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RELUCTANT REVOLUTIONARIES By Keith A. Gordon Along with such equally well-known peers as Black Flag, the Circle Jerks and X, Suicidal Tendencies emerged from the early eighties L.A. music scene as full-fledged punk legends, a mythological entity around which more fiction than fact has been spun by the storytellers. In reality, Suicidal Tendencies had little to do with the punks they were often associated with. As equally metallic as punkish hardcore in their musical orientation, S.T. ignored the local scene and forged a following all of their own. Openly and accidentally political with their lyrics, S.T. appealed to a multi-ethnic, lower class audience who were as alienated from the trendy L.A. music scene as they were from society. Formed in 1982 by frontman Mike Muir while he was still in high school, Suicidal Tendencies soon took on a life of its own. "When I was younger," says Muir, I never said that I wanted to be in a band, because I never did. I never really liked people too much, so I never really wanted to be around people. But I always liked music and got hooked up with some people and we had ideas that we wanted to do...and we got into the situation of where we are now, ten years later." The band burst out of their hometown of Venice to become literal overnight sensations. "We had a lot of songs," says Muir, "so we did the first record and we were fortunate, we got kind of lucky with it." That 1983 debut album, recorded in a mere twelve hour, moved an amazing quarter of a million copies for the small Frontier indie label, spawned a classic song and video in "Institutionalized" (the first hardcore video ever played on MTV) and even led to a guest appearance on TV's MIAMI VICE. After that initial success, however, the band disappeared... Three years later, S.T. resurfaced as a purely metal band with Muir and an entirely new line-up. "The second time around we realized that you've got to learn from your mistakes," says Muir. "We tried to get a major label deal, and it was really a negative situation. They didn't feel the same way that we did about our potential, what the band could do." The band eventually signed with Caroline Records, says Muir, "we did a second record as an independent and got into the Top 100 in BILLBOARD, and then we had all of these labels coming back." With eight labels vying to sign them, S.T. went with Epic Records. Two successful albums and an E.P. later, including their most recent, the Grammy-nominated LIGHTS...CAMERA...REVOLUTION, have served to propel Suicidal Tendencies into the metal mainstream. The band's material, with lyrics penned by Muir and the whole band often pitching in on the music, are sharp-edged maelstroms of energy and attitude, all fury and anger which owe as much to early seventies metal as they do eighties hardcore. Much has been said about the positive (and often overtly political) messages which run through the band's material, but S.T. are reluctant revolutionaries. "I wouldn't necessarily say that I try to bring a message," says Muir, "obviously, we start out with the music, that's the most important thing. Lyrically, if somebody gets something out of it, that's a bonus." Muir incorporates a lot of himself into his songs, however, often bringing his own struggle for self-awareness and attempt to cope with certain emotions to his songs. "Certain things do have a lot of meaning to me. I couldn't just get up there and start singing about a lot of things that I don't know anything about." Muir's lyrics are based upon his life, "and my life's not really any different than anybody elses," he says. "I'm sure that most people go through a lot of the same things." Last summer's world-wide "Clash Of The Titans" tour along with a recent arena-level tour with Queensryche has brought the band an even greater audience, though, ironically enough, they're all but banned from playing on their home turf. It seems that the racially-mixed band draws an audience which tends to scare the authorities. "We were bringing in a different crowd than people were used to seeing," says Muir. Myths spread about the band's alleged destruction of clubs, of murder and mayhem commited by the band's diverse following of gang members, punk rockers, rappers and metalheads. "As time went on," says Muir, "stories spead, 'oh yeah, I heard that people were killed at a Suicidal Tendencies show,' and those things never happened." What did happen was that the band rapidly outgrew the local L.A. club venues, and in order to play larger halls, they needed police permits...which, partially because of the stories, weren't forthcoming. Even a recent show in nearby Irvine, California, the band's first Southern Cal appearance in six years, which drew 6,000 fans without incident, hasn't changed the de facto L.A. ban for Suicidal Tendencies. Poised, as they are, on the bring of superstardom, the band's name often gets in the way of people's perceptions. "You can't judge a book by its cover," says Muir. "When we say 'suicidal', the last thing that we're thinking about is killing ourselves, it's the complete opposite!" As Muir explains it, to be suicidal is to face life with a certain reckless abandon, to be able to deal with anything that comes one's way. "To accomplish anything worthwhile takes effort," says Muir, "and when we say 'suicidal' it means 'go for it!'." As Suicidal Tendencies continue to bring their unintentional message of hope to larger audiences, Muir sums up the band's aspirations succinctly. "I know that we're not great people," he says, "but we're trying to be, and that's the most important thing." 30-30-30-30 X-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-X Another file downloaded from: The NIRVANAnet(tm) Seven & the Temple of the Screaming Electron Taipan Enigma 510/935-5845 Burn This Flag Zardoz 408/363-9766 realitycheck Poindexter Fortran 510/527-1662 Lies Unlimited Mick Freen 801/278-2699 The New Dork Sublime Biffnix 415/864-DORK The Shrine Rif Raf 206/794-6674 Planet Mirth Simon Jester 510/786-6560 "Raw Data for Raw Nerves" X-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-X

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