With hearts heavy but determined, Suicide Silence are back in the game and Eddie Hermida is ready to inherit the crown as frontman of the Californian metallers. By Daniel Furnari. Live photos by Kane Hibberd.
Eddie Hermida inherits the crown and keeps Mitch Lucker’s memory alive.
“Suicide Silence’S exiStence iS Such a larger-than-life thing. it made uS realiSe what we’re doing when we’re playing thiS muSic, and how much mitch and Suicide Silence have affected
the world.” Mark HeylMun
Afull-on Suicide Silence rejuvenation” – that’s how guitarist Mark Heylmun describes the deathcore giants’ first time back on stage after an excruciating 14-month break. When Soundwave 2014 came around, signalling their first tour since the tragic passing of original vocalist Mitch Lucker in October 2012 and their first opportunity to showcase new frontman Eddie Hermida, there was more than a bit of pressure riding on that Australian jaunt.
“We were just so excited and nervous to get that first show down in Brisbane and make it a good one, but of course it went down exactly like a Suicide Silence show always goes,” laughs Heylmun. “About a half hour before we were supposed to play, a bass drum trigger blew out and we had to find somebody to borrow a trigger from before we went on stage. Everything was going haywire, but when we went on stage we had a great time, the crowd was awesome and we just couldn’t wait to play more.
“It was like the tribe was back! Being on stage with Suicide Silence is like nothing else, we all just put on this show attitude and it becomes a whole different animal. Eddie was definitely feeling it and afterwards we were really stoked. It was full of a fresh energy and some real emotion.”
Heylmun’s relief and enthusiasm at the show is tangible and contagious, especially when you realise how completely up-inthe-air things were for the band a year ago. Naturally left reeling and distraught after the motorcycle accident that claimed Mitch Lucker’s life, the band could barely even fathom the idea of talking about their future.
“We didn’t do anything at all concerning Suicide Silence as a band except to get all of us together to hang out and have dinner with the dudes every now and then,” says Heylmun. “We thought the band was going to be over. But at one of those meetings somebody brought up the idea of changing the name and starting again as a new band. And [Chris] Garza, who started the band, straight away said, ‘If we change the name, I quit’. That made everybody think about it and we realised obviously there was still a fire there. Suicide Silence was going to stay alive.”
When Eddie Hermida was asked by Suicide Silence to record vocals over a song in order for the band to “hear how someone else would sound singing with our music”,
as a close friend of the band and the late Lucker he was more than happy to oblige. But the thenvocalist of fellow Californians All Shall Perish had little idea just what the band had planned for him.
“A week or so after I recorded the song, they hit me up again and told me they couldn’t picture anyone else but me stepping into the band. When that came about I had a lot on my plate, I had a band that I was committed to, and I told them, ‘ Whatever happens, make sure you don’t ask me to quit my band’ because it was my baby, so I wanted to make sure I gave All Shall Perish the option to move forward with me. I mulled it over for about three months, and then the decision to take them up on their offer came after talking to a lot of family and friends.”
With All Shall Perish later making the choice to continue on without him, combined with the expected flack from certain die-hard Suicide Silence fans unhappy with the band’s choice to replace Lucker, these were heavy days for Eddie Hermida. But as any songwriter knows, negative energy can be a positive fuel for that lyrical fire, and much of the content of the heavily awaited LP You Can’t Stop Me stands as testament to that.
“A lot of it is based around what I’m going through with what people are saying on the internet, and with me joining a new band, and all those worries,” says Hermida. “I guess I’m treating this band more like a diary rather than a platform to spread my beliefs. I’m just talking about what’s coming from my heart. I was a little more detached from that in All Shall Perish, there were a lot more political connotations.”
One of the record’s most defining lyrical moments is its opener, pointedly titled “Inherit The Crown”. Both sensitively reassuring and proudly confident, it’s not hard to tell what Hermida is singing about on the track – it’s a message he’s been trying to convey for the past year.
“The previous record was The Black Crown, so it’s a direct reference to that kind of literal inheritance. Mitch was my brother, so stepping into his place is something I do with grace but also with a lot of pain. The biggest thing for me was kind of to tell the fans that I wasn’t somebody to be afraid of, I was someone to help things continue on. I always try to turn things around, and that’s a big thing for me on this record, finding ways to tell people that hating on me is not going to change anything.”
Thankfully for Hermida, he had the full support of the band behind him, determined to block out detractors and focus on the task at hand – penning the strongest, most inspired album they could conjure after the most traumatic and turbulent period of their lives and careers. According to Heylmun, there was never any doubt in their minds that they’d picked the right man for the job, even if Hermida needed a little convincing at times.
“We knew that Eddie from All Shall Perish could easily be Eddie from Suicide Silence. We had to just kind of give him the confidence. We told him, ‘ We’re gonna do this and it doesn’t matter that you don’t look like Mitch or whatever’. Imagine filling the shoes of someone who people looked up to so highly. It’s insane, and Eddie obviously was nervous but he stepped up to the plate and he did everything he needed to do. He was talking to our fans about Mitch every chance he got, and that’s why he’s the perfect guy for the job, he knew Mitch really well and thought of him as a friend and not just as a guy he’s replacing.”
Speaking about the iconic appeal of his predecessor and fallen brother, Hermida is expectedly reverent and warm: “He gave his heart and soul to every show he ever played. He had an amazing band sitting behind him that was as energetic and down to throw down as he was. He had a vision the whole time, he wanted to be this grandiose persona on stage, that’s what he strove for and he achieved it. The guy could get anybody moving, he had such energy and devotion and he gave it to everybody.”
“It’s eye-opening to see how the fans have reacted to the loss of Mitch,” elaborates Heylmun. “For us, he was one of our best friends, but not all of those people knew Mitch, they only knew him as the singer of Suicide Silence, it’s not the same relationship. But seeing their reaction and the way they held his life and everything he did so close to them made us realise that Suicide Silence’s existence is such a larger-than-life thing. It made us realise what we’re doing when we’re playing this music, and how much Mitch and Suicide Silence have affected the world. It’s kept my eyes on the music and on putting things out that are going to make people happy and touch people.”
With the release of You Can’t Stop Me creeping ever so close, the band are fervently excited and determined that it sounds just like a Suicide Silence record should. Although Lucker’s contributions to the band potently shaped what it is today, one listen to You Can’t Stop Me should assure doubters that the aggression and intensity that has always defined the band is more than just a matter of who is roaring the words.
“It’s the band man, the guys that are playing the songs – they are the sound!” exclaims Hermida. “People worry if you remove one member from a band that it’ll sound completely different, but when the members of the band are as involved as these guys, that’s never going to happen.”
Heylmun agrees. “There isn’t a record that has been a full-length yet that hasn’t been Alex Lopez, Chris Garza and myself. I mean we did have another bass player at one point, but bringing Dan Kenny into the band brought something better into the band too. But we write these songs together, we always have, and there’s just something that happens. We don’t know where the riffs come from. They come from a different place.”
While the band’s future is now firmly back on the right path, for Hermida, the settling in process is ongoing. Maybe his naysayers have more in common with him than they think – these kinds of changes aren’t easy on anyone. But he’s getting there.
“When I’m talking to the guys sometimes I catch myself referring to it as ‘your band’, and they’re like, ‘ What do you mean, our band? It’s your band too!’ I guess it’s kind of like when you move house and you keep writing the old address for a few months after, but then after a while you realise, ‘Oh, I live here now’. Even now though, it’s beginning to feel like maybe it is my band, especially with all the hard work I’ve done.”