Suicide Silence is a loud, energetic, positive force to be reckoned with. Considering their moniker, that may seem ironic. In their 13 years together, the band have received a 2009 Golden God award for Best New Talent, helped pioneer the deathcore genre, produced four diverse yet strong full-length studio albums, and toured relentlessly.
In 2012, front man Mitch Lucker died in a tragic motorcycle accident in Huntington Beach, but the band emerged stronger than ever with 2014's appropriately titled You Can't Stop Me.
Tragedy and anger can often cause people to fall apart, but Suicide Silence have shown strength in the face of adversity. A few months after Lucker's death, the surviving members—guitarists Mark Heylmun and Chris Garza, bassist Dan Kenny, and drummer Alex Lopez—hosted the Ending Is the Beginning: The Mitch Lucker Memorial Show, where Eddie Hermida, then-vocalist of All Shall Perish and close friend of the band, got onstage to sing alongside them. That was when Suicide Silence decided to continue making their fourth studio album, the aforementioned You Can't Stop Me, which they had begun with Lucker. The result was part tribute, part resurrection.
In October, they released the EP Sacred Words while on tour to serve as an appetizer for fans until their fifth album. We recently talked with guitarist Heylmun about his favorite musical decade and more.
OC WEEKLY: What does You Can’t Stop Me mean to you? It’s been successful, but obviously, this album was crafted from a sort of emotional purging and healing from Mitch’s passing.
MARK HEYLMUN: It’s the last album with Mitch. As much as he’s not really on the record, he was very much a part of it. So, emotionally—and how it sits with me mentally—is that it’s a record on which all of the fans who knew us with Mitch get to see what we’re all about moving forward. And then for all the fans who discovered us just prior to Mitch’s passing or right after, it gives them the idea of what the band is about even after he’s gone. So it’s a testament to his energy and his influence on us and the music. It was being worked on before he passed, so there is a bit of Mitch still present in the band there. That’s the intention.
Mitch is all over that record and our influence and how the record is put together. Those lyrics—“You can’t stop me”—were his. We were holding him close and making sure that if he would’ve been there to work on the record, it would’ve been as close to how it came out as possible. It felt like we had a lot to prove—that we could still do this even without him, as sad as that is. I don’t sit around and bask in the success of that album. It’s more that I’m really glad we could come together as a band and as friends and with Eddie to complete the record.
It’s a stepping stone to the next record, which will be really the first record with Eddie. You Can’t Stop Me just means the world to us that we could actually come through that insane moment, you know?
A situation like that can really break down a band. And for you guys, you came out the other end, whether you realized it or not at the time. So tell me a bit about the digital-only EP Sacred Words.
The EP is to keep fresh stuff out there for the fans. It is all about sacred words, with a bunch of songs from performing live in Europe at festivals. They are all raw and real and sound badass. [Laughs.] We tracked almost every fest we played out there. They are hard jammers. And then there is a remake of “Sacred Words” and an instrumental. It’s just a cool thing to drop right now, between this tour and the next record, which will be our fifth full-length. We’re just working slowly to that. Once we get home, we’ll use the inspiration from this tour and the lessons we’re learning to jump back into the creative process and see where it takes us. We haven’t really slowed down in that creative process, though. We haven’t stopped working on new music. We have tons of things on the table, in the idea log. It’s never-ending at this point. We have a lot of things we want to get out. We fucking love this shit. There’s not a minute that goes by when we all don’t think about Suicide Silence and what we’re doing and what it means to us. And we know there are fans out there who are the same way, with stickers, logos, tattoos and more. And we’re just as obsessed as they are.
Some guitarists take the instrument out of the case only when it’s time to tour; others seem to never put it down. Where do you fall?
I never put it down. I am looking at a baritone ukulele right in front of me that I brought on tour. Yesterday, I got a new little acoustic travel guitar. I took the New York City subway to a Sam Ash music store and picked that up. Usually, I have a different travel guitar, but I broke it in Europe. I gotta get it fixed eventually. I just like to fiddle, though. It’s not like I’m sitting there, practicing licks.
What decade of music do you wish you could’ve been a part of but you weren’t alive?
Um, probably not exactly a full decade of the 1970s. But, like, ’67 to ’77 or ’65 to ’75. Like, with Cream and the Yardbirds and Sabbath and the Who and the Rolling Stones—my favorite music of all time. And driving into the ’70s and everyone getting more experimental and diving deep into that creative process. . . . Bands all being together in the ’70s were really [laughs]—it sounds perverted, but they were playing with each other. People were getting the ideas off each other. There was so much influence that was just incestuous all over the world.
Suicide Silence perform with Winds of Plague, As Blood Runs Black, Suffokate and Antagonist at the Observatory, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 957-0600; www.observatoryoc.com. Fri., 8 p.m. $10. All ages.