For a time during the mid-1990s industrial became one of the most popular types of heavy metal, with forerunners such as Ministry, Nine Inch Nails and KMFDM paving the way for the likes of Stabbing Westward and Gravity Kills. Even Strapping Young Lad‘s self-produced debut, 1995’s Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing, owed a debt to industrial, as did Fear Factory, Marilyn Manson, Rammstein and even Rob Zombie.
Born and raised in Maryland, vocalist Davey Suicide arrived in Los Angeles in 2007 with the dream of starting a band. Fuelled by his love of industrial metal and theatrics, Suicide soon met drummer Ben Graves and the genesis of the group Davey Suicide began to form, with the addition of bassist Frankie Sil, guitarist Eric Griffin and keyboardist Needlz completing the line-up. On May 1st, Davey Suicide will release the video for their new track Generation Fuck Star.
Frontman Davey Suicide discusses the themes and philosophies behind his music.
You share the same stage name as the band, were you already performing as a solo artist prior to the formation of Davey Suicide and why is the band named after you?
The band was created where everyone married into my vision of Davey Suicide. I have been in bands in the past where it was a collective vision and you end up compromising pieces of yourself because of other’s beliefs. I was ready to take all of the responsibility onto my shoulders and, fortunately, everyone in the band thinks the same way and their ideas take it to a higher level.
In Generation Fuck Star you scream ‘Revenge will have its day.’ Rock stars are often the bullied and ignored kids who turn to music at a young age and grow up to become musicians. Would you say this describes yourself and what is this revenge that you talk about?
Music was my escape from my confusing childhood. My parents divorced when I was two and they had me going back and forth every two weeks between my dad’s and my mom’s house, all the way up until high school. I was going to a shrink and they forced me to go to church up until I ditched my confirmation day. I moved out and started sleeping on the back porch of my ex girlfriend’s house at sixteen. They wanted me to go to be something I wasn’t and all I cared about was playing music.
In high school, I was the kid who never had a cliché and I thought there was something wrong with me because of it. During school lunch, I had nowhere to sit, so I’d save the embarrassment and lock myself into one of the guitar practice rooms and play guitar. I’d keep the lights off, so no one would see me in there. After school everyday at baseball practice, the lacrosse team would circle the field and call me ‘switch hitter’ because I wouldn’t date one of the girls on the lacrosse team. So, the ‘Revenge will have it’s day’ is the moment you shed your baggage and become proud of living in your own skin.
Having recently shot the video for Generation Fuck Star, do you enjoy miming for the camera and acting our narratives for promo videos?
I love it. If you don’t thoroughly enjoy what you do, you shouldn’t be doing it.
The director, Chad Michael Ward, had already worked with Combichrist; how would you describe your collaboration and how involved were you with helping to develop the concept of the video?
The biggest challenge in any artistic collaboration is taking a vision from someone’s head and bringing it to life. I brought my concept to Chad and he tweaked it a little to tie up the story and it surpassed every expectation that I had. Going into it, I always felt that his visual aesthetic fit with the soundtrack of Davey Suicide and it came out that way. It was an inspiring experience.
How important is image to you? A lot of heavy metal focuses on black clothing and Davey Suicide features a lot of leather and cyber punk. Did the image develop through the music?
To me, it’s huge. We are all artistic, loud characters or monsters, if you will. We live this every day and it’s just a matter of turning up the volume knob for whatever we are doing. We make all of our clothes, and I design all of the visual. I always revert back to the feeling when I saw my favourite bands growing up and it was always about the experience and how it made me feel. I want to give everyone that enters into this Suicide world that magic.
One of your songs is called Sick Suicide. Why is suicide referenced so much in your work?
The name Suicide came about in a time of my life where I needed a constant reminder that unless I gave up or killed myself, there was no ceiling for what I was capable of. That’s applicable for everyone. A big pet peeve of mine is when artists go up to accept an award and thank God for making it all possible. Do they forget that they put in the years of hardwork and developed their craft? The concept of Suicide is never losing touch with believing in yourself. I feel like it’s important for kids to realise that they are always in the driver’s seat.
Over the last decade industrial metal received the most exposure through Marilyn Manson. Do you feel that the controversy that has surrounded his work has often threatened to over-shadow his music?
Manson is a huge influence, along with Guns N’ Roses and Eminem. I don’t look at an artist’s personal life and have that effect my opinion on what their art is. I think if the world knew the skeletons of many famous actors who they believe are role models they’d be surprised. A lot of them are in the same boat but they aren’t exposed.
Sex, violence and religion (or a lack of) are often key themes in heavy metal. Would you say these are subjects that you often discuss in your own work and how political is Davey Suicide?
A lot of heavy bands throw those terms into their music to look tougher or avant garde and I think it comes across cheesy. To me, if I use those references, it’s to create vibe, metaphors or a statement, which is the goal of our three-five minute story. As far as Davey Suicide, the politician, I have no problem with making people aware of the beguile social control that our government uses, but I try not to make that the focal point.