In the 90’s, New York hardcore metal band Biohazard broke through into the mainstream, becoming MTV’s “Headbanger’s Ball” most played video artist with their song “Punishment” off their second album, Urban Discipline.
At the same time they were experiencing their biggest success, guitarist and vocalist Billy Graziadei was becoming passionate about jiu-jitsu.
Recently, Graziadei had an opportunity to bring his love of music and jiu-jitsu together by making an appearance as a fighter in Ralek Gracie’s “Ginagi” music video.
“I started out with the Gracies in ’95, and I moved out to L.A. in ‘08 and have been training at the Torrance academy,” said Graziadei. “I became friends with Ralek, and when he finished his record, he asked if I wanted to be in a video and I was down (for it).
“We ended up working with (former Strikeforce fighter) Kevin Casey and went up to Kron (Gracie’s) place and came up with some moves and planned it out a little bit. It was pretty cool to break up the monotony of the studio and change the pace up a little bit. I think the video turned out great. I’ve done a lot of videos in my time, and especially with what they had to work with, they made a phenomenal video.”
Graziadei originally was introduced to Brazilian jiu-jitsu through the band’s drummer, Danny Schuler, who had read about the Gracies in a magazine article. Having heard the Gracies were to be associated with a no-holds-barred competition in Colorado, Graziadei immediately jumped on it.
“When the first UFC came on, we were young and were such fans of fighting and anything like that because of who we were and where we came from,” he said. “I didn’t see it live, but I had it on video tape like a week after it aired and I remember watching it and being blown away.
“We did a record in L.A., and Rickson (Gracie) had a place in Chico – a small little place like in the back of a garage or something – and it was awesome. We made a lot of good friends, and that was the beginning of my (pursuit of) jiu-jitsu.
Having started out small and worked their way towards mainstream success, Graziadei told MMAWeekly.com he sees comparisons to Biohazard’s journey with that of MMA and the UFC in particular.
“I think like with everything it is perseverance,” he said. “If you really believe in it, you stick with it. When Rorion (Gracie) brought in the UFC it was kind of a catalyst and it blew up from there. It has had its ups and downs, but it has grown immensely and very quickly outside the martial arts world. It is very similar and a parallel with what happened with Biohazard.”
Speaking of perseverance, after a five-year hiatus, Biohazard reformed in 2008 with all four original band members and is set to release a brand new album, Reborn in Defiance, on Jan. 20 on Nuclear Blast Records everywhere minus North America (where it will be released shortly thereafter by a to-be-named label with bonus materials).
“The thing about Biohazard is we always survive,” he said. “Our backs may be to the wall and you think it’s over, but we come out swinging and win. We got back together and did a reunion tour and got along and had a great time. We started sharing music and ideas back and forth and that turned into the record that comes out (on Jan. 20) and we’re going to tour for.
“When you have a fight, you’ve got to be ready; if you’re not ready, you’ve lost. Every battle is won before you fight it. For us, that was the mindset. Let’s stay focused and we’ll end up with something that we’re really proud of, and we did.”
The band is scheduled for rehearsals in New York over the coming weeks to be followed by a worldwide tour in support of Reborn in Defiance, and Graziadei hopes everyone comes out and shows their support.
“Biohazard has always been a band about last man standing, so we’ve been fans of MMA for years and love the sport and all the styles,” he said. “Check out our new record, our Facebook, or my personal Facebook, and keep up with us. Catch us while we’re on tour. If you want to hit us up and invite us to your academy, we’d love to come train with you.”