezrock one time and couple more, but Hazen Street has never really properly toured Europe. So, this is the first.


What is it like to play two gigs in one night?

Not easy. Ask my back that question. Toby and I are excited to bring Hazen Street out, because that is project, we really love and lots of kids were asking about it, but was that a good idea? Haha. We have to sing twice every night… but it is pretty cool, it’s fun.


It’s been almost 20 years since the Hazen Street album, are you planning releasing new music?

I hope so! We have been planning on doing an EP forever and it’s just a matter of getting together. There is even a new song that we did that’s floating around somewhere, but we have gotten the actual recording done. I think you’ll see some music this year.