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Roger Miret and The Disasters

Roger Miret

Roger Miret: Vocals and guitar
Rhys Kill: Guitar and vocals
Brian Darwas: Bass and vocals
Mike Mulieri: Drums

Roger Miret is a lot of things: the frontman for Agnostic Front and the Disasters, a lifelong proud New Yorker, a music fan with wide-ranging tastes, brutally honest, and an incorrigible flirt. All of these things combined make talking to him a fun time. He also can turn an interview around on you quickly—you’ll find yourself answering more questions than you ask if you’re not careful.

The Disasters are about to release their second full-length on Hellcat Records. The title 1984 may spark a lot of literary references in people’s brains, but it’s actually a reference to a time in the past—perhaps when things were simpler, but though the record has a nostalgic tone, Roger’s not one to dwell on the past. It’s full speed ahead, as usual.

Kaffeine Buzz: The new record isn’t out yet, but…

Roger Miret: It’s coming out Tuesday (January 25, 2005).

KB: I didn’t get the full deal with my press copy. It just came in a little cardboard folder, but I can assume that you didn’t just put out the same artwork as last record in a different color even if people will download it.

RM: You saw the artwork, right?

KB: On your website, yeah.

RM: What’s really weird is that the Street Dogs used the same artist as we did for their new record. But yeah, if people are going [to] download something, at least, if they like it, they could go out and buy the rest. I don’t understand it. You know what? They’re destroying their own music scene. So if that’s what they want to do, that’s fine.

KB: So the record is called 1984, and it seems like everywhere I go these days people are saying, “It’s like 1984 in this country.” But your song doesn’t seem to be about the book 1984 and more about what it was actually like in 1984.

RM: Exactly. To be honest with you, there’s no direct relation to the book. That was just the name of the song. I’ve never even read the book.

KB: I also thought it was funny that you have a line from David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel,” from Diamond Dogs, which is about the book 1984. Bowie’s even got a song called “1984.”

RM: That’s pretty cool. With a lot of my music, lyrically at least, I borrow from people that made me who I am, my influences. So that little piece is there because David Bowie was an influence on my life, like Sham 69, like the Business, “Loud and Proud,” I borrow a little bit of everything, reusing it.

KB: One influence I think people won’t be expecting is the Nancy Sinatra reference, “These boots are made for walking.”

RM: That’s our intro. When we play a show, you’ll hear that roll, and then we play.

KB: I think “I Don’t Like You” is probably the most fun “fuck-you” song I’ve ever heard.

RM: That was like the last song written for the record. I wrote it one day, I said, “I feel like we need a faster song for the record,” and I played it, and they loved it, and that was that. We were playing that on the road, and it was one of the songs that went over the best. People really loved that song.

KB: It’s easy to sing along to, and everyone knows that feeling.

RM: Exactly.

The DisastersKB: A friend of mine commented that he’s seen you live about three times and that each time it seemed to take you guys doing an Agnostic Front song to get the crowd really involved. Do you see that a lot?

RM: I think it seems to interest the crowd a lot because, well, Agnostic Front is the bigger band, and there are Agnostic Front fans that come out because they want to see what I’m doing, and when I do an Agnostic Front song they get excited about it. I could not do one, but if I was on the other side of the coin, if I was a fan of something, it would be cool to actually hear it. When I went to see Joe Strummer play, he did Clash songs and it was just fantastic. Of course I love Joe Strummer, I love everything he does, but when he did a Clash song it just made it that much better for me. I love the Clash. And every time Joe Strummer did a Clash song, you should’ve seen what that place looked like. It’s the same all the way around. A lot of people hearing us for the first time want to just know what it’s about. They’re just getting into the songs; they don’t even know the music. Next time we come around, it goes better—they at least know our songs.

KB: And you get that built-in audience that knows who you are, so they come to see it because of that, and hopefully like it and stick around.

RM: Especially with this new record. I think it’s a great record. I like it better than the first one. It’s more focused, we’re actually a band—not like me and three guys. Now we’re coming out with these new songs, it’ll be enough with our own songs. And if I’m in the mood, I’ll do “Gotta Go,” or “Crucified,” whatever.

KB: And then, lots of people don’t seem to know that “Crucified” was a cover for Agnostic Front as well.

RM: Exactly.

KB: Do you think people will see with this second record that the Disasters are a full-time project that you’re actually serious about as well, not just something you’re doing for the hell of it?

RM: I think it’s a great record, so yeah. I think it stands out a bit from your regular street punk. It’s got that New York mystique to it. It’s like a Mecca.

KB: You always have that one song that’s like a love song to New York.

RM: She’s my baby.

KB: You go from the good old pissed-off songs to nostalgia to . . . it’s funny that I got your CD in at the same time as I got the Street Dogs, and that you guys have used the same artist for your covers, because there’s a feeling I get from both records that is more just rock’n’roll than strictly punk rock. Agnostic Front can kind of be an acquired taste, but this record has a lot more different moods on it.

RM: This is a real, honest, truthful record. You hear my part of it, these stories are stuff that I’ve actually witnessed and lived through. They’re part of my life. This is real, firsthand. And that makes it better, being from someone who was there in 1984. To be honest, the song wasn’t originally called “1984”, it was called “1982,” but the chorus didn’t sound right.

KB: Maybe that’s where he got the book title from as well, that it just sounded better.

RM: It sounded better to sing “1984” than “1982.”

KB: I think you hit the nail on the head with the song title “Street Rock’n’roll.” And I like the song, “The Boys,” with the chant “Tell us the truth.”

RM: Al Barr [from the Dropkick Murphys] sings that with me, too. He’s the one who sings that whole chorus. And again, that’s another reference to one of my favorite bands, Sham 69, “Tell Us the Truth.” That’s the way it is. I just use a lot of references, borrow stuff from people who shaped me into what I am.

KB: Sometimes it’s an interesting combination of things, when you end up with a Sham 69 and Nancy Sinatra reference within a few songs of each other.

RM: And David Bowie. And don’t forget Billy Idol, at the end of that song “Janie Hawk,” where it goes “Punk rocker, rocker, rocker.”

KB: So is Janie Hawk a real person?

RM: Janie Hawk’s a real person, but that’s not her real name. It’s a true story about a friend of mine who’s been in the scene as long as I’ve been in the scene, and actually had to go to a couple of mental institutions, she kinda lost it. It’s a true story of a real punk rock girl. She was a cool girl—I don’t want to say the name. It’s funny—I mean, it’s not funny. For some reason I started writing this song about her, and I don’t know what triggered it. “She’s a punk rocker, rebel misfit, out of step with society, she wears fishnet tights…leopard-print creepers and bondage pants. Rebel rebel she tore her vest”—that’s different—“rebel rebel her face is a mess”—that’s the same.

KB: That’s my favorite David Bowie song.

RM: We used to cover “Suffragette City.” If you saw the Disasters on our first tour, we covered it for about a year. Then we started covering the Clash, “Career Opportunities,” and then I thought, “I might as well cover my own songs,” so that’s what I’ve been doing.

KB: I think a David Bowie cover would be fun. Now you have to go back and listen to his “1984” song.

RM: Was “Janie Hawk” one of the songs you remembered?

KB: It was relatable for me, because I’m a girl in the scene.

RM: That was one of the things I told Rhys, that if I was a girl in the scene I would feel like that song was so personal, so cool because it’s about a punk girl. How great could that be? I always try to incorporate girls into everything I do, especially with the Disasters, the girls on backup and all. This time there were no girls on backup, because we did everything like crazy-style, but “Janie Hawk” is pretty much a song for the girls. Because I think punk rock girls are hot!

KB: I heard a rumor recently that Rudy Giuliani is thinking of running for president in 2008, and I thought, “Wouldn’t that be great, since Agnostic Front already wrote the theme song [which goes, “Giuliani, Giuliani, Giuliani, FUCK YOU!”].”

RM: Yes. I wouldn’t put it past him, especially after the World Trade Center disaster, he came off like a hero after the public eye was looking at him right before that, people were just like in disgust with him because he’d just finished cheating on his wife, got cancer in his nuts, running around with another woman, everyone was like “That guy’s a pig.” World Trade Center collapses, now he’s a fuckin’ hero. And now he’ll be President because of something like that. I’m a New Yorker, and what he did to my city–he pulled the apple right out of the core, took the Mecca right out of New York. Sure, it’s safer to go there and travel, to walk around. You’ve got Disney World on 42nd street. I prefer the old 42nd street, the one you see in Taxi Driver, rated-X movies, hookers, all that, that’s real New York. Yeah, crime is what it is, and he took it out of the city, but it made everything worse in the suburbs. What does he care? He made it so that you can go to the city and spend tons of money. So I believe he’ll probably run for it, but I won’t be voting for him, anyway.

KB: So it appears that you’re heading to Europe soon with Agnostic Front?

RM: I’m caught up with Agnostic Front until—June 6th is our last date. We’re going to be touring America for two months after we finish Europe, and then I’m going to leave with the Disasters right after that.

KB: Do you ever stay home?

RM: No!


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