Interview: Suffocation Guitarist Talks Summer Slaughter, New Music & Death Metal

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Summer Slaughter, one of the world’s biggest metal tours, is celebrating its tenth anniversary. Upstate New York metal fans were graced with its date at The Chance Theater in Poughkeepsie; the venue became packed the moment its 2 PM door time had arrived. Metal fans young and old from all over the tri-state flocked to this monstrous line up, which included Krisiun, Revocation, Suffocation, Nile and Cannibal Corpse.


Brazil’s Krisiun brought on a machine gun performance only enhanced by their complex drumming and intense stage presence.

Revocation was the most techical band of the night but their love of music theory didn’t prevent them from having tons of energy and a great setlist.

Sadly, Suffocation’s iconic vocalist, Frank Mullen,could not make this tour. Instead they had Ricky Myers of Disgorge on vocal duties. Despite this, Ricky kept the crowd entertained.

Fans were worried about Nile’s set; the band only had a 40 minute time slot and are known for having pretty long songs. These lovers of all things Egyptian didn’t let that hurt their performance as they used their little time well with a crushing performance and played several great tracks such as Black Seeds Of Vengeance with a crisp sound fit for a Pharaoh.

The night ended with the one and only Cannibal Corpse. Almost everyone in the crowd had seen these guys live before, but the memories of those shows only made them come back for more. Like always, Cannibal Corpse had a great mix of newer and older songs and a crushing performance. Vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher wasn’t afraid to show off his sense of humour. No matter how many times one sees these giants, it never gets old.


 

During the fest I was able to catch Suffocation guitarist Terrance Hobbs on his tour bus for an in person interview; we talked about subjects such as their upcoming album and promoted a very cool company called Distrokid.

How is Summer Slaughter going and how was this awesome lineup made possible?

Well, every band on the Summer Slaughter tour is really awesome. Thank you to all the people coming out and supporting these shows, I think it is fantastic. On how we got on this tour, we have known Cannibal Corpse, Nile, Krisiun, Revocation and all these bands throughout our history. We have played with them and toured with them a lot… Summer Slaughter was formed by word of mouth. We put into the hat and we pitched in and we saw how much Summer Slaughter would pay. With Suffocation we were able to budget it out to make it as comfortable as possible. I have to say thanks to Ash and everyone else who put together Summer Slaughter. This is the first one we have played, but it’s the best one we have played due to the line up.

Which bands are you most excited to play with on this tour?

Pretty much every single one of them. Cannibal Corpse is always a staple of my diet, Nile, Krisiun, Revocation, and Carnifex all are as well, but everyone on this tour is great. I don’t play favorites. Every genre has its share of great bands. I’m usually there to watch the whole thing instead of coming and going ’cause I’m a fan as well.

Are you guys working on any new music at the moment?

We have a whole new record that is pretty much written we just haven’t had time to record any of it yet. It will be out on Nuclear Blast. We hate pushing things back, but we have always been touring.  We just haven’t had the time to be in the studio and record it. We have a whole new record written already and I can’t wait for you guys to hear it. We have not titled it yet. We are looking for the best artists we can to give the record a great cover.

What’s the style going to be like on this new record? You guys tend to evolve a lot. 

It’s pretty straight forward. There are quite a bit of guitar solos on it and quite a bit of aggressive everything. It’s pretty much a standard Suffocation record. We try to capture in the studio what best represents the band at the time. I’m just going to tell you it rips.

What kind of set list are we expecting? 

Like always it will be a mix of old school and new school stuff. We do not have much time on this bill since we aren’t a headliner. We mix up the sets every day. You should just expect straight brutality, ’cause that is the way we always come off.

I noticed Frank hasn’t been touring with you. Is this a permanent thing or will Frank return to touring with you guys again?

Frank has a full time job and he also has children. His life has relied on that job. As the economy tanks, it gets harder for him to get the time off he needs. It is a heart felt choice for Frank to not be on the road all the time. Plus he does not like traveling as much as I do. After all these years he got stuck with this life choice where he cannot be on the road all the time. There are only about two to two and a half weeks a year where he can really play shows. Unless it’s a week or close to home you might see him,but if it’s far away say like eight hours of flying, it would take him more time to get there to play then it would to get home. We try to utilize him as much as we can where he can play as many shows possible without wasting his time traveling. It is really hard for him, so we have Ricky Myers singing for us. I mean, Frank is not going out of Suffocation ever. He will always be part of the band as he is a focal point. He is also my fucking close friend. We made this shit together. In that kind of aspect it’s a little different for us.

I heard a lot of fans like Ricky’s vocals too.

Ricky is a great singer. He has good timing and his band Disgorge is awesome. Ricky is a good musician and Frank, knowing he couldn’t do the tours, had heard something that Ricky had sent to us and told us to grab him. Ever since then, Ricky has done a hundred gigs with us at least. We are really happy to have him on board, he is a good dude.

I know when your second album Breeding the Spawn came out you guys were not proud of it at all. Do you still have the same feeling on it? 

Oh Yeah! We just had a rough turmoil time with the band we didn’t have an engineer to help us out. Roadrunner Records pretty much just rigged us cold. At that point in time we were still a young band in the industry. With that being said the real turmoil got transferred directly to your ear. To this day we hate thing so we try to do a Breeding the Spawn song re-recorded whenever we do a record. Look forward to hearing another on our next record.

Do you guys remember playing in the Hudson Valley area a lot during your early days?

Oh, yes I do. One of my favorite shows was playing The Class in Middletown with Lesch-Nyhan and Morpheus. Morpheus is now called Morpheus Descends, very cool guys. Human Remains from Jersey always played, very sick band. That band is great.

How do you feel the death metal scene in New York is now compared to back then? 

We still have a bunch of death metal bands in New York. We have a lot of new death metal bands, black metal bands and hardcore bands. Nowadays New York City and Long Island is mostly hardcore. In terms of that we are still a little difference then a lot of those bands. Who you should check out is The Merciless Concept. They are a very good newer metal band from Long Island, heavy as shit! I also am always hearing about this band called Necroptic Engorgement. I still never heard the band, but I always hear their name. Maybe I should check them out!

To conclude, this I just want to mention one of our sponsors who are doing really good things for younger bands. The name of it is Distrokid. Dark Angel is even using them! A lot of other well known bands and musicians are using Distrokid. It is something to get you guys and your new music to all the streaming sites out there. They help to push smaller bands to keep all their publishing and all their royalties and things of that nature. So if you are in a new band and don’t know what to do and have yourselves a CD, then I really think you guys should contact Distrokid. Very good people and the intention is to keep the money in the musicians’ hands. Not in everybody else’s so check it out!