Sue's Idol is an American heavy metal band from Las Vegas, Nevada USA. Founding members Dan Dombovy (guitars) and Shane Wacaster (vocals/drums) each have an impressive history in the business as players, producers, and artist management. That said, Shane took the time to talk with us, about the band, what they have planned, in regards to making music and perhaps playing some shows if they got the time.
1. Please tell us about the history of your band and its members.
Shane: I’m Shane Wacaster and Sue’s Idol was formed by Dan Dombovy and me in Las Vegas in late 2012. Dan and I go way back and played in a few bands together, you know, the whole Sunset Strip deal in LA, trying to get signed. Well, life and work took over and we moved our separate ways, then we found ourselves living in Las Vegas…by coincidence less than a mile from each other! We set up our gear one day and jammed for a bit and tried recording, which led to protools and writing complete songs. We did the first album, Hypocrites and Mad Prophets by ourselves and learned by trial and error. For the second album Six Sick Senses we applied a lot of lessons learned and got a much better product and enlisted Steve and Toby for bass and lead guitar, then Mitch from a chance meeting at a Sam Ash music store. We both grew up with Steve and Toby.
2. What’s the origin of the band’s name?
Shane: I was watching something on TV about the Suez Canal, and I said Suez a few times, you know, until the word starts sounding unlike a real word like Swez, and Sue-Ez, and then started saying Sues, then Suezidol and Sue S. Idol (as in Suicidal). I wrote down Sue’s Idol and stared at it for a while, thinking ‘Is this it?’ you, know, looking at it like Alice in Chains or Jane’s Addiction…Sue’s Idol just seemed to fit, especially with the double entendre of suicidal.
3. Where is the band based out of and what is your music scene like there? Are there any local bands you could recommend?
Shane: I live in England, Dan and Mitch live in Las Vegas, and Steve and Toby live in Wyoming, but we still consider Las Vegas as our base. I’ll move back to Vegas next year. I’ve seen maybe 4-5 local bands in the last 10 years! I’m not a live music person. Think of it this way: would you rather watch a movie or a play? I would rather watch the movie because it’s a perfect product, with special effects, different locations, etc. With music, I would rather hear the album as the band intended, vs placing them at the mercy of a sound engineer with a hangover and a shitty PA system. For example, I took my wife to see Motorhead, Dio and Iron Maiden in Dallas, Texas. Motorhead’s sound was incredible, it was crisp and tight. Dio’s sound was mud and it sounded like I was listening to it underwater. Maiden’s sound was incredible too, but if all three bands could’ve had Motorhead’s sound, the show would’ve been a classic. The last local band show I saw was at the Cheyenne Saloon in Vegas and the sound at the beginning was perfect, but halfway through the night, the sound engineer kept turning it up louder and louder until there was zero separation and everything sounded like shit. Nowadays it’s easier to find local bands on YouTube than clubs.
4. How would you describe your style?
Shane: Dark 80’s metal with adult themes. You’ll never hear us sing about partying all night or how hot a certain girl is. Instead, you’ll hear topics that make you think, whether it’s government conspiracies, visits from alien races, supernatural topics, etc. Stories, really. Everything we grew up with comes out in our style, which makes us who we are without sounding like anyone else.
5. What have you released so far and what can someone expect from your works?
Shane: We did Hypocrites in 2014 and Senses in 2015, although it was released in early 2016. Listeners can expect the raw power of an 80's sound but with modern technology, although we didn’t use auto tune or re-amping/drum replacement software. If you hear the vocals go a little flat for example, or the drums/bass/guitars get a hair out of sync it’s because that’s how we recorded it. We want the album to sound good of course, but we also want it to sound real. I could easily go into protools and line everything up so it’s precise and use pitch correction, or beat detective so the drums sound like an atomic clock, but it ends up sounding like a machine. It sounds fake. I have been playing with Drumagog recently, in order to get the drums to sit better in the mix, but I’m blending them with the original sound. I didn’t use overhead mics on the first two albums for drums, and I’m exploring that now. Everything we do recording-wise is done with zero training, but it’s cool because some of it would be considered completely wrong by industry standards but that’s what makes it original. No cookie-cutter productions here! There are quite a few metal albums out there that sound exactly the same. I like albums that have their own character. Take Overkill’s ‘I Hear Black’ for example, or Mercyful Fate’s ‘Don’t Break the Oath’. Or Queensryche’s ‘The Warning’. They all have a distinct sound. A lot of music today sounds like the band was recorded and then plugged into the ‘Standard metal album sound machine’. It drives me crazy when I hear a snare drum that sounds exactly the same with every hit. No dynamics, just a machine-gun that gets more annoying as the song goes on. Mixers sample a perfect snare hit, shape it with EQ and reverb and then replace all of the snare hits with that single snare hit sound. It’s lame and annoying.
6. Do you have any new music in the works?
Shane: Our third album is due for release in July 2017. It will be 11 songs and it’s a concept album. We’re definitely going to push the envelope sound-wise to make it better than Senses and I’m excited to see how it turns out. Mr. Fournier is handling the album art again and it should be incredible.
7. How about playing shows and touring, have anything planned out?
Shane: No interest in playing live, but we don’t do this for a living. We all have full time jobs to pay the bills, and that security allows us time to write and record with no pressure.
8. What plans do you have for the future as a band?
Shane: Personally, I could record albums until I drop dead. I can’t speak for the others, but I could literally record 15 hours a day forever and be happy. I know a lot of musicians can’t stand recording because it’s tedious and they would rather be onstage rocking out, but I’m more of a laboratory nerd; I like the science behind recording and I try hard to soak up everything I can. I recorded Hypocrites with an introductory book on protools in my lap. I didn’t know what a crossfade was, couldn’t automate punches, had no idea how to record a reverse reverb, etc. For Senses we were never in the same room; it was all done via email and Skype! But that’s part of the challenge. That’s where recording is at these days and I hope more bands take this DIY approach, because we’ll end up with a lot of classic albums that record execs would otherwise never discover.
9. Where can we listen to your band and where can we buy your stuff?
Shane: Not sure if it’s still on YouTube or not…I think someone took it all down, but you can hear it, download it, buy it on lots of online radio stations, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, CDBaby, crushingnotes.com. Personally, I recommend buying the CD, because not only do you get the sound the way it was meant to be heard, which is without compression, but you get a great digipak with lyrics and artwork.
10. What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most when hearing your music for the first time?
Shane: That this is a band that answers to no one. We write, record, publish and release our music the way we want to hear it, not how some out-of-touch record executive thinks it should sound.