** Decibel Hall of Famers Sick of it All know what it’s like to persevere. They’ve been around longer than most of us have been alive, toiling in the unsteady waters of hardcore/punk like strongmen of the Five Burroughs. Well, the legends have returned in the shape of new album, Last Act Of Defiance. It takes the Koller brothers and the rest of Sick of it All back to the group’s roots, the classic era of New York hardcore. Read on as drummer Armand Majidi rifles through our questions.
This new album, Last Act Of Defiance, is a return to the classic New York hardcore sound. Why go back to that sound at this stage in Sick of it All’s career?
Armand Majidi: We try to vary the songs we write, and therefore albums are also varied. If this one sounds like we’ve come full circle, then it’s because it’s still us writing the music, and we want to play to the strengths of the genre.
What is hardcore/punk to you?
Armand Majidi: It’s aggressive folk music that comes from passion and the gut, and the more honest and humble the musician, the better the song. It’s one of the only genres where technical musical genius doesn’t mean a better delivery. Anyone can be a part of it, as long as their heart is in the right place.
What was it like writing Last Act Of Defiance? Pretty easy or did you find yourselves searching for inspiration?
Armand Majidi: Every artist goes through dry spells, but this wasn’t one. I remember having much harder times with songwriting back in the ’90s. We write about frustrations a lot, and the world seems to always throw plenty of those at us. Maybe it’s because we’re older and have a keener sense of the matrix, but the blatant alliance between world government and media has given us a wealth of issues to draw from.
I hear there are guests on this record. Who are they and what did they do?
Armand Majidi: Joe from Wisdom in Chains makes a guest vocal appearance on the song “Facing the Abyss.” He’s got such a strong voice and sense of melody, that he adds a lot to whatever music he makes.
What happens first in Sick of it All? Lyrics or music?
Armand Majidi: Music. If there ever have been lyrics written beforehand, they’re always altered to fit an existing piece of music.
Sick of it All has always been about message. Do you think kids these days have unfortunately acclimated to the messenger, like Sick of it All?
Armand Majidi: It’s hard to say who the “kids” are nowadays. We see a lot of loyal fans who still come to our shows and understand everything we do. There have always been bands that deliberately write shallow, meaningless lyrics, which appeal to shallow people, or funny lyrics that appeal to the willfully ignorant. If it seems like we’re one of the only bands left seems indignant and discontented with the big picture, then music around us has stopped being revolutionary.
You’ve recorded with Tue Madsen before. What is it about Tue that makes you want to go back?
Armand Majidi: Not only do we get along famously, but he has always understood how to capture the band’s intensity in the quietly controlled, less-than-intense studio setting. It was always difficult for us to find an engineer who could capture our live sound before meeting Tue, so now that we’ve found him, he’s our guy.
Why did you record in New York this time?
Armand Majidi: We wanted to stay close to our families, now that three out of the four members have children.
What do you want fans to walk away with after hearing the new album?
Armand Majidi: I want them to feel that they just heard a hardcore record that has everything, from blistering speed to bouncing groove, to heavy and pounding to bright and melodic. I want them to see that there’s nothing stale about our energy.
What keeps Sick of it All going for all these years? Think you got another 10-15 years in you?
Armand Majidi: Who knows? It’s almost like the world has made us what we are, and not the other way around, so it’s more up to the world than to us. If we can continually provide a positive influence on crowds and future music, then why stop?
** Sick of it All’s new album, Last Act Of Defiance, is out now on Century Media Records. It’s available HERE on CD, vinyl, and in bundles with a t-shirt. Raise up!