Cult of Luna
Voivod: Part 2
Voivod: Part 1
Dillinger Escape Plan
The Year In Metal
Dead to Fall
Tapping The Vein
High On Fire
Metal Meltdown IV
Metal/Hardcore Fest 2002
Century Media Records
My Dying Bride
The Year In Metal
Metal Blade Records
Maudlin of the Well
Thrash of the Titans
Dust To Dust
Six Feet Under
Metal/Hardcore Fest 2001
Metal Meltdown III
Pain of Salvation
Children Of Bodom
Cradle Of Filth
Lamb Of God
Garden of Shadows
March Metal Meltdown
Metal/Hardcore Fest 2000
Flotsam and Jetsam
I was excited to go to the Sanctuary Records' offices to talk with the guys from Biohazard. I had met Billy and Evan while training jiu-jitsu and knew that they shared the same obsessions I had with music and with jiu-jitsu. Many of you faithful Metal Update readers will find that this interview is a departure from our usual format. Nonetheless, I think you will find it a fun read. Just as jiu-jitsu has influenced so many fighters and fighting styles over the last decade, so too has Biohazard influenced many of today's new metal bands that mix rap, metal and hardcore. The band's interest in the fighting style made for lively conversation and gives us the opportunity to view the band from a different angle.
METAL UPDATE: Tell me about when you started jiu-jitsu?
I started training with Craig Kukuk when he first came here back in 1993 down at a judo school. Then when Renzo [Gracie] came here we were training at the academy at 27th street. I used to train there all the time. Then we moved to LA and started training with Rickson [Gracie]. I love jiu-jitsu, but I haven't trained in about a year and a half. I had an elbow dislocated pretty bad in an accident at the academy. It kind of took the wind out of my sails for a while.
MU: You've gotta get back there.
No doubt. I got fight club by my house - these wrestlers and shit. We all train together and stuff.
MU: You have mats and stuff over there?
Yeah, I got mats at my house. I recognized the shirt right away.
MU: I wore my Gracie Barra shirt because I knew I was gonna see you guys.
I trained at Gracie Barra when I was down there.
MU: With Carlinhos?
Yeah, Carlos Gracie, Jr. was there. Who else? Who is running it down there?
MU: Marcio Feitosa?
Yeah, Feitosa and Nino [Schembri] was there. You know Ricardo and Flavio [Almeida].
Vinnie was the guy who was up here then left? I don't know him too well.
MU: I know Matt Serra and Rodrigo [Gracie].
You know Matt is fighting in the UFC again in September? That last fight he had, I thought he was great. After the fight, I'm sitting in my house all depressed. How did he lose? I was expecting him to come in and just kill. Like that kid B.J. Penn. I see them at the same level. I don't think anyone can beat him at 170 pounds. No way.
MU: Certainly no one is going to tap him out.
Exactly. He's gonna fight Pat Milletich. What's gonna happen? He's gonna destroy that guy. The guy's a bum. So, I'm watching Matt and I see him get hit with that elbow. Oh fuck! I knew he was out from that first shot. For the rest of the fight he wasn't even being careful and I couldn't understand why. What the fuck is he doing? Then he got knocked out. Then I read an interview with him and he said the first shot he didn't even remember getting. He didn't know. Fuck. That's what happens when you get knocked out. It's a testament to how tough that kid is. I remember when he was a fucking blue belt. He probably doesn't remember me, but I used to train there all the time.
MU: I saw Billy like a year and a half ago when the academy was on 25th street. I remember talking to him about the band and stuff because it was right when the Metal Judgment website was getting started. Since then, I haven't seen him at all.
We've been so busy. Every time I see Renzo, he's says, "Man, you got to come and train. You guys are getting fat." I wish I had more time. I live in Staten Island and have two kids.
MU: We have a strong Staten Island crew. Joe Capizzi from The Dying Light, he trains there.
I used to train with Renzo and Ricardo at the Gold's Gym in Middletown, NJ on Sundays because that was the only class I could ever make. It's like twenty minutes from my house. I was telling Renzo there are all these wrestlers by my house that want to learn jiu-jitsu. He should send a representative out there.
MU: There are some Staten Island guys that want to open a school out there, so maybe it will happen soon.
I trained at the Gracie Barra academy. I thought I was going to die. We got the hotel we'd been up all night on the plane. Man, we've got to call Royler. We've got to call Barra. We've got to find somewhere to train. They were like, "Yeah, Biohazard come down and train." So it was fucking hot. It was December in New York so it was like boiling hot down there. They were killing me. I was dying. At the time, I had been training regularly, so I could hang a little - lot of good guys down there. I've put on thirty pounds since then, so I would be in trouble if I got on the mats.
MU: So you want to talk about music?
No, let's keep talking about jiu-jitsu! I hope Matt wins at that next fight. He's fighting Yves Edwards right? Matt will kill him. After I saw that last fight and he lost, I said, "That's the last fight that kid will ever lose." That's the kind of thing you learn your lessons from. He's so talented like that. He'll never lose.
MU: He just gets better and better. Did you see him at Abu Dhabi?
No, but I heard he was a killer.
MU: He just smoked everybody there. Jean Jacques Machado. Leo Santos.
I trained with all those guys too. Those guys are incredible. Rigan Machado was unstoppable about five years ago. Ricardo choked out Rigan Machado a couple of years ago at Abu Dhabi. I'm waiting for Rickson to fight again.
MU: You trained with Rickson?
Yes, at his house! We went to house and hung out with him. He has this big garage with all the crazy training shit that he does. All that yoga shit. He just stands you up and looks at you. "So you want me to teach you how to fight? You want me to watch you and tell you what you need to work on? You want me to just show you one thing. Or you want to ask me a question?" I was speechless. "Whatever you think is cool, man." "C'mon. Throw a punch. Try to hit me and we'll talk." He takes you through a whole fight scenario.
MU: I did a seminar with him once. He didn't show any moves. He just talked about moving your hips and your center of gravity. It was all body mechanics. Really cool stuff.
That's the thing, when we were training there it was basically Billy and me fighting the whole school every day. Everybody was like, "Oh, you guys are in a rock band." When Rickson comes in, he just checks your game. He will come in and tell you to a couple of little tiny things and change your whole game. "I see what you're doing and you make it work, but if you just move your head like this when you do it. . ." Unbelievable! Royler too. I spent one morning with him and it changed the way I look at jiu-jitsu forever. He just showed me a couple of little tiny things and I was just like, "duh!" Wow! He's so small. I have a picture of me on Royler's back with the gi choking him and he signed it, "Danny, this is right before I choked your ass out! - Royler" Royler is so good and so flexible. He will give you his back and just play with you.
MU: Same with Rickson. I've seen Rickson, put his hands in his belt, let the guy take his back with both hooks and both hands in the choke and then tell him to start choking, then Rickson would escape like it was nothing.
I couldn't believe about his son. All I could think about is how Rickson must have felt. They would do everything as a family together. We would go and hang with them on the weekends. They were so close. I can't imagine what it would feel like to lose your son.
MU: I know. I couldn't believe it. I said it can't be for real. Every picture you saw of Rickson, Rockson son would be right there next to him.
The week it happened. I was on a plane going to Brazil and Rolker Gracie was sitting behind me. I said, "You look familiar." He says, "You look familiar too. Who are you?" I said, "I'm Danny from Biohazard." He says, "Oh yeah. I'm Rolker Gracie. You trained at our academy." I said, "I heard about Rickson's son. I'm so sorry." This was a week after it happened. He was really sad too. The whole family was effected. Enough about the jiu-jitsu talk. Jiu-jitsu is the greatest, but let's talk about the record.
MU: Tell me about the move to Sanctuary.
Well at the end of 1999, we were at Universal during the big merger. We were caught up in that whole merger. Our record came out and they didn't do anything with it. They just put it on the shelf. We went to the president of the company. We knew him for a long time. He used to manage us. We said, "Leo, you've got to let us off the label. Let us walk away. This is going to kill us. This is going to ruin our career. We'll be dead." He said, "Okay." They pretty much bought us out of the rest of the contract, gave us a little money and let us leave. Our manager left and moved to Los Angeles. We had no label, no manager, no nothing. Our guitar player quit. It was just me, Billy and Evan back to square one. We started with nothing and here we are back to nothing. Let's just chill out and think this over. After all these years of us doing the band and having some success and having it fall apart and then coming back again. We were just beat down so much that we just needed a break. For a couple of weeks we just chilled. Then I was tired of that and called the guys and said, "Are we ready to be a band again? Let's fucking get a guitar player and rock." We got a new guitar player named Leo. We got our own studio in Brooklyn. We started writing some songs and playing some shows over seas. It re-energized us. Some Sanctuary people heard our new demos and were interested. They were one of the few labels we talked to that we thought were pretty cool. We weren't ready to go back to that whole major label fiasco. That whole scene is ridiculous. We decided to go with a label that was more interested in what we do instead of lumping us in with all the Papa Roaches and Limp Bizkits of the world. There is enough of that crap already. I like their attitude of taking bands that a lot of other labels would just throw away - the Iron Maidens and Megadeths. They are paying attention to their core audiences. That's what Biohazard has. We aren't like a Limp Bizkit, but we have a lot of fans that have the Biohazard tattoo and are really feeling it. Hopefully, it will work out alright.
MU: How do you like all those Limp Bizkit type bands? There are a lot of people that would say you started that whole thing.
It ain't about who started it. It's about how well you're doing. You can't deny the success that they have. It's huge. I don't think they suck at all. They're a great band. I don't have any beef with the whole thing. If you're out there doing your thing, selling records, having a good time, then God bless. We do what we do. It has nothing to do with them.
MU: Are you still in touch with New York? Are you still a part of the New York sound?
That whole thing, it seems to me, has fallen apart - the New York hardcore sound. We loved all those bands. They were a huge influence on what we did. We played tons of shows with all those bands like Agnostic Front and The Cro-Mags. As soon as we started adding a hip-hop influence into what we did, a lot of those bands started giving us a hard time. You got to keep it real. Keep it hardcore. We weren't from the city. We were from Brooklyn. Things were different because of that. We had our own clubs and our own scene. We had L'Amours, the city had the Ritz and CBGB's. It was a little different. It was cool. The New York scene seems to have died down. Every band is from LA now.
MU: What prompted you guys to move to California.
We lived there for a while and made a few records out there. That's when we were training with Rickson. It was winter in New York and the record company said, you can do this record anywhere. You want to stay in five feet of snow in New York or do want to go to LA and train jiu-jitsu and surf in the mornings while you make your record? I love LA. I gotta lot of friends of there.
MU: It's funny that a lot of your songs are about New York.
It's funny. We write all the songs in New York and get that New York vibe and then go to LA to record them. This record we did it all here. We didn't have a label or a manager or a deal when we recorded this record. We just went into the studio and did it all ourselves. There was no label or producer trying to tell us what to do. For that reason, it's a more pure Biohazard record. My friends did not start loving the record until they had it for a week or two, then it started growing on them.
MU: I found it was very raw. It wasn't over-produced or very polished. It's in your face so it takes a little while to adjust to the rawness. What other bands do you listen to? What kind of crowd do you guys run with? Do you go out to check out bands?
Tonight I'm going to see Slipknot. I love Slipknot. Evan is the guy in the band that goes to every single show. Last week Clutch played and I couldn't go.
MU: I was there. It was an awesome show.
I'll see them next weekend at another show.
MU: I saw Evan at L'Amours a couple of times and he was talking about the new Biohazard album coming out.
Who do you think is going to win Tito [Ortiz] or Vitor [Belfort]?
MU: I don't know. It's going to be a tough fight. I want Belfort to win, but I could see it going either way.
If it goes quick, it will be Vitor all the way. If it goes over five minutes, then it might go to Ortiz. I think Tito's got a suspect chin. Remember when he fought Vanderlai [Silva], he got rocked.
MU: Vanderlai is no joke.
Vanderlai is no joke, but he got rocked. When he fought Yuki Kondo and got caught with that knee. Tito was out for a second. Just from seeing that, I think if you hit that kid square, then he's going down. If Dan Henderson was twenty or thirty pounds heavier, I could see him beating Tito.
(At this point Evan walks in with copies of the new album 'Uncivilization' fresh from the manufacturer. Evan shows me a tattoo inspired by Rickson.)
The tattoo was inspired by Rickson sitting down and showing us how to choke somebody properly. I was saying I can choke better than you because I'm pretty big and strong. So Rickson brings his son over who at the time was about ten years old. He says let him choke you. I says that little kid can't choke me, my dick is bigger than his arm. (Evan then makes an agonizing face and mimics how he was tapping for Rockson to let go.) After that Rickson showed me the right way to choke somebody. I'll never forget it.
(At this point, someone notices a problem with the artwork on the new CD and the band starts screaming, half-jokingly, about firing somebody.)
Did you know Renzo and Ricardo were on our record?
MU: I remember they were going down to visit you guys in the studio a while ago.
Just Renzo ended up on the Record. Ricardo got cut, but Ricardo did a rap that was better than Renzo's. It's real good. Renzo says, "Do what you gotta. Comer porrada!" It means eat the fist, like taking a beating.
Who do you write for?
MU: Metaljudgment.com and Metalupdate.com.
What are you saying, you're judging us? (laughs)
MU: Yes, kinda.
How long have you been training?
MU: About four years.
So you still a blue belt?
MU: Yes. A blue belt forever. Renzo's been giving out a lot of belts lately. There are a lot of good guys at the academy. I'm one of the older blue belts now. You guys should definitely come back and train.
What happened to Rodrigo [Gracie] and Matt [Serra]?
MU: Rodrigo, Matt and Nick [Serra] have their own academy in Long Island. Ricardo teaches in New Jersey still and sometimes in New York. Matt, Rodrigo and Ricardo just cleaned up at Abu Dhabi. Gene Dunn has been teaching the day classes. Shawn Williams and John Danaher teach the beginner's classes.
I just saw Fabiano Iha on Battledome. He came out and jumped over some six foot eight inch guy. He got worked though. They beat the shit out of him.
MU: How did you get on Oz?
It turns out a couple of the guys on the show are into metal and hardcore and they were big Biohazard fans. It was Beecher, Keller and the guy who plays O'Reilly. Someone introduced us and Dino and I went out to a bunch of bars and clubs one night. He kept saying we should meet Tom uptown. We got together with Tom for like three hours and we talked about me being on the show as a guest star. He said, "Let me send some stuff to your house. Leave your address with my secretary." I get a script in the mail on Friday and a letter that says show up on Monday at 6:30am in Chelsea. I studied all weekend and I was like I got a screentest on Monday. I was excited and nervous. I walk in on Monday and it's the Oz set and I'm asking where is the screentest? There's no screentest. Get the fuck in here and start shooting. I'm like, "What if I fuck up?" The director said, "Don't!" That was thirty shows ago.
MU: So, where does Biohazard fit into the metal scene?
When we came out there was metal, there was thrash metal, there was hardcore and punk. Rap was its own separate entity. When Biohazard came out there were two guys with long hair in the band and two guys with shaved heads. It was unheard of. People were just coming to check out the weird hybrid. Now everything is a hybrid, but back then it was new.
SANCTUARY RECORDS GROUP
Interview: Keith Wittenstein [
Editor: Brant Wintersteen [
Webmaster: WAR [
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