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Extreme music devotees can be a rather pedantic bunch, but the fan entitlement which accompanied the singles from Suicide Silence’s new self-titled album (including a petition to their label Nuclear Blast to not release the record) was staggering.

Evaluating said tracks within the entire album’s scope further does emphasise the jarring shift from deathcore mosh merchants to pursuing a dense, atmospheric hard rock/nu–metal-esque approach (including proliferation of clean vocals). Adjusting to Ross Robinson’s raw, widely derided production proves challenging too. However, in a metal scene littered with bands unwilling to take a solitary risk, the American outfit deserve some kudos for doubling-down on a new tack. Loud got the lowdown from vocalist Eddie Hermida (who made his debut with Suicide Silence on 2014’s You Can’t Stop Me) about the new material, his late predecessor Mitch Lucker and how “at least our scene is not made of zombies that don’t give a fuck”.

Q: I was reading this morning that the band debuted five of the new songs at last night’s show.
A: Yeah, we got to play a couple of new songs for the first time. It was a real big deal for me, man. I was really stoked to play and really stoked to showcase those songs. It’s been a long time coming, I’ve been sitting on these songs for over a year now and not been able to play them. I was extremely excited and nervous at the same time, like we didn’t know how the reaction was gonna be. But everybody loved them, and we also played some of the old jammers and everybody had a good time with those. The crowd was very intense and very uplifting.

Q: Do you feel these new songs can gel with the earlier material within a live environment?
A: Oh yeah, I mean it’s still Suicide Silence so they definitely meld well together. That’s the one thing that people don’t understand when they go online and start talking about these songs, and the one reason I’m able to brush off a lot of the distasteful comments, is because they’re not actually paying attention. And they’re not listening with an open mind. They’re just going, ‘oh, this has singing in it, and I hate singing and any kind of weird singing is bad singing, so I hate it’. And those kids are going to have an awakening. They’re going to be… They’re gonna see that this record is still heavy, it’s still crushing, especially when they come out a show live, if they decide to. The songs actually sound a lot heavier live than they do on record, and that’s just how Suicide Silence always has been. There’s a certain intensity that we bring whenever we start jamming that is unmatched on anything else we do. It’s the live aspect; Suicide Silence has always been a live band.

Q: The new album is still heavy as you said, but it’s a different type of heaviness – raw, wounded – rather than the more conventional, mosh-friendly brutality you’ve been renowned for.
A: Yeah, definitely. That’s all attributed to Ross Robinson and the way he records. It’s also attributed to the fact when we recorded, a lot of the stuff was made live. It was the closest thing to pretty much a band being in one place and recording a whole record at the same time that you can get. Obviously we overdubbed vocals. I was doing clean passes of the songs, as were the guitars and bass. You pretty much say, ‘you ready to go?’ Press record and play, and you play all the way through the song. That was how we recorded the whole record.
There was no punching in, there was no editing. There was compilations; you take a couple of different takes and you compile them into one, but other than that, man, this record is about as raw and as live as it gets for a band, which is not typical, and most kids, most people aren’t used to hearing that these days. They’re used to hearing the over-produced, over-edited, kind of stale, sterile sound that a studio brings these days.

Q: Did it take some time for the band to acclimate, to get your heads around the manner in which Ross wanted the record to be approached and sound?
A: No, we were pretty dead-set on the method and who we wanted to record, I would say even before I joined the band. This was predestined. It was something that we knew very much ahead of time that we were going to be making a step like this. It’s been a pretty fun experiment, to be real with you. It’s good to see how people really feel within our culture, within our vibe. It’s good to see that a lot of these people are so quick to turn their backs on things that they don’t understand without giving it an honest try. It’s good to these things because it helps us get a better grip of what we mean to people, and what music means to people.
Obviously everyone’s really passionate, so at least there’s that. The passion is real. And when there’s passion, all people need is to give something a chance in order for it to touch their souls. At least our scene is not made of zombies that don’t give a fuck. They give a fuck, and that means the world to me.

Q: Regarding your vocal performance on the new album, how long have you been preparing for this? How much work did you put in to hone your clean vocals to a point whereby you felt you could lay them down on tape?
A: I don’t know, man, I’ve been singing for a long time. What it is, is I’ve just been too afraid to put clean vocals on everything, on anything, because of this obvious reaction.
My fan-base is made up of people who renounce singing. We come from a subculture of people that have been adjudicated by the pop culture. So there’s this stigma that clean vocals means pop culture and what we’re trying to debunk on this record is the fact that clean vocals can be just as heavy as death metal vocals. They can sound just as maniacal, they can sound just as deprived as your most brutal screamer on the face of this planet. It’s all in the heaviness of the music, and it’s all in the heaviness of the tones… Obviously I could have sat and clean-sweeped everything and made everything pitch-perfect, and removed any of the passion in the takes and done something that’s very methodical and very sterile. And it would have sounded less raw, and it would have sounded a little bit more contrived. And people would probably have dug that a lot more, but the fact is that’s not what we wanted to do.
We wanted to make deathcore, and we wanted to continue the deathcore legacy. That’s what this record is, and that’s what people are failing to see. And they think that just because we added some clean vocals that we’re like selling out, or anything of that matter. What we’re doing is we’re trying to expand our culture, and expand a world that is shriveling. It’s shriveling because it’s all copies of copies of copies, you know what I mean? There is no original bands that are holding it down; there’s always a new band that knows how to manipulate sound a little bit better and they sound heavier, and the scene, which is very much young and recycles itself to be young and young and young, they don’t know where this music comes from. So to them, it’s just like if it’s heavy, if it’s brutal, it’s good for me. That creates kind of like a black hole. It makes this music have a shelf life that is very, very tiny.
And it’s really sad, man. I’ve seen a lot of bands fall apart. Obviously there’s bands right now that are holding it down and are very prominent and popular, but their shelf life isn’t going to be very long. There’s no Slayer these days. There is no Motörhead, there is no Metallica in the deathcore community. And that’s where people are really mistaken, and they’re not seeing this movement as a positive thing. They’re seeing it as everything they closed their mind off to. And that’s okay too. We’re gonna continue being us, the music’s gonna be heavy as fuck live, and they’ll see. They just need to come out and give it a shot.

Q: There is a definite Deftones-like vibe to the clean vocals, but who are some of your primary influences singing-wise?
A: I mean, Chino Moreno is one of my favourite singers. So is Jonathan Davis, so is Mike Patton, so is Mikael Akerfeldt from Opeth. So is Layne Staley and Maynard (James Keenan). All those people are people I draw influence from. I would say Mike Patton is probably my biggest influence and the person that I… The person that when I attack music I really loved being, going off the chart and doing something that’s unheard of before. Manipulating the voice to sound however I want it to. I would say that’s more along the lines of what I was doing on this record. I wasn’t trying to sound like anybody, but obviously the band loves the Deftones. Alex (Lopez, drums) loves Abe Cunningham more than any other drummer ever. Steph (Carpenter) is a big guitarist influence for us, so is Korn. Munky is (Chris) Garza’s favourite guitarist. So I mean there’s obvious things that we’re gonna have that same vibe because those are our favourite bands. So when people are like, ‘did you draw from this influence? Are you trying to sound like this?’ It’s not that I’m trying, it’s just that’s what comes out of me because of the musicians I love.

Q: One review I read of the new record posed the question of whether Suicide Silence would back-pedal and return to the style of previous albums if the new record isn’t well-received. You seem to have the courage of your convictions, though.
A: I don’t see us back-pedaling. I also don’t see this record failing. I see that a lot of people are probably going to come around to liking this record once they hear it. We purposely put out two songs that were going to create a buzz. We could have released a couple of the heavier tracks off the record, and been a little bit safer. But we’re not here to be safe man, we’re here to test boundaries, and we’re here to show people who they really are.
When you’re a kid who is on the internet spewing nothing but hatred and creating that world of hatred around you, we want to prove that there is no hatred, that really the only thing that exists is love. And when somebody feels passionate about something; be it they don’t like it or they do like it, it’s really kind of a reflective statement whatever they make. If you like something, it’s usually saying something about yourself, that you’re open, that your mind is willing to accept anything. If you’re close-minded, there’s probably something going on deeper inside of you that doesn’t agree with you, and makes you instantaneously not like things.
I have a friend who doesn’t like anything. It’s like, ‘hey man, let’s go have some Froyo”. And he’ll be like, ‘Froyo? Fuck that shit. That’s some new age fucking bullshit’. But then you go, ‘oh, it’s just ice cream with fucking candy toppings’, and he goes, ‘oh… well, fuck that shit anyway’. And then you bring it back and you start eating it, and you can see how much he really wants to try it, but he’s sticking to his guns because something inside of him is telling him ‘no’. You know what I mean? There’s two types of people on the face of this planet. There’s people who say ‘yes’, and there’s people who say ‘no’. And the people who say ‘no’, they’ll come around. They eventually say ‘yes’, because I know I did. When I was younger and I would hate on things, and then realised that I was just being a hater (laughs). I realised that some of those records that I hated on the most were my favourite records growing up.

Q: If Mitch were still with us and you were to play this record back for him, what do you think he would say afterwards?
A: I don’t know man, that’s kind of a weird question. I don’t like to think too much on what would be, should be. But I will say that Kip, his dad, hit us all up and he told us he was really proud of us. He said that he was really stoked at the balls that we had to do a big change like this. He himself said Mitch would be really proud of the step we’re taking as a group.
As much as I don’t like really saying stuff like that because it really holds no consequence, I in a way don’t want to pretend like… Mitch’s death never happened. He’s not here, he cannot have an opinion on this, he’s not on this earth any more. So me imagining something is the same as somebody else imagining something. When people go ahead and say like, ‘oh, Mitch is turning in his grave’, that’s how they imagine Mitch. They imagine Mitch just like them – negative, hateful – and that’s not how I imagine Mitch.
When I imagine Mitch I imagine the nice things about him, and the fact that he would probably really enjoy music like this because it’s the closest thing to the stuff he was listening to. I know that he wanted to sing on records from conversations that him and I had. And I know that he was taking lessons.
So I mean, personally I don’t focus on that, but yeah, I personally think, I’d like to think that the way I imagine Mitch is the closest to real because I knew him so well. And the fact is that his band also knew him extremely well. So as much as we keep his spirit alive… I’d like to think about him in the ways that I like to think about him.

Q: Any last words?
A: Any words to the fans? We love you all very much. Thank you to the fans that are being real fans and supporting, allowing us to grow into ourselves and be more of ourselves. A big shout out to all the haters for being passionate and loving. It means the world to me that they speak their minds, and aren’t just a bunch of cardboard cut-outs that don’t give a shit about anything. And to Australia, we love you very much and we can’t wait to come back there and play – even if it’s for two people.