When Suicidal Tendencies first hit the scene, nobody quite knew what to make of them. Too punk for the metal scene, too metal for the punk scene, they didn’t carve their own niche so much as dynamite a hole in the wall to march through. Leading the skate punk movement before bringing more and more thrash into their sound, they’ve influenced generations of bands from Metallica to Limp Bizkit to Slipknot to Body Count. Frontman Mike Muir is the only member of the band to be there from the beginning, and he isn’t going anywhere. In fact, he’s coming here with the inaugural Melbourne Download Festival along with headlining shows in Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney, and the Gold Coast. We caught up with Muir to talk about the forthcoming tour and what it means to never say die.
“We’ve done Download in England, we’ve done Download in Paris and Spain,” Muir says. “Paris was in its second year, Spain in its third, and they’re big and really, really cool. And I know for me personally there were rumours a couple of years ago that Download would be coming to Australia, and I hoped that was true and that we’d be a part of it. And also obviously, with all the festivals that have gone under, there was definitely a need for it.”
Long-time fans can expect a solid set from the band, who have been given an hour at Download - a fair chunk of time for a non-headlining slot at a festival - to do their thing. “That’s the most time other than Korn,” Muir says. “So we’re stoked on that. But an hour for us is narrowing things down quite a bit, so we’ll jam through it. If we can’t make our point in an hour, we never will, and if we don’t leave people exhausted then we didn’t do it right. I consider ourselves very fortunate in our situation and to have the opportunity to play for a lot of people who have never heard Suicidal. They’ve maybe seen the hats and shirts, but never listened, and that’s how we got a lot of our hardcore fans in the first place.”
And then, of course, there are the headlining shows where Suicidal can really stretch out. That’s where Muir begins to reflect on the importance of being true and accountable to yourself, and although we can give you only a sample of it here, this little deviation from the planned discussion turns into a great motivational talk, and something I wish every reader going through a hard time could hear.
“The thing is, if you live right across the street from a venue you just go, ‘Eh,’ and it doesn’t mean anything. In life it’s too easy to not appreciate, but you can learn from that and learn to appreciate what you have. That’s a hard journey, but a good one. Life happens and you get caught up, but things have to have a meaning and value to you, and there’s a difference between just doing things to do it and doing it because it has meaning. I found when I was young, it was music for music’s sake, and what I liked about punk rock was that it was something that made you think. It was to do your thing and do it for a reason. So that’s what we’ve always tried to do with Suicidal: something that makes you get in that moment, but also to not forget that there needs to be a future, and to make every day as good as possible and not just get through it, but make some difficult choices, get the confidence in yourself to make the right decisions, and end up in a place where you want to be.
“Maybe some people, when they look back, they find they ended up somewhere they never wanted. There’s a difference between morals for the right reason, and the right reason. When you say, ‘Hey, this is wrong and I don’t ever want to do that,’ or when you have abilities or wants that you want to experience for the right reasons but you don’t put forward the effort to make it possible, that’s hell. We have a lot more control over life than we want to. I understand there’s a certain amount of bad luck - people get cancer, my friend just lost his leg in a motorcycle accident - that’s bad luck, but we have more control over life than we want to have. There are millions of excuses to be a victim, but I don’t want to be a victim, I want to be victorious.”
Suicidal Tendencies will perform as a part of Download Festival at Melbourne’s Flemington Racecourse on Saturday March 24. Their headline tour kicks off Wednesday March 21 on the Gold Coast.