This interview with the American death metal band Suffocation was done by Andres Castro at their show on April 13th, 2004, at the House Of Blues in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, where they performed together with Morbid Angel and Satyricon.

Well, Suffocation is back, and I got to see them live for the first time on the first date of their US tour with Morbid Angel and Satyricon. Great show, I was very impressed with their performance, brutal, simple as that. And well, hereís the interview they were so kind to answer, enjoy.

I understand this is the first date of your tour. How does it feel to be back together again?
Frank: It feels sick the scene is right, right now for the music you know the time off that we took was what we needed to get our heads back together so that we knew that we wanted to play still and when we decide to come back we wanted to make sure it was worth it. Ya know, it feels great., I missed it, there was never a question about that and ya know, it feels great to be back out on the road.

Which were the facts that led you to take this long break with the band?
Frank: Its just like any other relationship, ya know, I mean weíve been together for a total of over 10 years and it just starts wearing on you, the scene started dying out, we were just getting fed up, ex wife on my back about being a family man and all that stuff so I tried going that route, I went that route and we went our separate ways, did separate things, thatís pretty much what it was. It wasnít anything other then different avenues of our lives.

What have you guys been doing during this time off?
Frank: Married, paying mortgage, you have houses to keep up, its true, thatís the only reason why any of us would really even consider leaving besides the fact that we were stressed out with each other at that time but death metal wasnít paying to where you could make a real living as a growing human so you always have to look to the next and you have a family to raise, I have a house and wife to raise, things that are more important. Once the scene started picking up we decided weíd give it another shot.

Whose decision was it to bring the band back together?
Frank: it was pretty much mine. I was living out in Vegas, I went through a divorce after that and like I said, I always loved this, loved playing, always missed it and when that part of my life fell apart, I decided to call the guys and let me see what theyíre feeling is on it. All I had to do was get me to work, when they told me yeah, Iím for it, Iím down, I called mike, I called Terrance and they were down for it and thatís all I really needed to know. So I quit my job, drove back home and we put it back together and its been nothing but great.

What are your expectations with this comeback?
Frank: Taking it to levels itís never been before. We just shot a video for the new album and weíre hoping we can take our music to as many people as out as we possibly can and show them something they never seen before. We donít plan on changing our style or anything like that; we want to take this as far as we can possibly go.

Tonight we had a little appetizer of what the new album is gonna be tonight. Very brutal indeed. So Iíd like you guys to tell about the new album. What can people expect from it?
Terrance: Well, as far as expectations I think that we are more or less trying to make a death metal record thatís a little bit more structure oriented. We want to keep it old school. For us, we noticed that as time went on since when we were done, when we had to break up, everybody has been listening to a lot of death metal music. For us, weíve always tried to make our music structured to a point where its understandable, yet really heavy. When we were younger, we started a lot more with that but it was a different member of a band and animosity was flying. On this particular record, our maturity level had grown so much more, as frank being the singer, as mike being the drummer, as me being the guitarist, I think that now weíve kind of found where our niche is. Where now the younger generation is hearing our music it will still pertain to the older music that we do. Suffocation is always going to be suffocation. But in my eyes, personally, I have to agree with these guys and we want to take it as far as possible but its still a death metal band and thatís all we really want to do. We wanna go out and play, make our music, and make our style of music more known and not have to change our style like all these other sellouts, ya know, thatís what suffocation is all about. If we decide to do side projects that werenít suffocation, it wouldnít sound like suffocation it would sound like any other different band. I just hope that any old fans that listen to our new album would really be able to think that our new album consists of the things from the past and always want to maintain that. We have our integrity and we always want be brutal and we always want to be heavy but we always want to stay ahead of our genre as well. I think on the new album people will hear all the nice textures and everything like that, that itís still just suffocation all together. It still has the same energy, impact, speed, velocity and breakdowns as its always been, its just a little more structured and a little bit more mature.

Many people have given you the credit for taking death metal to a new level and some feel you have a responsibility towards this with your new album, how do you guys feel about that?
Mike: itís an honor that the death metal scene looks to us like that. It happens to work in our favor because the style we did come out with is truly natural to us so for us, if we did 7, 8 or 9 albums it will always be the same that we started out with, so thatís good. And if the fans see that we started something, and we put it there, we donít have to worry about chasing a new scene and trying to follow what their trend is, we can always stay the same as to what we are and the fans will know us for that and love us for that because we know we have the same feeling in music from the beginning to now. Which doesnít happen to a lot of bands when they try to break up and reunite, you always find out they are all watered down and canít play their music anymore. But with suffocation first, before the music, itís a mental state, we all grew up together and we had our vision on what music should be. So when it feels right to us, we found out it that that formula always works out for our fans. Weíre loving it right now, we take what they say to heart and thatís makes us write even better. They havenít seen the best of us yet!

Terrance: To old fans that listen to our new ones too. Right now we more knowledgeable of the music scene, we are not a bunch of kinds, like speed and that, you know, now we know how the music is supposed to cut, we know our timings, our changes and intervals which makes it easier for us. Instead of suffocation having two guitar players and a bass player writing the music, we have three, because Mike plays guitar as well. So for me, I donít have to feel that we have to rely on everything that I know on how that band is supposed to sound. Everybody has a creative impact; itís the greatest thing. We wanted to keep our integrity and our status and I believe with new album people will know.

Frank: The bottom line, is thereís no way Iíll let an album go out with suffocation name on it if I didnít feel confident, I wouldnít put my name on it if I thought it was garbage, if I didnít think is was a brutal.

What are you guys talking about in this new album?
Frank: Issues that relate to things that other people out there can relate to, whether itís stuff thatís happening on your family life, whether itís religious, beliefs, whatís going around. We are not satanic, we are not churchgoers either, but we do have our views on it, and what we see, we tell. So our lyrics are like about inner feelings. Like once in a while I feel like killing somebody, is it only me? I know many people think that way as well. We donít condone people running out murdering, but somehow we just feel to put it and let it out.

Terrance: Frank probably wants to go out and kill somebody. (Laughs) Frank: Maybe (Laughs). Basically itís that Iím not the only person that feels this way, I know a lot of our fans feel this way, and regular people go through that on their regular lives. Iím sure thereís some guy sitting on Wall Street who wants to kill somebody, but is he gonna let it out? No. Our lyrics always deal with issues like that, itís like what I feel and other people feel that way, issues aroundÖ once in a while we throw something like gore or something like that but for the most part thatís what the lyrics deal about.

How do you feel when your memory goes back to the past, letís say to the Human Waste times and compare with everything thatís going on right now?
Mike: In the beginning when we first started, we thought, ďwe made itĒ. When we first got signed we thought that was it, ďwe are gonna be rich, we got this, we got thatĒ, and we were quickly put on our level, to where we realized the music scene isnít like that, you have to put it time before you get respect, as an artist. Now this time around, itís coming around, when weíve been 15 years deep into it and we are getting this little perks and it feels right to as we feel we deserve it now. In the beginning we thought it, we were young and it wasnít right, we have learned our lesson. Now we are getting it, itís still coming slow, but thatís death metal. Now we are getting a little more than we used to get in the past and we definitely know we deserve it.

Frank: I think there are a lot of things right now, for death metal, for extreme metal, you know, heavy metal. Before nobody knew about it, it was very underground; you had to really look for it in order to find it. Now, I like the way they are doing it, the fans, and the kids can see it now, and they can see all these extreme bands. I think MTV now bringing back Headbangers Ball with a real formalÖ before, Headbangers Ball wasnít Headbangers Ball, they showed you videos like Poison and Cinderella and I saw that stuff during the day so it was nothing new, but if you were lucky youíd see a Morbid Angel video very late, almost when it was over. But now there are so many videos they play on it, and itís good for extreme music that people can see it and go ďWow, I didnít even know that was out thereĒ

Mike: A lot of horrible things are happening in the world now that we can no longer pretend that itís the Backstreet Boys or Britney Spears that represents whatís the feeling. Death metal has been there for so long, itís a fact, so now you can look back into it and be like ďWow, these guys have always been talking about it since the beginningĒ, and now that the world is destructing, we happen to fit. Right now we have so many outlets with the videos, the real merchandising, everything is out there, so if we are real businessman and know how to handle it, we can boost ourselves and not having to rely on anybody else. So itís a good time for death metal right now, we happen to fit and hopefully itís gonna stay that way.

Derek, when I first met you, you were playing with Vital Remains, and today I see you with Suffocation. How did it happen?
Derek: Basically we co headline Milwaukee last year, Vital Remains and Suffocation. I was approached for a possibility of a position opening within suffocation, which to me is the king of brutal death metal. You had your fast bands, and you had your heavy brutal bands and suffocation was the head of all of that. So when I was approached I though there was no better opportunity in my life to play the heaviest music on the planet. So I moved from California to NY like that, and now Iím talking to you Andres.

And how about you? [talking to Guy]
Guy: I was jamming with Mike for a while in a little side project and thenÖ

Terrance: Iíll explain it to you. In the very, very, very beginning I wasnít playing in Suffocation I was always a friend with Frank and hanging out. When the name Suffocation came out it was for Frank not for me. But he was always looking for musicians so we ended up going out jamming with Guy over here, so the real first guitar player in suffocation is really legitimately Guy, before any of our releases ever came out. He even wrote Catatonia. You know how it is in the music scene, people come and go and everybody flips out. Mr. Cerrito is doing his own thing and thatís what he wanted to do, so Michael has been talking to guy all the time, have always been friends. It was like a natural choice. Guy has been playing metal around with Pyrexia, Internal Bleeding. So I really thing we have a great line up now. So why Guy? Because Guy was actually the first original guitar player on Suffocation, when it first started. Before my own natural black ass, so thatís cool (Laughs). There was a lot of turmoil in the band between me and the other guitar player, me and the other bass playerÖ blah blah blah, we donít have that now, now we have focus, no tension, we have musicians, Iím happy.

Ok, guys you must be tired and want to party soÖ
We are ready to party (Laughs).

Any last words?
Frank: Once again thanks to the fans for their continuous support. We always stayed true to ourselves. Tank you so much to our fans Bottom line stay brutal, if you feel like killing somebody, try it out (Laughs).

Links of interest:

Relapse Records