An Interview with Mike Gallo of Agnostic Front

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One of NYC’s finest Hardcore bands makes an appearance this week, with Mike Gallo, the bassist of OG Hardcore band Agnostic Front paying us a visit. Agnostic Front have been around since the early 80s and in 2019, they released their most recent record which is titled Get Loud! and it is truly on par with the rest of their stellar catalog. It’s awesome to see that the Hardcore scene is a vibrant and punishing as ever. In regards to their latest album, it’s an absolute fire follow-up to their previous record, The American Dream Died. The band is really on a roll and I believe in time, this new album will be looked back upon as yet another classic within the genre. With all that being said, if you would like to learn more about Agnostic Front, head over to their website here and dive in. You can also check out Mike’s site, Gallo Originals, here. Once you’ve done that, give this interview with Mike Gallo a read. Enjoy.

Andrew:
Mike, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. It’s been some year, hasn’t it? What have you been doing to pass the time?

Mike:
I think it’s safe to say that this is the most fucked up year I have experience in my 46 years of existence. But I’m sure everyone else feels the same. So, to keep myself busy as well as my mind, I built an art studio in my backyard. It is an extension off of my old shed. I had lost my studio in the house and actually had no choice but to do this. It’s really amazing, just hard to work in the winter because of the cold weather. Not sure when we will be back on the road with the band, so the art has been my main source of income. Also trying to put together some new songs. 

Andrew:
Tell us a bit about your backstory. What are your musical origins so to speak?

Mike:
I come from a family of musicians. My dad played keyboards and sang, and my mother played piano. My older cousin Steve got me into metal at a very early age, I’d say around 8 or 9 years old. So, you could say I was the youngest metalhead in the school or maybe the only one. Music has always been the core of my existence. It’s definitely made me who I am today. 

Andrew:
As a musician, who were some of your earliest and most important influences?

Mike:
First Rock band I got into was KISS, then Black Sabbath, Ozzy, Maiden, Metallica. Those were my main influences as a child, before I discovered Punk and Hardcore. Cliff Burton on bass was a huge influence and I’ll never forget the day he left us. My parents were big influences as well. My mom was a housewife; she would always be blasting all kinds of music from Zeppelin to Motown. This helped keep my open minded to all different styles. 

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Image Credit: Michael J. Fajardo

Andrew:
You’ve been the bassist for Agnostic Front since 2001, right? How did you end up with the gig?

Mike:
I joined the band in 2001, in early March, and started practicing with them. Rob Kabulla, who I was playing bass with them at the time, approached me at the L’Amour’s in Brooklyn and I asked if I was interested in playing with Agnostic Front and taking his place. Could not believe it; he said that I seemed like a good fit and my heart was in the right place. There was a tryout with one guy who is a lot better than me, but they seemed to take a liking to me, and 20 years later, I’m still here!

Andrew:
In your time with the band, Agnostic Front has put our six records. How proud of those albums are you? How do you feel they compare with the early albums from the 80s?

Mike:
I’m very proud and honored to actually be able to contribute to making those records. We put a lot of heart and soul into making them, and I believe each record has a unique sound to it. Over the years of Agnostic Front’s existence, they have always changed it up a little bit to keep it fresh, but never stray too far from their sound. I believe this keeps our fans interested and excited four our new releases. It’s hard to compare them to the classics because that’s what made the band who they are, but I strongly believe that we are still pulling out great songs and music for our die-hard fans and new ones as well. 

Andrew:
Agnostic Front’s latest album, Get Loud! was released in 2019. With all this down time, can we hope for a new record soon?

Mike:
It’s a shame because a few months after we dropped this record, COVID hit, and we did not get a chance to go on tour and promote the record. So, right now we are currently working on new songs, but I’m not sure when we will do a full record again. We’re just gonna have to see how long this lasts, so we can get back out on the road and play these new songs.

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Andrew:
Let’s talk about the state of the scene a bit. The Hardcore scene, especially in New York, is pretty special. How do you feel it’s evolved over the years? How has it progressed since the early days?

Mike:
Since I’ve been involved with the scene, I’ve noticed a lot of ups and downs. I remember it exploding in the mid 90s and I’d say that lasted for a good 10 years. Then it seem to die down a little bit, then maybe have a small come back, and now I feel it’s back down to the real core audience. It’s an underground scene for a reason; I believe we like it like that. I remember seeing Hardcore shirts being sold at the mall and thinking that was weird. But that was just a trend for some kids for a little while, as the real ones remain and keep it as strong as it still is today. Of course, COVID has made things impossible for live music, so it will be interesting to see what happens in the next few years. 

Andrew:
What’s the state of the music business these days? In your opinion, what needs to change?

Mike:
It’s hard to really say right now with everything going on, to be honest. But one thing I don’t like is the fact that Live Nation is taking over everything. So, basically that means it’s just turning into big business, and I feel like we need more DIY promoters and shows that will help keep the underground scene thriving, as well as independent labels. One thing I do like is I see a lot of young bands just doing it themselves, because with social media, it’s easier to promote. So, that’s cool. 

Andrew:
What lead you to pick up the bass as an instrument as opposed to the guitar or drums?

Mike;
When I was a kid, I wanted to play guitar, so I asked my dad, and he gave me the best advice that anyone could ever give me. He said that guitar players are a dime a dozen and every band needs a good bass player. So, if it wasn’t for that advice, I’m not sure if I would be playing music today. I always thank my dad for pushing me in that direction. The bass is the most underrated instrument; people don’t realize how important it is and how empty the band would sound without it. 

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Andrew:
Are you into vinyl? Tapes? CDs? Or are you all digital now? Where do you like to shop for music?

Mike;
With technology, I’d have to say that I’ve gotten a little lazy. So nowadays, I just use Spotify or Apple Music. I know it’s pretty lame, especially considering that I actually collect old radios. I don’t have a working turntable. I do have some vinyl and I collected over the years but most of my music right now is in MP3 form. 

Andrew:
Once COVID-19 is finished with us, what’s next for Agnostic Front?

Mike:
We would love to get back out on the road to support the new record and to see our friends worldwide. 

Andrew:
Last question. What advice would you have for young musicians just starting out?

Mike:
If your heart’s really in it and you love music as much as I do, you just have to keep practicing and never give up. Follow your dreams and what you believe in because you create your own destiny. It’s up to you and no one else. Be as creative as possible and remember- you don’t have to be the best musician to write a good song. It comes from the heart, not your fingers. Believe it. Be about it 100 percent, and you will succeed! 

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Interested in diving deeper into the work of Agnostic Front? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interview

Published by Andrew Daly

Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, Andrew has always loved writing and collecting physical music. Present-day, Andrew is proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict for fellow music addicts. Andrew lives on Long Island and works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer Music website by night.

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