Zach Shaw of Metal Insider recently conducted an interview with guitarist Bobby Hambel of New York hardcore/metal veterans BIOHAZARD. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metal Insider: How did BIOHAZARD come up with the idea of releasing the new album, “Reborn In Defiance”, for free online in the U.S. without label support?
Bobby: Well, it took a while to get to the point we’re at as far as putting back the old band together, going on tour and actually making a record. We had this arrangement with Nuclear Blast Records to release it worldwide, and the United States was left separate. The United States, that’s our home. And we want to give back to all the people all over the world of course, but in America, we wanted to do a separate release. We wanted to do a release with extra content. Possibly live recordings, extra songs that aren’t on the full-length LP just to make it a more interesting and meaningful release. But the way the industry works on its own calendar and seasonal type of activity, I mean there are times when they say you should never release a record during “these months” or you should only release it during “this time.” And we said we wanted the American release at the same time as the worldwide release, but with the American release we wanted to add all of the extra material I just mentioned. We couldn’t get that done for whatever reason. And we already gave away like 4 or 5 songs. So we figured, “Let’s just let everyone hear the record. And then when we’re ready to give the physical release with all of the stuff we really wanted in there in the first place, then we’ll just release it at a later date because we couldn’t do both at the same time.” The important thing to us is that they just get the music and get the record. The whole industry has changed. I just think it’s all about playing live. We just want to be a live band and get out there and play. The release of records and the recording part of it is great, but it’s not what we’re really about. To us, basically doing a record is an excuse to get yourself on tour again. And the touring is where we live. The records are a moment in time, that moment of time has passed and we’re already looking forward to the next one and just being on the road. And besides that, what started with [the idea of] us giving away music was that these people are supporting us, and we’re like, “Yo, let’s give them some tracks? There shouldn’t be a price tag on everything.” The economy sucks, what’s the difference? Getting the music out there is what’s important and hopefully inspiring people to come to our shows to see us live and do what we do. That’s 99% of what we are, is a live band.
Metal Insider: Word slipped that Scott Roberts, who filled in for original frontman Evan Seinfeld shortly after his departure, would be joining the band on the upcoming tour. Does this imply that Roberts is now a permanent member of BIOHAZARD, or is this just a temporary arrangement?
Bobby: Well, it’s not a temporary thing at all. As long as Scott wants to play with us, he can play with us, basically. Evan had left the band, and we wanted to go out and fulfill our obligations and due something touring for this album. And Scott offered to come in and do the touring with us. Now where that goes in the future, when it comes time for BIOHAZARD to regroup and make a new album, I mean, we still have other ideas, too. There’s a possibility we may want to work with just a singer AND have a musician onstage with instruments, and do some other changes to the lineup. We don’t know yet, but this last record was done as a four-piece and this is the record we’re going to tour on right now. So Scott was willing to step in for Evan, and we can put the show on the road. It’s the “show-must-go-on” type of thing. So it’s up to Scott. I mean, thank God he’s here and we’re very excited that he’s into it because it’s just so natural to have him come in. It really is an in-house, family type of situation, because during the years when I was out of the band, Scott joined BIOHAZARD as a guitar player. He recorded with them, he toured with them, he was in the band. And I knew Scott from back when I was in the band and when back in the early days we toured with his other band THE SPUDMONSTERS. And when I rejoined to do the reunion tour, which is all it was at the beginning, for me to bury the hatchet with my old friends and to get back onstage for the 20-year reunion. It was great, because, for me, it was a way to make amends and a way for me to get out there and play in front of the audience I had left for so long. I feel like let a lot of people down, the people who were supporting us, and it was my way of making things right. And Scott totally understood that, and Scott offered to be my guitar tech and be a tech for the band on the road. And it’s all good, we’re all friends. This shows you the guy’s level of support for the band. As time went by, Billy [Graziadei, guitarist/vocalist] was having a baby, and we had these shows booked. So Billy went home, and who better than Scott? He knows the music, he jumped right in and saved our asses, and we played a couple of shows without Billy. Then when Evan left the band, we had three shows booked and confirmed, and we were like, “Well, what are we going to do about these three shows?!” Scott was like, “I’ll do it! Give me the bass. I know the songs on guitar, I’ll just learn them on bass.” So he came out on bass and basically saved our asses again. . . The only person he hasn’t stepped in for is Danny [Schuler] on the drums. So now we got to get him learning drums just in case. [laughs] It just shows you that it was totally natural. When we play with him live, from all of his experience in the band, it’s like he’s a regular part of the band. It’s not like, “OK, this is the new guy. This might be awkward. He doesn’t know when we do certain breakdowns and timing things.” There are very subtle things in a live performance that a tight band knows, and only they feel. And that’s what makes the music sound the way it does. When we go to a certain part and we pull back the beat just a little bit, we know how to do that with our eyes closed without even looking at each other. But somebody else who would jump in might know the music on paper and in theory, and then when you get in there with them they mess up that whole part because they don’t get how we approach it. Scott knows that about us. So he’s in the pocket with the band.
Metal Insider: Does Seinfeld‘s departure still come as a shock to you?
Bobby: Yeah, I’m still shocked. I was at rehearsal last night and although I’m playing and everything feels great and Scott‘s doing an amazing job, once in a while in between songs I’m thinking, “Wow, this is so different,” and “Why is he not here?” And it’s the same question you’ll have when any type of serious change happens in your life. You go, “Wow, this is strange. How did I get to this point?” But we’re getting used to it, the idea that he’s gone, and we’re just going to keep going. It was his choice. We didn’t choose for him to leave, we didn’t tell him he had to leave. Evan just made his choice, and that’s it. Hey man, we’re all grown men. And I said this before and I’ll say it again, for me it was a little bit different, ’cause I came back into the band. So I had a different goal, a different set of values here because of my past and mistakes. I needed to pick up the pieces and put my life back together in a lot of ways, and part of that was somehow and in some way regrouping with the band and going back out and playing to the people who’ll support us no matter what. And for me to get back with the band after all those years was like, “Wow!” Everybody said this could never be done, that this was never going to happen. Hence “Reborn In Defiance”, which implies to a lot but I’m just giving you one example. Anyway, here I am back in the band and I’m sure the rest of the guys are very happy in their own way, but I was really grateful and was really blown away at how life can really turn around for people. Then when Evan left, inside I was a little upset, but then again I was like, “Wait a minute, he’s a grown man. We’re all grown men, and there’s no guarantees in life.” And the fact that we got the original band together after being apart for twelve years, and we stayed together long enough to tour the world for a little over two years AND do a fucking full blown studio album together, that’s more than any of us could’ve asked for! It was just a few years ago when we were still not speaking and the laws of the universe would never allow us to cross paths. That’s how it seemed. So I’m grateful for all of it, and we understand that we can’t expect any more out of life. We can’t demand that one of us stay in the band now if he’s got to move on with his life. So we’re just happy, and “Reborn In Defiance” will be a really special record for us.
Read the entire interview from Metal Insider.
“Skullcrusher” song audio stream: