Interview with the deli's Band of the Month (December): The Suicide Dolls
by Chrissy Prisco
How did The Suicide Dolls start?
Michelle: Brian and I have been playing music together since the mid 90s. We turned into a droney/chuggy noise band with no vocals while living in Providence, RI in the later 90s. You couldn't really get shows with that kind of stuff in bars, and in 2002/2003 we decided to add a more 'regular' song structure to the weird jams we were playing. What we got with our new formula were simpler, poppy-yet-noisy songs that are a little rough around the edges.
Where did the band name come from?
Michelle: A few people have actually taken some issue with our name, but it's really just a way to describe our take on society's self-destructive nature. Everyone plays with their own self-destruction in one way or another. Drinking, smoking, obsessing... almost everyone has a vice these days, so really, we're ALL Suicide Dolls. The preist, policeman, your dad, and you, too.
What are your biggest musical influences?
Michelle and Brian: We're kind of unique in the way that we have so many of the same influences. We've known eachother for such a long time that we pull from the same spectrum: 70s & 80s Punk, No Wave, New Wave & Pop. 80s Alt, Post-Punk, Art-Rock and Pop. 90s Noise Rock, Indie Rock, Garage Rock, and Stoner Rock. Out of all the bands we love, our most direct influences are probably: Sonic Youth, the Jesus Lizard, Joy Division, the Smiths, Pixies, Shellac, Beatles, the Cure, Cows, Doors, Jesus and Mary Chain, DKs, Unwound, Glenn Branca, early U2, Velvet Underground, Babes in Toyland, Gang of Four, Sex Pistols, QOTSA, Dinosaur Jr, Fugazi, the Stooges, Nirvana, Lydia Lunch, the Modern Lovers, My Bloody Valentine, David Bowie, Elvis Costello... this road can take you to the Bee Gees and beyond if you let it...
Matt: I find that individual records have a bigger influence on me than specific artists' bodies of work... but there's just too many records and artists and I always forget some big ones. Here's a few: Igor Stravinsky, Miles Davis, Steve Reich, Fugazi, James Brown, J Robbins, Medeski Martin and Wood, Snapcase, Antibalas, Bane, John Scofield, Dave Holland Quintet, Q And Not U, Wu-Tang, The Roots, Queens of The Stone Age, Blood Brothers, Glassjaw, Wayne Krantz, Cee-Lo Green, Wu-Tang, Brazilian Girls, Budos Band, KRS-One, Aesop Rock, Deftones, Tom Waits, The Meters, Bad Brains, Rage Against The Machine, The Slackers, Herbie Hancock, Botch, The Aggrolites, The Clash, Converge, The Mars Volta/At The Drive-In, . I'm also lucky enough to have been playing for one of my favorite bands for the last 3 years, Shai Hulud.
What artists (local, national and/or international) are you currently listening to?
Michelle: For the last year or so, I've been listening to mostly Pandora. Some of my favorite channels are: Unwound, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Liars, Shellac, Pussy Galore, The Fall, Hot Snakes, the Replacements, Big Black, Wire, Cows, and quite possibly the shining diamond of them all, Christopher Cross. I like to pretend that this is what's popular on the airwaves.
Brian: Sonic Youth, Pixies, Joy Division, Iggy Pop, and anyone who steals from them, or anyone they stole from. We're currently listening to alot of music. Alright fine, I post alot of videos from The Smiths and Magazine.
Matt: I'm on a BIG Rocket From The Crypt & Hot Snakes kick right now. Also Budos Band, The Flatliners, Fake Babies, Endwell, Stepkids, Sonic Boom Six, Beastie Boys, Stuck Lucky, All Teeth, The Carrier, Run With The Hunted, Aggrolites, Battles, Bill Withers, Descendents, Propagandhi, Pharoahe Monch, Robert Glasper, Sleigh Bells, Fela Kuti, Counterparts, Passion Pit
What's the first concert that you ever attended and first album that you ever bought?
Michelle: I saw the Monkees in 1986 or 1987, but the first rock concert i saw was the INXS CALLING ALL NATIONS Tour in the summer of 1988 at the Hartford Civic Center. I was 14... Brian was actually at the same show--it was also HIS first rock concert--but we didn't know eachother yet. The first record i actually bought was Michael Jackson's Thriller... it ruled so damn hard when i took it home and played it!
Brian: INXS Calling All Nations Tour. It was in Hartford CT, but I lived in New London CT and my mom wouldn't let me go. Well I had a job under the table washing dishes (I was 14), and I bought a ticket anyway. On the day of the show, I got a train ticket to Hartford and had to run from the station to the show... I got there just in time as INXS was hitting the stage. It was awsome!! Unfortunatley for me, the train station was closed after the show and I had to call my mom and let her know I was on the other side of CT. She was PISSED!! I found out a few months later that Michelle was at that show. I didn't know her yet, but a few months later... "I was at that show too!!" The first album I bought was Seven and the Ragged Tiger by Duran Duran.
Matt: First show was The Misfits, Marky Ramone and The Intruders, and Maximum Penalty in 1995 or 96 at The El N Gee club in New London, CT. First Album was either Permanent Vacation by Aerosmith or Skid Row's self-titled record. Also worth noting, first song I remember being fascinated by was Poison by Bell Biv Devoe
What do you love about New England's music scene?
Michelle: I love how many different scenes exist within our region... there are quite a few thriving. The Suicide Dolls try to play & check out other scenes as much as possible, and we've met awesome people all over. New England has an amazing array of bands here that span every genre, so much so, that I think we're going to make some real noise nationally soon.
Brian: What I love about the New England music scene is it's always rediscovering itself. It's not a corner of a city block, it's a region. The music scene in New England isn't a sound or an image, it's a spirit and a attitude. New England also has under it's umbrella many different locations and scenes. This constant re-examining makes it so New England bands develop more of a sense of an individual sound as opposed to "everyone from here sounds like this". In many scenes, everyone sounds the same, but in New England, lots of the scenes sound different.
Matt: New England has this great combination of having deep, pluralistic musical roots while also being firmly in the gravitational pull of NYC and Boston. So even though we're affected by trends and the newest, hottest shit, it gets filtered through music and art that's been deeply embedded here for decades (sometimes centuries). We don't sway in the wind, but we do take lessons from it.
What would you like to see change in the local music scene?
Michelle: The different scenes are all relatively close geographically, but not enough bands play in thier neighbors' backyards. It would be awesome to see more unification and reaching out between the different scenes in NE, because they exist and it would only make us stronger. We all have something different to offer the other. This exists to some degree already, of course. We're all New Englanders! We are in an awesomely intelligent and creative part of the East Coast. People look us over, but we were the first in the country, and we have an attitude that's all our own. If everyone was open to making a huge net of support between bands, fans and venues, we would easily become where the rest of the country looked to find new and exciting music.
Brian: I would like to see more Labels pop up to help support the vast variety of bands that we have here. There's a lot of talent here, and most New England bands are doing everythng themselves. There are some pretty successful venues here, as well as some great show promoters. It would be awesome to see a few labels support the bands who play here and fill the bars here. It would really give a different sense of legitimacy to our scene if we had a few really good labels that represented the best of our region and all it's many genres.
Matt: 1) A sense of ambition and bigger purpose. I think a lot of people here don't see the possibilites for making a living at this the way they do in NYC or LA, and while that is part and parcel of why music works the way it does in New England I'd like to see the music that's coming out of here take flight more often.
2) Thanks, New England's Universities, for continuing to throw money at bands that have shitty content and/or no substance. Just because a band has it's shit together doesn't mean it's not crappy, white-boy reggae or lame, regurgitated Allman Brothers tunes. Please learn the difference between art & culture and superficial crap. There's a LOT of bands that are contributing to our culture while still being entertaining that would kill for those opportunities.
What are your plans for the upcoming year?
Michelle: We are officially releasing our new album, Prayers In Parking Lots on Tuesday, Jan 31. We're looking forward to the new year, it looks like a good one. We'll be playing lots of shows, making a few videos and start the writing process again. We'll just follow the path where it takes us & hope there's something shiny at the end of it!
Is there a piece of equipment you couldn't live without and why?
Michelle: I would freak out without my P-Bass because it's the only bass i've played in the last 10 years.
Brian: My Fender Jazzmaster. It can't be killed. It steals souls.
Matt: Lately it's been my Slingerland Brass Piccolo snare drum. It's a 90s reissue but it has all the 60s style hardware and construction. I have ended up using it for virtually every kind of music without fail and it still retains it's unique spark no matter how I tune it, muffle it, or what heads I use.
Why do you read The Deli?
Michelle: The Deli is one of the best music mags out there, and has been for some time. I've absloutely checked out bands on the Deli's reccomendation, and i can actually say i dug most, which is rare for me! You guys have a really great, extensive list of bands that, in addition to giving exposure, is also actually a really helpful tool for musicians ;)
Brian: For the pretty obvious reasons. Such a huge band directory. Bands need to know aboout other bands. Not just to figure out new show line-ups, but also so we can hear what everybody is doing out there. I like the reader's polls, the album reviews and hearing tracks from the new albums. I also like how it has band charts. If you are into going out and supporting a scene, seeing live bands at venues, it can be pretty helpful not just in new England... the Deli covers all different music regions of the country.
Matt: New England is made up of fragmented, yet overlapping scenes. It's nice to finally have someone fresh and relevant focusing on the whole and not just the parts.
Photo credit: Adam Campos