“I don’t want to sound like a fucking dinosaur or a pig for 45 minutes and no one know what the fuck I’m saying”
Their new album The Black Crown is a departure from the chaotic madness of their earlier albums, but only slightly. It as though they’ve managed to structure the heavy power of their sound into something brutal and angry, but also thoughtful.
Live Suicide Silence in an intense ride. Walking up the gig, even before the doors opened there were at least 300 young boys waiting in line for the show. Each one proudly wearing the band’s shirts, vibrating with expectation, and visibly excited. It’s clear that the band have an extremely loyal fanbase of sub-drinking age listeners along with older metallers loving the thrill of seeing a great band, on the verge bigger things, at a small venue. As soon as the band hit the stage their a whirling mass of hair, guitar necks, chugging riffs and melodic squeals counterpointing vocalist Mitch Lucker’s anthemic choruses. It’s impressive stuff from a band road hardened and loving every minute of the ride.
Winding up their tour Trebuchet caught up with lead singer Mitch Lucker to discuss the tour, the new album (the black crown) and what steel makes the core of Suicide Silence.
Mitch Lucker: The Gigs have been going well. I’m pretty tired though. I didn’t get any sleep last night. Our bus driver was trying to scare people so they couldn’t sleep; driving on the wrong side of the road, swerving, slamming on the breaks all sorts of stuff.
In the end, he crashed the bus. He said that he didn’t know what happened and that he just woke up and was hitting parking cones on the side; smashing the whole side of the bus up, all the wing mirrors, everything down the side was just destroyed. He said he didn’t want to jerk the wheel back or anything, so that’s been our fucking tour so far.
Trebuchet: So no Cliff Burton moments just yet?
Mitch Lucker: Well he still has to drive us back to airport so I don’t know how that’s going to go!
Trebuchet: You started writing The Black Crown album in Jan 2010 tell about the process.
Mitch Lucker: We went up to a cabin in Big Bear just to get into a different environment, because all our earlier albums even the EP were written in (Chris, guitar) Garza’s garage, so we rented a cabin for a month.
At the time there were the worst snow storms that they’d had in ages so we couldn’t leave even if we wanted to. On The Black Crown extras there is some DVD footage of me jumping from the roof into six feet of snow, disappearing fully and then emerging, naked and jumping into the hot tub. It felt like glass all over my body and soon as I got in I just had to get out, but as soon as I pushed my feet down I sank even further in… so after that I climbed out and jumped into the hot tub. It was pretty crazy.
We had to shovel snow for two hours just to be able to chop wood, which we had to do because the wood heated the house, and the hot-tub. I mean there was electricity but it was an old style log cabin, with real logs, it was really awesome. There were two bedrooms downstairs, one bedroom was a bedroom by itself, and then there was a loft, huge balcony and a huge fireplace with a massive flat screen above it.
Our day consisted of waking up at around nine or ten (am) and we’d take it in turns to make breakfast for everyone. So, of course once you start smelling breakfast it’s like ‘mm I think I’m getting up’. The second person that gets up started shovelling snow to chop wood and get the fire going, and everyone starts eating. After everyone had eaten we’d smoke a bowl, or a spliff and get high, and then everyone would get on their instruments and start jamming, for like six or seven hours. It was really good just to jam again, you know, just jam really organically.
It really made everyone go crazy for a while, because for two and half weeks you couldn’t go anywhere. The farthest you could go was the chopping block or the hot tub. It was pretty weird but also different enough that it allowed something really organic to happen.
Trebuchet: What’s the grand plan for Suicide Silence? What keeps you guys together? Faith No More once said their mission was to ‘spread the hate and have fun’.
Mitch Lucker: I don’t know really. It thinks it all of our influences, all of us listened to the same things at the same ages, you know we all really got into metal and heavier metal. We all have the same list of bands that we listened from this time to this time. We don’t have what Faith No More has, like a phrase or anything, we just all like to make heavy music and perform. I love it that I have seen the whole world and I’m only 26, so that’s great fun.
Trebuchet: You said that this album is very different from your previous albums-
Mitch Lucker: -your body and brain changes as you go through things and I’m not going to keep writing about the same shit over and over again. It’s like kicking the same horse once it’s down, you can only write the same song once and once you’ve done that it’s already overkill.
Trebuchet: Were there any observations that you pulled from, the informed the album.
Mitch Lucker: The birth of my daughter was a big event in my life. Huge impact on my life. That was one of the major ones. I’ve already seen 90% of the world and there is more bad and ugly in the world than good. In fact, there is like around 99% of the world that is bad and ugly and less than 1% good.
Most people grow up thinking that starving is normal, or that this event happening is normal, and people are so ignorant that they don’t think anymore. They don’t think ‘wait this isn’t normal’ but people just put it off and whatever is happening around them is normal. So with my daughter I wonder what world there will be when she’s older, or even if she’s able to get older.
It’s opened my eyes to a lot of stuff and made me almost stop caring. The people that literally think this is how it done, this is how it’s always been done, nothing is going to change, those are the miserable people. Those are the people that watch the news everyday and mainstream media is created to scare people into control 100% of the time. So it’s understanding that those are the people that burden themselves with life, that they’re hurting themselves with other people’s problems.
Trebuchet: Are they part of the problem or part of the solution?
Mitch Lucker: There is no solution. What the media is making you aware of aren’t the real problems. ‘Oh this guys’s running for Governor, oh this guys in court’ I mean who the fuck cares that some guy is in court, he’s still a rich asshole right. Why is that the number one story on the news? What the fuck happened to Japan? Why is no one talking about that anymore? All the real problems are on the back burner. There is no much shit that just gets ignored.
Trebuchet: So this feeds into the new album?
Mitch Lucker: This one is just a lot more personal. People think that everything is just a super negative song but it really isn’t. It’s like if you hate the world and everything around you is bothering you and everything you see is making you scared to leave your own house. You are going to be miserable. You are going dig yourself into a depression hole because you think something bad is going to happen to you. You have to take what you see and say ‘fuck everything’ because you only live once. There’s not a lot of point of dwelling on things that really don’t have a lot of things to do with you.
Trebuchet: You’re leaving Century Records at the end of this record?
Mitch Lucker: Well it’s the end of the contract and we don’t know what we’re going to do. They’ve done great things for us so who knows. We do have other offers from a couple of other majors.
Trebuchet: You’ll see how the record does I suppose?
Mitch Lucker: Well regardless of how the record goes. I mean two major have already given us a contract, so we’ll see.
Trebuchet: What do you enjoy about playing aggressive music.
Mitch Lucker: The way people react to it. It’s an outlet. If you work a shitty nine to five job and you go home and your girlfriend is a bitch to you, she’s cheating on your or whatever, and then you go to a show. It’s a positive outlet of aggression. When you watch a band who are playing aggressively you can scream at the top of your lungs and no one is going think twice about it.
You do that in the street and people are going to be like ‘call the fucking cops, why is he screaming’ It’s like a legal place to get it out and it’s better than going out and getting into fights or whatever. So come and headbang, scream the words and do what you like, and I promise you you’ll go home and feel ten times better.
Trebuchet: You worked with Dave McKean on the cover of your first album.
Mitch Lucker: That guy is fucking amazing, have you seen Mirrormask? I ate a ton of psilocybin mushrooms and watching that movie one time.
Trebuchet: …and amazing things happened?
Mitch Lucker: (pause) I don’t recommend doing it. That movie is insane man, I love that movie.
Trebuchet: There’s a darkness in it.
Mitch Lucker: Super dark. That little girl can create anything with her mind. It’s so crazy. I’m going to watch that tonight.
Trebuchet: How did that collaboration come about?
Mitch Lucker: We saw that he did other people’s album covers. He’d stopped doing it for a while and he’d done a lot of them, like he did the Fear Factory one, and we’ve always sort of had a slightly nu-metal twist on the thing. So we thought for the first one let’s do something completely over the top and he agreed to do it. The imagery he came up with all the different parts of the CD were super sick and we made the whole back drop out of it and we made our whole stage have something to do with it. It’s such a presence to it and it really had an impact, the face with the shards coming out of it, it was so badass.
We sent him a couple of emails and he agreed to do it. We wanted him to do the second record but he’s so busy with so many projects that it’s didn’t happen.
Trebuchet: Did you work with him quite closely?
Mitch Lucker: Basically we sent him the album and the one thing that impacted on him was my voice and that’s why the cover has shards and stuff coming out of the mouth. His explanation was that that was it sounded like to him.
Trebuchet: You do have a massive range, you seem to go easily from growls to screams, do you a lemon a ginger drink or something…
Mitch Lucker: I warm up before we play. I have five shots of vodka mixed with a bit of Redbull. If there is whiskey I’ll take a couple of shots of that and then I just go on stage and then I jam. Afterwards I drink a couple of beers, smoke a bowl… I just rock it man. It’s rock and roll.
Trebuchet: Listening to the new album it seems like you guys have stretched out a bit in terms of structures.
Mitch Lucker: There are actually structures there in the songs. Before there was like 25 riffs in a song. It was just riff-riff-riff-riff-riff in a song. You’d listen to the song the first time and not remember one riff. So now when you bring back those hooks and those drops, or the riff from the beginning, it just makes it more memorable as a song. Then there’s pre-choruses and actually structures to the song.
Trebuchet: Does that help with the writing?
Mitch Lucker: It doesn’t help with the writing, it just gives me a solid foundation to structure the words to. It means I don’t have to come up with patterns for 25 different riffs or 15 or whatever. It makes it easier and the repetitions make it easier for the kids to get it and sing along halfway through the song.
This tour is only tour that we’ve played You Only Live Once and Fuck Everything on tour and it’s been insane. Last night during You Only Live Once the whole crowd was singing it from beginning to end… and the records not even out yet. I sat back and was like ‘whoa’ it was such a good feeling.
Trebuchet: You’ve mentioned that other bands will over analyse their sound and water it down. Is it important to keep it raw is a sense?
Mitch Lucker: It’s not that they water it down, it’s that they work so hard to make it mind-blowing complicated with the most mind-blowing fastest riffs or mind-blowing amazing parts or whatever and that’s the parts that the kids are standing there. Waiting.
Then comes the heavy part and everyone is head banging and dancing again. The heavy parts have grooves and it bounces which is what the crowd gets into and then it’s back into dediddle-dediddlediddlediddle-wee and it just goes ten feet over kids’ heads. It’s like if you’re trying to make your music as complex as it can be then people just aren’t going to get it. They just won’t-
Trebuchet: -so you’re about connection?
Mitch Lucker: Big time about the connection. Also, I want what I’m saying to be heard and understood. I don’t want to sound like a fucking dinosaur or a pig for 45 minutes and no one know what the fuck I’m saying and no one take a message away.
I’d rather have kids know what I’m saying and sing it with me. I don’t want it just to be like ‘raoaraawghawwgahs’ and people like me thinking ‘yeah you’re voice is crazy and extreme, whoa but look at your shows; they’re dead and no one is singing along’. I’d rather have people go completely apeshit, jump up and down, and sing along. Without our fans we ain’t shit and that’s how it is for every band. We really take it seriously and embrace our fans big time.
Trebuchet: Have you ever been mistaken for Josh Todd from Buckcherry?
Mitch Lucker: No. But there was this one time that he was mistaken for me. We were at this festival tent or something and some kids came up to him and yelled ‘Suicide Silence!’, he was like ‘what?’, I don’t think he even knew who the fuck Suicide Silence was and just turned around and walked away.
Trebuchet: It would be great if Suicide Silence did ‘I love the Cocaine’
Mitch Lucker: (laughs) That would be hilarious. I wish there was cocaine, right now I need something to lift my ass up.
Mitch Lucker – Suicide Silence, Interviewed: 28th June 2011. Prior to Gig at the Camden Underworld. with After the Burial, and Bleed From Within
All Photos: Copyright of Carl Byron Batson 2012
**Mitch Lucker passed away due to injuries sustained during a motorcycle accident on 1st November 2012. He was 28.