After three decades of making music, Roger Miret has a passport that's as well-inked as his heavily tatted body. His legend goes back to the late '70s when, after dropping out of high school, he threw himself into the burgeoning New York punk scene. By '81 he'd hooked up with hardcore trailblazers Agnostic Front, and in '84 they released one of the genre's seminal albums, Victim In Pain.
Their fist-in-the-air anthems and incendiary energy were like a boat flare signaling the way for thousands of bands in their wake. A quarter-century later, Miret's passion hasn't slackened, and neither has his fandom. They may be more popular today than ever before, and Miret suspects he knows why.
"The secret to our legacy and longevity is that we're real and genuine and people want to be a part of something real," says the Phoenix-based singer. "Being honest will get you a long ways."
There's no questioning their authenticity. Miret was at ground-zero when hardcore diverged from punk. Only later did it morph from its initial blueprint, codifying what began as a righteous howl of individuality into just another uniform.
"We were talking about non-conformity and suddenly everybody was conforming, and had certain rules and certain looks," Miret recalls. "That's what it became, and I hope all that ridiculous fashion garbage goes away. It was nothing about making labels. It was about originality."
As anyone who's seen Miret perform will attest, the guy's tireless. Currently, he's touring with his sharp side project, Roger Miret & the Disasters, whose sound owes a greater debt to early British punk than the NYC hardcore scene that birthed him.
"Musically it's kind of a collage of all the bands that have influenced me, paying tribute to them," says Miret. "It was this kind of music that gave me the fire to do what I do now. So I'm hoping to inspire people the same way. I borrow bits and pieces from all my influences — the Clash, Stiff Little Fingers, Ramones, Sham 69 to name a few — and then I do my thing."
The Disasters' latest, Gotta Get Up Now, flaunts its revolutionary spirit, from the slashing Mick Jones-style guitars of the marching title track to shout-along paeans to self-actualization like "Stand Up and Fight," "The Enemy," and "We're Gonna Find a Way."
"I speak about old New York, getting into the punk scene and hardcore scene prior to Agnostic Front. That's lyrically where it is, it's like story time from somebody who was actually there," he says.
Miret and his band took a piecemeal recording approach in which songs were put down in several sessions months apart, capturing each batch when they were at their freshest. It's an aesthetic that helps maintain the album's ferocity throughout its 14 tracks.
"I knew the album was really fantastic, and I was a little bit nervous because I had to follow it with an Agnostic Front album," says Miret. "Then I get into the studio with them and it was 'Wow, this is great!' I was on a roll. I'm almost terrified to go back into the studio."