Mark Heylmun of Suicide Silence: "The Purpose of Our First Record Was To Offend Everyone"
Intense barely scratches the surface when talking about Suicide Silence. The California extreme metal outfit has been around for just over a decade, and in that time, they've created three of the severest slabs of deathcore to be found.
Speaking from a Houston restaurant in anticipation of tonight's show at the House of Blues opening for Machine Head, guitarist Mark Heylmun talked about his band's extreme brand of metal and how Suicide Silence has moved beyond just hating on religion.
The two labels most often applied to you are extreme metal and deathcore. Do you prefer either one?
I think we are just a metal band that was put into a subgenre that was new because we play music that is hard to describe. We wouldn't call ourselves deathcore. We are just a heavy band. The media started calling us deathcore. We are an extreme heavy metal band.
Mitch Luckers' vocal style is so full throttle. Does he require a day of rest between shows?
No, he warms up real well. I know he sounds like he is hurting himself, but he is very well prepared to sing like he does.
When the band first started over a decade ago, you had two singers. Now, there are many bands that have dual vocalists.
We only had two singers for one show. That was literally our first show and it was ten years ago.
How has the band changed over that time?
We're holding up. We're on tour with Machine Head right now. We've pretty much toured with all of our favorite bands. It's working out well for us. We're kind of starting a new chapter right now, as we are writing the fourth record.
The third album, The Black Crown, came out in July of last year. How far into the next record are you?
We're really not that far. We are getting all of our ideas out. We will get home from this tour and start sitting down to write music together. Right now, we're talking about what we are going to do. We're just getting the ball rolling.
Your three-album contract with Century Media is finished. Will the next album be on another label?
We're not really sure yet. We are shopping around. There are a couple of labels we have talked with, but nothing is set in stone. The next record will be our best. I know everyone says that, but where we are going with this next record, it's going to cover a lot of ground.
Your first album was the label's best selling debut recording. Were you surprised by the early success of the band?
Yes, because we didn't really know what to expect. It was our first release ever on a label. We didn't know what kind of numbers we were worth. Our first EP had very limited distribution with 3,000 printed. Then our first full-length sells 7,000 copies in its first week. It was amazing.
Not bad for a band that started out as a side project.
Well, the band started out as an idea. It began in our freshman year of high school. Chris Garza, the other guitarist, and I invited some friends in other bands to just come over and jam. We wrote a couple of songs and people started dwindling away. I was in another band but, yes, everyone did come together as a side project from other bands.
The first album is often said to be anti-religious. Do you think it is?
Yes, the purpose of our first record was to offend everyone.
Were you successful in that aim?
Yes, we succeeded pretty well. Our video was banned from MTV. The lyrical content of the songs from that record contained a lot of blasphemy and God-bashing.
Did any of you have a bad experience with religion growing up?
Not really. We all just kind of formed our own opinions. The lyrics are all written by Mitch, so it's whatever he is feeling at the time. I think that first record was a way for him to vent.
On your most recent effort, the songs seem to focus more on personal issues.
People say that album is so different from our first couple of records, but we wrote what we felt like writing. We weren't trying to change anything or do anything differently. It was just the way we felt. We wrote what we wanted to write.
You've played on the Warped Tour in the past. What's the most difficult aspect of playing those shows?
It can be a beating. That tour can be ridiculous. I think it was 58 days and 46 shows. It has kind of a boot camp atmosphere. You never know when you are going to play every day. No matter how late you stay up partying, you have to wake up and find out when you are scheduled to play. Well, at least the road manager has to get up. But doors open at 10:30 and you could play at 11:00. You never really know. And it was brutal in Arizona and New Mexico because of the dry heat.
The music features crazy tempos and time signatures. How often do you make a mistake?
For us, it comes naturally because we've been doing it for so long. We don't really jam with other people. We do close to 200 or 250 shows a year. We have our niche and we have gotten used to it. It's pretty rare that you will catch us fucking up live.
Do you guys give each other hell if anyone makes a mistake?
No, we don't give each other hell. We give each other shit.
Suicide Silence performs with Machine Head and Darkest Hour tonight, February 13, at the House of Blues.