Just by the nature of its gritty origins, the New York hardcore scene of the '80s has been a fertile ground for the book treatment. Whether it's John Joseph and Harley Flanagan's respective autobiographies, Tony Rettman's oral history of the movement, or Freddy Alva's upcoming Urban Styles book, NYHC has found its way into book stores in unique ways.
The latest book to join that legacy is My Riot: Agnostic Front, Grit, Guts & Glory, the long-awaited memoir of NYHC elder statesman Roger Miret.
Featuring forewords by Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed, Kingdom of Sorrow) and Al Barr (Dropkick Murphys), My Riot begins with Miret's journey escaping the Fidel Castro nightmare in Cuba to the US as a child in the '60s. His fish-out-of-water experience would have been tough enough to endure on its own, but the future hardcore frontman also had to nagivate his way around a physically abusive birth father and stepfather. Not surprisingly, Miret found solace in music, but not just hardcore and punk. Yeah, it turns out the brawler who would bark out the words to "Your Mistake" just a few years later was a big disco fan in the late '70s. I was sent a review copy of My Riot that didn't include photos, but I really hope there's a pic of Miret in a polyester suit included in the final version of the book.
On the music geek tip, Miret offers countless nuggets of info about not only Agnostic Front's many different lineups and label changes, but also his earlier years, notably his stint in the Psychos, an early hardcore band that at one point also counted Billy Milano (S.O.D., M.O.D.) within its ranks. I didn't start going to NYHC shows till the end of the '80s, so reading Miret's memories of the scene's early violent years was enthralling. The singer and his friends had to fight it out with racist skinheads on many occasions. The irony is that many of those Nazi idiots that thought Agnostic Front were of the same mindset, didn't even realize Miret was a Latino.
A lot of the buzz when My Riot was first announced centered around whether or not Miret would get into the circumstances around his prison stay following a late '80s drug trafficking arrest. Well, every detail surrounding the crime and Miret's subsequent time in the pen is offered up, warts and all. Despite its unflinching style, the memoir also carries a lighter tone in parts, especially any stories revolving around Miret's musical partner in crime, Agnostic Front guitarist Vinnie Stigma. I won't give anything away here, but let's just say that if Stigma ever gets around to penning his own book, I'll be the first to pre-order it!
Beyond all of the Agnostic Front-related good and bad times recollections, Miret also reveals the highs and lows of his past relationships, including the struggles of trying to raise a child in a squat in Manhattan. Now a happily married man living in Arizona, the singer owns up to his past failures, never blaming his turbulent upbringing for his mistakes.
Forget what you think you know about Miret, My Riot will set you straight.
[Homepage photo by Justin Borucki.]
My Riot: Agnostic Front, Grit, Guts & Glory will arrive in stores on August 29.