SUFFOCATION "Ascending The Pinnacle"

Interview with GUY MARCHAIS by THOR

 The mighty Suffocation is gearing up to hit the road in support of their outstanding new album, “Pinnacle of Bedlam”.  I caught up with founding member and current ax-man, Guy Marchais to discuss the band’s longevity, the new album, and just what the hell goes on when these guys aren’t on stage obliterating death metal fans around the world.  Read on, Wormsters….

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: The band’s been around since 1988 and “Pinnacle of Bedlam” is arguably the best Suffocation album yet. There are other extreme metal bands that have been around just as long, but there aren’t any that people will argue are making their best music now. What’s your secret?

GUY MARCHAIS: I don't really think there is a secret - we just write what we write and we are always trying to top ourselves at what we do!

WC: What’s your typical writing process like?

GM: We all write individually from home and then we get together at Terrence's house or at Derek's house or at my house and we continue writing together feeding off each other. We pretty much inspire each other and push each other. We do scratch tracks in ProTools LE and we use EZ drummer to put together the songs and arrange them the way we see fit.

WC: Last year Bill Robinson from Decrepit Birth was filling in on vocals live. On this tour, John Gallagher from Dying Fetus is doing some of the dates. Both of them are outstanding, but Frank is such a fan favorite.  How have the fans responded to Suffocation sans Frank?

GM: Frank will continue to play as many shows as he can with us. We used Bill Robinson last year for two short tours in Europe and everything worked out fine with him. This year we are using John Gallagher on the shows that Frank is not available for. Last year when we used Bill Robinson the fans were accepting of him at the shows. Even though it's not going to be Frank I think the fans will be accepting of John.

WC: Suffocation is one of the archetypes of death metal a genre that’s mutated into several strains. When you first got together, what were your objectives musically?

GM: I think our objectives then were the same as they are now, to play and create music that we love and music that the fans will love too. 

WC: Do you recall any conversations where you talked specifically about what your approach to music was going to be?

GM: We all grew up on heavy-metal and the heavier it was the more we loved it so it seems only right that that's what we would be playing it turned out to be death metal which was the heaviest form at that time and that's what we love playing. I don't recall us choosing any specific type of music to play or talking about it for that matter. Death metal was and is what we love.

 WC: For those who don’t know, you were there for the band’s birth, but parted ways just before Suffocation had taken off.  You rejoined them after their extended hiatus (1998-2003) and have been a fixture on guitar for the past decade now.  What led to your return and how has the scene changed over the past decade?

GM: The scene has definitely become flooded with a lot of good and talented bands.  Back in 2003 when Suffocation was reforming they asked Doug Cerrito but he had a business to run and did not want to rejoin the band so Terrence called me on the phone and asked me if I want to do it and I said yes. But I had never stopped playing death metal.  I did Pyrexia after Suffocation and then I did Internal Bleeding after that. I left Internal Bleeding around 2000-2001 and was doing nothing until 2003 when I got the call from Terrence.

WC: Which songs off “Pinnacle of Bedlam” are your favorites to play live?

GM: At this point we have only played “As Grace Descends” live but we are rehearsing four or five of the songs to play live two weeks from now when the tour starts. So far they are all fun to play but I love playing “My Demise” and “Purgatorial Punishment”.

WC: Which songs tend to be the fan favorites?

GM: We do read a lot of posts on our Facebook and it seems that “Sullen Days” and “My Demise” are the fan favorites so far.

WC: Is there a particular venue you’re stoked to play this time out or have played in the past?

GM: We used to love playing the Key Club in California but I've heard it's closed down. I personally like playing small venues.

WC: Do you have musical interests other than death metal?

GM: Yes I listen to a lot of Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, King Crimson, and old-school heavy-metal. Most of the music I listen to is from the 80s or the 90s.

WC: When you’re not touring what do you do?

GM: I go fishing a lot, I do photography, and I also do video. I've been filming a few movies lately in the horror genre. The last movie I film was called
“Cool as Hell” and the next movie I think I will start filming in June is called “Mystery Meat”. Frank Mullen and a bunch of other friends are in the movie “Cool As Hell”.

WC: After two-and-a-half decades you guys are showing no signs of stagnation. But I have to admit, I get exhausted just being a spectator at extreme shows these days. It’s such a physically demanding style of music. Where do you see Suffocation in ten or twenty more years? Is there an end game, or do you not look at it like that?

GM: We are not looking at an endgame I think we all just want to continue playing recording and touring.

WC: You guys certainly have no reason to consider this yet, but is Death Metal the type of music people can play well even as they advance in age like we see with conventional rock or other genres (here’s lookin’ at you, Stones)?

GM: I think if someone is playing death metal and they keep playing it as they get old they will have no problem playing it if you take a break for too long you'll have to get that stamina back up to be able to perform parts.

WC: Are there any up and coming death metal bands that you dig?

GM: Like I said I mostly listen to older death metal and older music in general, the newer music that I listen to is old music like the new Napalm Death stuff like that. I love the music I grew up on and I don't think I'll ever stop listening to it.

WC: What’s next on the immediate docket for Suffocation?

GM: Next week we fly out to Oslo Norway for Inferno Fest then we come home from that and we start our US tour for the month of April.  After the US tour we come home and we do the European tour for the month of May and beginning of June.  There's a lot more in that works for the rest of the year though so look for it. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates and tours to be announced -.

Also, feel free to follow me on Twitter @GMarchais

Thank you for the interview and we hope to see everyone out on the road!