Interview: Billy Graziadei “There’s enough grime in every city, sometimes even the richest areas have the worst crimes.”

Billy Graziadei is synonymous with bringing a whole new kind of heavy to the masses.  His work with Biohazard is legendary and more recently he has once again been a part of something new and fresh with Powerflo. This time though it’s personal as Billy talks to Gary Trueman about his new solo project Billy Bio.  Up for discussion are the weighty subjects of city changing street crime and being a caring father.

With your involvement in Biohazard and Powerflo already what prompted you to decide now was the time to put out a solo album?

“I love being in a band, touring, playing my music with my bands! In a lot of ways, I’ve always been a solo art in a sense. A painter doesn’t create his work of art, hang it on the wall then invite friends over to change the colours or erase certain features. For me, I love being able to take what’s inside of me and hang it on the wall for the world to see, take away from it what they want. This for me is 100% pure and that’s what BILLYBIO is. A direct line into my soul.”

Did you find the process of being in absolute control of the material a blessing or did you miss collaborating with other band members?

“I’ve always created my work from scratch, I play everything so when I hand my band members songs, it’s a complete idea, that’s how I prefer to work as I’ve gotten more fluent in being able to communicate what I have brewing inside of me.”

Being a solo project obviously makes it a much more personal thing to you.  Was it like starting again in a way?  And was making the record a cathartic process?

“I’ve always loved the process of creating something then sharing it with people who have no idea what you are doing. This last tour with Life of Agony was like the first tour Biohazard did with Mucky Pup. There was no music out, no press, no one had any idea what we would sound like. For the first few songs there were a lot of puzzled looks on people’s faces. After a few songs, the heads started to bob, then by the end of the show, they were sold. I love that process, takes a lot of balls but I love it.”

Have you got any plans to tour as Billy Bio either in the US or over in the UK and Europe?

“Of course, I’m back on tour in the US in a few weeks then heading back to Europe in the winter, a UK stint is a MUST!”

You’ve always wanted to sing about urban life, street life, and have been keen to promote tolerance and social harmony.  How has the move away from your origins to California affected what you see in people and society in general?

“The internet has made the world a lot smaller, in the early Biohazard days, my home life in Brooklyn was a huge influence on me and my music. As I’ve grown as a person and become more aware of the world around me, through travelling, reading, talking with people, the world what goes on in our lives, continue to influence me and my music. So I’d have to say living in LA, while fires burn down my city, I’m fine with creating in any environment!”

California and in particular LA has a lot of glamour attached to it but there must also be a dark underbelly too.  Do you feel tuned in to recognising that through your earlier life experiences?

“Hahaa…my studio is located in Compton where I’ve been shot at, in a drive by, and even captured some crack head with a machete trying to murder someone. There’s enough grime in every city, sometimes even the richest areas have the worst crimes!”

You’re a father too so has having children changed any views you had in the early days, also has it reinforced any views?

“Yeah, I care even more. There’s where the intensity comes from on the new ‘Feed the Fire’ release! I used to care about the things I care about now but when you don’t see where your taxes go, you really don’t feel the impact. When my daughter’s school tried to close down the music/art department because of budget cuts, I freaked out and met with the music director. We bonded when she told me she was a Sick of it All fan (but not really a Biohazard fan) hahaha…but we became friends and I developed a program to raise money for the department. The money we raised didn’t fix the budget issue but the awareness we raised and attention we brought to the possibility of loosing the music/art department helped save it!”

What are the things you have learned in life that you feel are the most important things you can pass down to or instil in your own children?

“Stand up for what you believe in and never let anyone oppress you or stop you from doing what you want to do!”

Do you think society has got better or worse since you first started out in music?

“Much worse, the world has gotten worse but as a PMA type of guy, the world is filled with much more good than bad. I believe in the goodness of human kind. For me, that’s the only way to be. I’ve seen some horrible things from humanity, as we all have, but loosing hope doesn’t make the future bright, it enforces a downward spiral. I can’t go out like that. I won’t let the media turn me against my neighbour for believing in something I don’t believe in. Who wants to live in a world where everyone believes in the same thing you do, that would be too boring for me!”

What one law would you like to either repeal or introduce to make where you live a better place to be?

“I think there is too much power in the hands of politicians. There needs to be term limits for congress. Government isn’t the solution to our problems, Government is the problem.”

If you could go back in time and save one person or remove one person from history who would it be and why?

“This is personal and probably not the metal/hardcore answer you wanna hear but I’d have to say my Mother. She helped me fall in love with music and died when I was young.”

Interview by Gary Trueman