I recently spoke with Biohazard’s Billy Graziadei about his band’s new album, Reborn In Defiance, and together, we talked at length on many topics, from how the sudden departure of bassist/co-vocalist Evan Seinfeld made him feel, to the fight against conformity that unifies underground music. Billy is the real deal. He spoke from his heart and didn’t give you any bullshit. That spirit can be heard all throughout Reborn In Defiance, a record that certainly lets everyone know that Biohazard is back—not looking to fuck around, or beat around the bush, even remotely. The conversation is below.
Hey Billy, I’m glad to get you on the phone, thanks for doing this interview.
Oh, my pleasure. Thank you for doing it.
First, let me tell you, I love the new record, man, and I want to say congratulations.
Oh, glad to hear you liked it. We worked hard on this record—not unlike other albums, but this record more than not, you know? This was a big growth for us. A big accomplishment and we’re really proud of it.
So let me just ask you—is Biohazard officially a three-piece now?
No, definitely not. Biohazard has always been a four-piece. I’m guessing you’re going to go there, and just so you know, everything is all cool. It’s an open book.
Okay, so then what’s up then officially with you guys and Evan Seinfeld?
Well, I’d have to go back a little bit, and I don’t know how much you know already.
Well, I know you guys were all back together, and you were making a record, and then all of the sudden, Evan wasn’t in the group anymore.
Well, we were finishing the record, and we had a few more things to do with Toby [Wright, producer] in the studio, and we just got a call from Evan one day—he just up and quit. Said he wasn’t gonna do it anymore—couldn’t do it, didn’t want to do it. It caught us by surprise, and I haven’t really talked about it. But I’ve always respected the decision. It was his decision, and we made our decision, and that’s the way it is. I have no ill vibes towards him. I hope he finds what he looking for, and I hope he’s happy.
Just for clarity’s sake, let me get this clear: You’re in the middle of making a record—almost near completion of a record, actually—and he just calls up one day and says, “Guys, I’m not gonna do this anymore?”
Yeah, and you know, now that the smoke has cleared a little bit—I haven’t told many people this—but at the time, I was pissed. But I still respect his choice and his decision. You know, in a perfect world, it would be great to have the four of us together, playing the songs that we worked hard on. But life is like that, and not just in Biohazard—in everyday life.
So, in your eyes, what were the first things that had to happen once you decided to continue forward?
Well, we had dates booked, plus all the normal things that occur once you announce a new record, so we picked up Scott Roberts, who had played with us before, and everything has been great ever since. Scott’s a great guy, and he loves what we do and who we are, because he comes from the same place as we do. Look, I had a recording studio burn down, and had two giant floods happen all in the same year. But you can’t get knocked down and complain about it, and say, “Well, he pushed me down and I’m not gonna get back up.” You gotta get back up and face your shit. The hardest thing about life and obstacles is the fear of it. If you let the fear dictate your future, than you won’t go anywhere. You gotta face your fears and deal with it. We’ve been through a lot of shit, as I’m sure you know, but in the face of adversity, we always say, “Fuck it—stand up, and let’s go.” It’s part of our lyrics and part of our way of life.
So what’s the significance behind the title Reborn In Defiance?
I think there’s a lot of parallels—not just within the context of Biohazard, but beyond the band. Reborn In Defiance, for me, is sort of the rebirth of Biohazard. I think a lot of people wrote us off a while ago like, “Yeah, they did this, and they did that—what are they doing now?” So it was a personal statement for us, in the sense that we were taking all of the personal memories that people had about Biohazard and pulling them all together. But if you look around the world, it seems like people are standing up and saying, “Fuck you, I’m not going to be oppressed by you. I’m gonna take my future in my own hands.” So the record has a lot of parallels between the personal issues with us, and with what’s going on around the world.
One of the things I was thinking about in relation to hardcore music, thrash music, death metal, etc., is there a universal adversary that that music, on principle, stands in opposition to?
The one word that pops out in my head is conformity. My brother told me this story once. He was riding in the car with my old man and they were at a red light. These kids in skateboards came whizzing past, and you know—they had patches on their jackets, and one of them had a green mohawk—punk rock kids, you know? And my dad said to my brother, “What kind of parent would let their kids out like that?” And my brother pointed at them and said, “Oh, look—there’s Billy.” And that’s sorta when at least my old man realized, “Alright, he beats to his own drum.”
Billy and I also spoke at length about the early ‘90s Brooklyn metal scene, and how Biohazard was part of a holy trinity that included fellow Brooklynites Type O Negative and Life Of Agony. Together, the three bands share a bond similar to what Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam share as part of the Seattle scene—to a lesser degree of attention; but still, Brooklyn in the ‘90s was a microcosm of what still universally relates to people—going against the grain. Bands like Carnivore and places like L’Amour have extensive meaning to a great lot of people. And Billy truly seems proud to be a part of such a kickass subculture.
You can catch Biohazard at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville on Friday, Feb. 17, and Saturday, Feb. 18. For more information, you can find them at facebook.com/biohazarddfl.