Interview with Suffocation
Suffocation has had the world in a chokehold for the past 20 years. They are currently headlining the Summer Slaughter fest with many notable bands in tow. The latest installment in their arsenal of albums is "Blood Oath," and you can pick it up at the show before it is released in July. I had a chance to talk to Frank Mullen, Terrance Hobbs and Guy Marchais when the Summer Slaughter Fest stopped in New Orleans on their day off to rock our city.
Buick Mckane: Welcome to New Orleans. How has it been playing with so many bands on this tour?
Frank Mullen: It’s a long day; I’ll say that. It’s cool though. The cool thing about the Summer Slaughter Fest is that it’s 20 or 25 dollars, and kids get to come down and see ten bands. It keeps the ticket prices low. The fans get a chance to come out and see the bands.
Buick: Well, you’re latest album “Blood Oath” is coming out soon in July, but I saw it on your merchandise table earlier.
Frank: It’s coming out July 14th, but Nuclear Blast allowed us to bring the CDs with us for this tour. We’re actually selling them on tour. So you can buy them at the show before it comes out on July 14th. So if you come down to the show, you can pick it up first before anyone else.
Buick: Can you tell me a little about the album?
Frank: Suffocation stays true to the same formulas we’ve used for the past twenty years. It involves the aspects of music that we’re in to; pretty much hardcore, death metal, thrash, speed metal and technical metal.
Terrance Hobbs: It’s just really heavy shit.
Frank: But on this new album, we went back to the same studio we recorded the last album at. We have a lot better equipment now. It came out amazing. I think it’s the best album sound-wise that we’ve ever done. We’re just looking forward to the fans’ reaction and see what they think. We don’t put something out if we don’t believe in it; that’s first and foremost. We’re not going to put a song out there just to put it out.
Buick: On the European release, there is an acoustic version of a song and a raw version of another song. On the American release there’s also an acoustic and raw version of a two songs, but they’re different songs than the European version. Why did you split up the four songs on two albums?
Terrance: That was more of Nuclear Blast’s promotional idea to keep the press moving with the rest of the album. We just spent a lot of time making the album so whatever they wanted to do with it was fine.
Buick: I was particularly drawn to the artwork on the cover with five swordsman around a table. Who thought of the concept?
Terrance: It was a group effort really. Mike [Smith] had thought of the concept of the album. We thought,” Well, we have a symbol, so why don’t we place it in the middle of an altar with the five of us surrounding it as spirit-type creatures.” So we called up our artist Jon Zig. He came up with it to represent everything about the album. It’s blood red for the name “Blood Oath,” which symbolizes the serious oath we took to stay with what we do. It’s kind of symbolic of that as well.
Frank: We took an oath 20 years ago to death metal. We wanted to write cool music and wouldn’t change or go from that style to anything else. It’s like taking an oath to music.
Buick: When the album is released, this tour will last only two more weeks. After that are you going to go on a full tour to support the album?
Terrance: Probably not until next year.
Frank: Eventually at some point. We’ve got some European dates coming up, and playing Australia, Japan, New Zealand, places like that. In some form or another, there’s going to be a full U.S. tour.
Buick: Yall really go on a tour when you tour. You seem to go all over the world each time so you don’t miss anybody.
Frank: We try not to.
Terrance: It gets hard. It’s all a matter of timing and budgets. When we get a chance to get out there and see you guys, we’ll be out.
Buick: There’s been a gap of three years between this album and the last one. Do you spend a little more time working on an album each one you do?
Terrance: Well we’re trying to make enough time so that we can be at home and spend time with our families, as well as tour and be able to write. With one album to be able to do that for one period of time and not be burned out and still have your home life is a fucking mission.
Frank: Yeah we did a big tour on our last album, and touring consumes a lot of your day. Typically it takes us two years to put an album together. The material has to be right.
Buick: You’ve been around for 20 years and have played so many different places. What is your favorite place to play?
Frank: There’s so many. [Naming of cities all over the world by all.] The biggest thing we ever played was Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany. That was playing in front of 40,000 people. That was crazy.
Buick: Do you prefer playing the big festivals or smaller venues?
Guy Marchais: I like the small ones.
Terrance: I think the small ones are great, but as far as the band getting more feed back from the audience, you really can’t beat the festivals.
Frank: They’re both unique in they’re own way. If it’s a small club and it’s packed and they just go completely insane, that’s ridiculous. But you could go to a big festival and see 2000 people going nuts, that’s sick too. It depends on the crowd and where you are.
Terrance: I like the sound of a small venue. It just sounds so much tighter. I like the intimate feeling of the small places.
Buick: What are your future plans as of now?
Frank: We’re going to continue to write music, and do a tour cycle for this album. We’ve got a DVD coming out hopefully by the end of the summer. There’s a PC game that’s a first-person shooter game that’s coming out. It’s just a lot of stuff going on. We just take it how it comes.
Buick: Is there anything you’d like to say?
Frank: Stay brutal, don’t change for anyone, and we’ll see you soon.
Emily is an avid supporter of the New Orleans scene, often filming shows and conducting interviews with local bands to help promote their music. She also runs her own site dedicated to the New Orleans scene, Crescent City Chaos.
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