Intense barely scratches the surface when talking about Suicide Silence. The California extreme-metal outfit has been around for a little more than a decade, and in that time, they've created three of the most severe slabs of deathcore to be found.
While on tour with Machine Head earlier this year, guitarist Mark Heylmun spoke to our sister paper the Dallas Observer from a Houston restaurant. He talked about his band's extreme brand of metal and explained how Suicide Silence has moved beyond just hating on religion.
Chatter: The two labels most often applied to you are extreme metal and deathcore. Do you prefer either one?
Mark Heylmun: 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.
C: Mitch Lucker's vocal style is so full-throttle. Does he require a day of rest between shows?
MH: 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.
C: When the band first started over a decade ago, you had two singers. Now there are many bands that have dual vocalists.
MH: We only had two singers for one show. That was literally our first show and it was ten years ago.
C: How has the band changed over that time?
MH: We're holding up. 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.
C: The third album, The Black Crown, came out in July of last year. How far into the next record are you?
MH: 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.
C: Your three-album contract with Century Media is finished. Will the next album be on another label?
MH: 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.
C: Your first album was the label's best-selling debut recording. Were you surprised by the early success of the band?
MH: 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.
C: The first album is often said to be antireligious. Do you think it is?
MH: Yes, the purpose of our first record was to offend everyone.
C: Were you successful in that aim?
MH: 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.
C: Did any of you have a bad experience with religion growing up?
MH: 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.
C: On your most recent effort, the songs seem to focus more on personal issues.
MH: 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.
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C: The music features crazy tempos and time signatures. How often do you make a mistake?
MH: 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.
C: Do you guys give each other hell if anyone makes a mistake?
MH: No, we don't give each other hell. We give each other shit.