Widely known for their recognition for being the innovators of the death metal scene, Suffocation has been an act that has been around for quite some time. In fact almost 30 years time, releasing eight albums, countless shows and touring to boot. So much more is in the works with more places across the world to explore, with their eighth album tucked under their belts "....Of the Dark Light", surely to spread the light far and wide. Guitarist Terrance Hobbs discusses the band's history, 30 year career span, and their newest album in their extensive catalog of releases "...Of the Dark Light"!
1. Can you please tell me as to why and how the band came to get the namesake, Suffocation?
Terrance: Oh okay! Well you have to figure this is in 1987-88 and a bunch of young kids hanging around the mall, went down to the food court, just sitting around. As kids we were always sitting around hanging out with bands, from other kids forming them at the time, us ourselves just jamming with different people, talking about music and bands in general, like you do in high school. So we were all sitting around, talking and tossing around some ideas for our own bands name, and it just so happen to come with Suffocation, then decided yeah that's what we are going to do. Franklin was the guy who had called it, it was me, him, Josh, Barren, a few of us just hanging out at the mall, sitting in the food court. That's really how the name came up, not so sure if the name has any influence to the Morbid Angel song or not, it just seemed to stick so we just stuck with it.
2. If you don't count the hiatus portion your guys musical careers, your band has been together for almost 30 years, what comes to mind? Do you have anything in mind in terms of a celebration?
Terrance: Uh OLD! Ya know what I mean? You're pushing 50 and you're just like has it really been that long? Being able to play this kind of music, it is still pretty cool ya know? But yeah it has been quite a while, you look back at 1987-88 with the way the band formed, to their name, up until now, with all of the amounts of touring and shows that we have done, even with the hiatus it's been a pretty killer roller coaster of a ride for us! I gota tell ya.
No, no, for us most likely being out on the road, it is just for us another stepping stone. It's not anything where we said we were going to celebrate this, at this time, day, place etc. just because we have been around for that long. We are more kind of like oh man when is the next show! That is where it is at for us. It's one of those things, how we are going to make anything better, which band will we play with and where will we play. None of us are really paying attention to the year thing, until we did interviews over the years. It's just the way it is.
3. Speaking of your career, you have released almost eight albums to date. When can we expect one of those releases to be played in full front to back? Or do you think doing that wouldn't be something for you guys?
Terrance: You know what, we really have been considering it. Just because of the fact that the new record "Of the Dark Light", is coming out we're more focused on playing more of the new stuff of that record. When it comes down to Suffocation and our past releases, none of the old records are easy to play, they are records you have to learn and practice all over again. So since the band has gotten older and has so much material over the course of time, when it comes to rehearsal time, we have to pick and choose which songs we want to play right then and there ya know? But to do a whole album is whole another ordeal altogether. But we have been considering it. Every so often we will post on social media asking the fans, seeing what they would like to hear and see done and go with it from there. So it may happen but just not for a while, with the new record coming out and all. But it will happen sooner or later just have to wait!
4. Will we ever hear your material in the acoustic format with screaming vocals included?
Terrance: No I don't think so. I mean us being heavy we wouldn't put a clean riff or something in the middle of a song. It wouldn't ever be something where we would add a new element to a song. There are some tracks off the new record with acoustic guitar in it. It would never be something that would remain and stick in place. We are a death metal band ya know?
5. If Suffocation were to ever go the acoustic route and were to perform a show or tour, do you think your fan base would still create a mosh pit, to the acoustic version of your music?
Terrance: I would like to see that happen, and I would like to hope so. It would be funny, I love it when the crowd gets rowdy, a lot of people go out there to get their aggression out. But there are people out there who want to go and check out the band play music. So either way in both senses its cool to think about but it will never happen.
6. Out of your catalog of releases, you have only released one live album "Close of a Chapter: Live in Québec City" back in 2005. When will we be seeing a follow-up release?
Terrance: I mean we have been trying to get this DVD together for so long. You have to go through a lot of things like producers, editors, we have a lot of footage, same goes for the live album. Now that the new album is coming out and the lineup has seen some changes, we will be doing one eventually but it is just going to take a little more time. We just have to get out there and see what will be the best option for us to go with, as far as who to go with, where to go with, and take it from there. Give us some time there will likely be another live album or DVD release sooner or later.
7. You will be heading out on tour, alongside Morbid Angel, since you have so many albums, does it keep getting more difficult to put together a setlist?
Terrance: Well we don't really fight about it. There are just so many songs of ours, it's like no I want to play this or no let's do this one instead ya know? At this point everyone has their favorites and we have our faithful songs that we always we play live. It is like a testament to our age ya know? We really try to communicate with one another when putting together a set. When out on the road we sometimes have set A, B, or C depending on what the set up turns out to be like at that time. There's a lot of back and forth between one another so we pick the songs accordingly, some having to do with how the band is feeling and what is happening and go with respect of it all.
8. What do you think is the most underrated Suffocation album?
Terrance: EVERY SINGLE ONE HAHA! Well if I had to pick just one it would probably be "Breeding The Spawn" (1993) because the production was terrible. But the music was great, which was the reason we go back and re-record one of the tracks almost every time we go and record. The reason being is because during that time, when the record came out the band was in a turmoil, people were not getting along. Things were not going so great for the band that it was turning out as well as we had liked it too. The scene was lacking, getting out to do shows and tours, it made things more difficult but as time went on it got better but it is still not great. This is death metal, so everyone has their own side jobs or something we do nowadays. But it is still great we are still a band and are going to be out on the road with a new record so we are still here and still strong.
9. "Of the Dark Light" will be your third album for Nuclear Blast Records, do you think third time's the charm for this release and label?
Terrance: Well with the label itself, we have had a pretty long history with them. We did do an EP back in 89, that had came out on Nuclear Blast before they became the label they are today. So back then in the early days for us and for them, it came as a whole for both sides. Nuclear Blast is a great label, they support great bands from the underground, keeping everyone together ya know? I'm happy they are out there and they have a lot of great bands and to see them grow with the underground, seeing people buying different types of merchandise and tickets to shows and tours. It's really how Nuclear Blast is they help bands get their careers going. That's just how I see it and my opinion on it.
10. Out of everything Suffocation has released from the merchandise department, which would you say has been your most favorite item and why?
Terrance: There are just so many items out there. We have had quite a few re-prints of the "Effigy of the Forgotten" t-shirt. Let's say back in 91 when that album came out, the printing presses back then weren't as great as they are now. So now the re-print is done really well, colors stand out more than ever and the material is great too, it is just better now than before. Also the sweat pants we have are nice too.
11. What does the rest of this year hold for Suffocation?
Terrance: Well for next year, a lot of it is still open and up in the air. For this year, we have shows with Morbid Angel, then summer time going to do festivals, and more shows. Then probably finish out the year back in Europe. Then next year probably go try other places if not more places we want to go and play. But everything is still in the works and we will see where we'll end up.