nominee at 7th annual LA Music Awards
Featured at 8th annual LA Music Awards
Playing live at half hour intervals were some of the best local talent this town has produced, including: all girl phenomenon: PHANTOM BLUE, plus the newly signed to Colombia Records and produced by Rick Rubin: SYSTEM OF A DOWN, L.A’s own southern blues greats: THE LOVE REVIVAL, Black Sabbath tribute band: SLACK BABBATH, XXX recording artists: HUMAN DRAMA, hardcore greats: 57 CROWN, Orange County’s best band, recently signed by Tom Zutaut of Guns n’ Roses and Motley Crue fame: SUCTION, L.A.’s best and biggest drawing gothic band: AMERICAN GOTHIC, the Valley’s best new band: GHOSTDANCE, Glam revival wonders: REVLON RED, and melodic rock from MADAREUS
Orange CountyÕs best new punk/metal hardcore band
It doesnÕt pay to turn you back on SUCTION.
On second thought, though, it pays very well. As recently as three months ago, Suction was being hailed throughout the SoCal music community as the prime candidate for label interest, bidding wars and, of course, that most coveted of goals, a recording contract.
After only a brief sojourn, I returned to find IÕd missed it all. Bidding was completed, A&R ink had dried, and my most-admired of Orange County friends were settled in their rightful new home, The Enclave, a part of EMI Music Worldwide.
Fondly recalling the many delightful, if mighty rambunctious, evenings IÕd enjoyed as a Suction fan, I couldnÕt wait to extend my heartfelt congratulations. As the gentlemen of Suction – DUKE COLLINS (vocals and guitar), JAY FALCONE (drums), ERIC STEWART (guitar) and PAUL NEISER (bass) – ambled towards me through the parking lot, wry grins and warm greetings reminded me just why I like these guys so much. Mixed with SuctionÕs genuine modesty, however, was a new element, an added sense of confidence and determination, an aura of purpose and of strength.
As our interview progressed, I realized my Suction friends had not changed but had, in such a short time, matured and grow into their roles as recording stars of the near future. Here is what they said.
RCN: As O.C.Õs latest success story, your first question is obvious; howÕd you get signed?
DC: It all started with Howard Benson coming out to see us and giving a tape to Tom Zutaut of The Enclave Records. He really liked it. He was out to see us within a week at a little warehouse in Santa Ana.
RCN: How long was it from the first meeting to the actual signing?
JF: From the time the demo tape was made (with Howard Benson), it was just two or three months.
RCN: So far what have you recorded?
DC: We made one the demo, the one that was shopped around. We had made a couple of three-song demos before, but nothing that we really shopped around. We just did them to give out to our friends so they would come to our shows.
RCN: And did they come?
JF: You bet!
RCN: What does the label have planned for you, for the next step?
DC: A lot of touring! Touring is what will make this band.
RCN: How much touring experience have you had?
PN: WeÕve pretty much played just in Southern California. But then weÕve only been a band for a little while.
ES: Most of our tours are overnight ones. One hundred miles or less!
RCN: Not even enough time to get sick of one another!
DC: Oh, everybodyÕs sick of each other already. (Everyone laughs) Actually I feel like IÕve been waiting around my whole life just to get the opportunity to tour.
RCN: Since you are such a ÒnewÓ band, tell us how it all got started.
DC: We all had our experiences with other bands. I think what it was, we were all trying to find the perfect unit to fit together and start making our music. As far as how Suction got started, it was Eric and I saying Òhey, itÕs time to start another band.Ó
ES: That sparked a fire and I started looking for people. I found Jim, and Jim introduced me to Paul.
DC: One thing that was really important is that I always wanted musicians who could play. I didnÕt want to have to teach everybody things. ThatÕs what I found in these guys.
RCN: Your music strikes me as very complex, that there are many elements brought together within it. What are some of the influences, or musical backgrounds, that you bring to Suction?
DC: I guess you can tell by listening to our music that weÕve all listened to the harder stuff. I personally went through a punk rock phase. IÕve always been into all different kinds of music, which is why the whole complexity of the music is really important. The quality of the musicÕs really important. IÕve always listened to music for the fact that itÕs good music. I appreciate music thatÕs good no matter what it is. ThatÕs why our music has to be more than just bunch of chords and screaming out over them. There has to be some sort of thought behind it.
RCN: What kinds of thoughts might those be? Tell me where the rest of you come from musically.
PN: We all started, when we were fourteen or fifteen years old, going to punk rock shows. Just like anybody would start playing music. . .
DC: To see a band moving people, itÕs really powerful. So you want to get into it, even when youÕre a kid, you try to find some people even though it sucks because everybodyÕs just starting out. Time goes by and everybody has gone through plenty of bands, you collect stuff from different people you played with who also have different influences. So itÕs just a big stew of different stuff, from hard hard stuff to people whoÕve been into other types of music. ItÕs almost amazing to even find other people you can play with and get along with, because everyone thinks so differently. When you can find somebody with enough of the same influences as yourself, but not exactly the same influences, then you can make something really happen.
PN: Eric and I have been playing together since we were sixteen or so. So, as far as that goes, this is the same band that IÕve always been in. ItÕs just gone through a few different names.
DC: We started out at the beginning of Ô96. Jim and Paul had some experience playing together, so they already had a little clique going, and Eric already had a little clique going.
RCN: It seemed to me that Suction went from not existing to being the biggest band in Orange County, with no steps in between. How did you do that?
DC: Flyers. WeÕre promotion freaks! We were always flyering, putting posters up, tacking stickers all over places.
ES: The flyers are what initially brought the people out.
RCN: And then they kept coming!
DC: Our music really stands out; it makes a strong statement when you see it. A lot of people who see us at first are so taken aback by us that they have to stand there and check it for a minute. Then they see it again and say, Òwhoa, they really were doing that!Ó I guess we just stood out on the local scene. WeÕre not the biggest band in Orange County.
PN: But we do draw really well there.
RCN: Are you beginning to branch out and come to L.A. more often? Is the L.A. fanbase growing?
PN: People are starting to get it. Like Duke said, a lot of times people stand there and watch. And it almost seems like Òthese people hate it.Ó ItÕs getting much better, playing the same clubs several times.
DC: ItÕs pretty amazing because we donÕt get a chance to come up here and promote. So everyone whoÕs heard us in the Hollywood area, the only thing thatÕs gotten people to come see us is word-of-mouth. People come to see our shows and the response has been pretty cool.
ES: WeÕve gotten on some good shows, too, with good bands from here.
DC: One of the main contributors to our success is the fact that other bands respect us. WeÕve made a lot of friends among the bands who are actually doing something. ThatÕs where the whole music aspect of it comes in. When youÕre playing good music and people know that youÕre actually talented, then theyÕll respect you. And then theyÕre willing to help you. We owe a lot of where weÕve gotten so far to other bands. There are too many to name names, but a lot of bands have helped us out.
RCN: Duke, let me pick on you since youÕre the vocalist. ThereÕs immense dark emotion in what you sing and the music that accents it.
DC: IÕve had a strange life!
RCN: What do you draw upon to find that darkness?
DC: Experience, totally. Explicitly experience. I never write about anything I havenÕt lived through. Something I never want to do is start writing about things I donÕt understand. I know that I donÕt understand everything. I only understand the little world that I live in. ItÕs crazy enough to give me a lot of stuff to write about. But I never want to sound contrived or like IÕm trying to play a role. It doesnÕt really limit me, just writing about my own experiences, it just makes everything real.
RCN: Your audience seems to really identify with your presentation. Are you in a particular mindset when youÕre performing?
DC: My way of dealing with any bitterness I have towards things that IÕve been through, thatÕs not to say that my life has been any worse than anybody elseÕs, but itÕs my way of justifying it all. By making something positive out of it. Trying to present it to people in a way that gives my experiences some kind of meaning.
JF: Not everybody gets that kind of outlet.
ES: It is very therapeutic because we really believe in what weÕre doing.
RCN: Your music moves from really heavy, to not heavy, and back into real heaviness again. . .
DC: ItÕs all based in emotion.
PN: ItÕs almost like comparing it to mood swings. ItÕs almost the manic-depressive thing, being ecstatic one day and down-in-the-dumps the next.
DC: Our music can hit you like a mood swing. One moment calm and serene. The next moment – the middle of a hurricane.
RCN: What are your plans for upcoming recording?
JF: So far the plan is to start recording at the end of the summer in order to have something out by the second quarter of 1998.
ES: We will be touring this summer. Just small stints. That will be the pre-production preparing for the record.
RCN: Everyone says recording is a tough experience. Are you apprehensive or excited?
PN: Both, naturally. ItÕs what everybody works for the whole time they play music, to get to record and go out there. WeÕre just right on the edge of it, so it hasnÕt hit us yet.
RCN: Is all the material done for the record or is there more material yet to be written?
DC: We have a whole lot of material. We have a lot of finished songs that we donÕt play live because we donÕt feel theyÕre for the live atmosphere. WeÕve got a record already ready to go and another probably ready to go after that.
RCN: I detect a new aura of confidence in Suction – youÕre not just the boys from O.C. anymore. Has getting signed changed the way you view yourselves or the band?
ES: EverybodyÕs always been very serious about playing music.
DC: We always knew what our calling was going to be and what was going to happen, but now there are a bunch of people who are interested in it! And they will help us bring it to a bigger scale, hopefully. ItÕs become much more real for us.
RCN: Are you planning any big shows for the summer?
PN: WeÕll be opening up a big club for Sugar Ray, but it will mostly be small club dates.
RCN: Can you give me one hilarious story from the history of Suction?
JF: Actually, itÕs all been tragic!
DC: At the Galaxy Theater I busted my head open. Everybody thought IÕd poured fake blood on myself on purpose. It was like the movie ÒCarrie,Ó I was on stage covered with blood.
PN: Everybody up front was getting blood droplets on them.
ES: Some of them were backing up pretty fast!
DC: But I have been tested, so I assure them all that theyÕre all right! Yes, the blood was real, but it was clean. Since then IÕve tried to calm myself a little bit. I do tend to get caught in the throes of our music.
RCN: As do many people! Suction audiences have certainly been known to slam.
DC: Moshing and slamming is cool. I donÕt mind when people do it. If theyÕre going to do it, fine. But when they get violent with each other, thatÕs what is terrible. ThereÕs no point in that. I donÕt see any reason why somebody would want to jump into a mosh pit if they donÕt want anybody bumping into them, if theyÕre just going to hit whoever does. We donÕt mind if people just stand there, jump up and down and watch us and donÕt even start a circular pit. A lot of bands thrive off of that and they need that. But I feel that our music speaks for itself. If you just want to stand and watch, I donÕt mind. The last thing I want to see is people fighting in front of our band. I am totally anti the ÒknuckleheadÓ type lifestyle where they just want to go out and prove how tough they are. Too many knuckleheads in this world!
ES: The best thing is to have the people all at the front, packing the place and jumping around. EverybodyÕs getting into it that way.
JF: ItÕs different every single time. You just never know.
RCN: Any final words of thanks?
BAND: Many thanks to all the local bands whoÕve helped us, all the people whoÕve come to see us, and all the clubs who keep inviting us back. None of this is possible without them.
Perhaps I could call SuctionÕs rapid rise a Cinderella story. But Cinderella went through all sorts of transformations to reach her goal. Suction, on the other hand, did and continues to do exactly what they do best, play music from the truest part of their hearts. And their goal came looking for them.
So, if I go away for another three months, will I return to find SUCTION well on their way to platinum status? DonÕt bet against it!