The Suicide Machines – Interview

The Suicide Machines

An interview with guitarist Dan Lukacinsky
by Scott Hefflon

You were touring with The Specials up until recently – where are you right now?
Calling from my house in Detroit.

Home of great bands such as the Stooges and MC5. Were they a big part of your upbringing?
The Stooges more so than MC5.

Isn’t Ted Nugent from Detroit as well?
Yeah, that guy’s funny as hell, but most of his stuff isn’t really my style.

One thing I’ve gotta ask: Your cover of “I Don’t Wanna Hear It” is buried at the end and not even listed on the back cover, why?
We’ve been doing that song for years. We just wanted it to be a kinda bonus track. We’re all big Minor Threat fans, and the song always goes over well with the crowds, so we decided to put it on the album.

One of my favorite songs is “The Real You.” What are some of your faves on the album?
My favorite tracks are “S.O.S,” a song written by our drummer, one of the few I didn’t write, and “No Face,” a total ska tune, which is short, fun, upbeat, but has a good message. Most of my favorites have a pretty good message. There are a few silly ones on there, they’re mostly older songs and we don’t write stuff like that anymore, but we had the space so we put them on.

So is the priority writing fun songs, or writing songs with a message?
Nowadays, it’s the message behind the music. That’s really something I see wrong with music these days – there’s really not much of a message. To me, if bands are going to put out records and make them open to the public, they really should offer something positive to say. I mean, you’ve got to write a catchy song first, of course, but the lyrics are just as important, if not more important. It didn’t used to be like that for us, but lately we’ve been thinking about it a lot. I see this as a gift; you’ve really got to make an effort to use it in the right way.

What are some of the messages you want to get across?
I’d like to think we’re a band that’s promoting peace. Peace among all people. I just think people are fighting over stupid shit, in every aspect of life, when a certain amount of discussion, of talking, might take care of it. There’ve been only a few bands in the last 10, 20 years that really tried to bring people together. I mean, we grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, a working class city, where people don’t really aspire to much beyond going to work every day. I’m generalizing, of course, but that’s the negative, defeatist mindset that we grew up with.

What was the impulse that made you turn away from the negativity and toward something positive and fun?
I guess I was just sick of the fighting between people. They make a hard time for themselves and there’s no need for that. For me, personally, it was just a matter of desperation. I felt as if I was going to get stuck in a factory for the rest of my life and I just couldn’t do it. So I really believed in the band during a time when no one was really paying attention.

So the local scene isn’t exactly thriving?
Actually, this is a really good scene. There are a lot of small bands that are really good. But nationally, people just aren’t paying attention. This area has been ignored for a long time, as far as national acts go, regardless of genre. There’s a healthy ska scene here, bigger than most other cities that I’ve been to, but…

That’s a question I have to ask; are you from a ska background that turned punk, or are you from a punk background that turned ska?
Definitely a punk background. I’d never claim to have much of a ska or reggae background, other than the fact that I like to play it. Actually, most of us come from a rock background, at least early on. Stuff like Cream and Black Sabbath. Around 14 or so, we started to get into the punk stuff, as opposed to what rock radio was jamming down out throats. I was really into DRI and Adrenaline O.D., Cryptic Slaughter – really fast, thrash punk.

Do you ever take shit from ska elitists who disapprove of your mixing punk and ska?
Oh yeah, all the time. We saw a lot of that on the Specials tour, directed at both the Specials and us. They went a more reggae route this time, but they say that their next record is going to be a lot more energetic. I’d like to think that touring with us sort of rubbed off on them. Touring with them certainly rubbed off on me – I really didn’t know what to expect, but they were the coolest guys in the world. What people don’t realize is that while the style of music may be different, the message is pretty much the same.

Are you a multi-racial band?
No. We’re all white – well, Caucasian. Except the bassist who’s American Indian, but that’s really not a big issue.

I mention it because that might be one reason the Specials were so into racial harmony – the band itself was as black and white as their duo-tone covers.
Everyone’s the same, it really doesn’t matter anymore. The more people hear through the media the positive messages of unity the better. I’d love to get a video on MTV, like the one we’re doing for “S.O.S.,” kind of a serious look at prejudice, as opposed to the fun, kinda stupid videos that people might expect from a ska/punk band. Some people might be afraid to get into it, but I think that’s what really makes you stand apart and makes the music last. The message lasts long after the music stops.