M.O.D. by Dillon Collins
Those who are familiar with Billy Milano will know that he isn’t one to shy away from controversy. He speaks his mind, take it or leave it, and if anyone is offended along the way he tends not to lose more than a wink or two of sleep. There is no questioning, however, that Billy Milano has left an undeniable mark on the history of heavy metal.
Ahead of what is being billed as the final album of his crossover thrash vessel M.O.D. (Method of Destruction), Milano sat down with Metalheads Forever to talk legacy (and what that means to him), the end of the line for M.O.D., and the sacrifices of living life on his own terms.
Milano and M.O.D. release what he confidently refers to as his opus, Busted, Broke & American on July 7th through Megaforce Records. The album has been compared to the likes of the much maligned Guns N’ Roses record Chinese Democracy, for the lengthy gap and numerous delays in production. It is a record, however, which Milano believes comes at the peak of his artistic prowess.
“I have seen what follow up records to great records can do – not always good brother, and they might be very good records,” Milano shared in the candid interview. “People become so attached to what’s popular that they can’t let it go. To do a follow up record is almost pointless, it’s almost a tarnishing of that record, especially so close within its own time-frame. It is what it is. I don’t think I could duplicate or outdo this record. In fact I’ll be bold enough to say this, there’s no way I could write a better record than the record I wrote. This is it. I don’t think that at 53 I should be so obsessed with this record to try to top it, in fact I’ve done the opposite. I’ve accepted the fact that the pinnacle of writing has been achieved, that my best writing is done. More importantly, that the best writing that I’ve done to date is on M.O.D. and it is finishing at the 30th anniversary with a full-length record, showing the full spectrum from the first record that I’ve ever did – which sounds like retarded children playing instruments – to the new record which sounds like adult contemporary music.
“It’s only because I’ve grown up and that I don’t want to go backwards and I want to go forwards,” he adds. “Why do another record? Can I top this record? No. How many people are going to say that in music? People always have this thing where they say ‘ohh this is my best record yet.’ No, this is my best record yet. Done. There is no secondary thought to that, that’s all that the truth is. The truth by design is simple and it tells me that I’ve done all I can do with M.O.D. and it’s not a bad thing to say that you can let it go.”
Milano is perhaps best known to the metal masses for his groundbreaking cross-over thrash project Stormtroopers of Death, the pioneering four-piece he fronted alongside the likes of Dan Lilker and future founding-members of Anthrax Scott Ian and Charlie Benante. He has helmed M.O.D. since 1986, with the band largely carrying on the crushing mix of rigid riffs and themes that coast between political satire and humour and deep social commentary, all while maintaining a ‘no f***s given,’ attitude.
While he professes that the days of churning out full-length albums for M.O.D. are over, he is not opposed to carrying on the moniker for live performances and through a series of EPs, which he envisions as the end of a trilogy that began with Red, White & Screwed in 2007 and its 2017 followup.
“Red, White & Screwed is number one in the series of three records. Busted, Broke & American is number two, but the third record that I have the music written I don’t know that I want to do a full-length record. Instead I’d like to do a series of compilations with unsigned bands and put them out on Megaforce Records,” “Do three M.O.D. songs, have three unsigned bands submit songs and we go out and we build a local package for those three bands for that record. We hit that regional area around those bands as I’m touring. That’s what I’d do with the third instalment. “One of the things that I’ve always liked about M.O.D. is that I’ve always brought unsigned musicians into the music industry. How many people have I brought into the music industry? Drummers, guitarists, bass players, you name em’ I’ve brought them in, everyone I could to say this is fun to live your dream and they all got polluted with power where I’ve never been polluted by power.”
So what does Milano think of his combined legacy to the music business? Truth be told, he drips with disdain when discussing the ‘business’ of music, an industry he notes has polluted more than its fair share of promising young talent – but he does hope that if his and M.O.D.’s contribution to the state of metal past, present and future has meant anything, that at the very least they enjoyed the ride.
“Has it made a mark? I think it has, but has it made a mark that can be topped? Sure, just go do it,” Milano says. “You know what I’m saying? One of the most important aspects of M.O.D. is that it didn’t really take itself too serious and it has meaning to people. What does it mean total? I don’t know, I don’t know if it has any true value, like an intrinsic value, but was it fun? Sure. Did I try to make the fans happy? Sure. The band’s legacy is the fact that I’ve told everyone f**k you since the moment I’ve met em’ and I ain’t gonna change. “I do know that I’ve had fun and I hope the people who have liked my music enough that they’ve bought it or seen me appreciate the fact that I’ve lived the life that I wanted. It’s also a life at the expense of what I wanted,” Milano adds reflectively. “It’s not like I’m living in a mansion. I’m living in an apartment, I got three dogs, I bust my ass. I’m a grandfather, a single f****ng parent. It’s f****ng brutal, but it’s also a charmed life because I did it on my own and I don’t give a f**k.”
Dillon Collins/MHF Magazine