Davey Suicide is on a mission to reinvent and reinvigorate industrial rock. Digital Diversion caught up with Davey in San Francisco on the second to last date of his “Hide Your Morals” Tour. Read on to see what he has to say about rockstars, influences and what’s next for the band.
How would you describe Davey Suicide for folks that have not heard you before?
We’re a gutter-goth-steam-punk monster and we’re here to fuck you up!
So what came first, Davey Suicide the person, or Davey Suicide the band?
The person, definitely the person. I was kind of getting to my wits-end with everything and needed kind of a reminder to keep going at those low moments when you feel volatile and vulnerable. I figured if I put ‘Suicide’ as my name, then I would never escape that low feeling again and I would always be held accountable for pushing through the tough times.
Were those tough times music related or was this before the music came along?
It was both. I had been working on the band thing for a while and it wasn’t panning out. I just thought it [the name] was kind of cool and I feel like everyone always has a negative connotation associated with the word so it would also have a way of making people realize that just because the cover looks disturbing doesn’t mean the inside of the contents are. I feel like in general it’s a big life lesson that people need to start adapting more to anyway.
Were you worried about people misinterpreting the message?
No. I don’t think you can worry about stuff like that in general because everyone’s going to have a different opinion. You’re never going to please everybody and I think it’s unrealistic to try to. So it was never really something that I cared too much about. It was more of a personal thing and I felt that whoever wanted to marry into it … that’s great. If they didn’t, that’s great too.
And how did that transform into being a band?
Well, I’ve been in other bands and I think when I started realizing that the promoters and the booking agents were selling the band as, “Davey Suicide as the singer” and that was starting to be more important than what the actual band was, made me start to realize that maybe it was time to make that transition and find the right people that loved what this was, and marry into what this was and what it was about. That was it. I just got to the point where I was ready to take all the responsibility on my own. It wasn’t about getting five people in a room and trying to make music, it was about bringing my artistic vision to life and finding people that loved it, that wanted to be a part of it.
I think it was Glenn Danzig that said, “If you name the band after yourself no one can take it from you.”
Well, that’s true too. I knew that I would never stop, so. If this name was there, this would be as infinite as I would be.
Anyone that’s listened to the band would probably not be surprised to learn that you’ve listed Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, and Nine Inch Nails as influences. Who is an influence that you think they would be surprised by?
My biggest influence is Guns n Roses. I think Axl Rose is an amazing front man, and I love his different voicings with the way he sings, I love the song writing, everything artistically about him is fantastic to me … pre-Chinese Democracy. And then I think Eminem is the other one that people are normally thrown off by just because he is a completely different genre but I feel his thread with Manson and Axl … there all very bold personalities with a lot to say and they’re very good at landscaping their words to a song so that you know exactly what they’re seeing, feeling, what time of day, what it’s supposed to look like in the song.
So like those bands, you’ve cultivated a strong image. How did that come about?
I don’t know, I’ve always been into horror movies.
What’s you’re favorite horror movie?
I love “Devils Rejects” and “Silence of the Lambs.” Horror movies … I say that a little bit loosely. It’s more like psychological thrillers that I’m really into … serial killer stuff like Charles Manson, Ed Gein, Jeffery Dahmer, West Memphis Three stories. Stuff like that is really intriguing to me … I just love the idea of what brings a person to the point where they’re that psychotic to kill people, you know? The idea of the horror movie and the villains and stuff like that … that was always cool to me, and I always liked bands growing up that had more of a theatrical show, and I always kind of wanted to make the visual as much as musical … like set changes, I’m doing costume changes now. I feel like people want to see a show, they don’t want to see four dudes staring at their shoelaces just playing you. They’re paying more money for this [the show] than they’re paying for their merch … make that experience last forever just like their merch does.
Kerrang put you on the list of “Top 50 Rockstars In The World Today”. Were you surprised by that?
Yeah, I was that like that had all my idols on my wall. This band has been going hard but it’s happening fast and it’s cool that we’re the underdogs. We’re not [the band with ] the big label behind us. We don’t have humongous tours. We have a very hard working band and we have very loyal fans, and they’re making a big rumble to the point where Kerrang, the biggest rock magazine in the world, is going to recognize us. And Kerrang’s been huge for us, so I’m surprised. I’m not surprised in the sense that I feel like we should get recognized, but I’m surprised that we did because I feel like a lot of times it doesn’t happen how you think.
So, what do you think it is that makes you a rockstar?
I mean, this is my life. I think that you can just tell when someone is the embodiment of what they’re doing and I think that there’s just an aura, there’s a vibe, there’s a completion of the whole thing that you get when you meet someone that this is what they’re all about. It’s not like they go to their day job. This is what I do all the time, you know. If I’m not playing music, I’m creating a costume to go perform in, or I’m working on art for our merchandise. It’s constant. It’, ” how can I become better, and better, and better.” I want to run this genre.
It seems like there’s a bit of a re-birth in the genre, would you agree?
I think people are ready for it. It’s hard to do this to the level that I think Zombie, Manson, and Cooper did it, because they did it in such a specific way that you have to come up and do it in your own way and no matter what, you’re going to get labeled as that. But I feel like we have enough rock element, we have enough melody that people are starting to realize that there’s elements of our predecessors but that it’s also going in a different direction which is new and exciting for people that miss that.
You’ve been pretty active on the road. We were talking earlier that you’re just wrapping up a tour – second to last date. Any highlights from the road?
We’re getting ridiculous gifts, like this guy just built this grandfather clock thing with this angel and gave it to us today.
You just came out in a new record in March. The first single off the record is “Generation Fuck Star.” Who or what is “Generation Fuck Star?”
I just feel like the idea of what a star is has been so watered down by these commercial shows like “The Voice” and “American Idol” and that it’s time to get rid of all that and go back to the root of what made people love music in the first place … they were musicians – that was them, you know. They weren’t just thrown on a show to become coached into it. They had life stories, they had hardships and they grew into this person that had stories to tell. And that’s why people married into that. So it’s just like fuck the whole industry, fuck the idea of them processing and trying to sell to the masses. They’re not even writing their own stuff. It’s the whole idea of commercialism … just let it go! Find those bands that are special … it’s just so many people want to call themselves stars and it’s a joke to me.
The reality TV star generation.
Right. It’s the microwave generation. It’s because everything is so accessible. Anyone can put out a song on the internet, anyone can be in a band, you know? There’s so much over-saturation, you’ve got to weed through it all to find the good stuff. The good stuff is there, you just have to comb through it a little bit better.
So how do you kind of rise above all of that noise?
I think obviously just endless touring. I think people are finally getting it now. I think inevitably you just have to be bold in what you say and just keep enforcing it. It may never stick – I think it will. I think with what we’re doing it’s going to be harder than just being a typical pop, mid-west rock-type safe band. It’s going to take a while for people to get it and then it’ll probably become really trendy and everyone will jump on the band wagon.
I noticed that in addition to your music you’re a painter. Where do you get you’re inspiration for art in general. Not just the music, but the painting as well?
I like how Dali had this like controlled chaos approach to everything and it was all just dripping. I like abstract to the point where it is constructive still. You can still tell what it is, but it’s not the exact picture of what you’re trying to do. I normally don’t line things up and trace things out, I literally just dab a bunch of paint, get out a thing of water and just go to town. I really like multi-medium so I like to put marker, newspaper clippings, magazine clippings, and basically just build on top of it. I love doing layering. That’s kind of how I do clothes too. There’s no real method to it, I just layer it up until I feel like “Hey, we’re there”. It’s suggestive. I don’t try to be realistic about it.
You’re currently wrapping up this tour. It’s five months after the album came out, what is your plan to continue supporting it? Do you have any other touring plans coming up?
Yeah. We’re going out with William Control in November. William’s headlining, Fearless Vampire Killers is right before us. So that’s going to be our next announcement. That’s gonna be a great tour for us. We’ve gone on four tours that weren’t exactly perfect matches but … worked in their own way. I think Will is the first time we’re going to be hitting probably the best demographic and the best target audience so I’m excited to see how that goes over. Plus I love Will. He’s a great front man. I think he will make us better watching him every night.
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