Based in Brooklyn, the band's fan base has always been notorious for its loyalty, and the band has always returned the favor. Hundreds of kids nationwide (and not a few men) sport the group's hospital-like logo-cum-warning label. Purged from a recording industry that continues to chase its own tail in search of profits, the band signed to little-known Sanctuary Records, who have made news recently with signings of other unwanted bands like Megadeth. The label is fast becoming something of the Oakland Raiders of metal, forgoing the nu-metal bands of the moment for industry castoffs with solid fan bases.
We believe in what we do, and we're not just gonna stop because someone else wants us to stop. We'll stop when we're done. Know what I mean? We've been lucky enough to find a way to keep this whole thing going without having to deal with major labels and all that big corporate bullshit. Know what I mean?
It's not a bad signing for the label. Not only is the album likely the band's best since their million-selling Urban Discipline, it also features a who's who of guest appearances, featuring friends from bands like Pantera, Slipknot, Cypress Hill and loads of other pals, all of whom usually have retailers seeing dollar signs. They all signed on, it seems, out of a mutual respect for the band, who refuse to change their style no matter what the fad of the moment happens to be, or even when the style that they pretty much helped invent is the style of the moment, albeit almost a decade later. The band -- Evan Seinfeld, bass/vocals; Billy Graziadei, guitar/vocals; Schuler, drums; Leo Curley, guitar -- mixed the aural assault of bands like Agnostic Front with the social commentary and street sensibility of rappers of the time (Public Enemy is a major influence on the band).
Growing up in Brooklyn, the music also provided a safe haven from the drugs and violence around them. It's no coincidence that when some members fell back into drug use, the band's music output was at a decade-long low. After 1992's Urban Discipline went platinum thanks to the punishing single "Punishment," the most played video in the history of MTV's Headbanger's Ball (as well as an all-time favorite of Beavis and Butt-head), the band released their next album, State of the World Address on Warner Bros. Records in '94. It did well, but 1996's Mato Leao tanked commercially, although critical reception was warm. During the band's downtime, singer/bassist Evan Seinfeld, likely the second most popular man with that surname in the city, landed a starring role portraying the prison convict Jaz Hoyt on HBO's hit prison drama OZ. Band members produced demos and recorded Biohazard tracks for future use, and toured when they felt like it. Schuler says the band was never about to change its focus, however.
We invented our own style back in the day, and it's what comes naturally. And it's not about to change anytime soon. We try to paint a picture of reality. Sometimes it's kind of negative, but we choose not to dwell on that negativity, know what I mean? That's life.
Life dealt the band a trump card some time back when the band's latest, Uncivilization, was released on that most notorious of days, September 11, 2001. Schuler says he could see the World Trade Center towers from his roof, and emphasizes the fact that New York City is not as geographically large as people think -- rather, it's concentrated, and as such, the ripple effect of that day's actions took quite a metaphysical toll.
Everybody can see the World Trade Center towers from their roof, you know? It sucks. That day was supposed to be the day we celebrate that record. I woke up, and the first thing I saw were the twin towers getting blown up, you know? It was terrible. It was a horrible, terrible thing to see happen to this city. We had friends there and everything. It was the worst. I didn't even think about that record until that evening, when I thought, "Oh shit, today's the day our record came out." Know what I mean? We had a tour booked for Europe two days later. We decided we would hop the earliest available plane, that we wouldn't let this shit stop our livelihood and what we do, know what I mean? In a way, it was a good release, but in a way I wanted to be home with my family in case anything else happened, know what I mean? Everybody could see the twin towers. When it happened, all I could see was the smoke. I can still see the smoke (in my head).
Not that the band wasn't already used to dealing with obstacles in their path testing their faith, being the sort of cockroaches of the New York hardcore scene. As Schuler says, the band doesn't really ever have any sort of plan of attack other than keep on keeping on, and "keeping it real" in the process. Of course, Dubya has urged us to do the same thing, but nobody has tattoos of him on their arm. Know what I mean?