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Suicidal Tendencies


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Suicidal Tendencies is a band that was founded in Venice, Los Angeles, California, in 1981 by the leader and only permanent member, singer Mike Muir. The band is credited as one of the "the fathers of crossover thrash". To date, Suicidal Tendencies have released ten studio albums (one of which is composed of never-before released material and the other is a re-recording of their first album), two compilation albums, four split albums, one VHS, and one EP.

Suicidal Tendencies rose to fame with their 1983 self-titled debut album, which spawned the single "Institutionalized". That single was one of the first hardcore punk videos to receive substantial airplay on MTV. Suicidal Tendencies did not release a follow-up record until 1987, with Join the Army. The album attracted the attention of Epic Records, who signed the band in 1988 and issued their third album, How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can't Even Smile Today, later that year. This was followed by their next two albums, Controlled by Hatred/Feel Like Shit...Déjà Vu and Lights...Camera...Revolution!, which were also successful and both certified Gold by the RIAA.[2] After releasing two more studio albums (The Art of Rebellion and Suicidal for Life), Suicidal Tendencies called it quits in 1995. However, they reunited in 1997 and have continued to perform and record since then.

Band history

Early career, controversy, and first hiatus (1981–1986)

Suicidal Tendencies was formed in 1981 as a hardcore punk band in Venice, California. The original line-up of the band consisted of Mike Muir on vocals, Mike Ball on guitar, Carlos "Egie" Egert on drums, and Mike Dunnigan on bass. After the recording of its first demo, Carlos Egert left the band and was replaced by Dunnigan's brother Sean. Muir, at the time a student at Santa Monica College, originally only intended Suicidal Tendencies as a "party band" for fun, but as the band grew in notoriety he soon found the band at the center of his life. Suicidal Tendencies had a rough start that included being voted "Worst Band/Biggest Assholes" in Flipside in 1982. There were many rumors of the bands members as well as their friends and followers being involved with gangs (especially the Venice White Boyz), with Muirs trademark blue bandanna and violence at the bands performances as evidence. In their original line-up photo which can be seen inside their cassette tape self titled "Suicidal Tendencies," their drummer Amery Smith is wearing a flipped up hat and under the bill are the markings "V13" which are initials for an association to the Venice neighborhood (Not necessarily Venice 13, although there probably were a handful of V13 members who also were suicidals). An entire gang sprung up around the group, the Suicidal Cycos (also known as the Suicidals, Suis or Suicidal Boyz), with chapters in Venice, Long Beach, Santa Monica, Oceanside and even a chapter in San Antonio, Texas. The band name was also a source of controversy, although Muir has stated many times that he and the band do not condone suicide. Using the opposition to fuel creativity, they quickly gained a following and began performing at larger gigs. They recorded a demo in 1982 and were featured on the Slamulation compilation LP on Mystic Records. The song featured was "I Saw Your Mommy", which was later featured on their self-titled debut album. The Dunnigan brothers quit after these recordings, with Mike Dunnigan later joining Tony Alva's band The Skoundrelz to be back with Mike Ball on guitar and Bela Horvath on drums. Ball stayed in the band for 2 1/2 years before joining The Skoundrelz and was replaced by Dunnigan who toured and recorded the Demo before the first record came out. Grant Estes replaced him.

All this controversy helped the band gain label attention, and in 1983 Suicidal signed with the independent label Frontier Records and released their self-titled debut. It was described by critic Steve Huey as "Fast, furious, and funny... Mike Muir proves himself an articulate lyricist and commentator, delving into subjects like alienation, depression, and nonconformist politics with intelligence and humor.". It contained the song "Institutionalized", which featured a music video that became one of the first hardcore punk videos to receive substantial MTV airplay, and greatly expanded the band's fan base. The song, "Institutionalized", was also featured on the 1984 film Repo Man, as well as in an episode for the TV show Miami Vice (for which the group made a cameo appearance)and in the 2008 film Iron Man, where the song plays in the background as Tony Stark works on his car. Soon after the release of the debut album in 1983, Estes left the band and was replaced by Jon Nelson, former manager of Venice-based band Neighborhood Watch. Nelson played many shows with the band and also contributing to music for future songs like: "War inside my head", "Human Guinea Pig", and "The Boys are Back (Look Up)", “You got, I want”. But never recorded anything with them (except a live recording of the song "War Inside My head" which he wrote, but traded the credit to Muir for a "Flying 'V' guitar). He and Smith left in 1984 to form another band called The Brood, and were replaced by local metal musicians; guitarist Rocky George and drummer R. J. Herrera. This new line-up made their recording debut contributing to the Welcome to Venice compilation for Mike Muir's Suicidal Records. The band finally found a new label in Caroline Records in 1986.

First comeback (1987–1988)

With the line-up of Muir, Mayorga, George, and Herrera, the band released their second album, Join the Army, in 1987 (see 1987 in music). The album was met with a mixed reaction from long-time fans due to its considerably more metal-oriented sound (an element brought to the table by Rocky George), as they were expecting another punk album. Nonetheless, Join the Army featured classic tracks such as "War Inside My Head" and "Possessed To Skate" (which featured a video, originally intended for an unsuccessful Skateboard Movie, which featured Timothy Leary).

Shortly afterwards, the band made some major changes. Rocky George's metal influences (reflected in his Motörhead-esque songwriting contributions to Join the Army) began in turn influencing Muir, who replaced Keven Guercio as singer for Mike Clark's speed metal band No Mercy prior to this. Muir hired No Mercy's guitarist Mike Clark as a rhythm guitarist for Suicidal. Clark helped handle much of the band's songwriting, which progressed into a more thrash oriented musical direction. Then he fired Mayorga, who had been trying to keep the band in punk territory, and was replaced briefly by No Mercy bassist Ric Clayton, who was replaced by Bob Heathcote. Shortly after the band was picked up by Anthrax producer Mark Dodson and signed to the Columbia subsidiary Epic Records. The stylistic changes and signing to a major label outraged a few long-time fans, but Suicidal began to pick up more fans from the heavy metal community as well.

The band's first release with Epic was How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can't Even Smile Today, released in 1988 (see 1988 in music). The album was almost completely stripped of the band's punk and hardcore roots, instead featuring a thrash-oriented sound with more complex song structures and a greater emphasis on instrumental skill than the band had ever shown previously. However, the album was considerably more melodic than most thrash metal albums, perhaps a lasting influence of the bands punk past. Singles and music videos were released for "Trip At The Brain" and the title track, which were successful and helped expand the bands audience. That same year the band was thanked by country musician Hank Williams Jr. at the 1988 CMA Awards. Williams' son was apparently a big fan of Suicidal.

Trujillo-era and second hiatus (1989–1996)

With their popularity and media attention obviously increasing, Suicidal released a compilation of two EPs, Controlled By Hatred/Feel Like Shit...Déjà Vu in 1989. With yet another new member (future Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo, credited as Stymee), the album featured two versions of "How Will I Laugh Tomorrow": the video version (the original song cut down for radio/video airplay) and the "heavy emotion" version (a semi-unplugged, more mellow version of the song). All the rest of the songs on the album came from previously released EPs except "Just Another Love Song" and "Feel Like Shit...Deja Vu," with the remaining songs being No Mercy and Los Cycos covers. The album featured the hit "Waking The Dead," which at 7 minutes long was one of the most progressive tracks the band had released to date.

Controlled By Hatred... eventually went gold, the first of three Suicidal albums to do so.

In 1990 Suicidal Tendencies released the album that many fans consider to be their masterpiece, and the album that almost broke them into the rock mainstream, Lights...Camera...Revolution!. This album featured the same line-up as Controlled By Hatred... (with Trujillo now using his real name) and continued to grow musically. The songs were much more complex than on any other Suicidal album, some songs bordering on progressive metal, but also showed a new influence courtesy of Trujillo, funk. This made the band's sound increasingly unique and difficult to categorize.

The album was a smash hit. It featured the major Headbangers Ball and rock radio hit "You Can't Bring Me Down", a thrash epic which challenged the PMRC, as well as the televangelist bashing funk-metal track "Send Me Your Money", and the melodic thrash song "Alone" – all released as singles and music videos. All three singles were successful (especially "You Can't Bring Me Down"), and helped Lights...Camera...Revolution! also reach gold status, and the band gained a heavy audience in the thrash metal community despite being commonly accused of "selling out" in the hardcore circle. Today Lights... is widely considered to be a thrash classic. The band's 1991 tour with Queensrÿche, their first show in Los Angeles in years, and their appearance on the Clash of the Titans tour (and, to a lesser extent, Mike Muir's brawl with Dave Mustaine on the aforementioned tour) only helped expand their popularity. They also released the Lights...Camera...Suicidal! home video in 1991.

Muir eventually became very interested in the funk music that Trujillo had brought to the table of Suicidal's influences. As a result, the two formed a funk metal side project in the vein of early Red Hot Chili Peppers and Primus called Infectious Grooves. Also recruiting ex-Jane's Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins and Excel guitarist Adam Siegel, Infectious Grooves released their debut, The Plague That Makes Your Booty Move...It's the Infectious Grooves Which featured Ozzy Osbourne singing the line "therapy" in the song "Therapy" in 1991. This helped expand Suicidal's fan base into an even wider audience that including members of the alternative rock community (funk-metal was a popular alt-metal style at the time).

Herrera left Suicidal Tendencies in 1991 due to personal differences. The rest of the band continued as an incomplete 4-piece for about a year, drafting now-famous drummer Josh Freese to record their new album which would become Art of Rebellion, released in 1992 (see 1992 in music). The album was very different than anything Suicidal Tendencies had done before, but it was actually their most melodic, accessible album to date. It lessened the bands thrash influences, instead focusing on a unique, almost alternative metal sound, with more emphasis on funk and progressive rock, as well as traditional metal guitars. Although different, the album was greeted warmly by most fans and many critics.

The album was also the band's most commercially successful album. The first single, "Asleep At The Wheel", did moderately well, but was followed by two smash hits. The metal ballad "Nobody Hears" and the crossover hit "I'll Hate You Better", both of which managed to chart on the modern rock radio Billboards. The album debuted on number 52 on the Billboard Top 100 charts (ST's highest charting album ever) has since gone gold. The band began performing large stadium shows, touring with some mainstream rock staples as Metallica, Queensryche, and Danzig, where they earned a wide reputation as an excellent live act. By the end of the year Suicidal had finally found a permanent replacement for Herrera, former White Lion and Y&T drummer Jimmy DeGrasso.

Now at their commercial peak, Suicidal Tendencies released Still Cyco After All These Years in 1993 (see 1993 in music). The album was a re-recording of Suicidal's then out-of-print self-titled debut album with 3 additional songs (two re-recorded from Join the Army and the B-side to the "Send Me Your Money" single). It featured singles for the new versions of "Institutionalized" and "I Saw Your Mommy", and managed to do well, as did the album. That same year also saw the release of another Infectious Grooves album, Sarsippius' Ark, which included new tracks as well as demo recordings of old songs, and live tracks.

However, disturbed by their recent commercial success and fame, and fear that the band was no longer relevant in the underground, Suicidal Tendencies released Suicidal for Life in 1994 (see 1994 in music). The album was intended by the band to be the least accessible album they had ever released, starting out by having 4 consecutive songs with the word "fuck" in the title, and switching to a more aggressive style than on their previous studio album. Suicidal for Life was widely considered to be a disappointing album by critics, many of which claimed Muir had "dumbed down" his lyrical approach from previous albums. Fans also had a generally mixed reaction, although their reaction was more favorable than critics.

Muir's strategy worked, however. The album did not sell nearly as well as the past four Suicidal records (although it did sell decently on the bands reputation alone) and the only major single, "Love Vs. Loneliness," featured a gloomy music video that hurt the song's airplay.

Unfortunately it was also around this time the band, whose contract with Epic Records had expired, began to fall apart, and folded after a tour in 1995. Muir and Trujillo continued Infectious Grooves, releasing Groove Family Cyco later that year (this album was released before Suicidal Tendencies split), but they eventually folded as well, with Trujillo joining Ozzy Osbourne's band (and later Metallica) and Muir performing as Cyco Miko, releasing Lost My Brain! (Once Again). Rocky George formed the group Samsara and played in 40 Cycle Hum and Cro-Mags after Suicidal's breakup, eventually joining Fishbone. Mike Clark joined a band called Creeper, while Jimmy DeGrasso joined Dave Mustaine's side project MD.45, and eventually replaced Nick Menza in Megadeth who recruited guitarist Anthony Gallo (former S/T, Los Cycos) for his solo record entitled "Life After Deth".

A greatest hits compilation, Prime Cuts, was released in 1997, apparently against the band's will.

Second comeback (1997–2001)

To the excitement of many, Suicidal Tendencies returned in 1997. However, Rocky George, Robert Trujillo, and Jimmy DeGrasso were all unable to rejoin as they were busy with other projects. Muir and Clark brought in new lead guitarist Dean Pleasants (formerly of Infectious Grooves), new bassist Josh Paul and new drummer Brooks Wackerman (formerly of Bad4Good and Infectious Grooves, now with Bad Religion) to replace them.

The band released their first new material in almost half a decade, the Six the Hard Way EP in 1998, which also included two live tracks. Released on Suicidal Records, this EP saw the band switching back to their original hardcore punk and skatepunk style (with songs originally recorded by Cyco Miko covered). This, along with the absence of George and Trujillo, upset many of the bands metal-era fans, but fans of the older punk Suicidal warmly welcomed the new style.

The band stuck to a similar formula for Freedumb, released in 1999 (see 1999 in music). Despite generally bad reviews from critics (who claimed that the band had "dumbed themselves down" not only lyrically, but musically as well), it was considered by fans of the band as their "comeback album", with the title track and "We Are A Family" becoming fan favorites (although no singles from the album were released).

The following year Suicidal Tendencies released Free Your Soul and Save My Mind. Unlike its predecessor, which was more straightforward hardcore, this album saw the band covering most of the styles they had dabbled with in the past. Some songs were punk, but many of them were also thrash-oriented, and this was by far Suicidal's funkiest album yet. Fans and even critics greeted the album warmly, and a new single, "Pop Song", was released.

They also appeared on the Friends & Family, Vol. 2 compilation in 2001.

After the release of the last two albums, the band remained silent again and Muir released his second solo album, as Cyco Miko, Schizophrenic Born Again Problem Child in 2001.

Muir's second band Infectious Grooves released their fourth and comeback album Mas Borracho in 2000.

Third hiatus and recent activities (2002–present)

Paul and Wackerman (who had just joined Bad Religion) left Suicidal Tendencies in 2002 while the band was on a temporary hiatus, and were replaced by brothers Ron and Steve Brunner on drums and bass, respectively.

For several years, there has been a rumored Suicidal Tendencies album to feature new material, but nothing has surfaced. A title and release date are slated to be announced in 2010. If it is released, it will be the Suicidal's first proper studio album in nearly ten years. According to reports on Blabbermouth.net, they worked on the album with producer Paul Northfield, known for his work with progressive rock bands like Dream Theater, Queensrÿche and Rush. Northfield also produced, engineered and mixed Suicidal's albums between 1992 and 2000.

Suicidal Tendencies performed at the Artefact Festival in France on April 29, 2007. They also confirmed a spot on the Soundwave Festival held in Australia in February and March 2007 taking in Brisbane, Sydney and Perth. They also headlined the Tuborg Stage at the Download Festival held at Donington Park on Friday June 8, 2007, and in Istanbul, Turkey on May 29.

Suicidal Tendencies closed select shows for the Sounds of the Underground tour in San Jose, California on August 3, Irvine, California on August 4, and Mesa, Arizona on August 5. Suicidal Tendencies headlined Porão do Rock Festival in Brasília on August 1, 2008 in front of 15,000 people.

Suicidal Tendencies did a US tour during the fall of 2008 with Whole Wheat Bread, Madball, Terror, and Death by Stereo opening select dates. During this tour, ST had the Year of the Cycos CD, which is a compilation of tracks featuring Suicidal Tendencies, Infectious Grooves, Cyco Miko and No Mercy, available for purchase exclusively at the concerts or their official website. The band replaced As I Lay Dying on the first five shows of the No Fear Energy Music Tour with Lamb of God. Suicidal Tendencies will be touring Europe from June through July 2009.

Fontana Distribution released the first-ever Suicidal Tendencies DVD Live at the Olympic Auditorium on January 26, 2010 via the band's own imprint, Suicidal Records. On the same day, a best of compilation was released as part of the Playlist music album series issued by Sony BMG.

According to Mike Muir, Suicidal Tendencies will release re-recordings of old No Mercy tunes, as well as re-recordings of songs from the Join the Army album, during 2010. He also noted that the long-awaited new Suicidal Tendencies album, with all new material, will also be released later in the year. The band have also been announced to play Download Festival 2010.

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