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[INTERVIEW] Mike Muir – Suicidal Tendencies

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Written by Maxine Gatt

Mike Muir, the lead vocalist and sole founding member of Suicidal Tendencies best known as ‘Cyco Miko‘ is damn excited. This September, Suicidal Tendencies will be touring the US with Megadeth and Amon Amarth and if that wasn’t enough, the seminal thrash quintet is working on their latest album with former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo, entitled World Gone Mad. 

“Doing a Suicidal record is with a purpose and an urgency. I don’t know how much time we have (left) and this could be the last record and it needs to be something that I’m proud of,” declares Muir. “You need to feel comfortable that this is the last chapter of the book.”

Retirement isn’t an option just yet. After three hiatuses and Muir enduring two back operations, Suicidal Tendencies show no signs of abating. Simply, Muir isn’t a man to take life for granted. After witnessing a horrific car accident in front of a rehearsal studio a few years back, Muir remains philosophical. “You never know what’s going to happen,” observes Muir.

The new album has eleven ripping tracks and is everything Suicidal Tendencies fans would demand. Unsurprisingly, the addition of Lombardo has seen the band adopt a heavily drum-driven approach to songwriting. With song titles like Damage Control, World Gone Mad, Get Your Fight On! and The Struggle Is Real, politics are a recurring theme on World Gone Mad.

Suicidal has been doing this for years,” stresses Muir. “We’re not trying to tell you what to think, we’re just trying to make sure you do think.”

“One thing that Suicidal always does, is that there is a deeper meaning that sometimes people don’t want to get. It’s like what my dad always says; ‘it’s easy to see what’s wrong with the world, what’s wrong in other people, [but] it’s a lot harder to see what’s wrong with us.’”

Rather than pointing fingers at others and making excuses for ones own failures, Muir prefers to simply remind people not to take life for granted throughout World Gone Mad. “[It’s about] getting out there sometimes and putting a foot up someone’s arse to remind them that life is important.”

On a song such as Still Dying To Live, Muir explains the philosophy underpinning his approach to lyrics and music. “I learnt the first time when I was thirteen or fourteen, my friends were like ‘I’d die for this’ and ‘I’d die for that’ and it stuck on me. One good reason to live is worth a whole lot more than a hundred reasons to die for.” Ironically, Muir explains that “the whole thing with Suicidal [is] you need a reason to live.”

“You can be alive, but you’re not living”, he continues. “When you have a purpose and you have that feeling inside, that will overpower any ideology, any fanaticism, any Trump or Clinton. And I think the only hope for the world is people. You gotta believe in the people rather than the system.”

Whilst working Muir has worked with Dean Pleasants on lead guitar for over two decades, the duo was joined by three new members for their new record. Of the three, the best known is undoubtedly Dave Lombardo who signed on as a permanent member after filling in for their last US tour supporting Megadeth. “He brings a whole different intensity and rhythmic feel to the band,” enthuses Muir.

“I was telling my friend before this was happening that he is the only person who’s been established that I want to hear play (in Suicidal Tendencies) and he’s like, ‘give him a call’. I felt like a 12-year-old boy asking a girl, who sat next to me in class, out to the movies”, recalls Muir. “I was like all nervous, my palms were sweaty and I’m thinking about what I’m going to say.”

“[I said] have you ever considered playing in Suicidal? And then there was this half second and I’m like, oh shit, here it comes and I expect ‘oh, I really feel honoured, but it’s not you, it’s me.’ And he goes, ‘Fuck yeah!’”

Lombardo was joined by bassist Ra Diaz from Chile, originally a fan of the band who quietly practiced with the hope of playing for his favourite band. “I called him up and said, ‘come in tomorrow. You got one shot. You don’t need to learn the songs; we know you know them’.”

On rhythm guitar is Jeff Pogan who was originally a guitar tech with the band. After engineering their new album, he eventually graduated to auditioning for the band. “Even though they (Diaz and Pogan) weren’t born when our first record came out, they understand what it means to a lot of people,” says Muir. “There are people who have seen us 10 or 15 times and their excitement is bigger than ours.”

Whilst shows are slated across the US, Europe and Central America this year, fans will have to bank on the band’s love if they want to see them in Australia. It’s a land close to Muir’s heart, given that his children were born during the time he lived in Australia.

“The guys in the band are very smart, they have a lot of love for Australia, otherwise they wouldn’t be in the band,” laughs Muir before going on to impersonate his bandmates. “They always say, ‘we love Australia!’”


[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxda3lSRTQE&w=560&h=315]
Track listing:
01. Clap Like Ozzy
02. The New Degeneration
03. Living For Life
04. Get Your Fight On!
05. World Gone Mad!
06. Happy Never After
07. One Finger Salute
08. Damage Control
09. The Struggle Is Real
10. Still Dying To Live
11. This World

World Gone Mad will be released September 30
Preorders available now

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