Listen to “My Blood,” the brand new single from Rebellion
I’ll never forget one badass morning of my life: I was blaring Madball’s “Set It Off,” driving down Park Avenue, uptown NYC, and fervently inhaling gratuitous amounts of greenery. I felt invincible. This is how Madball is meant to be experienced in the streets, and played at decibel levels that are borderline threatening. There is a certain sexiness in hardcore that many might not see just looking at the surface. Yeah, it’s music that makes you want to cathartically dish out a few blows to the skull but there is an earnest quality within it that pumps into you like kiss filled bullets. Call me a hopeless romantic, but I get excited by honesty. It’s probably the Jersey in me taking over.
Luckily for me (and hopefully for you), Madball returns with Rebellion on June 14th via front man Freddy Madball’s BNB label. The EP is set to be released digitally, and on vinyl at a later date. Madball worked again with well-known death metal producer and Hate Eternal’s Erik Rutan, who according to Freddy has been a solid asset to the band’s sound. “[Erik] understands who we are and what we should sound like…we get to really give people a proper sonic representation of the emotion of Madball.” Six songs were birthed including two re-recorded gems (“Get Out” and “It’s My Life”) from their classic Ball of Destruction release. “It’s cool that these songs are some how still relevant—people really dig ‘em,” Freddy states. “The lyrics are silly if you break them down as an adult, but hey, it was about a feeling and being rebellious, which still rings true today,” he adds. Perhaps that is one of the most endearing selling points of Madball—no matter how time progresses, they continue to spark that youthful spirit that listeners crave. Madball’s specific flavor indigenous to NYC also helps, because of their dash of Sazón (get up on your Spanish spices). “No one in hardcore has that Adobo,” Freddy boasting with pride as one of the most identifiable Latin characters in hardcore, along with bandmate Hoya Roc.
I’ve joked with Freddy that building the BNB brand was very hip-hop of him. He recognizes that “it’s all part of that same family and branding mentality—I am a hip-hop head at heart!” Freddy’s 2009 album Catholic Guilt was a careful wording of thoughts set to smart, opinionated lyricism, much less of what fans would expect from how he vocalized Madball projects. “Both art forms were born in the streets and sometimes mingle but they are different. I approach each thing individually. Right now, I keep them more or less separate.” Under the BNB brand he also will release material from his more pop-punk leaning project with H20’s Toby Morse, Hazen Street, as well as explore releases with other bands.
These days, hip-hop’s ties to punk and hardcore are stronger than ever with bands like Trash Talk and Odd Future bringing a new awareness to audiences that did not grow up in the hardcore world. In a live performance sense, both of these bands behaviorally act out in the same fashion, yet sonically are on polar opposites of the spectrum. The rabid hype of Trash Talk in the mainstream has me analyzing why they are favored over so many other hardcore and thrash crossover bands. Municipal Waste has been towing the skateboard-DRI-thrash line for years, before Trash Talk even caught an ounce of wind in their sails. Freddy, a legend in his own right, shared his thoughts on the connecting scenes. “I just recently caught wind of Trash Talk, I mean they’re cool and young and I never knock anyone’s hustle. Good for them do your thing,” he respectfully states. As for Madball’s place in this convergence of music and culture, Freddy expands:
“For the record, me and my ‘collective’ were always in the mix of both genres since way back in the day in NYC. We were them tattooed ‘crazy’ downtown kids before that was cool. We rolled with G’s, graf heads, skinheads, metalheads, black, white, Asian and Hispanic heads, skaters—you name it! Now everybody is inked up, and things are crisscrossing left and right. I love the evolution in music and in people in general. We pioneered some of that shit, directly, indirectly, whatever. I love that people are mixing it up and it is a good fit (hip-hop and hardcore), if you really ‘get’ both cultures. But that’s exactly it, you must respect the culture and those who’ve been representing it for years. You gotta earn them neck tattoos kid!”
Freddy and Madball are permanent stains that cannot be erased, whether on your skin, the spray painted walls, or DMS stickers still up on the streets of NY today. Walk a mile in their hardcore genes, they’re far from skinny.