Suicidal Tendencies are one of my all-time favourite bands, their self-titled LP blew my mind and was one of the very first records I owned as a teen & me and my bro used to stock Suicidal merch at the skate shop we used to have too. I’ve interviewed Mike several times over the years and always come away from our thoughtful chats feeling motivated and inspired… here’s a little of one of our chats.
BIANCA: You seem to be so positive and have so much energy, how do you keep that up?
MIKE MUIR: I realise there are a lot of ways to screw with people; you could put me anywhere in the world and I could watch someone for five minutes and I know a way I could get a reaction out of them. Getting a reaction is not what life’s about though. It’s making people revaluate what they are doing when they’re doing something wrong and them sitting there and forcing themselves to admit ‘this isn’t cool’. That’s the reaction people should strive for. There are so many words like my dad says, don’t let Webster’s Dictionary definitions affect your life. What is success? You have to have your own definition of what things mean. Don’t stupefy yourself, and don’t create things to fit your inability.
I came to the point where I think there’s so many great things about life and there’s so many bad things. I realise that everyone has their points of view but I get more verbal especially at this time in America when they have elections. It really is amazing how much emphasis people put on things that aren’t going to affect their lives, a lot people will be pissed off when I say that because I’m taking it totally out of context. Rather than for one day, they should be putting an emphasis on every day—an emphasis on making the world a better place; taking control of their lives rather than giving it up.
A lot of people subliminally don’t realise the process that they’re doing. It’s to the point that the more I talk, the more people get pissed off. Just the other day I was with a bunch of people, I went on my tirade because they went on theirs. I alienate a lot of people and they go, I can’t believe you’re saying that! Afterwards, someone always goes, I don’t want to agree with what you’ve saying but a lot of it does make sense and I can’t argue that fact. I can respect people’s beliefs quite happily but I don’t have to accept their motives—it’s two different things.
B: I’ve read you dislike doing interviews?
MM: There’s two parts. My dad said, if you don’t like something you don’t need to do it. To a certain degree I agree with that, to a certain degree I don’t. The whole point with interviews is that there’s a reason people do it, it’s a charade. At the beginning of this I’m like, I know why I’m doing this, and it’s in my best interest. You’re not supposed to say that; when the tape goes off you’re supposed to say that. As far as actually doing interviews, in the sense of promoting records, it goes back to me and the way I was. I never read an interview and said ‘I’m going to buy that record. I’ve always bought records because I heard the music that someone liked it so much that they’d go to me, hey check this out!
I’ve always been my worst enemy I’ve tried to say things that won’t impress people and they be like, who the fuck does he think he is? Ultimately, I don’t want people to buy a record because of something I said. I want them to appreciate music the way I did. There are only three or four bands that I’ve heard that I went, whoa! That it made me sit there and it affected how I went about my life. It made me revaluate things—that’s what I wanted Suicidal to be. If we wanted to be a pop band then I would say all the right things and I would look at it as a necessary situation. For people to like you, you have to come off good. Tell them what they want to hear. That goes back to the whole election thing, that’s what a politician does. The truth is not electable. You have to tell people what they want to hear. I don’t like to tell people what they want to hear because where I grew up, if someone was fucking up you tell them they’re fucking up. They’ll be like this or that is bullshit and I’ll be like, the only thing that’s bullshit is what you’re doing. I’m not going to let you sit there and put the blame on someone else. You’re screwing up your whole life! That’s how I was taught, not to be there and be a shoulder to cry on, slap them upside the head and get them to think. I realise I’m out of tune with most people in the world.
B: What’s one of the most valuable things your dad taught you?
MM: The thing about my dad is there are so many things. I spent so much time when I was young trying to prove him wrong. Then I realised that the effort I was using to try to prove him wrong was actually hurting me and not benefiting me. There’s a point where you fight just for the sake of the fight. That’s what my dad taught me: you don’t fight just to fight, you fight because you’re right.
The biggest part about fighting is that whether it’s physical or mental or whatever people are thinking, can they win? My dad said, if you’re right, you fight, if you’re wrong move along. Too many egos get involved, rather than the situation where I think the smartest thing, the first sign of intelligence, is to admit your ignorance and go, I don’t know! To be able to sit there and go, I can say I’m wrong!
There are so many cases with politics, a lot of times people can see it in politics but they can’t see it in their life. Will there be a situation that “the other party” will talk crap but it was their party they’d be justifying it. They’re just taking the stance based upon party lines. It carries over into music. It carries over into everything. People take that little stance and they get behind it so much that they don’t sit there and think, is this stance really right? People like to have blinders on. That works with horses at the racetrack but in life it doesn’t work. My dad taught me, a lot of people look around because they’re so paranoid of what’s going on and a lot of people choose not to see things so they have an excuse when it goes wrong. My dad always taught me: know what’s going around. There are certain times where you won’t know what everyone does but you can learn from it. Learn from other people’s mistakes. Learn a way to do it better and hopefully to make other people’s lives better–that’s the true sign of what life is.
Suicidal for life!