One of the most important bands from the overall crossover sound visited our country for two concerts in Thessaloniki and Athens. Suicidal Tendencies count 25 years of presence in the music scene and it was at last about time for the Greek audience to witness their show. Rockpages –with a Metallica tour poster in the background- talked with Mike Clark and offers one more exclusive interview to all its readers…Interview: Sakis Nikas
Rockpages.gr: Mike, you started at the early 80s in Venice Beach California? What do you remember from those days?
Mike Clark: Oh man…(laughs)! It was crazy! We were all living in one house and we needed the money for the rent, so we started playing in the kitchen of Mike Muir’s brother’s house…in his kitchen. We gave all those wild parties in that house just for fun and so as to pay for the rent. So, the first things I remember from those days are the parties and the crazy atmosphere in our house. The police was always knocking at our door and telling us to stop the music or else…(laughs) It was a lot of fun, but things sometimes were getting out of control. We were skateboarding all the time, being a bunch of kids who wanted to have a great time.
Rockpages.gr: What’s the story behind the first album? I know that you recorded it, but most of the fans had to wait for a long time to hear it.
Mike Clark: Right…The label (Frontiers) stop printing the album and we had to reissue it when we were in Virgin Records. When we did that, Frontiers begun again the printing! What can I say? Idiots! (laughs) We just did it for the fans who couldn’t find the first issue.
Rockpages.gr: Back then, were you aware that you were establishing a fashion that was later known as the skateboard fashion?
Mike Clark: Not really. We were a punk rock band with guitar leads, but it was a time that the punk rock bands were calling us metal and the metal bands referred to us as a punk band. Then it turned over to a crossover thrash…so I guess we invented something. Don’t forget that it was 1984-85 and no band had attempted this crossover thing, at least at this extend.
Rockpages.gr: Why did you choose to go with that gang-style dress code with the bandannas, the open shirts and all that stuff?
Mike Clark: Well, we all grew up in a certain area and when there are people who look the same, they don’t understand many things about dress code. So, they labeled us as a gangsta band, but that was just the way every guy in the neighborhood dressed anyway. We didn’t say “Oh, let’s just get dressed like neighborhood gangsters”. Those were our clothes. As I told you, we like skateboards and we needed cheap comfortable clothes, because we didn’t have money and those were the clothes that we could afford. We still wear the same shirts, man! 4 shirts at 10 bucks! (laughs)
Rockpages.gr: After a long time you are embarking on a European tour. How does it feel?
Mike Clark: It feels great! I am really happy to be on tour again. Mike had major health problems with his back the last few years and we had to wait for his recovery. There is no way that we could tour until he was healed. Now we are rolling and I see how much I missed playing live. The fans are great and everybody is excited. I think that we are giving our best shows ever! It’s awesome.
Rockpages.gr: I know that you are working on a new album. Would you like to tell us something about it?
Mike Clark: It’s going on really well. I am really excited about it. We’ve got so much material that we need to go through it and see what’s gonna end up eventually on the record. During Mike’s health problems everybody in the band started writing, recording and coming up with great song ideas.
Rockpages.gr: Is it scheduled for a 2007 release or you are thinking of putting this out in 2008?
Mike Clark: Hopefully this year. Right now we are focusing on the tour and when we get back home we will figure out what we will do with the recordings. We have also a new DVD on the works and we will put everything in the right order when the tour is finished.
Rockpages.gr: In the mid-80s you signed with Virgin and released some commercially successful records. MTV heavily aired various clips of yours and pushed sales. In the long run, do you think that MTV helped Suicidal Tendencies or backfired at you?
Mike Clark: I know what you mean! No, I think it helped us a great deal. They gave us the chance to be acknowledged by so many people and you know what they say: The more you are exposed the better for your career. If it wasn’t for MTV a lot of people wouldn’t have heard of the band. But, I know what you mean…there are so many so-called cool guys that say that we were sold out and we didn’t remain loyal to our fans…Yes, MTV can do that to you, but come on, we are Suicidal! (laughs) These are the people who when they hear something on the radio they instantly say that it sucks without even taking a good listen to it! I feel sorry for them! Suicidal gained more fans because of MTV.
Rockpages.gr: Do you miss those days?
Mike Clark: Well, I miss being younger! (laughs) We did so many crazy things back then…we used to jump from building to building just for fun. But, that’s life. I look back to it and I have fond memories from that period of my life. But, I am happy right now, too.
Rockpages.gr: Do you believe that maybe there will come a time when Suicidal will gain again the success they had in the 80s?
Mike Clark: We will see what happens. We’ve been away for a while and I know these days it’s kinda difficult, but you never know! That would be great.
Rockpages.gr: Do you think the fact that Robert Trujillo joined Metallica, turned in a way the spotlight on Suicidal again?
Mike Clark: Not really. I mean that everybody who is into Metallica knows Suicidal Tendencies, too. We toured so many times with them in the past. I am sure that there will be those new fans who will say: “Man, this guy used to be in Suicidal”! But, he was in Ozzy, too! (laughs) It’s cool! If James (Hetfield) wants to say that he was in Suicidal, he can say it, too! (laughs)
Rockpages.gr: Do you believe that the name of the band caused you any trouble?
Mike Clark: A lot of trouble! There were a lot of good tours for us with many sponsors and companies that were willing to put their money into those concert ventures. But, when they heard of the name, they didn’t want us on the bill. I used to state in interviews that we are not telling people to go and commit suicide. We are not suicidal, but the name is more like “Hell Yeah”! Great rhyme…Well, in a lot of ways it hurt us, but it helped us, too!
Rockpages.gr: By the way, who thinks of all those clever album titles?
Mike Clark: Mike Muir! He is so clever and snappy with words and he always comes up with all those great phrases…You will see him tonight at the show! He is out of his brain, totally crazy and he comes up with all those little stories in between the songs that are totally spontaneous. He is something else, I tell you!