Interview – Suffocation on Mike Smith’s Departure
Earlier this year New York’s Suffocation announced UK and Irish dates with Blood Red Throne, Cattle Decapitation, Cerebral Bore, Sadist and Carceri yet it wasn’t so much the show announcements that got people talking but more the headline band’s changing line-up as the dates drew nearer. First off it was revealed that one of the band’s founding members, drummer Mike Smith, was no longer part of the band and then off the cuff of that we were told that frontman Frank Mullen would also be absent from the UK and Ireland stages. As the days passed by the inevitable rumours started their rounds, ‘Frank was out’ ‘Mike did this’, ‘they did that’! What was the true story? An interview with Sick Drummer magazine recently revealed Mike’s side of the story but what about the band’s side? Well, eager to find out we pulled up a pew with guitarist Terrance Hobbs in a smoky room above a venue packed with hungry Suffocation fans to hear the band’s side surrounding the split and what the deal was with Frank’s absence.
We’ve heard a lot of stories since Suffocation split ways with Mike Smith. I just want to hear something from your side, what’s the story?
Basically, I don’t know. Mike and the band just weren’t getting along. He wanted to sit at home, do more singles and not tour as much, and the rest of the band wanted to go out on the road more to support everything. That was a fundamental difference and things just escalated from there really to a point where we could no longer even jam with the guy.
It created a bad atmosphere?
Yeah exactly and Mike’s a real opinionated guy and he likes to talk a lot so it just wasn’t a good thing for us. Dave [Culross] joined the band and we’ve been playing shows ever since which is good.
You were saying about him being very opinionated. Have you read any interviews with him about the split?
No, I mean I hear there are so many interviews. It’s kind of like he’s a sore girlfriend. Just let him spew his stuff and maybe he’ll get it all out one day and feel confident about himself again, whatever makes him happy. It’s nothing to us; we’ll just keep doing what a band should be doing rather than that sort of stuff.
Some of the things said were quite personal for example in an interview with Sick Drummer he said that the new drummer wouldn’t have a hard time because the hired guitarists can’t play the songs…
If that’s how he feels then that’s how he feels.
[Guitarist Guy Marchais pipes in to new drummer Dave Culross]
GM – Dave are you having a hard time?
DC - No!
TH – There you go. That’s how it is I guess and he’s just making more excuses. For me it’s childish stuff, I mean he’s played songs that other drummers have played on record that are just as talented as he is, so for him to say that, it’s you know… Personally it’s all about him and whatever he wants to say. I really don’t choose the time to listen to that stuff and that’s the kind of unproductive stuff that was stopping the band from moving forward.
In that same interview he referred to himself as not just the drummer but also the founder, manager, songwriter…
But he’s really not. He was just another member of the band like the other guys. Yes, he had his hand in the business side of things but we obtained management and he wasn’t willing to let go, he wanted to control all those things. He’s still spouting that stuff even though he’s not in the band. It’s just pointless stuff.
What was the story with Frank?
Frank has had a long-term job for like forty years and he’s slowly getting towards retirement. As we’ve been doing so much touring it’s been taking up a lot of his time and it makes it very difficult for him especially as he’s got a daughter to bring up. He needed to be at home more because he’s not there as much, which is totally understandable, but he’s still in the band he just couldn’t make the UK tour between the job and so on and so forth so he said just get a filler and we said ok. He came over and did the shows he could do and went home.
Thanks for clearing those few things up.
Well there we go at least we’ve heard something from both sides! Any thoughts get in touch! For now though here’s a recent video from their Dublin show with Bill from Decrepit Birth filling in on vocal duties.
Photo: Irene Siragusa
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