jimi hazel keeps it real, keeps it positive and keeps moving forward
By Sound Check
April 16, 2010
Jimi Hazel Keeps It Real, Keeps It Positive and Keeps Moving Forward
Interview David Carr
The group blasted through songs off of their debut disc while the crowd jumped, moshed and slam danced, with the intensity of a full scale riot. It was my first time in a mosh pit, it was my first time being at a punk rock show, and the fact that the band happened to be Black, held special significance for me.
Although “The Spyz” never became a household name, the band was an underground hit and they were able to tour with and headline over, some of the heavy hitters in alternative rock including, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Public Enemy, Jane’s Addiction and Primus. The group lost two key members (exit vocalist Peter Fluid and drummer Anthony Johnson), replaced them (enter vocalist Jeff Brodnax and drummer Joel Maitoza) and became an even stronger band at the beginning of the 90’s. Twenty years later, Jimi Hazel, the guitarist for 24-7 Spyz is still making music.
He is leading a new incarnation of his South Bronx band, and he is also gearing up to record and release a collection of tunes with a (for lack of a better phrase) supergroup of sorts. Hazel has brought together a who’s who of underground Black rock musicians known as ANM, The Anti-Ni**er Machine.
To put it mildly, Jimi Hazel loves rock and roll and hates how it is perceived. “I hate how this genre has been miss-understood by both Blacks and Whites. I hate what happened back in the day to the Black bands that came up with us! Thanks to the success Living Colour had, the success we had, record companies started signing all of these Black bands but they did not support them. The record companies just did not understand bands like Follow for Now, The Family Stand or The Veldt, and they didn’t invest in them. They did not help these groups develop. In trying to help 24-7 Spyz they destroyed us. The record company did us in like a lot of other great bands. Fans came to our shows claiming they could not find our records in stores. The record company printed very few copies, sent us out on tour and refused to print more copies of the disc! Momentum got lost and our record company just lost interest in us. What happened to us back in the day and to those bands is not going to happen to this new project.”
It might be easy for some to characterize Hazel as bitter, but when he is asked to recount his days with both incarnations of the Spyz, Jimi reveals a happier and more hopeful side of himself.
Jimi Hazel may bristle a bit at the past but he is ready to look ahead with his new musical project. Jimi proclaims, “I am happy about where I am now. I am excited about ANM. I was lucky enough to see Jimi Hendrix live when I was six years old! That changed my life. I came home and I knew that playing guitar was something I was going to do for the rest of my life. We are getting the support we need not from the industry but from the actual people who really want to hear ANM.”
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