Suicidal Tendencies are in a really strong place right now, which is even more impressive when you consider the band’s being together for 36 fucking years! With former Slayer drummer, Dave Lombardo, and fan-turned-bassist Ra Díaz on board, the band just put out their latest record, ‘World Gone Mad’. With a new album out, we catch up with the band’s only original member, vocalist Mike Muir, after a recent show with Megadeth in Detroit to talk about where Suicidal Tendencies are at in 2016, their “final album”, on having their songs covered over the years, and really loving the Suicidal for the first time in years.
Tell me Mike, does being in the band for so long now, about 36 years, and with having so many albums, tours and members, does that ever creep in on the sanity levels? Like, you’ve been in this band longer than you haven’t been in it.
Yeah! The best way to put it is that when I was much younger, I didn’t think I would make it to 30 years old. In the first interview I ever did for the band was for this punk rock fanzine and we were asked what we’d be doing in five years and I said I’ll don’t think I’ll be doing music in five years. But I followed it up with that if I am, I’ll be proud of what I’ve done. So for us now, and for what we’ve done, I can say that this is the most fun I’ve had in the band. I’m very fortunate to be around the same people who are all having the same goal. Honestly, this is actually the first time that I’ve had fun in the band. It’s a band filled with people that I actually like and we’re all pulling in the same direction.
When you’re in a band as long as we have, you meet people who have seeing you play live on their bucket list. Once they have it becomes ‘When are you playing here?’ and we’re here to remind the people that love Suicidal Tendencies why they love us and to make them fall for us even more.
Oh wow, good to hear, Mike. Having such a lengthy career creates that long-life bond between you and the fans and the friends you make along the way. Now, you’ve said that ‘World Gone Mad’ may be the band’s last album, and you’ve spoken a lot about that topic lately, but was that because you think you’ve said all you need to say or that the band is just tired of touring and all that comes with being a band of your caliber?
It’s actually a lot more complicated than that. I called Dean [Pleasants, lead guitar] and said that if we’re gonna do another record, we’re gonna need to really think about it and make some big changes. It’ll be a lot of work and it won’t be done the easy way, and we’ll probably go down that road and I’ll probably pull the plug somewhere, just because if I’m not completely happy with it. With that being said, I wouldn’t feel comfortable where we’d be left off. The last record, for instance, we recorded so many songs and we had so many people coming in and out of the band; people who just wanted to play on it and we were just re-doing so much work. So this one was learning from the past and we’re gonna make what we believe to be a great record.
Of course, man, if you do another album you’re going to actually want to enjoy it and think it’s good enough to release. But earlier you said you’re having fun with the band now and you actually like the people in it, so does that lead credence to the idea that you may do another record with this line-up? Even if it takes a few more years?
Well, I know that Dave [Lombardo] has a different approach. He always says “musicians never retire”. He says he wants to play until his 80. I can bet that I won’t be in this band at that age [laughs]. He also gets so excited about the next record and we all just smile at that, as we’re all in a good place and we all want the best for Suicidal. So if there is another record, it’ll be because we think it’s important to do. I can’t see it happening right now, with this record out and with our new EP coming out soon.
Well with all of that, will you still maintain the band’s touring and live shows over the next few years?
Yeah, we just have so much touring to do right now. We’re planning well into 2017 right now. There will have to be a point where I say that I can’t do this anymore, but I’m not there yet.
Right on, man. Weird question, With Suicidal Tendencies being around since 1980, you guys had a solid career prior to the Internet’s rise and ubiquity, so was that ever hard for you and the band to adapt to the Internet and what meant for your music, the media, and the industry as a whole?
Well, when we started, we were a sub-genre of punk and punk didn’t sell back then. We never did records to sell; we just did music we liked. When we were playing our music to one of our friends, he said ‘You know no one’s gonna like that? That’s not music. You should go listen to the radio’. But I didn’t like what was on the radio so why would I do that? I’ll do my own thing.
So the downfall of music with the Internet is a blessing, actually. If you’re doing a record that isn’t gonna sell, then you have no excuses to do a record that you think people will like. Which is what we did here, we did a record that we love. If people like it, cool and if they pay for it or not that’s their business. There’ll be people who hate the Internet situation, which is fine, but in this day and age, you need to do a record that you like. Take this as an opportunity to sit and do something you like. It makes it easier, I think.
Dude, that’s so well said and such an interesting perspective. On doing records that you like, I wanna ask about the other bands you’ve played in. Are there plans for a new Cyco Miko or Infectious Grooves release?
Nah man, there’s just not enough time. Robert’s in Metallica and they have a new album, Brooks Wackerman [drums] is in Avenged Sevenfold now, and Dean’s in Suicidal too. So there’s no time, really. We were really fortunate to do those shows but you can’t be in two places, let alone three places at the same time. In a perfect world, we’d do it in a heartbeat. We almost went to Australia with Infectious Grooves, but it fell through. Robert and I do have a silent pact that we will play in France with Infectious, because his family is from there, and I said we’ll lay in Australia too, as I have family there too. So if you ever see an Infectious Grooves show come up, it’ll be in Australia or France.
Oh sick, I would love to see Infectious Grooves live! With the various covers of ‘Institutionalized’, among other songs over the years, like Senses Fail and Body Count. How do you feel about the covers and would you cover anyone else’s songs?
I’ve known Ice-T for quite a while, and he’s always been very complimentary of us. He told me that if it weren’t for Suicidal, there wouldn’t be a Body Count. He’s a good person, and he approached us first asking about doing a modern take on the track and I said go for it. I think if the approach of people before they do it is correct, then I appreciate that. I’ve always said that the best thing I’ve ever seen from as a kid was Devo on Saturday Night Live and he was playing The Rolling Stones’ (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. I went to school the next say and everyone was like [in a high-pitched whiny voice] ‘They destroyed the song!’ but I thought it was really fucking cool. I love when people take something and do their own spin on it. I prefer that than just simple regurgitation.
But no, we’ve never done a cover in Suicidal, and I’d be surprised if we ever did. Infectious Grooves did a cover of Fame and the Immigrant song, but I don’t think Suicidal would do covers, especially not at this point.
Oh, fair enough, Mike. But I agree, some of my favorite covers are ones where they’ve really changed up the song. Well, thanks for jumping on the phone with me today, man, and I wish you nothing but the best for the hectic touring schedule going into next year [laughs].
[Laughs] cool, thanks a lot, man, we’ll see you guys real soon!
‘World Gone Mad’ is out now.