M.O.D.’s Billy Milano – “I Can’t Be A Villain In Music?”
July 6, 2017, a month ago
Love him or hate him, most headbangers probably agree that S.O.D./M.O.D. shouter Billy Milano is a man unafraid to speak his mind and share his opinions - regardless of what others think. And while he does take the subject of politics and the current state of the world very seriously (as evidenced by just about any selection off M.O.D.’s brand new recording, Busted, Broke & American), what usually gets lost in the discussion is that the man also doesn’t take himself all that seriously (S.O.D.’s “Pre-Menstrual Princess Blues”, M.O.D.’s cover of Chicago’s “Colour My World”, etc.). And you also have to give props to Mr. Milano for being one of first chaps bold enough to realize that hardcore and heavy metal could co-exist together back in the ‘80s (S.O.D.’s 1985 classic, Speak English Or Die, is proof of this). Billy spoke with BraveWords correspondent Greg Prato about M.O.D.’s eighth full-length studio album overall, as well as such topics as food, wrestlers, and of course, politics.
BraveWords: What is the story behind the Busted, Broke and American album title?
Billy Milano: “I figured this - I had invested a lot of time personally in my life doing M.O.D. It’s always been a task for me, because I balance so much more in my life, because I’ve always been in business. So, visiting M.O.D. is pretty much my ‘paid vacation.’ The Busted, Broke and American title, I had decided in 2007, when I did Red, White & Screwed - which Megaforce just recently picked up for reissue - I decided that I wanted to do a series of three records to finalize the career, to show the evolution of the band, but to pay homage to the music scene. I’ve also been very vocal politically my whole career, so it’s no surprise that you’re going to hear stuff today that you may be like, ‘Wow,’ but, whatever. But it’s also important to realize that as a human being and as a humanitarian - and I am - I believe in the things that encompass my life.
“Unfortunately, we have this beautiful belief system around us individually as people, and we also have the illusion we have to live in it, because it doesn’t really exist in the long term for everybody. We talk about equality and inequality, and I always have spoken about equality and inequality, but we don’t apply it - we just talk about it. And then they talk about it in the news and in the government, and they spend $500 a day each eating tuna fish sandwiches and drinking on the American tab, arguing about stuff that we should have fixed already, because we should fix these things. And so it seems like the destiny of this country is to be a proud, broke bastard, because we’re heading towards bankruptcy, sure enough. But more importantly, it seems like we’re morally bankrupt at this point. And the thought of being a person who is just or righteous in a pool swimming of piss and injustice, you realize that we’re doomed - because we’re not fixing the system. We’re just encouraging it by not confronting it. Like, a lot of the Bernie Sanders people are correct, even the Black Lives Matter to a very specific point is correct - but how we’re doing it is incorrect. Why? Because the people fronting it are the people that are causing the problems to begin with. So being American and being broke and busted is a reference of morality - Busted, Broke and American. Because we can’t get anyone to represent us in a way that’s going to encourage solidarity. And yet, here’s the funny thing. As much as I love Donald Trump - and I don’t give a fuck what anyone says - I’ve appreciated as a result of watching Reagan run for president…I’ve never been a huge Reagan fan. I will never be a George Bush fan, and I will never be a Bill Clinton or an Obama fan. Even though ever one of those presidents have done good and wrong. They’ve all done right stuff, and they’ve all done wrong stuff. The bottom line is all of these things have made me appreciate - of all people - Jimmy Carter, who spent the last 40 years building houses for poor people. What the fuck do you need to know? That’s what I believe in politically. But I also know that as a country, we don’t have the means to be represented diligently by our parties or by the process of parties. So what we really have is the internet - where they’re regulating and watching everything. They’re recording this interview right now, so in case I say something when they pull it up on the spy-grade, in case I do something crazy, they’re going to say, ‘See? He was a radical.’ Right. That’s what they are - they’re broken. And the title is just a reflection of the broken system itself.”
BraveWords: Would you ever consider getting involved in politics yourself?
Billy Milano: “You know, I actually was going to get involved in politics in the ‘80s, but I was sidetracked because of my love of theology, so I’ve always been a theologian, but I’ve never been a champion of the Abrahamic religions. I understand what their points are, and they’re all very much representations of stories from Sumerian and older civilizations. Even the Torah is an interpretation of Sumerian text. So all these Abrahamic understandings of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are incorrect. And I don’t think anyone really wants to hear it. Like, I believe personally in spirituality. I’m a very spiritual person. I like Hinduism and I like Krishnamurti - I’m a part of the Krishnamurti Society. So I believe in the karmic understanding of spirituality. But religion and politics are a brutal business - and that’s the thing. It’s a brutal business. If they honestly wanted to get together and fix shit, they’d fix it. Here, you want to fix social security? Make sure every senator and congressman and every CEO retires on the same $700 a month - and they’ll fix it the next fucking day, buddy. That would be one of the solutions I would do, but I don’t think they’d like that.”
BraveWords: A recent press release described you as “a voracious reader, avid cook and a proud and loud Republican.” What are your favorite dishes to cook?
Billy Milano: “Here’s the funny thing - with all the touring that I do in my life, I realize that simple things matter. What matters everywhere in the world - at the core root of the dinner table - is family. What happens at the core root of the local restaurant is community. But they’re honoring not only their heritage, but their mother and father, when they cook and you eat at these local restaurants and these small eateries that are family-owned around the world. Which is why I don’t subscribe to going to like, Bennigan’s or Golden Corral and shit like that. I like family-owned, end of story. I pay more for privately-owned and family-owned, because it’s just worth it - as far as the spiritual aspect of it. I really do believe that. But cooking has always done something amazing for me - I’ve always used cooking as a way to honor my mother and father and to share my success with my friends. Because I never cook for just me - unless I’m cooking a standard dinner, to just eat to go to work. I cook routinely for 20 people. I truly believe that breaking bread is where civility starts, where honor starts, and where community starts. I remember my friend telling me, Billy, your theory back in the ‘80s, you’re talking about a communist replacing me in the band Cause For Alarm - I was the original singer in Cause For Alarm. And so, Keith Burkhardt - who is a friend of mine who sings for Cause For Alarm, probably still - said to me, ‘Y’know Billy, when I was a kid, I used to listen to you and think you were crazy. But now that you’re older and I have kids, you were the only one that was right.’ And I used to tell him, ‘Keith, the reason I like cooking so much…’ and he goes, ‘Women should cook for the man.’ And I said, ‘Wait a minute. First of all, you’re a communist if you’re saying that, which tells me you’re a misogynist - there’s no such thing as a misogynist and a communist in a free and open society. They’re called conundrums of a society that’s free and open. But more importantly, I used to tell him, the reason the American family is failing is because of fast food. And he used to laugh at me, but now, these days, people talk about it.
“I mean, much to his credit - although he’s an asshole and full of shit - Michael Moore, who is a bullshitter, multimillionaire, ‘I own 50 homes and a $30 million mansion, but we have to worry about the 1% that are not giving back’…another liberal, hypocrite, Hollywood asshole. That guy made a movie about our food industry and our health care industry, and was spot-on. It was about breaking down society and breaking down family to be controlled by government. Again, these people who are busted and broke and American. It’s the story. We’ve been taken away from our security blanket of family, which also involves parenting, discipline, education, heritage, celebration, and veneration - things they don’t talk about in society anymore. Now, we only talk about what is wrong with society - we don’t focus on the things we’ve done right. It’s like Hollywood. In the ‘60s in Hollywood, you would watch movies about prison gangs and prisons, and it was all white people in the prisons. In the ‘80s, every Hollywood movie, they put black people down - they use them as gangsters, thugs, murderers, drug dealers, and prisoners. That’s it. And that’s how they subjugate people - with the impression of thought, not the actual implementation of it. Because you implement it at just…repetitiveness. Like muscle memory - you keep seeing it, so you embody it. It’s the same thing as the family dinner table - we lost the family dinner table. How is a son supposed to talk to his father with any kind of gainful thought, if there is not a dinner table in front of him? I have two grandkids - I’m worried.”
BraveWords: Do you think an album like Speak English Or Die could be released in today’s PC climate?
Billy Milano: “Sure. You want to know why? Because I’ve never backed down on anything I’ve ever said. The only time I’ve ever apologized for anything was when the first M.O.D. record [1987’s USA for MOD] came out. And I apologized one time. I said, ‘I’m sorry that people in Europe don’t understand American culture.’ In fact, on the 30-year anniversary of USA for MOD, inside the record, there’s a big white letter in the middle, which is the original letter I issued to the press in Europe, saying, ‘Hey, I’m not a racist, and maybe I offended people and I’m sorry for that. That wasn’t the intention of it.’ But more importantly, to me, I’ve been like wrestling. If you know anything about WWE or WWF, like Roddy Piper or Hulk Hogan or Ric Flair…Hulk Hogan doesn’t walk into a food store in yellow tights, a boa, and glasses and yell at the lady for packing his eggs wrong - ‘You break my eggs, I’ll break your legs!’ Y’know? It’s just a normal guy like me and you, and his character is put aside as he goes out to do his life’s duties. And that always seemed to be a problem with the press with me. They didn’t understand why I could say it’s like acting to me. And music has always been acting to me. Because #1 is, I can’t sing. [Laughs] The other thing is, look at this fucking face, man! I know I’ve got a bad attitude - but it’s a real attitude. You talk to me, you know I’m speaking my mind, I’m speaking the truth.”
BraveWords: Something you brought up about the wrestlers which is interesting - why do you think society can deal with an actor playing a part or saying something controversial in a movie, but if a singer says something…it’s a weird double standard.
Billy Milano: “It’s called hypocrisy. And the biggest problem with hypocrisy is hubris. And then when they get caught, they use umbrage, because they’re full of shit. Now, I try to tell people who said to me, ‘You’re a racist because you said this and this.’ I said, ‘Let me explain something to you. You’re telling me as an actor and an entertainer, I can’t be a villain in music? But death metal guys can sing about eating babies and eating corpses, and that’s OK?’ Because you know they’re not going to eat corpses, and I’m not going to eat corpses or eat babies, but I also know that I’m not a racist and I’m not a bigot, and everyone else who knows me know it’s not true - it’s entertainment. And from the very beginning - and I put the letter in there that says it - I’m an entertainer like WWE. You have to suspend the disbelief. And why it is a very PC world, remember this - three-quarters of it ain’t. It’s like this, it’s what I tell everybody when they say, ‘We don’t want Donald Trump to turn around and change everything we want we changed in society.’ And I say, ‘He’s not going to. He’s just going to enforce the laws.’ And I watch this media slander him for everything he did. Like, when he resigned the order that Obama signed for immigration. He resigned it into law, saying we’re going to keep the parameters for another year, under his management - what he came up with. And he did. And the first thing the press said was, ‘Donald Trump banned Muslims today.’ It’s like, ‘What are you, an idiot? It was Obama’s bill!’
“It’s like my friend screamed at me that he’s afraid that they’re going to change healthcare. Of course they’re going to change healthcare, because they need to change it, because no one addressed profiteering by the medical industry. And that’s the kind of health care I’m talking about. Listen, you want to talk about healthcare, let’s take 800% off the bills. Who are these people that charge you $80,000 for chemotherapy, when the chemicals only cost 50 bucks?! There’s a problem with the system - they’re controlling it. And people say, ‘Well, Obama wrote this law.’ They argue about this. And I’m like, ‘Do you really understand who wrote that law? The pharmaceutical companies wrote the law.’ Which is why they put in a bailout if it gets all returned. That’s one of the things they don’t talk about - a bailout for the insurance companies. Just like we bailed out the banks. The banks are owned by who? By the Federal Reserve. What does the Federal Reserve do around the world, and the International Monetary Fund, and the Bank of England? They make the money. They loan it to us, and we have to buy the money back from them, to give to them on the interest $12 trillion? This is where my issue with Obama has always been - no matter what he’s done wrong and no matter what he’s done right, everyone’s argument for his qualification was he was a community organizer. But he gave $12 trillion to the bands of Europe, and gave 0 money to the food banks of America. Have you ever seen him on TV talk about, ‘Let’s raise money for food banks?’ Eight years, what are we doing? I mean, I ate at food banks - I was homeless, because I lost my shit in a fire. I ate at food banks. I was ashamed to be in there. But you should have seen the joy on some of those people’s faces when they got handed a bag of food. What are we talking about here? We are talking about the people of this country being neglected. Poor, black, white, Muslim, Christian, Jew, I don’t give a fuck who you are. Illegal immigrant to legal immigrant, it doesn’t matter - we have the money to fix all of it, if we stopped doing these bullshit illegal wars for these bullshit illegal banks, and stop giving them their trillions of dollars, so they can fund all these wars. Bank bailout my cock - what we did was use that money to invade Libya, to invade Syria, to go into Yemen, and we were funding all this shit. That’s what we’re doing. Because the American people rose up against Obama when he said, ‘We need to go into Syria,’ and said, ‘Fuck you. We’re not going to do it. And we’re not going to go into Libya. Fuck you, we’re not going to do it.’ And congress said - including the democrats - ‘We don’t have the budget for it right now.’ So what do they do? They did it by proxy.
“All of a sudden, there was ISIS, out of nowhere, with brand new Toyota trucks, and brand new American weaponry. Go look at the weapons they’re holding. They’re not holding Russian weapons - those are American-made weapons. I want to know how they got them - don’t you want to know how they got them? But I don’t want to talk about that anymore, I think you know where I’m at - I’m an American person who is a conservative when it comes to the fiscal spending of our budgets, because I want to apply it to our poor, to the people who deserve it in this country. If the illegal immigrants want to come here and become a citizen, good. Come here. But get jobs. And let’s build these communities together. But I don’t want no more drug dealers in this country. Look at the MS-13 problem you had out on Long Island. And what happened? Donald Trump went out there and they arrested 50 people in that one little town, and the town mayor - who was a democrat - came out and applauded as they were arresting people. No one’s showing that on TV, right? As long as we empower the wrong people to come in this country and victimize one child or one woman or one elderly person, we are all guilty. And I feel guilty of it. I am sick of seeing people getting victimized in this country by illegal immigrants who are gang members. No illegal immigrant who is coming here to work for a living is going to go out and rob and murder people. He’s going to look for opportunity. And that’s what America is talking about. That’s what America was built on - opportunity. And that’s what I personally believe in. So, how are we going to fix it? I don’t know. But we’re starting.”