SUFFOCATION have been commanding a huge fan base and also one of the longest surviving Death Metal bands out there. Having been on a heavy tour schedule over the last several months, we managed to get hold of Terrance Hobbs, the member from the original line up. We spoke to him about the tour life, new Suffo record, old times and live shows. Excerpts:
MJM: I wish we could conduct the interview with a couple of beers and watch you play some of the sickest riffs and solos. Welcome aboard Mr. Terrance Hobbs. Greetings from the other part of the world.
HOBBS: How’s it going over there? Well I hope!
MJM: Things are fine here, thanks! Suffocation just finished the most awaited tour of 2016, ‘The Summer Slaughter Tour’ with giants Cannibal Corpse, Nile, Krisiun, Revocation etc., The line up itself is so brutal that one should punch himself to death before going to the venue. Could you share some of the experience while you guys were on the road?
HOBBS: Well for us it was great!! We had the chance to actually not headline for a minute and get to hang out, meet our fans and really get to enjoy a show as well as play one. We had tons of friends on that tour so the drunken bus parties were flying!! It was one for the history books for sure and of course a once in a lifetime thing!!!
MJM: Also this year Suffocation played some of the greatest metal fests like Inferno Fest, Heaven and Hell fest, Bay Area death fest, Heavy Montreal, etc. How does the band manage to keep so strong after all these years?
HOBBS: I think a lot comes down to the fact we have a very strong fan base we have built over the years.. also we try to stay as busy and out in the public eye as much as possible. You know in the words of Bruce Dickenson “STICK TO YOUR GUNS” so after about 2 decades with a brief hiatus Suffocation took the drive we had and have gone full steam ahead since but if it wasn’t for our fans we would not be doing this anymore !!!
MJM: In Heavy Montreal, Frank Mullen re-united with you guys. We all know that he is busy with his job and family but he still managed to do that gig and I saw the video on Youtube playing ‘Catatonia’. How does it feel when you still play some old classics with him? Take us through your memory lane and the relationship you share with Frank to this day.
HOBBS: Well as you guys know Frank is always a part of Suffocation!! He has real life issues and can’t really do the touring anymore, so Ricky Myers is with us now as well filling the void when Frank can’t obviously its always great to get him back on a stage with us, so we take his somewhat retirement with a grain of salt and let him do him. But all in all were all good friends and do what we can to help each other out and keep that ball rolling, so knowing that Frank could be at Heavy MTL – the pieces were in place.
MJM: You guys have been touring continuously for years together. Does the band get any rest at all? How challenging is to keep mentally and physically fit in such a busy schedule?
HOBBS: Well yeah the touring can take it’s toll, no doubt!! We usually try to tour every other month and the world is a big place, its very hard to get to most places and play for the fans and die hards, let alone make the adequate connections to really keep the band safe, mentally stable, positive and so on!! The amount of flying for anyone that we do can literally drive you crazy as most people don’t take over 20 flights in 2 weeks!!! But all in all, we as a band want to get there to you all and perform, so i guess in the long run, after meeting so many friends and fans over the years all over the world it makes it a little easier to stomach knowing you get to see everyone on a regular basis.
MJM: Let’s get to the last album ‘Pinnacle of Bedlam’ that was released 3 years ago which was critically and commercially acclaimed. How soon are we getting to the new Suffo album?
HOBBS: Well Pinnacle of Bedlam was sort of a concept album and I’d like to thank all who supported us in the making of that album. Knowing everyone was thinking the world was going to end in 2012 was what created the idea behind the title!!! Pinnacle meaning the top or utmost height and bedlam which is total chaos. As far as the new album goes, yes were taking off right now about 3 months to get it all together and rehearsed, the music is written and brutal as ever, probably the hardest one on my picking hand yet!!! Stay tuned for some classic Suffocation coming soon !!!
MJM: You guys always re-record a song from ‘Breeding the Spawn’ and put it to your new record. Can you please tell us about this? What was the reason behind the ‘raw production’ as you have quoted it yourself earlier? Was it a deliberate decision or was it because of the label or anything else?
HOBBS: Well, the Breeding The Spawn thing was a decision by most all of us really from former line ups to the present ones. Suffocation at the time of Breeding the Spawn wrote great music, but was in turmoil internally in 92/93. The production suffered terribly and really we all thought it should not have come out. But of course between labels and budgets and so on, it hit the shelves. So we figured if we can put a bonus track on each new record, possibly when fans have every album you can piece Breeding The Spawn back together again!!!
MJM: Would there be any ‘Live DVD’ in store or something any time?
HOBBS: Of course, Suffocation has been speaking of this for quite sometime now and because we had producer and production issues things were put on hold ..but now as time is passing better offers and investors have come forward to help get this together so i am hoping by 2017 we should have the DVD together and ready to go!!
MJM: Speaking of ‘Pinnacle of Bedlam’, this album remains close to my heart and the track, ‘Sullen days’ is so in your face. What does the normal writing process look like?
HOBBS: Suffocation tries as many techniques as possible when it comes to writing. We each do our own thing at home of course, but now that the internet and computers have become much faster we can then exchange riffs and such that way as well!! We also get together to collaborate so we really try to go down every avenue to create, because a lot of the time we are on the road and its very hard to write being in tight quarters with lack of sleep and so on!!! Kind of lets you guys know why it takes a few years for Suffocation albums to be produced and written!!!
MJM: From ‘Effigy of the Forgotten’ to Pinnacle of Bedlam’ how has the band evolved musically? How has the constant change of new members added to the creative writing style?
HOBBS: Well we have tried so many different styles in our music that its really hard to say. Our integrity is most important to us and our fans although production values have changed from album to album we take pride in keeping the aggression and styles that made Suffo a band. Even from new to old members once they have learned songs and written some they usually get what were aiming for as a band !!!
MJM: Tell us about how Suffocation works on the artworks. They are definitely something else! How do you conceptualize them?
HOBBS: Well as we collaborate with ideas we all have, we actually look up artists that we feel are great and narrow it down. We have had great artists over the years such as Dan Segrave, Hiro Takahashi, Jon Zig, Raymond Swanland as well as a few others. But as we go through the motions we all come to terms with each others ideas and pose the idea we agree upon to the artist.
MJM: So, how has the reformation in 2003 changed the approach to the band’s music?
HOBBS: Really it has not, as time goes on we grow as musicians so things will always be different. But who wants to hear the exact same sound on every record, so we do try to keep things fresh and incorporate different riffs and styles from the older roots to the newer ones it just helps to keep things new.
MJM: What do you think of the current music industry with labels, money involved and much more?
HOBBS: Well since computers and recording gear is more available now for the musician, it’s great and now bands can do it on their own at home. But there is something to be said about a label as labels have staff, accounting personnel, advertising, distribution and a whole lot more, so I think a label is a great thing for up and coming bands but bands do need to take heed on what they sign from a label having a music lawyer is the best bet !!!
MJM: Besides, recently there have been many mixed reactions about ‘Pledge Music Campaign’, ‘GoFundMe’ and similar sites and platforms. What are your thoughts on crowd funding? How do you see such a marketing campaign amongst many bands?
HOBBS: Well, it can be a great thing, crowd-funding, especially for bands. When the crowd source happens the fans donations actually get them the album, CD, DVD packs and so on. So in that aspect its great and allows fans to more interact with the band personally. The negative point on crowd sourcing is that now anyone can do it, so if they decide to say they need a bottle of booze or a boat or car or something that’s personal, I feel that’s just a person begging for dollars!
PHOTO CREDIT: Marianna Benze. Hell & Heaven Festival 2016.
MJM: And how is your other project ‘Criminal Element’ doing? You guys did your last album ‘Criminal Crime Time’ in 2015. What are the updates of this project?
HOBBS: Well for right now Criminal Element is just chugging away at making an all cover LP its going to be classic thrash and death metal stay tuned !!
MJM: Do you listen to any modern metal bands? What are your thoughts on modern metal bands?
HOBBS: A lot I like but of course its few and far between. For me, I’m an old school thrash head so I usually stick with what I know but bands like Decrepit Birth, Origin, Fallujah, Profanity, Ingested, Aeon, Virvum, Cattle Decapitation are all great!! As long as the musicianship is good I’m a happy guy!!! I pass on djent though! To me its mindless!!!!
MJM: In your opinion, what are some of the most challenging Suffocation songs to play on a live set?
HOBBS: Hahahahaha! To be honest they all have some bit of tech parts to them so in my mind they all are pretty challenging.
MJM: Do you have any thoughts of coming to India, Bangladesh? A huge fan base of suffocation is out there.
HOBBS: If you guys know the good promoters there we would love to come play for you all and see the culture sights and just rip it for the fans!!!
MJM: We do hope to see you soon! Thank you so much and good luck with the upcoming days. It was just great interacting with you.
HOBBS: Anytime and I hope Suffocation will be able to make an appearance in India soon. Until then stay heavy and brutal and have a beer for me cheers!!!
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