- Hello, Vince! First of all, let's clarify the situation with the line-up. Who are the current members? Could you tell us how Maliq joined the band?
- Greetings. The current members are Terrance Hobbs and Derek Boyer (Suffocation), Maliq Emanual andmyself. Back in 2013 with the release of Modus Operandi, I wanted to create a line up that would be strictly used for live purposes, being that Suffocation just released their Pinnacle of Bedlam album and were starting to tour. I had a couple of shows in NYC and Rochester, NY so I recruited some young players from a local band called Vitality. I went and caught them play at a benefit show and met Maliq Emanual there in the crowd. He was wearing a Suffocation shirt so I gave him a new Criminal Element CD (ModusOperandi). Maliq said he could play bass and because I needed a bass player for live purposes, I gave him a try. He was only 16 at the time but when I saw his work ethics and talent to play bass and guitar, I was blown the fuck away. This kid was for real and because he was from the same exact hood, I was convinced that he was going to be a permanent member of Criminal and I knew that both Terrance and Derek would love this kid!
can. But it’s easy for all those guys to be a part of Criminal because I handle all the hard work. I just need one right hand man (partner)…in the past, that was Darin Morris. I wrote Guilty As Charged, Crime and Punishment Part 1 and 2 and Modus Operandi with him. Maliq Emanual is now my new partner. I really should say that writing Maiden Brooklyn and Criminal Crime Time with him was so much fun. In fact, I am lucky to have worked with two amazing guitarists during this awesome 10 year experience. Darin is now full-time in Misery Index and I know Maliq will be in some crazy Big Band in the future. I am honored to have helped both guys get their name out there. I am proud of both of them. When you have one band that features members of two other well-known bands like Misery Index and Suffocation…it really helps with getting the name Criminal Element out there. At this point, I never have had a live line up that featured both Suffocation and Misery Index members together…but that is in my plan for the future. Everyone is very good friends and one day I want to do a release with all the players together. I just need to write about 15 killer songs.
- You are about to release your new album, "Criminal Crime Time". How would you comment on that title? How does it reflect the CD's content?
- In America there are some states that have a newspaper dedicated to exposing people who have broken the law. It’s nothing but mug shots with their name and their charge. The paper is called Crime Times. I took that idea along with Terrance Hobbs saying “Criminal Crime Time” and decided that I give that title to the album. I have a criminal record that is pretty lengthy and there were times that I had to do, what I had to do to make things happen and when I did those things, Terrance would say “Hey Vin…is it criminal crimetime for you yet? lol”. Since the CD has songs that either talk about certain crimes or pertain to a crime, the title fits perfectly.
- Why do you have such a passion to sing about crime and murders? Why did the band choose this domain to write the songs about?
- Good question. Honestly, let me explain… I’ve been listening to metal since 1978… KISS, AC/DC, Black Sabbath… over 30 years and the lyrics are usually the same context. Anti-religion, gore, and nowadays, politics. With that said, I was thrown into this world under fucked up conditions. I never had the “American Dream” family. In fact, I didn’t have much of a family setting at all. Neither of my parents actually raised me and the living conditions I had available were pretty extreme. So, I ended up on the streets raising myself by age 14.
Living in an urban area on the streets at that age was very rough. I had to break many laws just to survive. Crime and metal were the only things in my life that kept me alive. This is why I write about crime and murders. For one, writing about anti-religious topics can get old…real old. How many times can a band say “fuck God”? Also, when other bands go political, it becomes a divider. Crime is real. I know crime I lived it. In fact, I am in prison right now as I do this interview. I’m doing a few months for something I’d rather not discuss…but don’t get me wrong, I’m not a bad person. I’ll give you the shirt off my back if you need it. So yeah, writing about crime is very interesting to say the least. There’s a lot of crazy shit going on these days. It never gets old!!
- While writing the lyrics, do you consult any books or any special material? Or do you take your inspiration from the daily TV news and the current situation around the world?
- I do a little of all... but 70% of the time I take what I’ve seen with my own eyes…or heard what I hear with my ears. Being in prison can be the best inspiration. I know that sounds crazy but what can I say? It’s true. I’ve been in a lot of prisons over the years…sad to say.
- How could you explain the artwork? Who is that guy with the smashed head? Why did you do it to him? Who came up with the idea for the artwork?
- LOL…well, first off I came up with the blue print idea but the actual artist, Meagan Crable came up with the guy getting his head blown off. He is getting shot because he was cheating at a card game. I must admit, Meagan did such an amazing job that I was disturbed to see myself blowing this poor dudes head off. I’m not that much of an asshole in real life. But seriously, that cover is meant to look cool yet brutal and Meagan fucking nailed it!!
- There are also a lot of small details, like different bands' logos, etc. Why did you put exactly that bands' logos?
I’ll tell you why… Criminal Element is a tribute to everything that raised me from a young kid till now…and I wanted to put some of my favorite bands up on the walls as a token of appreciation. Especially Pan.Thy.Monium and Edge of Sanity. Plus, I knew that I had the perfect artist to make it look great…so again… a major salute to Meagan Crable for the amazing job. Check her work out and Gallery MKC on Facebook.
- What could you say about the new album? What do the new songs sound like?
- The new songs sound like good, straight up Death/ Thrash metal. Some have a weird feel but the thing is, I’m influenced by a lot of different styles of metal. I’m 44 years old. I’ve watched the birth of Thrash/Death/ Punk/ Goth/ Black/ Power metal. I always put a dash of this or a dose of that. I’m sure that the next album will have more of Maliq writing on it. That is something I am very much looking forward too.
- What is the strongest side of the "Criminal Crime Time"? Can you say that it's another step forward in your development as musicians?
- I really don’t know what side is stronger. That’s up to the actual listener to decide and I definitely can say that this album is a step in the right direction. I wrote the whole album and on the next record I will have Maliq contributing more to the writing. So, I am very excited to hear the next couple of songs. I don’t want the next album to have only my ideas. That can easily be a bad thing.
- Tell us a bit about the production of this album: where did you record it, who was the producer? Did you have any special guests this time?
- This album was recorded at IN Line Studios in Long Island, New York. Terrance Hobbs mixed and mastered with help from Derek Boyer. There were no guests on this album…but the next will feature some very cool surprise guests.
- What is the usual song-writing process? How difficult is it considering Derek and Terrance being too busy with Suffocation?
- I sit with Maliq to write the songs. It’s crazy because when we first sit down, the plate will be completely empty and a day later… we’ll have a complete song. It takes a bit afterwards to tweak the song to where everything is exactly the way I want it arranged. Since Maliq is so easy to work with, him and I can do everything. Terrance and Derek are not needed. When they get the song for recording, they usually throw their ideas in at that time. It’s very easy to work with them…nothing difficult at all. Their ideas usually work well because they know exactly what formula Criminal Element has… we have ten years together.
- Why does the band change the label so often? And how did you move to Metal Age Productions?
- I don’t know Ha Ha! Lol. I guess because we really don’t tour and I want that to change. Also, Metal Age has really done a lot for this release. As a song writer I am very impressed and grateful. I’d like to work with Metal Age again. So maybe you’ll see Criminal Element stick with this label for quite some time…
- Being signed with a European label, does it mean that you'll be visiting Europe more frequently?
- I sure hope so. I love Europe. America has changed so much. Europe is a place I’d love to live…I’m a metal head till the day I die and Europe is the mecca for Metal Heads.
- Thank you for this interview, guys. Would you like to add anything in the end?
- Thank you for your interest in Criminal Element…Like I said before, I do this as a tribute for metal!! Itkept me from dying from the evils of this world. I don’t have much in life but I do have a metal heart. Justlike the Accept album!! Please check out the new Criminal Crime Time album at our site and also this gallery. Thanks to anyone who has an interest inwhat we do. Also look up Maliq Emanual on facebook. His other band is Eyes Like Ours. I am honored tohave him as a partner in music. HAILS to Dying Fetus, Misery Index, Suffocation, Edge of Sanity, Pan.Thy.Monium, Deceased and the amazing Dan Swano…my favorite all time songwriter. Cheers!!