Taken from: Metal Maniacs Magazine
Interview by: Lia Ciavarella
Transcribed by: Bill Coronel
What Your Parents Never Told You About Drugs
This was transcribed by Bill Coronel from an interview by LIZ CIAVARELLA from Metal Maniacs Magazine.
Why did you decide to release the S.O.D. Speak English Or Live DVD, especially when it hasn't been that long since the Kill Yourself VHS/DVD?Some eventually come around, though, especially with bands like Morbid Angel pulled into the mainstream opening for Pantera and Static-X
One of the things that I've always been aware of as a business person in this industry is that you can't walk away from your past. You should embrace it. When S.O.D. got back together, besides putting out a new record and opening a new relationship with fans, we wanted to acknowledge the old fans. There are still a lot of people who never heard Speak English Or Die. This video was something for us to do to bring awareness to the people out there. There's a ton of kids who think metal started with Korn. It's scary but it's a reality.
I honestly believe there's inherent good about people forgetting these bands. You get to rediscover them or you get reintroduced to them later on. It's hard to be involved in a generation of music and then move on to another one. I'm going through what every musician goes through. If I had done Bigger Than the Devil in 1987, it would have been a huge record. At this point, it was mediocre. I think it did like 200,000 copies worldwide.
That's not just pork rinds and beer, though. Some bands will never see numbers like that.
It's good for any band. Most bands sell 20,000 records and they disappear because the record label doesn't give them enough tour support to go on a bus. They're spoiled. Music today is disposable.
Do you wish more time had been dedicated to S.O.D. in the past?You've always seemed pretty down with the knucklehead crowd. Those knuckleheads, myself included, are all so adoring.
Everyone wants S.O.D. to happen, the problem is we don't have a rock star audience atmosphere [to satisfy certain people]. You don't get other guys from other bands who are anybody coming to see you. No Kid Rock. No Motley Crue to schmooze with. You get the knucklehead crowd, which is what we are. We're knuckleheads.
I know that. I embrace it. We could be bigger. We should be out there working and playing but…
But if S.O.D. were bigger, wouldn't it sorta diminish the cult factor?It's stand-up.
Let's just put it into one simple phrase: I AM S.O.D. End of story. I don't care if S.O.D. sold 10 million records. I'm still gonna play the small clubs. I'm still gonna go out and act like a jerk and make people laugh because that's what it's about. The bottom line is, you can go up on stage and play your music but if you can't captivate the crowd, you're done. I know, deep down inside, and I've been told a hundred times by people, that I'm their favorite frontman to watch. I watch the videos and even I laugh and it takes a lot to make me laugh.
You have to cross the line in life. You either want to be a rock star or you want to be an entertainer. I want to be an entertainer. I couldn't give a fuck about being a rock star. It gets you nowhere at the end of the day.
Will S.O.D. do another record?Why did resurrecting M.O.D. seem like the next step in your career?
Probably. I'm not a sucker. I won't turn it down but I'm not gonna do it unless [we] go out and really fucking tour -- to talk to kids every night, sign autographs, have beer with people.
I realized something about myself. I had my epiphany while I was stoned. I'm fucking nuts. Totally crazy. I admit it. For me to say the kind of shit onstage that I do, to act the way I act, I gotta be insane. I admit it. I'm on drugs. So I started putting this M.O.D. record together and I was thinking, people today wouldn't understand Method Of Destruction but they would understand something new, so I put together a new band called M.O.D. -- Milano's On Drugs. I started writing these really fucked-up songs. They're funny and extremely controversial, more than anything I've ever done. This shit is off the hook! But in a way that I never thought I would ever approach music.
It's a whole new band then?Do you think you've taken yourself seriously in the past?
Yeah. I was watching Weird Al's Behind The Music on VH-1. I watched him talk on how he did his music and how he brought it to people's attention and how he sold it and packaged it. I was just like, "Wow! This fucking guy is doing exactly what I want to do. He's having fun at everyone's expense but he's doing something totally different than everybody else." If you're gonna write funny shit, you might as well not take yourself seriously.
That was my problem for a couple of years. I know I'm a big guy. I know that I can sing heavy and I know that I've written heavy music. But I don't want to go and have to fucking prove every time I go out to play that we're a heavy band. This is about unity. I don't want to deal with that other shit anymore. I want to have fun just as much as that kid in the audience. Weird Al put a bug in my ass! So I started fucking around with songs. The more and more I wrote musically, the more and more I realized what I'm doing is exactly what I should be doing for me at this point in my life. With M.O.D. being Milano's On Drugs, just basically saying, "Hey, I'm so fucked up I should be getting away with everything and I'm going to," I basically opened up a brand new door for myself at 37 years old. I want to have fun and I want to see these kids have fun. These people today, I mean you have 35 bands, they get onstage and they all sound exactly the same. These new bands? I can't tell you the difference between one or the other. It's a fucking joke. That's not what I want. I don't know why I'm doing it. It might not be successful. It may flop, but the bottom line is I'm putting my own personal money as well as my budget into this record. I'm spending the most money I've ever spent in my life to make a record. I'm going for big production. I don't know. I'm on drugs, Liz. Let's face it.
Who are you crucifying this time?Vanilla Ice?
Everyone. I'll give you some examples. I want to acknowledge my peers and people in this industry because they're all full of shit. Case in point: the first song I wrote for this record is a song called "Rage Against the Mac Machine" because I think that band is the biggest bunch of double-tongued hypocrites on the planet. Everyone knows that they're full of shit. I'm so tired of their armchair quarterback politics so I ripped them a new asshole. "Wigger" is about these new fucking white rap motherfuckers like Eminem and Kid Rock. I just can't take it anymore and believe it or not, Vanilla Ice wants to sing on it with me because I just sang on his new record.
I met him in Texas. I wrote a song specifically about being anti-rockrap and it's called "Back Not Black" [obviously after AC/DC's "Back In Black"]. A lot of these guys are coming back to the scene and they switch their image. I'm against white people rapping, especially metal bands because it steals the identity of people who have rap as heir signature thing. I think it's ridiculous. Another song is called "Ready To Rock" about KISS.
You're ripping KISS?Do you fear lawsuits?
I think they're a fucking joke too. They're a shadow of who they were. I just wrote a song about a certain electronic techno shit band from Germany because they're ridiculous. I listen to their music and it sounds like it could be in a gay techno movie. I just don't like the band. [Note: Milano didn't want the band's name mentioned in this interview - but if you're slick you know who they are]. Whoever helped them sell records in America should be shot. It's called "Ram The Men Of Stein." It's a mythological story about a techno band that comes into its own with the goal to fuck men.
Let them sue me. The only one who may have a chance is AC/DC if they choose to pursue it. All I'm really saying is fuck raprock. Go for traditional rock. It's a parody of their song. It's a totally for-real song which is where the Weird Al thing sorta comes in. AC/DC has stolen their own riffs a million times. Are they gonna sue themselves? Those guys haven't written an original riff in eight records. Every riff is the same.
Iron Maiden wasn't smiling when Bigger Than The Devil came out [the cover art is a parody of the Number Of The Beast cover].They took that seriously?
Yeah. Their lawyer called us. I was in Germany with Scott. We had just done an interview a week before in Kerrang! They were doing the story for the following week. They asked us about what we thought Iron Maiden's reaction to the cover would be because we stole the idea from Number Of The Beast and Scott said something to the effect of, "Well, hopefully they'll take it as a sign of respect." I said, "Look, if they don't like it, we'll kick their fucking asses."
Of course they did. They're English. Next thing I know, I'm still in Germany and eight days later we get a phone call from the manager of Iron Maiden and his conversation was about us stealing the album cover and all that. We totally redid that cover. We couldn't get sued. We ended the conversation with something like [in a Milano-mode English accent], "And you tell Billy if he wants to come to England to kick our asses, we'll be waiting." It got exactly the kind of response we were looking for. The English press doesn't write about metal unless you have some controversy behind it. I'm not worried about anything. I know the record is gonna invoke some people to pan it, make fun of it, say it's a joke.
The PC people of the world are gonna be all over you.Are you planning to be picked on?
They'll be people who are gonna be against what I'm saying. I have a very hard stance. I don't go with anything that's "politically correct." Fuck "politically correct." I have my own point of view and if people don't like it they can kiss my fucking ass. That's what this country's about.
Yeah. There are definitely some politically incorrect things. "Back Not Black" will probably start some shit. But I'm not saying "black" in terms of skin color but [rather] in terms of product! [Hip hop] is an African American product. Let's be realistic. It's their music. I personally don't think that it should be exploited. There's gonna be people who think that's racist, which couldn't be further from the truth. I know people are gonna analyze what I say and how I say it but at the end of the day I think that people are gonna hear the new record I'm doing and be impressed on how I pull it off. If it comes out like how I think it will, I think people are gonna love it. There's still hardcore in it because I've always been hardcore, more so than metal, but, in all honesty, I think it will be accessible to a broader crowd this time.
You pride yourself on controversy. Has there even been a time when you stopped yourself for a second and said, "Well, this may be going too far?"There's so many Korn clones. I can't think of any Billy Milano clones.
Why should I? You wanna know why? Most people are a bunch of gutless pussies. You have to be able to throw caution to the wind. That's the difference between me and everyone else. Look at Korn. They sold millions but where are they? On hiatus? S.O.D. sold one million supposedly but, bottom line, I haven't done anything spectacular musically, yet people still talk to me because I invoke a certain amount of retort from people. Just something to talk about. I take issues to the forefront. I take a side of things that everyone is afraid to take and that's the thing. Most people have the same opinion as me. Don't kid yourself. The problem is that no one has my balls. I refuse to change. I'll be the guy people talk about, not Korn. Here I am, 15 years later and people are still talking about me.
When you start using other people's opinions to use as your podium, it always comes back and bites you in the ass. I would rather have a million people hate me than no one know me. Everyone knows who I am. I have an opinion and it's valid. Because you may not agree with it does not negate it. That's what America is about. That's what freedom of speech is about and that's what art is about. Art is about our interpretation of whatever you're feeling at the moment. You don't like it? Tough shit. People looked at Picasso's work and said, "This is shit." Look at Salvador Dali. They said he was shit too but now everyone loves him. Why? Because they're a bunch of Johnny-Come-Latelies. I say shit before it happens. I say, "Hey, guess what? Fuck the Middle East." I was right! Now Howard Stern plays a "Fuck The Middle East" song! Visionaries, we never get the money but we get the props.
Who is in the new M.O.D.?Do they think you're a crackhead when you tell 'em your ideas?
M.O.D. has always been about bringing new people into the mix. It's always been about giving an unsigned band entry. I basically do it myself. This time I brought some good friends into this. It's not the old M.O.D. It's a brand new band called Milano's On Drugs. I have to stress that every time. Joe Affe [Maximum Penalty] is on guitar. A good friend of mine from Hoboken is drumming because I'm at that point in my life where I just want to jam with my friends. The guy's one of the most brutal fusion metal drummers ever! I may play bass. There's still a couple of people I'm talking to including producers.
One guy just said, "I don't understand, dude." I played him "Wigger."
Your pants are falling down
Could you find them any bigger?
Most understand where I'm going with it. There's gonna be hardcore grooves in the pocket. I'm going for the whole façade of what music is but I'm writing it my way to piss everyone off. Even a Led Zeppelin fan will get into it.What happened to the M.O.D. tour this summer? It was cancelled before it ever hit New York.
A myriad of things happened. Unfortunately, during the tour, I had several problems with the bus. We had no AC on the bus in the middle of the desert. It started blowing heat instead of AC so we all got super sick. Then the promoters were told by the booking agent supposedly to have a $15 ticket so they were trying to bank on the shows thinking it would be my last tour. It was supposed to be "all ages" shows but half the shows I played were like 18+" and the tickets were $15. Who the fuck wants to pay that much to see us? I wouldn't pay that much to see fucking Metallica let alone M.O.D. It should be $8, $10, and $12, which is what we discussed. Apparently, my word wasn't enough. I got so sick. Eight weeks later I still have bronchitis. I'm drowning in my fucking lungs and there were members in the band I wasn't totally happy with. It just made it that much easier to postpone the rest of the tour. I'll reschedule but I'm gonna be book it the way it was supposed to have been booked.
What were the crowds like for the shows you did play?What else lies ahead on the Milano agenda?
I'll be honest, they were small. Everyone complained about money. Fifteen dollars per ticket is a lot. I was doing this tour for one simple reason: two of the guys I went on tour with -- I won't mention names because I don't want to -- I wanted to get to know these guys before I worked with them and I didn't like one of them. He just ruined the vibe. The promoters did nothing. All they were caring about was their bar, not the band and it showed. The crowds were small but we were effective, had a great time, and most importantly, I discovered what I wanted to do and who I wanted to do it with.
My big thing coming up is that I'm putting together my own festival. We originally went out and did S.O.D.'s The Killith Fair which was a good success for a band that never toured. I'm putting together a package with two Nuclear Blast bands and two Century Media bands which will allow people to get into a more diverse cross section of music. When S.O.D. first toured, we came out with Crowbar and Skinlab. It was three entirely different bands. It brought people out. People don't want to come out and see three bands that sound exactly the fucking same. I wanna hear three distinct styles of music. I want to bring a cross section out on the road as a package. Something cheap, $12 tickets, meet and greets, all ages…
Tell our reader about Brand X.Do you ever sleep?
Brand X is my management company. I'm only working one band right now because I've been concentrating on doing the tour and production for M.O.D. We manage a band called Super Jack from Atlanta. The other thing is Buzzard Production, named after my cat. I produced the Scar Culture record for Century Media which in turn got me the Merauder record. I've produced a mess of smaller bands, more underground stuff like New Society of Anarchists from Milwaukee and I have a few more bands talking to me right now.
One of the reasons I'm still around in music after being involved in it since 1979, which is a lot longer than most people, is because I've been able to work in multi facets of my industry. There's a lot of facets in this industry and most people get stuck in one or choose to work harder in one. I choose to do several. It keeps it fresh and it keeps it palatable. The music industry sucks. Everyone knows it. Everyone is full of shit. I may be the only person who's not full of shit which is the scariest fucking thing. They all got their own agenda and it's something I find difficult to assimilate. I refuse to be a part of that. By going out and doing what I choose to do in music, it just keeps my perspective focused.
What would you be doing if you weren't involved in the music industry?Tell me about Thrash Of The Titans [Chuck Billy benefit show].
I'd probably be working for a loan shark somewhere breaking legs - which is not something that I haven't done mind you [laughing]. My problem is, it's a lifestyle I don't want to embrace. This industry chews you up and spits you out. As fast as you get success, you lose it.
I'm not gonna mention this in detail but I got into a fight in Los Angeles [at the 2000 November To Dismember fest] and got sent to jail. The kid who said I didn't start the fight was Chuck Billy's kid. I didn't know this kid. He was my witness. A 13-year-old-kid! I felt indebted to Chuck. He has a young kid and he's got more responsibilities and more to live for than I do. So when I got a call from Debbie Abono [Abono Management - Obituary, Skinlab, Exodus, Possessed, Vio-lence, Forbidden and Cynic] that Chuck was sick and there would be a benefit and they were looking for my number to see if S.O.D. would do it, I immediately called Chuck and said, "Dude, you can count on me." Believe me, when I say that I live up to it. I volunteered to MC the gig because I felt that personally, I didn't want the reason we were coming together for this to get overlooked. I didn't want kids going, "Where's the next band?" It wasn't about music. It was about spiritual support. It came down to me getting up on stage and making people laugh for eight hours.
It turned out to be one of the most important metal events this year - not only because of what it was for but because of the bands it brought to the stage - bands many kids have never seen because they were too young to go to shows when they discovered them.
I wanted to be a part of that more than just playing. That signified an important era of music coming to a close. Thrash metal is gone. All the bands who played, played for a reason. Not just give a good hop and holler for Chuck but to say goodbye. It went down in a ball of flames [thrash metal]. Thrash was something that was huge. Now it's nothing. These bands said good-bye. At least that's how I feel. I went off that stage with S.O.D. knowing full well that if I never played with that band again, we went out the right way.
Did it have that sort of concluding vibe to it?
Absolutely, but most people didn't notice because they were too busy sitting backstage -- every one of those bands was like, "Oh we should try to get a record deal. We should start rehearsing more." I was like, "Dude, you should have thought about that 10 years ago when people wanted it. Now no one gives a fuck." This was the final gasp of air before it died. It let me say to myself, "Okay, everything you do from this moment on has to be new." It doesn't necessarily have to be new jack like some of these bands I hate. It's gotta be something new for me where people will say, "There he is. There he goes again." Underneath the icing; the cake is always the same.
This interview was transcribed by Bill Coronel from an interview by LIZ CIAVARELLA for METAL MANIACS MAGAZINE (March 2002) called 'What Your Parents Never Told You About Drugs'.