“I AM REPULSED BY MY ACTIONS. THE SELF-LOATHING I AM GOING THROUGH IS JUSTIFIED”
direction of unity.” The lengthy missive finished, “And on behalf of the rest of the band (who are mad with me also), I plead for your forgiveness, for this is a mistake I will never make again…”
That sign-off seems a little ironic now, yet while such past behaviour is unignorably damning, there have actually been times when Phil Anselmo has called publicly for unity, which, if taken on face value, could be seen to contradict the condemnation of Phil as simply a racist.
‘Mass prediction,unification / Breathing life into our lungs / Every creed and every kind /To give us depth for strength’, the singer hollered on Pantera’s Rise, on their 1992 album, Vulgar Display Of Power.
“Pulling in different directions because of the colour of skin is ridiculous, I feel, and stereotyping and stuff like that,” he expanded when asked about the song in an interview.
Other lyrics were far more questionable. Stealing A Page Or Two From Armed & Radical Pagans – by the Anselmo-led band Superjoint Ritual – makes mention of ‘ the coward Muhammeds’ and ‘ Jewish elitists’. As it also rails on Catholics and other Christians, however, it could – if taken in isolation and ignoring those stereotyping adjectives – even lend credence to Phil’s claim to be an equal opportunities hater.
After Hurricane Katrina wreaked devastation through
“We broke rules and it made people very upset,” is Mike’s recollection.“we weren’t trying to be like anyone else and we didn’t care, and that really bothered people. We were different; very different. But we weren’t trying to be different.we were just trying to be ourselves.
“But we scared people.”
nd then there was the music. Released just 24 hours after Independence Day, and representing the true sound of liberty, the astonishing eponymous debut album from Suicidal
ATendencies was by turns alarming, exhilarating, excoriating and hilarious.always pioneering, often unprecedented, ST were so distant from their contemporaries that Flipside had no qualms in evaluating them as the worst band of 1982. Elsewhere, Mike Muir’s assertion that he shot president Ronald Reagan on the breathless I Shot The Devil led to a visit from the U.S. Secret Service and an order to inform the authorities should he ever plan to visit Washington, D.C.. But if such obstacles suggested a future without prospects, this suggestion was wrong.
“At first people didn’t appreciate what we were doing,” says Mike. “The record got terrible reviews; then a few years later it’s being described as a classic. But that’s life.”
It is justly right and fair that today Suicidal Tendencies is recognised as a landmark album of its kind, in much the same way as Black Flag’s Damaged and Slayer’s Reign In Blood – with which Suicidal… shares a 28-minute running time – two similarly pivotal records from Los Angeles-based bands released in the 1980s. (Slayer would later record a cover version of the ST track Memories Of Tomorrow, available on the Soundtrack To The Apocalypse compilation.) And while it may have taken time for the Venice Beach quartet’s first dozen songs to find an audience of numbers – it would be four full years until Join The Army, the group’s more metal-tinged second release – when the group did find momentum, it came with considerable force. Long after Suicidal Tendencies should have died a lonely death, MTV began to air the low-budget video clip for the album’s most iconic track, Institutionalized. Just as remarkably, the group then appeared in an episode of the smash 1980s hit TV show Miami Vice.and by the time its successor appeared, this slight album released on a tiny label [Frontier] had sold more than 100,000 copies.
“That was pretty amazing,” admits the man who wrote or cowrote each of its dozen songs.
By this point, Suicidal Tendencies were airborne.the group signed to Virgin Records, their first major label. Tracks such as Possessed To Skate,you Can’t Bring Me Down and Send Me Your Money would soon thrill audiences in even larger numbers, as their creators toured the world on tours that also featured Slayer and Megadeth and, in 1994, Metallica. Lars Ulrich would describe Mike Muir as being an “underrated genius”.
“It took a while, but when things started to happen, they really did happen,” says Mike.
When it comes to matters of blazing trails and innovation, do you feel that Suicidal Tendencies receive the credit the band deserves? Their leader thinks about this, but not for very long. “What is credit?” he asks. “As my dad says, a statue in the park is something the pigeons shit on. I look at things very simply – I like the Sex Pistols, and as Johnny Rotten said, ‘You don’t have to be like anyone else.you can do what you want to do and you don’t have to worry whether anyone else likes it.’ And that’s what I tried to do.”
And that’s what Mike Muir did, with a power and a panache that has resonated for more than 30 years.