Billy Milano has been the rebel the metal community has loved to hate for
over twenty years. As the seeming literal embodiment of the classic
Sergeant D character (S.O.D.'s version of Iron Maiden's Eddie), Milano
has never been afraid to mince words. He's opinionated, often
controversial and always funny as hell. The Metal Update last caught up
with Billy back in May of 1999, in connection with the reformation of
S.O.D. for the 'Bigger Than the Devil' release. Now Billy is back with a
new M.O.D. record 'The Rebel You Love To Hate' and we thought it was time
once again to check in with Billy and talk about the funniest metal
record that's come out in quite some time.
METAL UPDATE: "The Rebel You Love To Hate" - that's got to be you.
BILLY MILANO: Without a doubt.
MU: Those press pictures of you, close up, chewing on a cigar remind me
of a character I've seen somewhere before.
BM: Like what?
MU: Sergeant D!
BM: Oh, I never even thought of that.
MU: C'mon, you're telling me that wasn't on purpose? Of course you
thought of that!
BM: Sergeant B! You know what's funny? I was actually a company
manager of a play last summer. Some friends of mine came over from
England. And he took that picture and said this is the guy who's running
the show - pretty scary. I was like "you better do a good job or I'm
gonna have to break your legs." (laughs)
MU: When did you decide to take M.O.D. into more of a parody-type
direction? Is that an accurate way to describe the direction of the new
BM: Well, I look at it like this: musically it's rooted in parody. It's
basically music that uses points of references of other things to give it
legitimacy or a little bit more of an identity. Like, for example, the
"Rage Against The Mac Machine" song. It sounds like a Rage Against The
Machine song, it's written about the philosophy of Rage Against The
Machine, and the song itself has the title "Rage Against The Mac Machine"
- similar to the name, but in reality it is a song about hypocrisy - the
hypocrisy of the leftist music movement in California. And yet I think
that's gonna get overlooked by people until they read an interview or
something or they ask me online or whatever.
MU: The album cover looks like the M.S.G. logo to me.
MU: Who's idea was that?
BM: Well it was actually a friend of our guitarist's, Joe Affe. His
name is Vinnie. He had the idea for doing M.O.D. like M.S.G. 'Cause we
were talking at times, when I was writing this record, and I didn't want
to have a record where the guitarist was going to try to play like death
metal or like speed metal or thrash or chuggy metal. I wanted this
record to have a lot of rock feel, like the Schenker kind of rhythm
playing. And there were times when that sound influenced me
tremendously on this record and it shows. But if you look at the album
itself, if you look at the cover and then look at the back of the
record, it shows my train of thought, musically, when I was writing this
record. The album cover shows I wanted a rock based, metal record. I
didn't want a heavy metal record and I didn't want a rock record. I
wanted a rock based, metal record rooted in guitar playing and not as
much double kick as some of these records - [mouths a galloping,
nu-metal style riff] - like these new bands today. On the back cover you
have this very Kiss-like picture, with the M.O.D. logo in the
lights. It's like Kiss. Basically that mentality is representative of
the entertainment and the value of the actual thought behind the lyrics
and the thought of the band as far as being rooted in entertainment at
the end of the day. So the two schools of thought on the front and the
back cover are old-style rock with metal guitars and the entertainment
value being the most prominent things on this record.
MU: What do you think of Weird Al Yankovic?
BM: Without a doubt, the thing with Weird Al, for me, is that he had
said a lot of valid things on his VH1 special - Behind the Music - when
he said that you don't have to write a song that's an actual parody.
Whatever that song sounds like musically or lyrically, you can use that
as a point of reference to give the song legitimacy. You can use it -
whatever that song sounds like - but to use it as a point of reference to
give that song more legitimacy, more identity. And that's what I did. I
didn't write a Rage Against The Machine song, I wrote a song that sounded
like Rage Against The Machine because it was about that whole rap-rock
scene. Just like "Wigga" is about rap-rock and "De Men Of Stein" is
about techno music. They all have a specific sound and an identity that
comes form a certain music scene and a certain music signature and the
title or the lyrics of the song and that gives that song a certain
MU: Are the ideas all yours or is it a group effort?
BM: It's all mine.
MU: So, okay. You decide you want to bust balls on a certain scene.
Then you go out and write a song in that style with lyrics mocking it.
How should the subject take your humor? Should they be flattered or
insulted? 'Cause you're a Kiss fan, but are you making fun of Kiss on
BM: I'm not making fun of Kiss. The bottom line is simply this. If you
listen to a song you're get out of it whatever you're gonna get out of it
no matter what I say. So whether it's Kiss' record, my record, Cannibal
Corpse's record or Metallica's record, there's gonna be people who are
pro and con against it. If you want to find out what my
record's about, then you read my interviews. And that's just the way it
has to be. After that you have to draw your own conclusions. If you're
a fan of Kiss, I think you'll see that I'm a fan of Kiss now as well. If
you're a fan of Rage Against The Machine, I don't think you'll like what
I'm saying on "Rage Against The Mac Machine". But you know what? I don't
MU: Of course you don't. 'Cause you're Billy Milano, man! Of course. I
think your fans would be troubled if it seemed like you actually did give
a shit what other people thought about what you had to say!
BM: I like to make people think, but that's what bothers people -
someone who makes them think. Look, I'm a very opinionated person. I'm
a lot more educated than most people, especially when it comes to social
issues and social-political, topical, yadda, yadda, yadda - the whole
story. I'm on it. I watch the news all fuckin' day. I read three
different newspapers online every day. So, you know, I'm down.
MU: Let's talk about "Wigga". That's not a compliment to that kind of
BM: No. The whole thing is this. . . I will never tell you. . . This
is the truth. This is the whole thing that you have to understand: I
will never tell you that Rage Against The Machine suck, or Rammstein suck
- even though I don't know how they sold records in America. And I will
never tell you that rap music is garbage, even though I don't like it.
The bottom line is that they're all forms of art and who is there to
decide what is art? On the seventh day, god made the critic. You know
what I'm sayin'? And everyone has a critic in them.
MU: Do you have any respect for Eminem?
BM: I totally don't like what he does. But he's funny. He makes fun of
MU: He's also another guy who is not afraid to say something
controversial and piss people off.
BM: Yeah. I think he was an old S.O.D. / M.O.D. fan twenty years ago
when he was a kid. You know?
MU: Do you think the term "wigga" is offensive? Is that a term people
should be using?
BM: If I was Puff Daddy, people would be crawling up my ass, thinking I
was the fuckin' funniest guy on the planet.
MU: Is anyone giving you shit about that?
BM: Fuck 'em.
MU: Did you try to get radio airplay for that?
BM: Fuck 'em. I'm getting' it. And I'm doin' a video for it. And
that's it. So fuck 'em.
MU: Are you going to do a video for "Wigga" on Headbanger's Ball?
BM: And they're gonna play it, too. They said as long as it's done
MU: What's the video going to be like?
BM: Well we're just putting it together now. It should be interesting,
I'll tell you that. It's going to be fun.
MU: Are you going to be running around with your ass crack hanging out
of the back of your pants?
BM: Dude, believe me. If you see my ass crack you better run. 'Cause
that means a shit's coming out!
MU: "The Rebel You Love To Hate" sounds like Biohazard to me.
BM: To me, it doesn't sound like Biohazard, it sounds like hardcore. But
it sounds like hard rock too.
MU: "Making Friends Is Fun" doesn't seem to be done in the style of some
BM: No, it's just. . .
MU: That's one of those politically correct little numbers, eh?
BM: Well, you know, the bottom line is this. On September 11, the
fucking game changed. I'm not going to sit around and let people
destroy my country, and attack my countrymen, without being attacked in
MU: Do you have respect for people who were against the war in Iraq?
MU: Do you think there's an intelligent argument to be made on both
sides of the issue?
BM: Absolutely there's an intelligent argument to be made on both sides.
MU: But you still don't have respect for people making the other
BM: It depends. It depends on who it was. I have no respect for
fucking Sean Penn going to Iraq. C'mon, the guy just was in a movie
where he played a retard. And everyone was like "you were a great
retard." This was our ambassador to Iraq? He was convincing when he was
MU: "De Men Of Stein" is obviously about Rammstein.
BM: That song isn't about Rammstein at all.
MU: But is the chorus - when you put the two vocals parts together -
essentially just saying "Rammstein" over and over?
BM: Rammstein is a place in Germany where a bunch of people were burned
to death, an airfield or like a battlefield where people were killed at
an airshow. That's were they got the name. The song's not about them at
all, it's about techno music, because techno music is fascist.
MU: Are you taking great pains to make sure that you are saying that the
song is not about Rammstein for some reason? It seems like you are
mincing words, which is out of character for you, Billy.
BM: I'm not mincing words. I'm telling you exactly what I said from the
fucking beginning. It's a parody. There's points of reference that give
the songs more legitimacy. But, without a doubt, Rammstein
themselves are very militant-acting, and very fascist militant looking,
and like that whole music scene.
MU: And you're not making a comment about Rammstein themselves so much
as you are using them as a point of reference to make a comment about a
music scene and world politics?
BM: Exactly. I'm not saying anything about Rammstein, I'm just using
them as a point of reference for that music scene.
MU: "Get Ready" is the perfect parody of a Kiss song. You totally sound
like Gene Simmons.
BM: You really think I sound like Gene Simmons? Everyone says I do. I
tried my best.
MU: You totally do. And the lyrics are hilarious. "When I hit the
stage, the place is packed. There's nowhere to sit!" Is that really
what Kiss lyrics devolve to at the end of the day?
BM: Well I was never a Kiss fan. I became a Kiss fan as a result of
that song, because I had to learn how Gene Simmons sang. It made me
really appreciate the simplicity of what they were. Everyone else is
trying to force a message into four bar chords with a chug. I just felt
that their entertainment value, and their sincerity of not being
anything more than an entertainment machine, it drove me to praise them.
The last thing I want to do is to waste record space by paying homage to
someone, but they drove me to appreciate things they really understood
and what's missing from music today is exactly what their philosophy was:
at the end of the day it's all about the fans and entertaining them. And
that's really all that matters.
MU: Do you think that running a recording studio has given you a new
perspective, allowing you to step in and assume different styles of
different types of bands? This record shows a bunch of different
musical takes. It's one thing to pick different bands to make fun of,
it's another to go into the studio and record songs in those bands'
styles. Is working in a studio helpful in that regard?
BM: I have a better understanding as a producer, and an investor in a
studio and as a person who works in a studio, of what it takes to make
something to come to fruition and to give something an identity. You
realize it's not just about guitar tones. There's a lot of little things
that you need to pick up as a producer, and working with bands like
Merauder or Scar Culture as a producer, I think I find a little bit of
what they are here in music. I think I assimilate a little of each band.
MU: Maybe that experience helps you to zone in on the real essence of a
band. You know how a great political cartoonist / satirist can just zero
in and exaggerate the perfect feature that just captures the
essence of someone's face? Maybe that's what guys like you or Weird Al
do in the musical sense. You need to grab on to the essence of the Kiss
sound, or take key features of rap-metal or techno-metal, and exaggerate
them to show them in a satirical light.
BM: A frame of reference - that's what my record's about. I think
that's a at least a part of it. The other side is that deep down inside
all I really want to do is entertain. Not to try to carry the torch or
whatever. Sometimes that shit just pisses me off, just shut up and make
music and have fun.
MU: What do you think of the new Metallica record?
BM: I haven't heard the record, but I can tell you right now that
Metallica is a band that needs to do well. Not for them, they're
millionaires. Metallica needs to do well for legitimate metal. Are they
a legitimate metal band? They're our fucking champions. If it's not
them it's gonna be Limp Bizkit or Linkin Park. They need to sell 10
million albums again, but I'm not too sure they're gonna do it. You see,
the one thing I can say about them is that when you have money, you have
power. And when you have power, the people who used to guide you now
listen to you and start asking you what you want. And when you are a
musician you can't be all, 100% objective, even though you should just
shut up and listen to the man who got you there.
MU: Let's take that one step further. When you have money and power,
people do stop telling you what to do and instead start asking you what
you want. You're right about that. But after a while, you're so
isolated that you're out of touch. Yet your ego is so inflated from
having your ass kissed all of the time. Combine that with the fact that
if you are a metal musician, you kind of got to where you are by bucking
trends, and being a rebel, going against what people around you were
telling you. So after a while you're a jaded out of touch rock star, who
won't even listen to anyone else around you trying to clue you in to the
here and now. 'Cause fuck them, right? You're the fucking
superstar whose ideas everybody loves? Why should you care what people
tell you is the new shit today?
BM: You know what the truth is? This is the truth. You're only as good
as your last record. If this record bombed, that would be fine. It
wouldn't have been the end of Metallica. Look at Aerosmith. They
disappeared for fifteen years before they came back with 'Permanent
Vacation' and then they got huge again. It's not about what you're doing
it's what you're about to do. That's the reality of it. And all they
have to do to be successful is write a 'Garage Days Revisited' of their
own music and come out and crush. And no one will ever say
anything again. 'Cause I mean, the reality. . . I saw Metallica play the
roller rink on route 9 in New Jersey. I watched Metallica open up for
Venom. I watched Metallica grow. I knew all of those guys. I knew
Cliff Burton. These were people I wound up knowing because we were all
struggling in music together. I was obviously more hardcore, but they
were more hardcore relative to what they were doing. But if they were to
come out and do a 'Kill 'Em All' or 'Garage Days Revisited' type of album
- something that raw - they would kill. Fuck everybody. You know what?
Fuck everybody. That's why to me, I wrote the best record I ever did.
'Cause I didn't care. Fuck everybody. I can get a million bad reviews
and everyone can kiss my ass.
MU: I think the album is funny as hell, but it is too short. Take out
all the radio edits and shit and it is really short.
BM: 'Reign in Blood' was twenty minutes. 'Speak English Or Die' was
twenty-one minutes. Fuck 'em. Fuck everybody. Don't buy it.
MU: What do you think of the new Anthrax album?
BM: I don't like it compared to. . . . I don't like any Anthrax album
with John Bush as the singer. The band has been on a steady decline.
MU: What would you do if you were them?
BM: I don't know what I would do. I can't answer that. I would shut
the fuck up and write good music. They spent four years bitching and
moaning that no ones likes their band. And then they wrote the whole
record in the last year.
MU: So you've listened to the record?
BM: I've heard tracks off of it, yes. I'm not a John Bush fan. He's a
nice guy, don't get me wrong. I just don't think his voice is there
MU: Are you and Scott at least on civil terms?
BM: Scott Ian is an interesting guy. He can be really nice around me
but he can be a real dick around other people.
MU: Will you ever do S.O.D. again?
BM: You know what? I'm never doing S.O.D. again. I don't have to. I
never wanted to. I don't have to. Scott Ian begged me to do S.O.D. in
MU: It was fun for the fans.
BM: They should have done it in 1990. They should have done it in 1985.
Whatever. It was fun for the fans. I'm glad they liked it.
MU: Do you have any touring plans for M.O.D.?
BM: It depends. I have a few things in the fire. It really goes like
this. The record is gonna do whatever it's gonna do. The video is gonna
do whatever it is gonna do in terms of helping to sell the record.
MU: The video is gonna do great if it is what it should be - it will be
BM: Let me be honest - it's a crapshoot. It's gonna be a fun video. I
make fun of everyone, including myself. 'Cause I don't take it
seriously anymore. I'll be honest with you, if I took it seriously, I'd
be out promoting my band at every fucking show. I'd be on the Internet
talking about my record. If you go to my website, billymilano.com, I
don't even talk about my record. I don't give a fuck. I like playing
review of M.O.D. 'The Rebel You Love To Hate'
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