Back in 2008 when the inaugural Rockstar Mayhem Festival kicked off Suicide Silence was just a little known metal band from Riverside, Calif., a faceless second-stage act supporting main stage juggernauts Slipknot and Disturbed.
Now as the fourth annual Mayhem Fest â€“ featuring Disturbed, Godsmack, Megadeth, Machine Head, In Flames, Trivium, All Shall Perish and Straight Line Stitch â€“ readies to invade the White River Amphitheatre in Auburn tomorrow, Suicide Silence are one of the most successful bands iin the heavy music genre, boasting a top-40 album (2009’s “No Time To Bleed”) and a pair of Revolver Magazine Golden God awards (one for Most Innovative Band and one for Best New Talent).
Northwest Music Scene had the opportunity to trade e-mails with guitarist Mark Heylmun, talking about the band’s upcoming LP “The Black Crown”, the Mayhem Festival and what the ride has been like for the band the past couple of years.
Northwest Music Scene: Any good road stories from the first Mayhem in 2008? Any memories that stick out?
Mark Heylmun: A lot actually. One in particular was being so drunk after an after party with Dave (McClain) from Machine Head we couldn’t find our way back to where the side stage buses were and wandering around in a wooded area trying to find an exit from the amphitheater. I don’t even remember making it back? I am pretty sure we missed bus call. he just kept telling me they won’t leave without you man!
NWMS: There are some heavyweight bands on this one â€“ In Flames, Machine Head and Megadeth and Kingdom of Sorrow with Kirk from Crowbar and Jasta to name a few – which bands are you most looking forward to seeing play?
MH: Well you just named em all! I can’t wait to see Machine Head everyday again. I’ve only seen Kingdom of Sorrow play twice so that’ll be a treat too.
NWMS: Which bands, artists are you most looking forward tomeeting?
MH: Meeting the Godsmack dudes would be cool? I’ve met most of the bands on this tour and a couple of my friends from other bands are playing in these bands now like Straight Line Stitch and Kingdom of Sorrow.
NWMS: How does the Mayhem tour compare with Warped?
MH: Easier. Warped keeps you on your toes because most bands have to wake up and find out what time they play where Mayhem you either rotate and you know what time you play everyday or you play the same time roughly every day. And I am a metal head not a pop punker or poppy dude so being around my idols and peers is a better environment for me.
NWMS: Which crowd do you like better?
MH: They both rule.
NWMS: You’ve also done a headline tour, how do that compare with the festival setting? Which do you prefer?
MH: It’s tough. Headliners are stress free in the sense that you get the sound check and call all the shots on how the show is run. Now the stress lies on you to bring the crowd, where a fest the stress is spread out amongst the whole show. So if its a smaller day on a fest then you don’t beat yourself up about it and just go rock. The hangouts on a fest are way crazier and the end of the tour is always bittersweet because of how many people you are leaving but at the same time you get to go home. I just like to play gigs.
NWMS: The band has come an amazingly long way in the past few years. What things are you doing that is making this progress possible?
MH: Confidence, never losing sight of goals, staying true to ourselves, meeting a lot of our idols and really getting advice from them and applying it, and playing every show with enthusiasm and care. Not to mention talking with each other about everything and trying to keep as close as a bond with each other as we can.
NWMS: What was it like winning the Golden God awards?
MH: Surreal and really drunk. We found out the morning of the show so it added to the nerves of already having to perform in front of people like Ozzy, Vinnie Paul, etcâ€¦ So after we got done playing we all slammed a bunch of booze and went out and accepted the award as humble as we could. It went by so fast but it was fucking amazing.
NWMS: Where you at the award show, and if so, what is your fondest memory of it? (Who’d you meet, which performance did you dig, that kind of thing)
MH: Jonathan Davis watched us and told our other guitar player weâ€™re “pretty brutal” and that, as small as it is made us all feel pretty cool. While we playing I looked up and saw Vinnie Paul standing up nodding his head which was awesome and he told our drummer he liked his one- handed snare rolls. Which is a blast beat, he had to be joking but who knows? Good times.
NWMS: You’re band is selling records in a time where not many mainstream, let along metal bands, are selling? Why do you think people are going out and buying your stuff?
MH: Because we let our fans know if you want us to tour we need your support by buying the record. We can’t stay on tour as hard and as long as we do without sales that get us on tours with the likes of Megadeth, Slayer, Slipknot, etcâ€¦ I think our fans know how much we love this and it makes them want to support us. Thats why I buy CD’s from bands that I know appreciate the position they have in music.
NWMS:: You had an album debut on the Billboard charts. What was that like, what did you think when you found out?
MH: Well it’s kind of indescribable? On one hand you’re stoked on the sales being so high and then it’s like what the hell is going on? We are a top- 40 band? When I was a kid top 40 bands were like Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, or fucking White Zombie. It just makes me think a lot, those bands were selling like triple or more the records we are so its hard to explain how it makes you feel. we are kind of watching the decline of the industry. It’s so weird.
NWMS: A lot of bands, particularly metal, tend to slow down, mellow out a little once they start enjoying a little mainstream attention? Any plans for a power ballad in the works for SS?
MH: You haven’t heard it yet? It’s called Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings.
NWMS: What do you feel the future holds for the band, what are your plans, aspirations or dreams? Any milestones you like to reach?
MH: I just wanna do this for as long as I can. I’d like to keep upping the ante on this genre and stay on top of our game. I’d love to play a show with Metallica too.
NWMS: Finally, tell me about the new album that’s coming out. What can people expect?
MH: Its called The Black Crown and it is my proudest moment in music. Every song stands out and we got Jonathan (Davis) from Korn on a track and Frank (Mullen) from Suffocation on another. Everything about is it is groovy and badass, it’s our 3rd record and it’s the heaviest thing we have done and the songs are all anthems and the riffs are all tasty and better then anything we’ve ever done. I can’t wait for people to hear it and hear the songs live on Mayhem Fest.
Suicide Silence releases “The Black Crown” tomorrow. For more information visit their Web site.