Putting things into perspective seems an easy skill for guitarist Mark Heylmun. For context, he, along with the members of deathcore staple SUICIDE SILENCE spent the better part of last year working on their sixth studio effort, BECOME THE HUNTER. The band also had a full itinerary of live dates with JINGER, both home and aboard to support the early 2020 release.
Then, enter a pandemic unlike anything this generation has ever seen. Despite the unprecedented nature of the situation, Heylmun has a very practical outlook.
“I’m so project minded that I just started looking to what was next. I started a Patreon and I starting reaching out to people that I could work with, giving guitar lessons and staying active with fans.” Heylmun would make mention frequently about how important it is to the band as a whole in staying connected with their community. “People freak out when I respond to a direct message but I’m here so why not?”
What is being lauded as a successful return to form, SUICIDE SILENCE amassed a swell of momentum going into 2020, as the excitement around BECOME THE HUNTER permeated with fans. After a famously ill-received experimentation with their sound on the 2017 self-titled record, record number six has proven yet another example in the band’s evolution. “When we made You Can’t Stop Me after Mitch died, we had to do that kind of record. We had to give the fans what they wanted and would expect. So when it came time to the self-titled record, we overly risked on the fifth record because we didn’t much on the fourth.” Heylmun explained the rationale further. “We had reached a point where we thought, if we love it, then our fans will love it and we were wrong on that one.”
Again showcasing a keen ability to put things into perspective, Heylmun continued to discuss the progression of the records for the band. “What we learned from the self-titled record was that we carved out this niche of music that people really love and want to hear. We are really good at writing deathcore. We do it well.” As for BECOME THE HUNTER and evolving as a songwriter, Heylmun said, “With this records we are able to explore new things while staying in the same lane. Songs like "Skin Tight" and "Serene Obscene" definitely show that.”
Recently, the band debuted a b-side track from the BECOME THE HUNTER sessions that doubles down on the band’s deft hand among the deathcore ranks. “Overlord” is a 3-minute audio assault that is likely to leave fans wondering why it didn’t make the record. Heylmun detailed that the decision. “It’s important for us to have dynamics on the record. We wanted to make sure that there was a variety of songs to keep it interesting so that the heavier stuff really hits hard.” The single is one of two b-sides, the next of which Heylmun expects will be released in the not too distant future.
As for the future during such uncertain times, the band is taking everything in stride. Pivoting to bolstering their presence online even more then usual, Heylmun mentioned that, “everyone is gearing up their home studio,” and that there are discussions happening to adapt new ways to stay connected with fans. He also further hinted at the possibility of comprehensive DVD release from the band. “We have mentioned it before but we have a shelved DVD that goes back to even before I was in the band. Our old label didn’t even want us to release it. They were like, ‘this is too much.’ But we want fans to see all of that.”
As for how a band that is best consumed live is coping with the prospect of life without the stage for an extended amount of time, again, Heylmun remains the voice of reason. “Right now it’s more about adapting than planning. We definitely miss playing shows and being onstage but we are preparing for ways to stay active with fans in case we hear that we won’t be able to play shows for however long. The fans have made what SUICIDE SILENCE what they are.”
In the spirit of adaptation, the band recently announced plans for a completely virtual world tour. Breaking new ground, the band will be performing unique sets for geo-gated markets. When fans purchase a ticket they will have access to a live stream that will be specific to a certain market with a healthy radius. Only fans in those cities and the surrounding area can view that particular performance stream. Every show will also provide fan access to exclusive merch and a post performance Q and A with the band.
As for when the stage is able to go live again, Heylmun is confident that As for when the stage is able to go live again in more conventional confines, Heylmun is confident that BECOME THE HUNTER has the kind of legs that will keep fans interested. “The thing is, we are all in the same boat. Whenever we are able to play again I think fans aren’t going to worry about anything new because everything has been on pause. I’m in no rush to write a new record.”
In becoming the hunter, it's adapt or die.
"OVERLORD" by SUICIDE SILENCE