Suicidal Tendencies Exclusive Interview

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If youʼre not sure who Suicidal Tendencies is then you need to pull your head out of your ass and brush up on your legendary music knowledge. How legendary are they? Well if you do know or ever have called yourself a skateboarder but donʼt own a copy of the bandʼs first album then youʼre not really one. Suicidal Tendencies brought the idea of skate punk to the masses, combining metal thrash riffs with punk rock sensibilities and itʼs a style that has influenced nearly two generations of both fans and musicians. The recent years has seen a return to form for Suicidal as they tour the world bringing their incredible live show back to the people craving it the most. The most recent release from ST is a live DVD titled “Suicidal Tendencies Live At The Olympic Auditorium.” The 2005 show filmed in Los Angeles features a lot of the classic songs like “Join The Army”, “Institutionalized” and “I Shot Reagan” as well as other stuff you might not be so familiar with. KROWN has spent sometime with ST these past few years and getting all the dirt whatʼs been going on from our family member, Steve Summers front-man Sprung Monkey whoʼs been on the road as tour manager for a few years now.

KROWN: How is your back doing? How has that affected the band on a whole?

MIKE MUIR: Itʼs been tough, Iʼve basically had two back surgeries over the last six or seven years. The first was in 2003 while we were on tour in Europe. It was funny because when my back went out they had to take me to the doctor for the French Rugby team and decided to tell him I was a Jazz Singer. Apparently itʼs better to lie about being in bands like Suicidal. When we got to the doctor he looked at me and said “Youʼre no jazz singer, I know you”. The doctor told me that he had to be honest with me because he was a fan and he knew I was an honest person and that I would need back surgery right away. When I got home from tour I got my MRI and then had the surgery. It was tough but I came back from that one.

MIKE MUIR: Actually it all happened the day before the Olympic Auditorium show. I woke up and I couldnʼt walk at all, I was literally numb on one side of my body. Everybody told me to go to the doctor but I know if I did theyʼd tell me I needed surgery right away and I wouldnʼt be able to do the shot. I didnʼt want to do that so I pushed on and did the whole show without really being able to walk. After that I went in, had my surgery and really had to start thinking about if I could keep doing this.

78107_134794266575913_5186039_oKROWN: What made the band decide to get back out there?

MIKE MUIR: In end of 2006 I was in Australia with my family and I got a call asking if the band was interested in doing some shows around the world. The way I see it when youʼre going to get back into this your heart has to be in it, your body has to be in it and your family has to be in it. I talked to my family and they were all like “Yeah do it” so we just jumped in. Weʼve been touring for the last two years and now weʼre putting out the live stuff and in the fall a new Suicidal Album.

KROWN: We have heard a little of a new Suicidal record. What was the wait so long to put one out?

MIKE MUIR: We waited to do new stuff because we wanted it to be right. When I was laid up with my back problems all these people wanted me to a record and put it out really fast before it was too late. I didnʼt want to do that, none of us did, thatʼs not what Suicidal is all about. Weʼve spent the last few years showing people why they love Suicidal Tendencies and we didnʼt feel the need to rush new material.

KROWN: Is the new material all recorded and finished? Where are you with it?

MIKE MUIR: The new stuff is all written but weʼre putting out some other stuff first. The first thing is weʼre releasing a new recording of the old No Mercy and some of the Join The Army songs. This is album I call the Mike (Clark, guitar) record. See the second No Mercy album was actually half of the songs that went on How Will I Laugh (Tomorrow When I Canʼt Smile Today, 3rd Suicidal Tendencies album).

I told mike we should go back and but a spotlight on those songs but not repeat them, rather take the playing to a new level. Mikeʼs challenge here was to play the stuff better than he had before, which isnʼt easy. The second thing weʼre re-releasing the first No Mercy CD, which is out of print. After that the new album will come out

KROWN: How has the writing process been?

78002_134794279909245_6764916_oMIKE MUIR: Over the years weʼve been recording stuff and then putting it off to the side. When we were ready to record the new album we came back to the songs and reevaluated them. We did changes to them, fixed stuff, re-worked aspects we didnʼt like. Itʼs like a girlfriend, when you first get with her you love her because you donʼt really know her and then you get to know her better and all the things you donʼt like come out.

We were looking at these songs the same way. Sometimes when you first write something you love it and then later when weʼd re-examine it I would think that I still love the song but itʼs not for a Suicidal record. Some of the other stuff we hated early on but now we love it. Thatʼs how it goes yʼknow. The other thing is that weʼre doing this for us. Weʼre not worrying about record sales, we never have and we donʼt have to.

KROWN: Has the perception or sales of punk and metal affected you or how the band writes music?

MIKE MUIR: No. When we came out the punk rock purists were bragging if they sold 5000 copies. Once bands starting getting more success they started worrying about Soundscan and what to do to sell. I never looked at it that way; to me I make the music I want to. I love when people love our music but you canʼt make it for that reason, you canʼt just try to make music people will like. Itʼs not really about sales; itʼs about how many people are listening to it 10 or 15 years down the line. Weʼre not a lottery band. We donʼt have to worry about how many we sell. There are very few bands that have the amount of fans that have the kind of the fans we have.

KROWN: Do you ever feel pressure from fans to only play the classic Suicidal songs?

MIKE MUIR: No we donʼt feel any pressure to just do the old stuff. Institutionalized is on the DVD but we donʼt really play that stuff a lot. I donʼt think we have to worry about what we play because the shows are whatʼs reminding people why the love the band. Itʼs also getting new people into what we do. When we come out we do what we do as well as anybody else and weʼre also not a band everybody likes. If we were then I think we would just quit. When we do festivals there are people in the crowd are there to see the flavor of the day and when we come out they know weʼre different. Sometimes we win them over, sometimes we donʼt and thatʼs okay because we challenge people. Thatʼs the important thing, weʼre not out of some era. Weʼre not nostalgic weʼre just bad ass. When people come see it usually turns out to be a multigenerational thing. One show we played in Arizona we had grandfathers, fathers and their kids all coming to check us out, all with stories about what Suicidal meant to them. The new people usually havenʼt heard of us at all unless they have like an older brother or something.

55883_134794176575922_6049108_oKROWN: How are you holding up now with all the physical injuries youʼve sustained?

MIKE MUIR: I think the biggest thing that helps me is that I know what I need to do for myself. Weʼve been touring for two years and Iʼve been able to make changes and adapt to a lifestyle that lets me take care of myself. After the first surgery I was always in pain and when that was gone I kept waiting for the pain to come back. Now I do what I need to so that the pain never comes back again. When I meet people at the shows they canʼt believe Iʼve had to back surgeries. They tell me their back hurts just watching me on stage. I like the idea that people can talk to me about their pain or find what Iʼm doing inspirational.

KROWN: After nearly thirty years in the game what lessons have you learned on longevity?

MIKE MUIR: I think we learned our lessons a long time ago. After we toured with Metallica things felt different, it was the one time I felt uncomfortable at our shows. I started thinking about who was buying our records and who we were playing to. One guy even said to us “Who cares whose buying the records as long as they are”. I thought that was wrong, that wasnʼt us. Weʼve always existed in a different area and that divide is the legacy of Suicidal Tendencies. When we came out the punks hated us because we werenʼt punk enough, the metal heads didnʼt like us because we were too punk and we just didnʼt care. With the old stuff or the new material we donʼt cater to people and we never have. Weʼve never done anything that we regret to become more popular.

Photos Courtesy of Derek Plank