Suicidal Tendencies gets set to launch their return while Iron Man has their back

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:: Suicidal Tendencies ::
:: Gothic Theatre :: Nov. 28 ::

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By Brandon Daviet

If you were to apply the theory of “don’t judge a book by its cover” to the world of music, one of the first bands that it would apply to would be Suicidal Tendencies. Their name instantly turns heads and often those heads are of people who assume the band is one big walking bad influence.

However, closer inspection reveals something quite different. Sure, the band might sing about dark emotions and use a few curse words, but they have always done it in a way that inspires their fans to overcome their problems rather than wallow in them. In essence, Suicidal Tendencies is motivational music for people that don’t find quiet time with singer/songwriters particularly useful.

Beyond that, Suicidal’s first self-titled album will forever be remembered for helping consummate the marriage between hardcore and heavy metal. Tracks like “I Saw You Mommy” and the genuine teenage angst of “Institutionalized” remain underground classics. The band’s second album, Join the Army, with key tracks like “War Inside My Head” and “Possessed to Skate,” was prolific enough to land the band a major label deal.

That deal led to 1988’s anthem-filled How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can’t Even Smile Today. The album brought the band’s music to a wider audience and singer Mike Muir’s manic vocal delivery, landing somewhere between gangster rapper and southern evangelist, really gave the band a unique presence alongside straight metal bands like Megadeth and Anthrax. The band soon became a staple on programs like “Headbanger’s Ball” and could often be seen opening shows for metal’s elite.

“Really what Suicidal is all about is challenging people to ask themselves, ‘What are you going to do, just sit around and watch your T.V. and complain about how messed up the world is, or are you going to go out there and take some chances,’” said Muir, who recently spoke with The Marquee. “I don’t mean just going out there and jumping from building to building, our songs are really about going out there and evaluating what’s good and what’s bad.”

The name Suicidal Tendencies has always caused the band problems and according to Muir, “it still does.” The irony is that after the success of their masterfully relevant 1990 album Lights…Camera…Revolution!, and particularly the social commentary of the song “Send Me Your Money,” the problem seemed to be gone for a bit and a concentrated effort was made, mainly by the band’s label at the time, Epic Records, to make the band a radio-friendly, household name.

With 1992’s The Art of Rebellion, Suicidal finally had the mainstream paying attention. “That was the first record we did that people were saying ‘Wow, this is going to sell five million’ and right then I go, ‘we got a problem here,’ because nobody said that before, that’s when people started putting two-and-two together and coming up with twenty,” said Muir about the high expectations for the album. “We always said that if the average person heard any of our records that they would do well.”

The record did do well but many hardcore fans felt the record was a bit too tame and that, combined with the growing popularity of grunge, signaled the beginning of the end of the band’s major label career. They recorded one more record, Suicidal for Life, for Epic and smartly retreated back to their independent roots when it became clear they could be more effective as an independent band.

Suicidal for Life was lyrically unrelenting, perhaps too much so for Epic Records, and proved Suicidal were ahead of the curve even if the mainstream wasn’t quite ready. “I think it has proven that if you listen to a lot of the music in the last five to 10 years since we have done a record, you’ll hear a lot of elements that we were using 25 years ago and that’s great, I’d rather be remembered for being ahead of our time than behind the times,” said Muir.

Since Suicidal for Life, the band has released several projects on their own independent label and maintained their own website at suicidaltendencies.com, but has kept a relatively low profile for the majority of the last decade. Fresh off an overseas tour and a hometown appearance at the Los Angeles “We the People” festival, Suicidal have recorded some new music, shot a video and are gearing up for a long awaited U.S. tour.

The question is: Is America ready for ST’s return? The answer may lie in one of last summer’s top movies. During a key scene in the blockbuster comic book flick Iron Man, billionaire/superhero Tony Stark is caught rocking out to Suicidal’s “Institutionalized.” It was a small but important nod, signaling the resounding influence the band has had despite their controversial career. “That was interesting, a lot of people were like, ‘What the hell was that? That was cool,’ said Muir. “I think it opened us up to a lot of new fans.”

:: Suicidal Tendencies ::
:: Gothic Theatre :: Nov. 28 ::

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