The Suicide Machines
with Lost City Angels, Bullets to Broadway, and Travisty and the Screwups
By Neelam Mehta
Suicide Machines guitarist Dan Lukacinsky puts it right out there: "Punk isn't dangerous anymore, and it should always be dangerous to the government, to the establishment and to the powers that be."
It hurts, but it had to be said.
"Opposition scares the government when it gets to a big level," he says, "and it needs opposition to what's going on right now."
That's where Lukacinsky comes in, along with bandmates Jason Navarro, Ryan Vandeberghe and Rich Tschirhart—to throw a match at the veritable gasoline-soaked mess that has become the mainstream punk scene. Much in the spirit of their last record, appropriately titled A Match and Some Gasoline, the band's latest release more than lives up to the Suicide Machines' standard of political outcry, social scrutiny and good old-fashioned grievance-airing. With a title like War Profiteering is Killing Us All, how could it not?
"We went into this with an uncompromising attitude that we would put a message across," Lukacinsky says. "Some people don't like what we're doing anymore, but the time has passed for singing about girls and shoes and dogs. We're not that band anymore and we don't want to be that band anymore. That's in the past and there's a lot more to say now."
There certainly is a lot more to say, and the Suicide Machines are making it a point not to take the diplomatic route. And why should they, when apathy and lukewarm frustration already abounds?
"Anybody who loves America should be pissed off about what the Bush administration is doing," Lukacinsky says. "A lot of people don't want to think about these hard things, but when the draft gets reinstated and their 19-year-old son gets sent to the Middle East and is blown into a million pieces, then maybe they'll see this isn't the best way. It's not about politics at this point, it's about people."
Government grievances aside, the Suicide Machines have also gotten their fair share of record company politics over the last 10 years. Having gone from independent to corporate and back to independent labels, Lukacinsky said the band has finally found their sound with SideOneDummy Records after releasing four albums under Hollywood Records (Destruction By Definition in 1996, Battle Hymns in 1998, Suicide Machines in 2000 and Steal This Record in 2001.)
"People at major labels spend more time fighting with each other rather than working with each other," Lukacinsky laments. "That's the major difference between independent and major labels. Everything is so backwards because no one knows each other and no one cares about the band as much as how much money they can get."
This experience brought the band to SideOneDummy in 2003.
"I definitely took a different approach with SideOneDummy," Lukacinsky says. "There was no more dealing with big label schmucks. With SideOneDummy we're dealing with our friends and with people who have been in bands. It was such a refreshing change from dealing with suits and ties and people who don't prioritize you. I'm not anti-major label, but the business side is so corrupt."
Lukacinsky makes the point that major record labels are finally losing their strangle-hold on popular music because "now people have so much more access to music through the Internet. With the Internet you can compete with major labels. It's awesome and I like it, but at the same time it has put a lot of bands in the position where they are making less money. But for the bands who love what they do it doesn't matter."
The Suicide Machines are truly dedicated musicians in this respect, having gained both character and experience by touring in their cars with equipment in the trunk and sleeping on people's floors between gigs.
"It's about really loving what you do and doing it no matter what happens," Lukacinsky says. "In a way I'm glad I'm not a rich person. It's great but you don't need it. As long as I can pay my bills that's all I want. It would put me at a disadvantage if I wasn't living low. If you're in a privileged situation it's hard to make good records that are uncompromising. Money is just a bonus. Any gain you get is nothing compared to the people you meet and the experiences you have and seeing how your message affects other people."
The Suicide Machines play the Launchpad on August 6 at 8 p.m. All-ages tickets are $12 and available at Natural Sound or Virtuous.com. War Profiteering is Killing Us All goes on sale August 9.
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