“Billy Milano, a voracious reader, avid cook and a Proud and Loud Republican, inadvertently resurrected his hardcore punk rock band in a time when he needed it most. You’d be mistaken to assume anything when it comes to Billy Milano. For M.O.D. and their new album, which finds the band returning to original label home Megaforce Records after two decades, there was no pre-determined mission. At all.
It was born of love.”
Working from the Nest is great, I love it. I probably don’t need to tell you though, it would be a redundancy that just subtracts from the beef of the wordcount. I want to talk about what isn’t great for a sec. What isn’t great is when you think you have a Skype call and it turns out to be a video conference call. With a legend. Annnnd you’re in your robe that on a webcam, looks like a prison garment (damn you Betsy Johnson and your black and white, horizontal stripe trend, damn you!!). Pretty certain my whole look would have definitely seen a speaking role in Orange Is The New Black new season.
As I tried not to look so homo-prisoner by smiling, it occurred to me that I didn’t really (honestly) care what the person on the other end of the connection thought. I wasn’t embarrassed that I wasn’t made up, hair done, and clothed. I was just doing me and being me, not trying to be someone or something I am not. I liked that revelation that I had at the start of my 30 minutes with Billy Milano of M.O.D. and I think that it is apropos that it came during an interview with an icon in music that has never been anything but himself.
METHOD OF DESTRUCTION OR M.O.D. rolled on to the New York punk scene in 1986 with singer BILLY MILANO from STORMTROOPERS OF DEATH (S.O.D.) and original members TIM McMURTRIE (guitar), KEN BALLONE (bass) and KEITH DAVIS (drums). The band saw their first studio record U.S.A. for M.O.D. drop (produced by Scott Ian of Anthrax/Alex Perialas and came out under Megaforce Records).. M.O.D. has been an active band (less a brief break from ‘97 to ‘03) or should I say relevant band for 31 years with Billy at the helm of maintaining their mark.
Now it’s just the opinion of little me on Billy being the factor of why M.O.D. remains relevant to the history of American punk, but I’m no expert. I’m sure that there are tons of experts that can site facts and draw graphs, quote dates and provide evidence to my observation. I don’t have a PhD in music history and I damn sure can’t say that I know all there is to know about punk and the origin here in the US. I know what I’ve seen on VH1’s Behind the Music or in music documentaries. But the basis for my opinion on Billy, is based on mere gut feelings and the simple truth that here I was talking to Billy about M.O.D.’s upcoming release of “Busted, Broke and American”. The need to scribble in filler and bullshit isn’t necessary.
And after meeting Billy through the magic of the www (and a tiny sorceress, I’m certain) that gut feeling became more substantial. This is a vivacious, funny, outspoken and intelligent man that uses music to convey what he finds offensive in the world and as a result, spawns seeds of thought in those that hear it. Couple that with his work in S.O.D. that created a subgenre of punk/metal music referred to as Thrashcore and you have a bonafide icon of music history my Lovelies. Bonafide. Straight up.
Cherri: What made you move down to Texas, Austin specifically back in ‘04?
Billy: I moved to Austin back in 2004 and I love it. The cost of living is better, it’s beautiful down here. And my grandkids are here and I get to see them everyday. I love being a Grandpa.
Cherri: Texas is great. I’m glad you got here when you did! Austin is a perfect little place, isn’t it? I’m based in Dallas but love to visit Austin. Your bio says that there weren’t any intentions with this record, what came out came out. Tell me a little more…
Billy: I wrote everything, all of it while being with Buster. I played the guitar and felt feelings about the fakeness of the music industry and the bullshit of living these lives that are just lies. It all just happened and after Buster died I realized that I’d just written a kick ass bunch of songs for [an album], but didn’t set out to do this, you know? It just fell into place.
Cherri: Do you think that is because of our age? I relate to what you’re saying so much within myself. When we’re younger there’s this push or force to do this or that. So I spun my wheels in this tarpit, it seemed. Trying to control everything. Now I’m older and find if I just let it go everything falls into place. I don’t have to manipulate the outcomes to make anyone, including me happy. Is this a form of surrendering to being old and out of touch? (laughs)
Billy: I find the facts are that I just did what I did and didn’t look for an outcome. I think the truth is that…(pauses)…I’ve turned into my dad. But I’m not different than I was then. I still believe the same things, in the same things. After Buster died, I just did things, better maybe. Or angry. I just didn’t give a shit, didn’t have any plans to release this record and then stuff just happened and what do you know, here we are. I just stopped trying to do [expect] things and just did what I needed to do for myself, what I wanted.
Cherri: There’s something about that saying “the truth will set you free”. It does, doesn’t it. Take out all the what if’s that make our thoughts and our mind be off centered, or always trying to change what IS. If I just concentrate on the facts it’s easier to be present because I’m not trying to change something that has already happened!
Billy: It’s like these Bernie Sanders kids, young adults that have $60k and more debt from a fucking piece of paper on an education you can’t apply. What the fuck are you going to do going into the workplace with a fucking degree – “Can I help you sir? Welcome to McDonald’s”. As much as it’s funny, I talk about it in “Busted, Broke and American” I say “why the fuck did you get a degree, all you’re going to do is make my coffee, push the button and fill my fucking cup”. The song is about going out and enjoying your life and these people in a segment of our society that is burning with defiance. And now they go into society with an education and a degree “I have a degree in liberal arts”, says these people. Well good for you, I say back. Take the fucking whip cream off my coffee and re do it”. There is a false illusion in this country. And that is a problem.
Cherri: I guess it is age and maybe all of that stuff from when we were kids and now that we are here, half done we just accept ourselves and are comfortable in our own skin.
Billy: I go to shows now and they ask me, ‘Sir, would you like earplugs?’ – like I’m some kind of Grandpa or something. Truth is, I’ve got a beard, tattoos and gray hair and I AM a grandpa. I wake up every morning and love that I am a Grandpa.
Cherri: How in the hell are you from New York, the Bronx no doubt and are a Republican? (we both kinda laugh – not ha ha funny, but maybe out of understanding before the answer came out.)
Billy: It’s not that I became this or that. It’s what I think. It isn’t about politics it’s me and what I know to be right. I have a very broad sense of what the government should be or has a specific role. I think the social engineering that they’re doing is inherently dangerous, it’s ill conceived and the people who are receptive to it are ill conceived children. I’m fiscally conservative but responsible for other things. I still say, 4 year terms? 8 years of Reagan, 8 years of Bush, Clinton and Obama – all of those people sucked. Jimmy Carter was the best President we’ve had. Jimmy Carter stopped being President one day and became a community leader and built homes for the homeless, what more do you need to know? Lead by example.
Cherri: Austin has done great things for the homeless population. Are you involved or how do you see the strides made there – could they work nationally?
Billy: Let me put it to you this way. As a person that grew up in the punk rock music scene, I learned that a spot can be a very friendly place. I lost everything in a fire, I realized that a little room that was 13 ft long and 7 ft wide, that little room was a godsend. Living in the basement was good enough for me. I know what it’s like to be destitute. This is what I say to people scream that they love Obama. I say, you’re talking about a guy you say was a community activist and he gave 12 trillion to the Jew banks (I can say Jew because I’m of Hebrew descent and I’m not afraid to say it) – and he gave zero to humanitarian causes. I remember a day in 8 years him or Clinton or Bush Jr, 24 years where anyone of those son of a bitches came on the TV and said “What’s wrong with you people? There are people that are hungry here! Let’s figure something out!” These people are fucking soulless! I don’t understand what they’re leaning on. And these homeless people in our country, we have something like 3 million homeless people in America. This is something that is now tragic and a disgrace to an American legacy, that we would turn our back on our elderly and our homeless. This is a political discussion one that could go on for hours, but we’re almost out of time.
Cherri: Ya, I feel ya and I could talk for hours about the state of our country and how unsatisfied we all are and don’t get it. That’s why music is so important to me so that people can get out what they want to say, or feel – even if it’s in a mosh pit. Didn’t you used to go by Sgt Mosh at one time?
Billy: Well, Sgt Mosh was from the S.O.D. records – a character or a guy portrayed. They called me Mosh because I’d go into the pit. The word Mosh a lot of people don’t know where it comes from. We’d say “let’s go in the pit and mosh it up” like mash and mosh…the sound kind of the same but Mosh came from [the name of] a road going up from New York state called the Mosholu Parkway. That’s the road we took. The real nickname came from the singer of the punk band, Murphy’s Law – I was always eating Milano cookies and drinking cold milk and all my skinhead friends would be like “there’s milk and cookies” – and he said “every time I see you, you’re eating those godam milano cookies. That’s what your name is now, Billy Milano.”
Cherri: I don’t know what it is, but I love those cookies in that bag! They stay so fresh!
And just as it began, it was over. I think back while transcribing the interview and listening to Billy have such passion and fervor for things that he loves and believes in. I can see where this record for him did really, just happen out of a place that was created – he created years ago. How it manifested itself now, is from a place of love. Love of his family, where he came up from, his country and his own skin. Love of life – even the things that piss him off – piss us all off, really. This is where the passion comes from, these places. Ya know what I’m saying?
“Busted, Broke and American” drops on July 7th, 2017. (Megaforce Records)