"Soundwave? I've never played on a bill as big as that!" - MaF talks to Biohazard's Billy Graziadei.

Biohazard are back and doing it for the love of it, says the amiable New Yorker...

I feel a bit guilty. After wrestling with the instructions to use the marvellous intercontinental phone card that facilitates these trans-national chinwags we know you enjoy reading so much, I finally get through to Biohazard guitarist/vocalist Billy Graziadei to find he’s spending his first day off in aeons having to listen to bozos like me stumbling through their poorly researched and worded questions. Luckily not only is Graziadei a charming interviewee, he’s refreshingly honest too. In response to my apology for invading his free time, he says ‘don’t worry about it . You know if I didn’t like talking about myself I wouldn’t be doing this!”

Formalities and ice breaking dispensed with, its into the questioning. Biohazard hasn’t released an album in seven years – and you’ve already done a fair whack of touring with a lot more on the horizon – can you remember the last time you toured an album this extensively? “You know, even when Biohazard stopped in 2003, I didn’t. I haven’t really stopped at all doing this stuff.  I went to Brazil and did a band called Endrah, then formed a band with Jennifer Arroyo from Kittie (Suicide City). It just went completely the other  way from Biohazard, but we were still getting in a van, playing shows, and then having to find someone’s floor to crash on afterwards!”

So my next question was going to be as to whether you have changed the way you approach touring as you get older. But I’m guessing not? “Like I said, this is what I do. For years I was Billy Biohazard more than I was Billy Graziadei, you know? And then , well, in 2003 when the band broke up it became obvious that I needed to do something else other than Biohazard to put bread on the table. So Biohazard is like a job, you know? You’ve got managers and record companies shouting at you ‘WHERE’S THE HIT SINGLE?’ and all the bullshit. And then you go back to what I was doing in the other bands, where we’re doing it for the love of it, you know? I tell ya, It’s liberating!”

This brings me neatly to the new Biohazard album, Reborn in Defiance, released on Nuclear Blast records last month. I’m interested you mention the word ‘liberating’, because to me the whole record sounds like a band that’s been unshackled. From the moment opener Vengeance is Mine erupts from the speakers I get the sense of a band really, truly, playing the music they want to play. And that’s tremendously exciting for me as a listener and a fan. This statement is met initially with silence. I’m worried I’ve said something wrong. Finally Billy speaks ‘Bro, you’ve hit the nail on the head. When we wrote this album, the manager was saying ‘you’re two weeks late with the album’, and we were like well, we wrote a great song today, and now we’ll start writing another one. And if we don’t it doesn’t matter. The bullshit, the people fucking us around, it can all fuck off, you know? We’ve gone back to making music like we used to do, mixing up all our influences from back in the day, you know? When we were growing up and listening to metal and hardcore -  Agnostic Front and Sick of it All, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, or even the Sugar Hill Gang and Run DMC. That’s what we are, what we’re trying to do. And it feels great!”

It bloody does, and I’m not even involved in the band! It’s very rare that I get excited about an album these days, purely because I listen to so many albums that they need to really grab me by the throat when I hear them first up. The first time I heard Reborn… I was bouncing off the walls! “thank you man, that’s great to hear, and that’s what we were trying to do. It’s great to get that reaction from someone like you!”

You mention that mix of hardcore and metal. I was interested to see on facebook the day before we had this chat that you (or whoever manages your fb page – I don’t know how heavily you involve yourself in the band’s social networking) asked your fans whether they consider the band to be hardcore or metal. Did you see that? Were you interested or surprised by the results? “I did see it yes. It all came from a conversation we were having in the van last night about this. I wasn’t surprised by the answers. A lot of people said they considered us to be a metal band with hardcore roots or whatever, and I guess that’s what people see us as. But it’s… like I say, it’s a mix of what we grew up with.”

I’d like to pursue this topic a bit further, but time is pressing and we still haven’t mentioned the fact that you are coming down to Australia for a run of Soundwave shows – looking forward to it? “Absolutely I am. I’ve never seen anything like it really. At least the bill. I’ve never played on as big a bill as that!”

And again its a big mix of styles, so Billy and his boys in Biohazard should be right at home...