Room Thirteen managed to catch up with Life of Agony after their first UK date in support of their first studio album in eight years.

R13: How long ago was the band formed?
JZ: It was formed in 1990. Actually it was formed in '89 but our first show was in '90.

R13: What was the deciding factor in reuniting the band in 2003?
JZ: We did some reunion shows in New York City and when they went over so well, sold out so quickly, there was no way that we couldn't do this anymore. We had to do it again. That was basically what gave us the big kick in the rear to get back together and do it full time. It took some time and we did some touring, it's not like we decided in one day. We decided to do some touring and slowly, but surely, we got back.

R13: Are any of the bands or side projects that you worked on in your "off" time carrying on?
JZ: Nope. Only Life of Agony. I think this is all we can handle right now! Trust me - we're all concentrating on this right now. We all need to. ['Broken Valley' - their latest LP] is very important record in case you don't know. May 30th out here in Europe. We're all into it and it's all Agony.

R13: What influences you when creating music?
JZ: Well, first of all we influence each other. We did a lot of the writing on this album together. We haven't done that before. We didn't do that back then when we were around years ago. We basically brought in ideas that were almost finished and we were taught how to play or whatever. Now though, we've all grown so much. Being apart we've all grown doing different things and became better musicians. Our knowledge has grown so that when we got back together writing songs was a bit more like sharing. There's a lot more sharing going on. We influence each other. When we're alone writing, music and events and scenarios and whatever life hands you is really what influences me personally. I may be in a mood and basically a riff will come out of a mood or an image or a thought. It may not have anything to do with music sometimes - an idea will just come to me then.

R13: You have written your first new songs since 1997. How has the band changed since then?
JZ: It's the original line up. You remove one person from the equation and the band completely takes on a different feel and a different vibe. It's like a different band. That's why 'Soul Searching Sun' was so different than the original Agony stuff. Having Sal back in the picture for the new album bought the old feeling of what we could create together with the new positive vibe thrown in the mix wrapped around the whole thing like a blanket.

R13: Alan wrote most of the lyrics in your previous records - has this duty been spread more evenly, or is it still mainly Alan?
SA: They shared their lyrical tasks together. They work more as a team now, which is a very nice thing for them. It seems to really work out on this record. They both got a lot of their points across and basically our point across. It's more of a team thing, a collaboration together with the lyrics and with the music. We all put our piece in the puzzle.

R13: Do you have a favourite song to perform live?
JZ: Not really. There are so many cool ones.
SA: 'Don't Bother' is one for me.
JZ: The old classics are always fun to play. I mean 'River Runs Red' is just over the top. They'll never not be fun to play. There's no favourites, it's just we play the songs that we really enjoy playing in our set. All the songs you heard last night were songs that we still enjoy playing and are still feeling at this point in our lives. I think that's what is important, that we play the songs that we really feel.

R13: Apart from the new album, which is your favourite Life of Agony record?
JZ: 'River Runs Red' is definitely a classic. Everyone knows that. It's no secret. 'Rivers' and 'Broken Valley' are the real meaning behind Life of Agony. If you were to remove 'Ugly' and 'Soul Searching Sun' and to say that 'Broken Valley' was our second record then those two would stand the test of time forever. They were done in such a pure state when they were recorded. The band was pure in the early days, and it's pure again now.

R13: Are there any songs from the past that you'd like to perform live, but the other guys refuse?
JZ: There are a few and that's why we make decisions as a band. If somebody is not happy with something, we don't do it. It's not cool. That's how you bottle up stuff, and get forced into doing things. Performing a song and doing anything that you don't really want to do is not fun. I'm sure we love most of our songs, but there are certain songs that you just don't feel anymore.

R13: The first records were very emotional. Do they still have the same emotional pull, and have things become “happier” for you all?
JZ: I think that we share and can reach in and feel that same emotion. It goes by day to day when we're playing songs, ya know?
SA: Events have taken place in our older lives in the last seven years. In an album like 'Rivers' there were more youth oriented issues and these issues are more adult but there's also many things that the youth can relate to. We can't help but be older and write more about mature subjects.

R13: Do any of you still live in Brooklyn?
JZ: Yeah, unfortunately. The two guys you are talking to right now.
SA: I'm over it. It isn't what it's cracked up to be anymore. It was different fifteen years ago. A lot has changed. A lot has changed in New York period.

R13: What's the craziest thing you have ever done?
KC: Signed to RoadRunner Records. That's the answer to that question.

R13: For each of you, who is your favourite band?
SA: I've gotta say for me, starting from the old days a lot of early 70s stuff: Zeppelin, Sabbath, Hendrix, Bowie, The Doors, Soundgarden - I've been a die-hard fan since '87. I like a lot of good music so it's hard to narrow it down.
JZ: I always liked Metallica growing up. I liked some of the old bands too. I loved Black Sabbath. I listened to Iron Maiden a lot growing up, and Ozzy when he did his solo stuff back with 'Diary of a Madman' - that was always a big record for me. I was a Kiss fan at a young age. I think Kiss was one of the first rock and roll bands that I actually got into, because of my cousin Michael - it lead me into listening to early Iron Maiden.

R13: How do you cope when crowds react negatively towards you?
JZ: It's a hard thing to swallow and at first you really don't know how to react.
SA: It was the next best thing to a public execution.
JZ: You're up there in the lights, playing your music that is about personal things, so we're serious about what we're doing. We're not going up there a fucking band that was put together by a label or something that can get booed and thrown shit at. We're up there singing and playing our hearts out and it's rough man.
SA: They're just ignorant, and they're uneducated and confused. They're just clueless. They don't know, and they're misguided. They are a totally homogenized corporate fed generation.
KC: It's a totally K-Mart crowd.
JZ: Keith totally lost it. He fought back in his own way. He was in their face, spitting back in their face. I mean hey, if you're going to get fuckin' rough, we can get rough too.
KC: They think they're safe behind the barrier, but they're not. I can just simply walk down there.
SA: They think it's ok that you're onstage cus you're a target, and it's cool and fun to throw something at you. The kids lack respect.
JZ: The Mudvayne guys gave us some backstage kind of support, but there was no real onstage support for us where they said “Hey you shouldn't be doing this to those guys” or anything like that. They would say backstage “Please stick it out, we love that you guys are on the tour” and that's the truth. They didn't want their crowd to look at them like they were weak, or that they were sticking up for the band that everyone hated and that's cool. You've gotta understand it from that perspective I guess. We're cool.
KC: We're here, we're together and we're tough. We were victorious anyway because we completed the whole tour, no matter what, even if it was a horrible night. We definitely won fans over and that was the whole point. We played to 4000 kids and if we won over 800 kids then we succeeded. We're not there to prove anything to anyone except to ourselves. We're a great team. We're committed and loyal.

R13: Joey wore a t-shirt last night that said, “Please release our record”. Is this a real issue? Is there doubt over the release?
JZ: It's not going to be released in the UK. It's going to be imported from Germany. The label decided that they don't want to release this record for their own reasons and we are a little pissed about it obviously. We can't be happy about it but I thought maybe by making a statement and talking about it onstage maybe we could try and persuade the decision a different way. By saying things live, maybe they will change their mind. What else can you do? We're not going to go to the office and get on our knees and beg. It just means that there will be a bunch of stores that won't have it and we want it to be everywhere. We want it to be everywhere. We want it to be in everyone's faces. We want it to be in the window at Virgin. We think our fans deserve it, and we think we deserve it.

R13: Does Life of Agony have a future?
SA: No comment.
JZ: We'll keep the mystique and the mystery for you, so everyone keeps hoping.

R13: Do you have any message to give your fans?
JZ: Thank you, of course, for everything. For staying loyal to us, because we know there's a lot of loyal fans especially seeing them all last night.
KC: Thanks for spreading the word because we're bigger than we were. For believing in the band and feeling the vulnerability and the message that we convey as human beings. We wouldn't be sitting here doing this interview if it wasn't for the kids who believe in us.
JZ: Maybe everyone out there can go to their record store and push them, particularly if the record isn't there, to get 'Broken Valley' into the store. Chip in and help us. Go the extra step for us.