Mike Muir on Recruiting Dave Lombardo, If ‘World Gone Mad’ Is Suicidal Tendencies’ Last Album + More [Interview]
Suicidal Tendencies frontman Mike Muir was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. The singer discussed the band's appeal to a variety of different audiences, recruiting ex-Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo and the other members who have passed through the Suicidal ranks. He also discusses if World Gone Mad will be the band's last album and a lot more. Check out the chat below.
How are you?
Doing really good, doing really good.
The latest record is called World Gone Mad. Suicidal Tendencies are able to tour with all kinds of bands; everything from hardcore and punk to all types of metal. Mike, why do you think you appeal to so many different audiences?
I think it goes back the other way because so many people hated us at the time — what we were doing. I think like you said many times — our first record, the punk bands said it sucked. The metal fanzines said it sucked and wasn't metal and and every record we did didn't really fit in and we weren't really concerned about it. And so I think that probably made things difficult at the time, but probably why we're still here and it makes things a lot more exciting for us. You know we just feel like we're getting ready to go to Europe in the summer, the diversity of festivals that we're doing and it's way different than most bands there. They're on metal ones or this or that and we get to play so many different things and events. It's really exciting that makes everything a lot of fun.
More than a couple of dozen people have been a part of Suicidal Tendencies over the course of the band's history. Musically and personally, what gets someone the gig to play with you?
Oh well I mean if you read Wikipedia there's a lot of people have been in the band that I don't even know who they are [laughs] and some that I know that never were. But as you go on and do anything when you first started doing things you just do it hopefully to be fun and you learn as you go. Then hopefully you want to challenge yourself and you set goals and you have hopefully a purpose in something you want to accomplish. And as my dad said, a lot of people try get people to like them and you're much better off if you do what you like. That's the point that we've always tried to do.
At the time it's easier to know what somebody likes If you have a restaurant. You know you put sugar on it, it tastes better so to speak but it's not better in the long run.Going to probably Robert [Trujillo] who's probably the most famous ex, when we first got on the band he was all slapping and he's like, "Dude I can't do this," and I'm like, "What do you mean you can't do it, of course you can." He's like, "Yeah, but people won't accept that." And I said, "It doesn't matter what people are used to; people don't do that." I said, "Well you're not people you're Robert and that's why you're in the band."
And so we've been very fortunate to have people that have gone on and played with on a massive diversity of people you know from Prince to Sting you know to you know big rock bands. Brooks Wackerman is playing with Avenged Sevenfold, Robert in Metallica, Josh Freese played basically with everybody. There's just so many great musicians. Steve Thundercat, he just got Grammys for all that stuff with Kendrick Lamar, doing just amazing and completely different music as brothers, as I mentioned, played with Prince and George Duke, all the heavyweights of jazz. You have to have talent and talent is something not that you describe yourself as, it's something when you really push yourself and challenge yourself to do things that other people wouldn't do.
Let's talk about Dave Lombardo who is probably best known for his years with Slayer, but he's an extremely versatile drummer. How has he made a mark on Suicidal Tendencies?
Dave is basically the first person that we got that was famous before he was in the band. Brooks was 14, Josh was 17 — all of them were very young when they got into the band. It's two parts because I got the question a long time ago when people say, "You always get young people and new people in the band." They go, "Who is in the band that you'd really want to play with?" And I was like, "Wow, the only person I can think of is Dave Lombardo." That's because we toured with Slayer in Europe and used to just watch him every night and knew this guy was a beast on drums. We had some private discussion, not with him, but I was saying, "Wow man, I wonder what Suicidal would sound like with Dave on drums." That's one of those things that you kind of talk about someone else's girlfriend. You're not supposed to.
I had a tremendous amount of respect for him and like you said, getting up the kind of courage just to call him up and be like, "Dave, I don’t want to make you uncomfortable or this or that," but it was an incredible thing. Just getting him in the studio and when we practiced and played, he's an incredibly great drummer. I think people know him from certain styles of things, but whatever we do he just jumps right in. He's amazing; a really great guy.
He's a true credit because I think a lot of people — he's a little younger than me, but they show their age. They're there just trying to survive and Dave is a person that he knows that there's a lot of people that shake when they see him. Dave! Dave! It's great and he knows that every night there's gonna be a lot of people that are there to just watch him play drums. He takes that very seriously, he wants to do the best that he can and not have, that same thing with Suicidal, not be a nostalgic thing but be out there kicking ass. It's a great time for both of us.
Mike, you were a kid when you started Suicidal Tendencies. What is different now about the way you express yourself with music and also, what never changed?
Well, I was always able to know that people weren't going to like me. So I never let that bother me. I know a lot of people, it bothers them. In the same sense, I never did anything to get people to dislike me, which a lot of people would try and do intentionally. There was always a purpose in what I did, I never intended to be an a--hole. That's their interpretation.
I think when you do your own thing and you want to do your own thing and you’re not so concerned about fitting in, it scares people and it bothers them. I think it still applies now. When we started, what we were doing, records didn't sell. Punk bands bragged about selling a couple of thousand and now records don't sell again. As I tell people, it's a great opportunity to do what you want rather than do what you think someone else wants. Society always changes and you see the trends as they come and go and what's cool one minute is a joke the next.
So your life shouldn't be a trend, it should be something that's personal. The band is a very personal thing, a very honest thing. Rather than trying to be the Wizard of Oz or something bigger than you are, or trying to create some facade that has no substance. I am who I am and I know a lot of people don't like me and that's all right.
Suicidal have always stood for individuality. Who encouraged you the most to be yourself and express that attitude with your music?
Wow. Well, I always talk about my dad and that's probably the biggest thing. I used to always hear my dad say, "It's your life not mine." There are so many people — my dad played football in college. So many people... what their parents did, they wanted their kids to do whether they're doctors or lawyers, whatever it was. Police, military, sports or they weren't good at it, and they wanted to live vicariously through their kids and my dad always said, "You do what you want." Hey, I wanted to play baseball, he grabbed a mit and he played baseball. If he wanted to play football, he played football. It was my thing, my brother wanted to skateboard, he got him a skateboard. It's our life and ultimately he's going to be gone and we have to live on and do our thing.
I think that's the most important thing. Finding your own path, whatever you do, and not try to follow someone else. I was fortunate that I did like very few bands and there was a whole lot of bands that I didn't like. But I definitely appreciated someone like Johnny Rotten and his wittiness and his ability to upset people for the right reasons, because they were wrong and they didn't want to be wrong to someone such as him. [laughs] It was hilarious. Some people that just basically chose to do things their own way and didn't worry about what other people thought because they were thinking.
It goes to the whole point I mean, with politics now and everybody talks about "we need a leader" and I was like, "What is a leader?" And I've had this discussion with so many people recently. You get out of the context and they put you down but they always say that a leader is someone that doesn't get you to follow. A leader is someone that gets you to blaze your own trail. That's why I don't vote. They're trying to get you to follow. And that's what's our point. We're not trying to tell you what to think. We're not trying to get people to be like us, we're trying to get people to be like themselves.
I think too many people say, "I'm just being myself" and you look at it, and you’re like, "Nah, you’re doing the opposite of someone else or just reacting to someone else. You're not following your heart. And that's what $2000... being yourself and finding out, taking that journey. Your own journey. Not learning the hard way, being smart. You don't have to just start running out in the middle of the desert. Be prepared for whatever you do and challenge yourself but don't be stupid.
You've said that World Gone Mad might be the band's final album. What goes through your mind when you think about whether or not to make an album?
I think it's a whole different process now because previously it used to be, "Okay, time to do another record. We go into here, record, you go into the studio and you’re paying money." You have everything planned out before you even go into here. Now with the good side of music and I guess everyone has their own studio or everyone can have Pro Tools, so you can go in at any time so you don't sit there and go, "Well we have two weeks!" So you don't think about it.
We found that over the years we record a lot of stuff just because we love doing music and having fun and not necessarily loving the aspect of putting it out for other people to hear or judge. But I think that with World Gone Mad, I think it's a personal statement record to fit in with all what else we've got in the past. It's a good way to end it, as I said before, at the same time we recorded an EP and there's a possibility we might put that out. There's a very good chance that'll be our last album album that we do. I know Dave — every time I said, he's like, "Hey let's record something." We'll always record things, whether we put it out, I don’t know. We've been focusing since this record has come out and we got so much stuff already planned that I can't even think about recording another record. I guess that's good.
Thank you so much for taking the time.
Cool, thanks again.
Thanks to Mike Muir for the interview. Get your copy of Suicidal Tendencies' 'World Gone Mad' through Amazon or digitally through iTunes and stay up to date with everything the band is up to by following their Facebook page. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show at this location.
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