In March 2017, Jeff Maki of Live-Metal.net conducted an interview with vocalist Hernan “Eddie” Hermida of California deathcore masters Suicide Silence. The band had just dropped its new self-titled album, and second with Hermida at the mic. Produced by famed nu-metal producer, Ross Robinson (Korn, Slipknot, Machine Head), the album is a sharp left turn in style, which is sure to divide the fanbase. In the interview, Hermida addresses fans’ backlash and adds fuel to the fire in an ongoing beef with Aussie deathcore band Thy Art Is Murder. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
On fans’ reaction and backlash to the new, self-titled album:
“They’re not letting the music soak in, from what I see. They’re trying their hardest to make other people feel the way they feel, which is not really doing a whole lot, to be real to you. It’s not breaking the band. We still are who we are. The fans that are open-minded are allowing the music to soak in, and the fans that are afraid of music are not giving it a chance yet. They will when they see it live. They will when they come to the show and realize the music is still heavy, it’s very cohesive, it fits well with the older music. That’s kind of the biggest thing.
“We made a record for ourselves and not for our fans, so it’s going to create turmoil. If I set out to change people’s opinions, then why would I be surprised when their opinions change? I knew a hundred percent that even if I threw one clean vocal on the record that we would receive a backlash. Not only did I not throw just one clean vocal in, I threw in vocals that were completely off-putting — vocals that are meant to create discomfort in people because they’re uncomfortable vocal stylings. It’s not from a point of trying to sell records, it’s from a point of angst and just complete hysteria, depravity and despair that these vocals are coming from. So it’s not even a focus of clean vocals.
“I’m not doing things to sell records, I’m doing things to create music and an art form. If I was worried about selling records, then I wouldn’t have created this record. I would’ve Auto-Tuned my vocals, and I would have created something that is more pleasant of an experience. I would have created more of a safety net for all of these fans to fall into. The point is that I didn’t want to create something comfortable. I wanted to create something punk rock. I wanted to create something heavy metal.”
On using “clean” vocals on the new SUICIDE SILENCE album:
“I’ve been singing my whole life. I was in musicals as a kid into my teenage years. Every band that I’ve been in except All Shall Perish and Suicide Silence were singing and screaming bands. Even on All Shall Perish, I sang on a majority of our records. I wouldn’t call it as much singing as I did on this one, but really the only record that I’ve done without any clean vocals in it is “You Can’t Stop Me”. So for me, it’s kind of like it was more than obvious that this kind of change was coming.
“When I was doing this record, the one thing I steered clear from was safety and comfort. I wanted the vocals to sound really raw, to sound crazy and despairing. It’s complete unabashed vulnerability in the vocals, and that was something that was really hard to deal with. Getting to that point was easy for me because I’m a very passionate person. Cutting down to who I am is what [producer] Ross [Robinson] did. He was able to draw out some really painful memories out of me and was able to get down to the nerve of who I am. And once I was there, it was easy for me to do these vocals. But getting back to normal and feeling okay again was the hardest part, because I was so vulnerable and so cut open that the wounds took time to heal. It was really hard not trying to be completely changed after sessions with Ross. I think that that was the hardest part, not the singing, but just the emotional state I was in that really made things difficult.”
Now for a little background:
In February of 2017, Eddie “threw some shade” at deathcore band Thy Art As Murder:
“If bands keep doing what we’re doing, it can still remain as a powerhouse. Fact is, the reason people don’t believe in deathcore is it sounds dumbed-down and cheesy, and not challenging to play. A lot of the death metal elitists make fun of it, and anyone who doesn’t listen to all screamed vocals isn’t going to listen to it. So, you’re kind of stuck playing to these fans who are either deathcore fans or death metal elitists. Or just metal elitists in general, the patch-wearing fucking weirdos. You start playing to these crowds, and they’re never going to accept the virtuosity of dumbing down your music; they’re never going to understand it. If it’s not played at 230 bpm, people are gonna think it’s wack. That right there goes to show how simple-minded and afraid of change people in our scene are. If bands starts challenging themselves and pushing what they can do as musicians, and goes out there and write some really good tunes, I think deathcore has a future.
If bands succumb to what Thy Art Is Murder just did, like, ‘Oh yeah we’re gonna save deathcore,’ and they write the same song they wrote on their last record, it’s going to die. That’s just it. If bands start to grow, deathcore will grow; if bands make the music they’ve always made, it’s going to die.”
In response to all the shade thrown at them by Suicide Silence, Thy Art Is Murder released a “Make Deathcore Great Again” hat and when announcing it, they wrote “We don’t need any more shade, we made our own.”
After Thy Art Is Murder’s response, we then asked Eddie if he would be more careful when calling out other bands from now on:
“Am I being more careful now? No, fuck no. Thy Art Is Murder absolutely saw an opportunity and ran with it, and honestly, they did the silliest thing you could ever do in mimicking somebody like Trump and say that they are not selling out. They are literally going, “Hey, we’re not sell-outs, but please buy this hat. You need to buy this hat.” It’s completely backwards thinking.
They’re looking for their fans to feed into the chaos. They’re looking for the attention, and that’s fine. It goes exactly with what I said—we don’t need that kind of attention anymore. I praise them for jumping on an opportunity just like they should. When you’re desperate for making money, you’re going to serve the fans, you’re going to create the same music so that they can feel safe in their sound, and you’re going to try your hardest to maintain in that world.
I know from experience. I know from being in a band that was desperate to serve the fans, creating music that served us and the fans at the same time. All Shall Perish was a band that did that 100 percent. Especially with members leaving and all that, we always worried about what other bands were doing and how to be better than that. In that process, you forget who you are.
It’s really funny that it’s become such a thing, but the reality is that I didn’t say anything that was that hurtful towards that band. They saw an opportunity, and they ran with it. If anything, they’re hurting themselves by continuing that mentality and continuing that really tongue-in-cheek way of doing things.
It’s not showing anybody any kind of strength. It’s not showing any kind of value. It’s just going, “Oh, I see this opportunity where my band’s name is in the media. Let’s sell some stuff.
[Referring to Thy Art Is Murder vocalist C.J. McMahon] ‘You, know, nothing else is selling, so I quit the band to begin with. There’s no money in it, so let me write this long-ass fuckin’ expose about how band members don’t make any money, then later come right back and basically say I’m not a sellout.’
And at the end of the day, that is a sellout. A person who is looking for money and a person who talks about money and focuses on money when they’re making music is a complete sellout. I would say that straight to his face, and I would say that to any band member in this genre that isn’t challenging anybody.
He later added that the group also cleaned house within their camp before the release:
“The biggest thing we’ve done was right before we started writing this record, our agent stopped wanting to work with us and we had to get a new agent. We got rid of our manager, and we got new management. We pretty much started weeding the people out who were not with this music—the people that believed we needed to stick to a certain criteria as musicians, people who were stuck worrying about money and not worried about anything else. That’s the shit that steered us away from them.”