Not too long before they took the stage in London, eGigs nabs the opportunity for a quick chin-wag with guitarist Terrence Hobbs of slam death metal leaders Suffocation on new band members, a new album and whether or not he still talks to previous long-time drummer Mike Smith.
How has your European tour been so far?
It has been pretty excellent. Truth Corroded, Bloodtruth, Suffocation and Nile - everyone's from a different area: one band's from Italy, one's from Australia and Nile are from South Carolina and we're from New York. There have been good turnouts, people have been having a blast.
This is your first show in London since two years ago and now you have Kevin Talley drumming for you.
Yeah, we have Mr. Talley on board. Our other drummer Dave [Culross] who played on 'Pinnacle of Bedlam' was having a lot of family issues, custody issues with his kids and that nature. He was just like: “Look, I can't even do this anymore. I'm leaving.” Everybody loves Dave; we're still great friends. It was just really tough for him. When you're look between hobby and family, he's going to choose his family and that's what we did so no hard feelings. But Kevin came, he stepped it up out of Six Feet Under and he was open. He's always playing on a lot of different recordings for bands and guitar players. He has been on over a thousand different recordings. It was a natural fit and we had a rapport early on in our careers back in the 1990s when Kevin had filled in for us in the United States when we were on tour. When Dave left, Frank [Mullen] our singer was like: “Dude, you should call Kevin because he can already do the stuff.” We said: “Yeah, you know what? You're right! Let's do that!” It was basically the same thing for Ricky [Myers] who's filling in for Frank – he's our second singer, I shouldn't say he's filling in - he's doing a great job, really diehard musician, just coming out and kicking ass. I'm happy I have a solid line up and everybody's very versed musicians.
You had John Gallagher doing vocals last time you were here.
Yeah, we had Jon and we had Bill rom Decrepit Birth. But yeah, we've got these guys that came out and rehearsed with us. We played a shit load of shows already.
Having the two vocalists works for you.
Yeah, we're doing well.
How was your last album 'Pinnacle of Bedlam' received by your critics and fans?
I think people received it pretty well. Obviously you can't please everybody at once but I think it was pretty well received. I really like the artwork on it; Raymond Swanland did the artwork. We've been touring for a year and a half on and off sporadically so sooner or later we'll be done with our new record and we'll have something new for you guys but 'Pinnacle' is a good record so if you guys don't have it, go out and get it. If you can't go out and get it, go and download it…something like that! Spotify it, whatever.
How would you say it compares or contrasts with previous Suffocation albums?
I think it's very aggressive. It's almost like a blend between 'Despise the Sun' and 'Pierced from Within' in my eyes, just the structures of some of the songs and things. Everybody has got their own favourite but I think it's a really good record, solid production on it, good players on it, sound quality is good, cool arrangements and vocal patterns. If I were to give it a one to ten, I'd give it an eight out of ten personally. It had a lot of work to it but this next one is going to be better than that. Just give me some time to get it together [laughs].
What was it like working on an album without your long time drummer Mike Smith?
It was fine. Dave was a really good drummer. We've worked with him before and we went back into the mix. It was pretty seamless but it was kind of weird the way all of that had transpired in general. We were like what are we going to do with this record? We have to do something different. Basically, I'd written most of the material with Derek [Boyer, bassist] and then we posed that to Dave a month, maybe a month and a half before we actually went into the studio. Dave being the super awesome drummer he actually really is learned all that stuff. Me and him went to the studio and did our scratch tracks together and went from there. It's pretty cool, very fast. It was actually a really fast recording as far as going in there.
It has a really clear production.
Yeah, that was all Zeuss.
Do you still speak to Mike
No, me and Mike don't talk that more. He's got his own thing going on so I wish him all the best. It was just too sticky. It was really bad attitude things and stuff of that nature. That's just the way the cookie crumbles and some shit you just can't control. I guess we're both happier where we're at.
Fair enough. Returning to your new album, when do you think that will be released?
I'm hoping next year. We go to the studio at the end of this year, beginning of next year. We still have some fine-tuning to do, some lyrics to write, little knick-knacks, you know – dot the Is and cross the Ts type of thing. It should be soon so I'm hoping by the middle of next years.
What does it sound like?
Right now it's in its pre-production stage and it sounds like a bulldozer running over peoples' houses. It's gonna be much more of a cross from 'Pierced from Within', 'Despise the Sun' and 'Pinnacle of Bedlam'. The structures are in that vein so it's a really aggressive aggressive aggressive record.
Is it the most aggressive record Suffocation have ever done?
It's definitely up there for sure and I think when people are driving their car, they'll find themselves speeding. A lot.
Do you have a title for the album yet?
Not yet, no but once we get it, you guys will know! We're still bouncing ideas off each other so we'll see. We need the right title for the concept. We're still not sold yet on anything so we're not really gonna speak on it.
After this, what are your future plans before you go into the studio?
We're gonna go home and then we probably have another tour in the States and work on that. We have a lot of plans into next year on management bookings so plenty of that stuff going on, just keep going and chugging away, doing what we're doing. Things are pretty tentative right now so it's looking pretty good. The holidays are coming up at the end of the year so we try not to be too busy then. We all want to be home and chill out and have New Year's and get bombed.
That's the end of the questions. Do you have any final words for the readers of eGigs?
Thank you guys for paying attention to Suffocation. We've got some new members, come and check us out live, support the underground scene and hey heyhey, smoke weed everyday!
Most importantly! Thanks for your time.