Suffocation (en)

"John did a lot of hard work. It wasn’t something like: we are just going to take some guy who has a reputation and throw him up there. He did a lot of work, he did his homework, he took a lot of pride on what he was doing so, it worked very well. The fans didn’t disrespect him in any way. He obviously said: “I’m not Frank. I’m just helping out my friends."

interview Suffocation (USA)This is a really “unusual” tour for you guys. You had John Gallagher from Dying Fetus doing vocals. How were these concerts? Was it weird not having Frank singing?
Guy: Concerts with John were sick. They were really good, better than we expected even. The response was good, I think people really like John.
Derek: John did a lot of hard work. It wasn’t something like: we are just going to take some guy who has a reputation and throw him up there. He did a lot of work, he did his homework, he took a lot of pride on what he was doing so, it worked very well. The fans didn’t disrespect him in any way. He obviously said: “I’m not Frank. I’m just helping out my friends. Let’s have a good show!” He was very well accepted.

For you guys, was it weird to not have Frank there?
Guy: Oh yeah. Of course it was different because Frank wasn’t there but at the same time, we knew John for a long time and we get along with him really well, you know? Like Derek said: he did his homework. He just nailed it. His voice kind of reminded me of “old school Frank”.

Now Frank is back on tour but, how will guys be adjusting his schedule with the future Suffocation tours (in Europe for example)? Will John be asked to perform some future concerts again?
Guy: Right now, whatever tours or opportunities that come up, of course we are going to try to use Frank and if it works out and Frank can do it then great. We are going to use Frank. But if Frank can’t do it we are probably going to go to John and see if he can do it. And if he can’t do it then we are probably not going to be going out. So, we are going to use one of them and most likely it will be Frank. He just can’t get big blocks of time like the way he used to. So, if it is to fly in somewhere in the weekend and do a couple of shows and then fly home, he can do it…most of the time he can do it. So, that’s probably the way we are going to work. We will come to Frank about all the shows first and see if he can do it and if he can’t then we will go to John.

Since we are talking about this job vs. the band situation: what is your situation?
Derek: I haven’t work a job in 10 years. Suffocation is my job.
Guy: Yeah… a couple of side jobs at home but that’s not a job either. I’m into photography and stuff so, that’s what I do and I do it for free and I do it if I can get pay to do it.
Derek: I will work in a recording studio because I enjoy it and I have free time. Or, I will teach younger kids how to play music because I enjoy it. But, I don’t need it. Suffocation sustains my income. But again, I don’t have a fancy, brand new car and children, and all that. It is fine the way it is. Obviously, if Frank is going to do less, it could change. But, it has been great so far.

You (Guy) did this video where you went to a store and bought your own album. Do you think that if fans did that in general, the bands and the industry would be different now?
Guy: You know what? For the last ten years, every time an album came out I always went and bought one of my one. I even have our self-titled album. I bought it and left it inside the packaging. So, this time when I went to go buy it, I was like: “You know what? I’m just going to film it”.
interview Suffocation (USA)
It’s true, pretty much… if a record label is going to give you money to record, they are not giving you that money, that’s not you money! You have to pay that money back out of your record sales. Until that money is not paid back out of record sales you don’t make any money with the records. So, if nobody is buying the records, then the label is losing money so, the label doesn’t need you, doesn’t need your band, you are not making any money. And if you are going to tour and you don’t have a record label… they do the advertising and everything for you for the tours so you can get out there.

It’s kind of weird. We’re in a weird time right now where something has got to change because it is just in a weird “spot” right now with the way MP3s are so easily accessible and stuff in the internet. I don’t know. I don’t have the answer. I don’t know if it should be always buying every album or… I don’t know. I don’t know the answer. I just made that video and that was it.

You have released your latest album a couple of months ago. Reviews are pretty positive so far. How would you compare it to Blood Oath?
Derek: I think it is a better record than Blood Oath. But again…well received: people judge it by so many different things you know? Were the songs good? Was the album cover good? Was the production, the recording, the sounds, the performances…[good?] There are so many different angles. A lot fans are just like: if the album doesn’t have a magic production they won’t even listen to the songs. So, for us, it is a lot of stuff that makes it up: how good did the musicians play? How good are the songs? Are they fun to listen to? How good is the production? Were the lyrics written with passion? Was the performance passionate?
So, for us, there are so many different angles and you get a lot of fans saying: “this record is better than this record” and “this record is better than this record”. So, it is really hard to say. But, in my opinion, I feel like this newest one is better than the last few…. in my opinion. But then, I hear people say the opposite so, it is really hard to know what’s what. It is all in the eye of the beholder.

Last year you guys played a (free) concert here in LA, organized by Scion AV. Do you guys have any plans to do something like that again?
Derek: It was great! If we have an opportunity to do that again we would love to do it. I’m not sure if anything like that has been proposed to us since then but, we would do it in a second. It was really fun to do and anytime that the fans can come see Suffocation without having to pay… fantastic. So, we do our job and if promoters, agencies and companies can get together and produce a show, we are very interested in playing if we can get the fans to see the show for free.

You guys are from Long Island. If anybody asks you what they should visit there, what would you suggest to them?
Guy: For me, I like Long Island because I do a lot of fishing. But in Long Island, there are a lot of different touristy things to see. I grew up there so, for me, it is just the same. I just really like to hang out there and fish. But, Derek is actually from San Diego but he lived in Long Island for like, 10 years.
Derek: For me, being from here [California], if you went out to Long Island I would say:
interview Suffocation (USA) “That’s great!” But, you should probably go to New York city because it is really close and that’s more…”wow”, it’s so huge. So, to see the buildings and see the bridges is really crazy.
Long Island is nice. There is a lot of traffic at the wrong time of the day (not that you guys don’t know about that in Los Angeles). It is gorgeous. The spring and fall are beautiful. The winters are pretty but it is difficult… it’s really cold. And then in the summer it is just so hot. Different hot though [when comparing to LA]. It’s like… you can’t get out of the heat.
Guy: It’s really humid.
Derek: If you get hot here [Southern California] you just go in the shade. There, you cannot escape the heat: it’s thick, wet, and gross… it’s brutal.

What about other countries and states? Any favorite places you like visiting?
Guy: We haven’t been back to Japan in a long time so… I would like to go there. But, definitely, [countries] we have been talking about it for years are Hawaii and South Africa. Where else? You got anywhere Derek?
Derek: Any time we perform in Australia. Australia and New Zealand, I always have a great time. It is just really comfortable weather, people are really enthusiastic. And then, Latin American countries… are just chaotic. People go crazy for the shows so, makes it really fun to go down there. There are some beautiful sites down in South America. Those are my two favorites: Australia and South America.

Have you guys ever played in Hawaii? Are there ever any concerts there?
Guy: No, we have never played in Hawaii.
Derek: Yeah! Dying Fetus… John left us to go play Asia, Australia, Hawaii. And then he comes back and we go to Europe together. And when we come back from Europe we will go down and do Latin America.

I’m curious about something: Frank always talk about some stuff during the concerts. He has mentioned his opinions about church/religion. Does he actually “control” himself when playing at a Catholic country?
Derek: No… he pretty much talks like that no matter where he is.
Guy: No matter where we are he is always like that.
Derek: He doesn’t care where we are. It may get us in trouble sometimes. I mean, he was flipping out one time in Rome. Remember that [to Guy]? It was a long time ago. [There was] “Suffocation vs. The Vatican” in the newspaper the next day. So… he doesn’t care. He doesn’t care at all.

Besides touring, any other plans for this year?
Guy: European tour, South America, Nicaragua, we are flying to Canada for a couple of shows, Costa Rica… We are trying to do Australia.
Derek: That may not happen until next year. Other than that, Terrance [Hobbs] and I have a side band [Criminal Element], we are recording another album. But, other than that, just focusing on trying to get Suffocation doing as much as Frank can do and then again, if a good territory wants to see us with John from Dying Fetus, then maybe go see a special show with John fronting the band. That’s about it.

Any messages to the SOM readers?
Guy: Just continue to support the scene… bands you like. And in Europe: we will be out that way so come on have some drinks with us. We are not shy, we hang out!
Derek: Same!
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Interview done by Deesse_de_la_nuit

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