HeartbeatInk Team had the honour of doing an interview with the hardcore veterans Biohazard, just before their epic gig at the Athenian An club last week. The guys are hardcore, unpretending and 100% true. But most of all they are respectful. For the places they visit, the cultures they experience, the audiences and the whole scene.

We discussed about their admiration of Greek culture and the Acropolis (of course) – while helping them “learn” some Greek phrases to share with the gig’s crowd, about the old school Brooklyn - like the one described in their song lyrics - and how the new “hipster” aspect ruined that, the internet in comparison to the “real” live sharing of the music at the old days, as well as about their tattoos, the honour they feel about seeing people having their logo tattooed, and finally about the “brotherhood” loyalty tattoos they all share. Just to remind you that Biohazard’s Billy Graziadei had got tattooed on stage while performing at a gig in Germany a couple of years ago...

Interview by Eirini Katsara.
Photos by Ino Mei.

So, you were at the Acropolis before the interview, what are your impressions?

Danny: We were here about thirteen years ago for another gig but Bobby wasn’t with us, so today we went at the Acropolis, we took pictures of everything and it is amazing that you guys have this ancient archeological monument right in the middle of the city. You know, America is so new. We’ve got some old stuff but it’s all so new, we don’t have anything like that from thousands of years ago. It’s incredible!

Billy: We were all pretty amazed and the fact that we all travel around the world and meet people and have this experience of all those different cultures. Speaking especially of New York, half of it is probably Greek. 

Danny: Most of Queens is Greek. 

Billy: Growing up we had a lot of Greek friends. I also had a Greek girlfriend: Dimitra.

Billy, your bandmates informed us that you try to learn a couple of words in the native language of every country you have a gig. Is that true?

Billy: Yes. That’s because we are very privileged and thankful that we have been traveling around and having visited all these countries, so we are all interested in exploring the culture of each of them: the culture, the food and the beer (laughs). It’s an honor.

You had also been here thirteen years ago. Did last night’s gig at Thessaloniki felt somehow different?

Billy: Who knows what is going to happen in Athens tonight… Last night that we were in Thessaloniki, it was amazing. I don’t remember being as close to what it was last night. So I’m suspecting that tonight it would be equally as impressive.

Danny: Energy, lots of energy. You’re a very energetic audience.

Is it something common that southern European countries share, or is it just us?

Bill: It’s totally Greece that is like that. Greeks have all the power and energy. That’s why you pretty much almost conquered the whole world.

Since you are kind of hardcore’s pioneers, how is the feeling of having influenced so many bands?

Danny: I don’t really think about it that much. I think we were all too busy trying to make our own music and doing our thing that we don’t really talk about that.

Bobby: young bands come to us and say hey we were influenced by you guys and your stuff and we grew up listening to you and of course it’s an honor to be an influence. But when we hear that, we don’t look at ourselves as how much we’ve done, we don’t see ourselves that way. 

You are from Brooklyn, which became something like the “hipster paradise”. How was that change for you since you’ve lived there since the old days? Did that change influence you as a band?

Bobby: You guys know about that even here? That’s pretty fucking embarrassing. Forget that. We don’t even belong there anymore, we don’t fit in, we are like the outsiders. It’s just changed so much in such a short period of time that it’s hardly recognized. Our atmosphere was different at the old Brooklyn. We were influenced by old Brooklyn and the new Brooklyn is something that I don’t know about. There is a lot of shit that contributed to that: stupid TV shows like “Sex and the city” that made all these people just have a flat there and want to do this lifestyle they had an idea about. Of course the economy grew, which is a natural thing to happen, but it’s just that it has changed so much. They came to Brooklyn from Manhattan and they didn’t care about our own culture. Brooklyn has an old culture. And they just walked all over with their own aspect.

What was the original Brooklyn culture then?

Bobby: Strong neighborhood and street culture. 

Danny: We grew up and we learnt everything in the street. This is where we learnt all the rules that we were told. There was a lifestyle and a way of life that was very unique to where we grew up in Brooklyn and a lot of people who grew up there understood that. But it certainly became a way of life. If you grew up in Brooklyn at that time and you weren’t a rich kid, you were a street kid and you learnt everything from all the other kids. Where Bobby and I lived, we were all different kinds of people. We had Greek kids, Jewish kids, Chinese kids, black kids, it was like a mish mash of cultures. But the main thing was a certain street ethic that we lived by. 

Bobby: And territories and a lot of respect. We were taught a lot of respect and that is something, which is totally gone nowadays. The older generations, the older kids and adults who grew up there before, they would show us what it was disrespectful. We had to do the same to the new kids, but new kids are kind of not there… They are at the mobile phones. We were never in the house, we were out there and there was no cable TV, and no internet to settle our experiences down.

Danny: Brooklyn back then for us was the end of the world. We didn’t know what was passed it. 

Bobby: Our dream as a band at first was to play in Manhattan, at the CBGBs.

Danny: There was a whole other world in New York City at that time. The lower east side of Manhattan was a fascinating and incredible place.

Billy: The first time we played in Jersey we were like “oh, this is weird”.

What about New York in general? How was it back then?

Billy: It was better when it was dangerous, when tourists would get robbed (laughs). I remember one time having an interview with a guy from a Canadian TV channel and we were at the Times Square and there was a fight where we were all involved and then all the shit happened: somebody stole the guys camera bag and the camera man freaked out and run away and the we said to the journalist to stay with us and we jumped into the cab back to the club.

Danny: I miss New York the way it was. I don’t know if it was better then, though. 

Bobby: No, it was pretty insane.

Danny: Then, I chose to leave. I don’t live there anymore. 

Bill: But you know, there’s a saying: “you can get out of Brooklyn but you can’t get Brooklyn out of you”. So we will never “leave” Brooklyn. 

Bobby: People stopped respecting their own neighborhoods, they were just destroying their own homes. 

What about the newer bands that came after you? Do they have respect for the old bands?

Danny: Yes there is certainly respect in the underground scene.

Bobby: We always respect all bands. Even when we climbed up and made it to a major label at some point we always tried to hold all the other bands up with us. We have always been trying to stay at the underground and keep it real.

What is your opinion about the effect of internet in that field? 

Billy: It is equally as powerful as it is destructive. 

Bobby: I think the internet is a great thing. When we started we had cassette tapes - ok that’s how old we are - and vinyl records and all this was trading by hand and by real letters. So we did a lot of work to hold our band. When the internet happened, people had myspace and facebook and bands started thinking they were successful because they had a lot of friends there. Like “yo man, we have 30.000 thousands friends” and we’re like “ok, how many gigs have you played?” and they are like, “two”… But for us, there were lots of gigs, because that was our life, we had dedicated everything in playing our music.

Considering the music that you play, do you believe that internet may have helped you reaching major audiences?

Danny: I think it helps anybody. But the cool thing for us is that we have a pre-internet history. So, there is a big giant foundation and I think that it is more difficult for new bands to come out and have a foundation like the one we were lucky enough to have. We made that, with much tears and work, like Bobby just said. Not by some marketing genius that works at an office and generate all these twits and instagrams. If you look at what matters, at how many people come to see us in comparison to how many followers we have on instagram. It just doesn’t matter to us. It has always been about the music and the message, not about how many people like us on facebook. It was like the beginning of MTV videos, which was a new ground. You know what? Beavis and Butthead liked us (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6DWzA9-HWw), and that’s all that matters.

Bobby: we were very lucky because we were focused on doing our own thing. And the influence of all bands and music that we heard was all that there was, and you had to be at the show to see it live. If you weren’t at the show, you’ve totally missed it. You couldn’t go back and watch it on youtube. You had to get those tickets, and go to that concert. There was a different type of enthusiasm in the live music scene. We had many clubs, many gigs, we could go to five different clubs within a week, it didn’t matter who was playing, we just went anywhere in the 90s. And we were influenced by lots of guys; by the way they were playing and the way they were interactive with the crowd. That’s how we learnt to be a band, by making mistakes live in front of people. We didn’t look at who has a lot of numbers and say “ok let’s do it that way”. There was no rule for that.

And what about your tattoos? Did you start getting them when you were young? 

Bobby: Tattoos for us was really “with the band”. Our first tattoos were like loyalty to the band. We all have the loyalty symbol and we started having tattoos when we were travelling on tour. We were in a neighborhood, and said let’s make a tattoo to remember this. Personally, most of my tattoos are like passport stamps, like souvenirs from different places. I also wanted to have one here in Athens but unfortunately I didn't have time. 

Danny: I started getting tattooed very recently. Because everybody around me was getting tattooed and it didn’t feel like I needed to.

Bobby: when we first started getting tattooed, it was illegal in Brooklyn. We had to go down to some guy’s basement. When we went to Japan I had the opportunity to get a tattoo with the stick (ed. tebori) and I was like “wow”. I’ve also got two Maori tattoos in New Zealand, before it was really mainstream. Tattoo then became very popular which is great, since it’s gone to different levels. It’s amazing what these guys - the tattooers - do now: the shades, the colors, the details, the realism that is going on. We never dreamed that tattoo could be that great. Because in the old days, there was only tattoo flashes on the wall. We were in the neighborhood and said I’m going to get a tattoo, you know some simple things like a Jesus head, a tiger, a leprechaun, a dagger, “Brooklyn”, even a playboy bunny. 

Billy: I was always a very timid and scared as a person and I thought that if I made tattoos it would make me look tougher. 


Billy: No (laughs). But I do know someone like that. It’s the same for me like the other guys; we’re brothers from different mothers and all of our tattoos are like tattooed passport stamps.

You all have “brother” tattoos?

Bobby: Yes, we all got the Biohazard symbol. And simple things like that which are common in our band. It’s like a dedication.

Your logo has also been widely tattooed by people. How do you feel about that?

Bobby: Yes, thousands and thousands. Last night someone jumps on stage, a big dude who had our logo tattooed on his stomach. It feels amazing. It’s an honor. 

Billy: When you are at a place that you’ve never been before and someone comes and has made a tattoo of our logo that will carry forever, that is amazing. That is dedicating something forever; their love for you forever. That’s the ultimate support. It means way more than any kind of ego stroking thing. This is unbelievable. It’s one thing when someone buys your record and asks for an autograph, it is always an honor. But tattooing your logo…? That’s a pledge of allegiance to you. That is what we stand for, and they are putting it on their own skin forever.

*While Biohazard were preforming live, Billy said to their Greek audience that they are with us and not to let what we are going through to put us down.


HeartbeatInk Tattoo Magazine would like kindly to thank Dimitris Kiriakidis and Hardtimes Athens for the help and the realisation of the interview and An Club for the hospitality.