Mike Muir prefaces his rant, “I’m not going to talk War and Peace to you.” As the last original member and main creative force behind Suicidal Tendencies, he has a lot to say about 32 years of music. Their three-decade-long career includes stints as the renamed Infectious Grooves, being introduced to new fans through countless skate soundtracks, and producing an astonishing twelve albums.
Suicidal Tendencies are now touring North America behind their newest album, 13. Of note, they’re making an appearance in Vancouver for the first time since 1994. Many of the ticket holders have likely been born since, with generations of fans bridging the gap. “Kids were going, ‘Wow, I wanted to go the Suicidal show, but I don’t think my dad would take me,’” he narrates, “then their dad pulls out our records and goes, ‘Ya, I’ll take you!’”
Their first album in as many years, 13 defies time, referencing Suicidal Tendencies’ past output without resting on their laurels. “It’s not about how many people buy the record now,” says Muir. “It’s about how many people buy the record in 10 or 20 years and go, ‘Sweet. That’s a great record.’” Even so, in the middle of “Shake It Out” Muir feels fit to, with tongue firmly in cheek, re-mention the infamous diet pepsi of 1983’s “Institutionalized.” The rest of the album straddles genres between thrash, p-funk, and hardcore punk. Suicidal’s guitarist for the last 23 years, Mike Clarke, is not on this album either, meaning an entire new line-up playing brand new songs.
Suicidal Tendencies’ lack of Canadian tour dates was not a reluctance to play our country. “I love Canada and stuff,” Muir assures me. “I just don’t like their customs people, because they don’t like us. And they’re always causing a lot of problems for us.” But early this year they found their phones ringing after several impressive gigs. “We were playing two festivals in Montreal and Toronto, and we got a lot of offers to play Canada after that,” says Muir. “But we’ll have to leave a lot of our gear across the border.”
Suicidal Tendencies has always been closely affiliated with SoCo skate culture, even though Muir was never a professional skater himself. “My brother (Jim Muir) was five years older than me, I was just the young guy trying to hang out with the Z-Boys,” he explains, “but I was one of the first non-skaters on the cover of Thrasher magazine.” Their classic skate punk videos, including “Possessed to Skate,” depict the insanity that Jim, a founder of the Z-Boys, introduced to the band.
Terror and Trash Talk have been chosen to open this tour, two much younger thrash acts musically indebted to the headliner. Muir reciprocates a mutual amount of respect. “If we were younger and not on the band side, we’d want to check them out,” Muir states plainly, praising both the acts as well as explaining his choice.
Come Wednesday when they hit the Vogue Theatre, expect Suicidal Tendencies fans of every age, hair colour, and skate deck in the mosh pit. Expect to feel the youth of screaming thrash solos in an impressive performance from a band thats been touring for three decades. And expect to never feel like yawning for the following 24 hours. “We’re not a punk band doing metal,” Mike assures. “Suicidal does what we do in our own way, we blend everything seamlessly.” Expect their blender to be set to “liquify.”
Suicidal Tendencies plays the Vogue Theatre on December 4th with Trash Talk and Terror.
By Mathieu Youdan
Photos: Pep Williams (top), Luke Sorensen (middle, home page)