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The Rebel You Love To Hate: Kerbyís Exclusive Interview With M.O.D. Mastermind, Billy Milano

By Jeff Kerby, Contributor
Wednesday, June 11, 2003 @ 1:03 PM

Kerby Goes Toe to Toe With Mil

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Itís no secret that Billy Milano doesnít have difficulty expressing his opinions. The problem is that most of the time he comes off as a one dimensional cartoon character straight out of WWF. The press seems more than willing to accommodate this persona and perpetuate it because it generates more interest and sales for their various publications. Itís undeniable that a primary reason people seem to follow Milano is because they believe that heís always set to make some type of outlandish claim whether it be about Anthrax, the war in Iraq or Serj Tankian from System of a Down. In this respect, I was expecting more of the same. What I didnít expect was to find was an individual who actually seemed interested not only in presenting his own views but in gathering information and constantly testing his personal values and beliefs as well. Milanoís interests are varied, and his statements are generally informed and insightful. Even if you find yourself disagreeing with him on certain topics, if seems easier to take when you realize that socially speaking, Billy Milano has the capacity to be an affable, accommodating subjectóthatís part of the picture that isnít presented very often.

Billy Milanoís new project with M.O.D. is entitled The Rebel You Love To Hate, which of course seems to be entirely appropriate considering his history and past. Anyone merely expecting angry, ranting lyrics directed at his detractors will be sadly disappointed. Instead, Milano offers up an album as diverse and varied as any in recent memory. With titles like, ďWigga,Ē ďRage Against the Mac Machine,Ē and ďAss-ghanistan,Ē itís easy to see that M.O.D. is still out to jibe those who are well deserving, but they are doing it with a wit and stylistic diversity that is bound to keep the listener entertained and smiling primarily because this is a clever recordónot because Billy Milano is merely expressing himself in a loud, unimaginative way. He has been known to call this record, ďhis Sgt. PepperĒ and feels as though this collection may be hard for him to surpass. In the end, the success of this album shouldnít be determined by the number of records sold but in how far this record goes to defining Milano as a musician willing to constantly push the boundaries that not only define a given genre but even those that are thought to define himself.

KNAC.COM: The title of the new one is Rebel You Love To Hateógiven that, how much of what you are going to tell me is said primarily for shock value? How much of it is something you actually believe in?
MILANO: You may not believe it, but I have a certain amount of conviction in everything I say. If I didnít, I wouldnít have said it. I believe that everything Iím going to tell you is something I believe.

KNAC.COM: So you wouldnít tell me anything just for the sake of causing a little controversy?
MILANO: No no, let me tell you something, JeffóI donít give a fuck. Iím too tired to care. I donít care what anyone says. Iím allowed to have an opinion like anyone else. Arenít I?

KNAC.COM: Yeah, but doesnít Serj Tankian from System of a Down also have a right to his opinion? The conflict between the two of you has been pretty well publicized.
MILANO: Oh, you mean shit-stain?

KNAC.COM: Yeah, I definitely got the impression that you donít think too highly of him.
MILANO: Actually, I donít think too highly of his timing.

KNAC.COM: Could you be a little more specific?
MILANO: Iíll be very specific. He wrote a letter on September 11th about the oil concerns and the attacks on America and what brought it on. I was like, ďDude, you didnít even offer a fucking apology?Ē He didnít even offer any sympathy or condolences to those involved. He just dropped this bomb like, ďThis is the reason it came about.Ē Do you think this guy knows what this war is about? It isnít about that. It may be partly, but are you going to tell me that anyone really knows? This is just his take on it. Itís his leftist, communist take on it. If you want to express that -- then fine -- but there were probably about ten thousand people who wanted to murder his ass after writing that. Thatís why he issued a recant of it. I have both documents on my website. The bottom line is that I donít agree with his timing. He could have easily released this statement about understanding oil in the Middle East and how it correlates to Middle Eastern policy as America sees it. He could have wrote that letter on September 10th, and I wouldnít have said anything. No, instead he puts out this letter like twenty minutes after the tower gets attacked? Itís just this ignorant, insensitive horseshit written by some ignorant, douchebag millionaire liberal in CaliforniaóI say, ďFuck you.Ē

KNAC.COM: So you didnít have a problem with him having the right to say what he did?
MILANO: No, it was the timing. It isnít like I had a problem with what he was saying because part of it was correct.

KNAC.COM: Which part?
MILANO: That oil is partly the reason for the war. Itís part of why weíre in the Middle East. If it wasnít for oil, we probably wouldnít be in the Middle East or have a presence in the Middle East. We also wouldnít be backing Israel as much as we are. Itís just a simple truth, and I have to say that he is one hundred percent spot on when it comes to that particular part. Itís just that releasing this idiotic statement during this sensitive time that was just ignorant on his behalf. He didnít even have the common sense to wait a couple of months before talking about this. Instead, he just used this as a platform to talk about Armenia. Whatever.

KNAC.COM: What if he would have just said, ďI donít agree with this war. We arenít liberating anyone, and I donít think weíre going to find any weapons of mass destruction there?Ē Thatís not a problem for you on any level?
MILANO: Not at all.

KNAC.COM: Ok, because I donít think that distinction was ever really made in the press. It came off more as a ďSerj is against the war versus Billy who is for the warĒ type of black and white situation.
MILANO: Well, thatís the press for you. My only problem with Serj is his timing, and quite honestly, thatís his faux paux. He brought this on himself. When he and Tom Morello started talking about Bush needing to be brought up on war crimes, Iím like, ďShut the fuck up.Ē If you think Bush is a criminal, and you donít like Americaís policies, then donít stay here. You can leave, thatís part of the beauty of our country. If you have that much conviction that youíre gonna stand up there and fight, youíd better be prepared for the fight. Itís just like Alex Baldwin, he said that if Bush won the election against Gore, he was going to pack up and leave the country. Where is he now? Sitting up in the Hollywood Hills with all of his buddies drinking champagne and eating sushi. Thatís just typical of the liberal, communist, entertainment elitists.

KNAC.COM: So, in your view, they have no credibility because their lifestyle doesnít match up with the rhetoric they spew in public?
MILANO: Yeah, the last thing heís gonna do is give up his gas guzzling Cadillac Escalade that he drives or his Range Rover. Itís one of the biggest gas guzzlers that rolls off the assembly line. He lives it up in California as a rock star. You donít hear stories about them actually going out and doing anything. Wait, there is one thing they doóthis Axis of Justice thing where they try to go and feed the fucking homeless in a public park.

KNAC.COM: Do you think they care at all about the homeless people?
MILANO: This is what I think: if you grow up on the west coast, you have a very liberal mentality, but if you grow up on the east coast, you have a very conservative mentality but itís liberal to a degree. Iím a modern republican. I have many conservative views, but I have one liberal view. That view is, ďIf Iím wrong, teach me where Iím wrong.Ē These guys donít think theyíre ever wrong. Thatís the fucking problemótheyíre elitists.

KNAC.COM: Would you actually tell me that you donít see anything wrong with following a President like George Bush?
MILANO: No, I never said that. I donít believe in it one hundred percent.

KNAC.COM: Yeah, you did say the war was mostly about oil.
MILANO: No, I didnít say that -- I said it was ďpartlyĒ about oil.

KNAC.COM: Ok, but you also said that we wouldnít have a presence there if it wasnít for the oil. Either way, if you donít think that the war is primarily about oil, then whatís it about?
MILANO: I think we have a big problem with terrorism in this world. I donít think we have the intelligence on what some of these Middle Eastern countries are doing. When Saddam went into Kuwait in í91, most people thought it was to gain access to the ports for more oil, but what he really could have been after was the third largest gold depository on Earth. He went into Kuwait and robbed them of eight billion dollars of gold. We found six billion of it. That leaves two billion dollars in gold bullion. What can you do with two billion dollars of gold? Anything you fucking wantóbuy a government, a safe havenÖ or nuclear weapons. Thatís the truth. I daresay that if Saddam Hussein would have said that he wanted to make peace with NATO and become an ally of the US, I guarantee that within two years we would have sold nuclear weapons to him. I believe that.

KNAC.COM: Donít you find that extremely disturbing?
MILANO: Absolutely. Itís one of the hypocrisies that fucking unnerves me. The reality is that someday, one of these guys is going to get nuclear weapons. I know it, you know it, and the whole world knows it. The further along down the line they are able to obtain it, the better off we will be as a country to defend ourselves. We got caught with our pants down on September 11th.

KNAC.COM: Itís important for you to note this because having a multifaceted view isnít exactly what youíve been known for having, whether it be in printed articles or postings on the Internet.
MILANO: Jeff, if I had the opportunity to sit down with every person who read that article and didnít believe in me, they would have a better understanding of what I said.

KNAC.COM: Did you realize during this time that you came off as sort of this redneck, Ted Nugent type of persona?
MILANO: Look, I do believe that Iím a redneck. I donít hate blacks because theyíre black. I hate bad people because theyíre bad people. Rather than talking about finding love and harmony in your heart, maybe some of these people should be fucking capped. Some people never change, so why bother trying to change them? Just shoot them.

KNAC.COM: Speaking of people you might like to shoot, the title track on Rebel You Love to Hate is a track called, ďWigga.Ē Of course, everybody knows somebody like this, but whatís especially horrific about a white guy adopting various aspects of the black culture?
MILANO: Whyís it funny? Well, let me give you this set up. In 1997, when S.O.D. was touring, we were doing the Milwaukee Metalfest. While I was gone, there was a fire, and I was left homeless. I lived in a squat that was a rehearsal room that was six by thirteen. It was about the size of a standard prison cell. I lived in that and worked to pay off debt for about three years to pay off what was owed on my recording studio that burned to the ground that didnít get covered in my insurance. Thatís where I was coming fromóI was in a prison cell, and the only freedom I had came through my mind. During that time, I had two friends who lived up the hall. They were both black, and after September 11th, I realized they were both Muslim. They still are very good friends of mine, but one thing they said to me was that they were concerned about the theft of identity whether itís through rap or hoodlumism or what have you. I just see it as Iím not really making fun of these kids as much as I just see the youth of today being mashed. I think they just see their identity as being neutral. The kids just seem to be looking for an identity, and they see this as one that is acceptable to their peers and the community at large.

KNAC.COM: So you donít see it being any deeper than maybe just a fashion statement and some jargon?
MILANO: Yeah, when I get some seventeen year old kid coming up to me going, ďYo, yo B, wassup?Ē I just think, where did he learn how to say that? Why is he saying that? I donít understand why they are saying that to me.

KNAC.COM: What do they expect your response to be?
MILANO: I donít know, maybe, ďYo G, wassup?Ē Iím the first guy to bust balls, but Iím also the first guy to try to understand as well. I think there is definitely a genuine lack of identity and guidance in society now. MTV has replaced the family preacher, the father, the mother and has become everything. Then, when it looks like maybe weíre starting to break free of that, here comes the Internet, and that replaces everything. Itís just another step away from what we really need in our lives, which is a sense of community and a sense of belonging. Everyone knows itís ridiculous. Címon, people walking around with their ass hanging out? Their pants are so big, you could make three pairs out of them.

KNAC.COM: Yeah, but isnít it stupid for black people to wear them, too? It isnít just the whites who look like Omar the Tentmaker is it?
MILANO: I wouldnít say that itís stupid for black people. Maybe they have a different perspective.

KNAC.COM: But you have to agree that pants were designed to contain oneís ass, and if said ass is intentionally not covered by the pants, then it mostly defeats the purpose of wearing them, right?
MILANO: Well yeah, I donít get it first of all, and I donít understand it. Call me old fashioned, but I like my belt around my waistÖ. not around my thighs. If youíre gonna portray that type of gangster, hoodie lifestyle, then how are you gonna run from the cops in those pants?

KNAC.COM: Maybe you run out of them first? I donít know. Can you explain a little bit about ďGet ReadyĒ which is also on the album? It seems to be definitely KISS-inspired.
MILANO: The whole record has kind of a parody feel, and each song has a different point of reference, yet there is a cohesive thread to the record. There was this song I was playing, and somebody says, ďHey, that sounds like an old KISS song.Ē I was surprised because I never listened to KISS, never bought a KISS record and was never a KISS fan. The only thing I could think of was, ďYeah, their fans must be fucking old. They probably have coffins for them and everything.Ē And then the guy told me that, ďYeah, yeah they do.Ē I was just thinking about how insane and crazy that is. I thought Iíd just write this song making fun of the KISS fans because theyíre old and theyíre dyingóshowing up in wheelchairs. Thatís when my friend told me that I also had to sing it like Gene Simmons in the song. That meant I had to go back and listen to KISS so that Iíd know how to sing the lyrics are come up with the type of lyrics that would be good in this parody type song. At the end of the day, Iím a KISS fan because I like the music. It was simple and entertaining. It was just all about having a good time. How could you not like that?

KNAC.COM: How much do you think these lyrics and music are going to surprise people who think of Billy Milano as this constantly sour guy who talk incessantly about Anthrax?
MILANO: I havenít talked about them in awhile.

KNAC.COM: Yet it seems like there is constantly some quote or story regarding this so called feud.
MILANO: Fuck Ďem. What do you want me to tell you? What color of shoes theyíre going to wear tomorrow?

KNAC.COM: Maybe not me personally, but you do get a sense that people love to talk about it.
MILANO: Well, theyíre sensationalizing it, arenít they?

KNAC.COM: Is this another situation that is similar to the Serj -- one where you are being portrayed in a way by the media that you donít feel is accurate? Is the media portrayal of you different from who you actually are?
MILANO: Thatís funny because what you just did in a microcosmic sense is show what the media is about. Itís about control, and you say that you understand the thing between me and Serj now because you took the time to ask. I personally have been misinterpreted to the point where I donít give a fuck what people think anymore. I canít control the media, and the media canít control me. They can certainly control what they write though. Whether or not they choose to accurately portray the persona of the artist is entirely up to them.

KNAC.COM: Who always wins though?
MILANO: No one wins. The only people who lose are the fans.

KNAC.COM: In what respect? That theyíre getting sold a product that isnít authentic?
MILANO: No, you show me one magazine that is truly unbiased. It comes down to this: If there isnít a story, theyíre gonna make a story. If the myth is bigger than the man, sell the myth.

KNAC.COM: Given that, do you think itís fair to sayóI know you are a fan of Metallicaóbut do you think itís possible that they could come out with the worst album in history, and that those magazines you just mentioned would greet it with glowing reviews because they want something from the band? Maybe itís an interviewómaybe itís a cover that will sell them more copies.
MILANO: There you go, but no journalist is going to give a review of something that he doesnít agree with because itís hard to wear that second hat.

KNAC.COM: Youíre telling me that you really believe that?
MILANO: I honestly do believe that statement, and I will clarify it for you.

KNAC.COM: Please do.
MILANO: I believe that if people truly believe that itís a conflict of interest to portray something that goes against their personal views, that they may compromise to a certain degree. They may not give it a great review, but they will definitely give it a good one. Maybe something like, ďHey, Iím not a fan, but check this outóitís cool.Ē I see that a lot with my band. People werenít expecting this record from me. I think itís a great record, but Iíve got two magazines in Germany saying itís the worst thing theyíve ever heard.

KNAC.COM: Really?
MILANO: Yeah, but they gave the Scorpions best of record 10 out of 10. Címon, youíre giving the Scorpions a perfect score for something they released twenty years ago? Itís a little biased. You know, itís like, donít do the interview with me. Donít even review me next time either. In fact, I told my record label that I didnít even want to deal with them anymore. The thing is, Iíve done a hundred and twenty interviews, and a hundred and twenty people loved the record. Even with that though, I still believe that people can give an unbiased kind of review, but it wonít be written with nearly as much passion as if they believed in it. Thatís fair.

KNAC.COM: I really think youíre giving it the benefit of the doubt. I could totally see a guy lying his ass off in a review if he thought it meant getting a story somewhere down the road.
MILANO: But you could tell me to my face that you love the album, and write it up and have your boss tell you that they arenít gonna print it. Someone may hold your job over your head. Thereís a magazine that I know of in England called Terrorizer, and they put out a thrash special. They had Exodus originally slated for the cover of this issue. The story goes like thisósomeone in Nuclear Blast, and this is my record label--called them and said that if they didnít put Anthrax on the cover that they were pulling all Nuclear Blast, Century Media and Victory Records marketing from your magazine for the next year. Anthrax got the cover. What does that tell you? Iím speaking out against my record label.

KNAC.COM: But itís honest, right?
MILANO: Yeah, there you goówhat a surprise.

(Photos from BillyMilano.com and Danny Lilker's web site.)

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