Suicidal Tendencies Vocalist Mike Muir Discusses the State of Music + 2015 Plans
Suicidal Tendencies frontman Mike Muir was the guest on Full Metal Jackie's radio show this past weekend. Muir spoke about the band's return to touring, the biggest misconceptions about the group and what 2015 may hold. Check out portions of the chat below.
How ya doing, my friend?
I'm doing good, doing good.
Saw you on this last Slayer tour, what an amazing bill. So great to see you guys playing again.
Cool. Yeah, it's been really good experience. I guess in a certain way we are fortunate that we were able to do such sick shows in May, which is you know kinda rare, so few shows. But it gives us the opportunity to get reunited, so to speak, with Slayer. A lot of their crew is people I've known for a long time, really good people, and comfortable and there is a certain excitement that on the good side were shows that we did. Everyone was really excited and the bad side of it "What the hell is wrong with you? Why aren't you playing here?," and so you know to be able to do the next leg it was a good situation and so you know just flying right through, so it'll be over quicker than we know.
Mike, what's the most ridiculous misconception that you've ever heard that someone had about you?
Oh wow! There's so many [things]. It's one of those ones that's funny especially even with the Internet nowadays. Sometimes people are like, "Oh dude look at this and that, you need to say something." It's so effing ridiculous. It's one of those things that I kinda let my actions speak louder than the words.
There are always going to be people that don't like me because I always say what I believe. My dad always told me, "I'm always gonna say what I believe you need to hear rather than what you want to hear." It's really easy to tell someone what they want to hear, but it's more important to help say what you really believe.
Heavy music is always evolving and changing. Good or bad, what would have surprised you most when you were younger about aggressive music and its subculture in 2014?
Well, I mean, there obviously was no Internet so that is a big … in totally different ways so big and all the things that go with it, video games and all that type of situation. I think that you know on a completely simple level when I was young someone said, "Hey, you have one hour and you can hear any songs you wanna hear for you know three hours." I would just immediately drop everything I was doing and I would be like, "Oh I wanna hear this song and this song or that song" and now people have the ability to listen to any song at anytime they want and so I think sometimes they don't listen to the music. So I think that in a sense there's that old saying, "Music is the soundtrack to life" but its also the selection of where life is for a lot of people because when you have something and you can have it at any particular moment it doesn't have as much meaning.
I think that's one of the things that you know people talk about when labels have gone wrong and this and that, but I think that's where musicians have gone wrong is making something that actually is important to people that is not just background elevator music. It's something that really hits people and they need you know rather than tune in and tune out and stuff. So I think for Suicidal we've always picked on what we feel we need you know and it's unfortunate that other people have… it's affected them the same way and that type of situation, but you know, I think that's the big difference.
It was 13 years between the latest album and the one before it. What dictates when there will be another Suicidal Tendencies album?
Right now I have no answer to that as far as the previous one. There were a lot of things that went on and I think for us now, if everyone said they wanted to get into the studio and there was something they really wanted to do, I'd take it into consideration. But we're in the studio all the time, we're always recording.
I enjoy doing music in that, I hope that we'll get a reaction from people but I think we get limited by time. Now we've been doing it over 30 years, every record we've put out we've pretty much attacked and critiqued and put on another level. Years later, people that weren't even born when they hear it for the first time, they've got a different reaction to it. So I think the longevity allows us to look at music differently rather than how music is perceived on a particular day. And now that music doesn't sell I think it's a great opportunity for younger people to actually try to do something that's completely different because there is no market, so to speak.
For us, there was punk rock, where we're from, that genre is super small. Bands brag about selling 5,000 copies so you didn't do it to sell records, you didn't think you would sell records. I think it's full circle now where people don't buy records. It allows you to do music, it's something you don't have to worry about how it's going to be perceived. But I think it's the other way too, some people are even more concerned about that stuff. I look at it as, I hope the next big record is from somebody somewhere obscure and maybe one of my kids play it and I'll go, "Who the f--k is that?!" I have to listen to it a few times and go, "Wow, I appreciate what they're doing."
Suicidal Tendencies were at the forefront of bringing together punk and metal. What do you like about bands that took your lead and continue to blend those styles?
One of the things, and it may sound bad, one of the things we did is we took what we like and we stomped out what we didn't like. It's a little more difficult to do that approach and it's offensive to some people. Especially when its very clear and you go out of your way to let people know that you really don't care. That bothers people. Eventually a lot of people respect that and they appreciate that, but I think the thing is; you have to know what you like and why you like it. You have to be comfortable with that. It's a lot like food, if there's food I like and people ask me why I eat it, I don't sit there and say, "Oh, it's not good? OK, I don't like it anymore." There's food I don't like and someone says it's great, how can you not like it? I wish I did, but I don't. That's the way music is. It doesn't really affect me what you think about it, it's the way I feel about it. I think that's where music should be and is supposed to be. After time goes on it becomes a style or rather than an actual belief, if that makes sense.
What do you hope people recognize when they talk about and listen to Suicidal Tendencies, now in 2014?
It's hard because especially for people who are younger to go back in time and what was actually happening. There's a lot of magazines in Europe and when our first record came out, all the punk fanzines said it sucked, it wasn't punk rock, it was metal. All the metal fanzines said it sucked, it wasn't metal it was punk. We didn't really have an audience and then four years later, we get our second record and all the punk fanzines said our first record was great and the second one sucked, it went metal. All the metal people did the exact same thing. So we always were behind the curve but every time we did a new record, our last record that people said sucked all of a sudden became good. Then they wanted us to do the exact same thing over again.
In hindsight, our music goes together, there's a continuity but I think when you have a book you need to have different chapters. If you have the same chapter over and over, people would say it's a terrible book. With music, sometimes people don't get that. They want the same chapter over and over again. For us, Suicidal is a great book. It went on a great journey, although sometimes people may not have understood what was going on when it comes to where we are now, I think it all makes sense.
Mike, what can we expect in 2015?
That's one of the ones we're working on now, we had to take some time off. There's a number of things that had happened and one of the big things unfortunately, our bass player passed away. That definitely rattles you in a lot of different ways. But, we're doing this tour, we'll get back in time for Christmas and the New Year then take a little time off.
There's a number of opportunities that are coming that we'll discuss and we'll do at the end of the tour on what we want to do touring wise and what we want to go across. Some other kind of unique things that are I guess this day in age too worth it, people didn't used to do that we can probably do that is the good side of the now, so to speak. Hopefully there will be some really cool things and stuff that ultimately we'll be proud of. If people say, dude I went to that, that was so cool. That's the best way to do it.
Mike, thank you so much for being on the show.
Thanks to Suicidal Tendencies' Mike Muir. Suicidal Tendencies will wrap their 2014 touring this week at these locations. Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.