The name of the band is provocation. There a lot of versions of the name one which goes to the psychiatric clinic, the other — to the gang from Venice 13 group. Mike Muir, the ST fortman, always says he thought up it himself. 1981 is known as the date of foundation of Suicidal Tendencies.
According to the other source Muir gathered the band together in 1982, but anyway it was in Venice Beach, one of the Los Angeles suburbans. Mike gathered the band to preform in the so-called rent-parties. Rent-perty is the party to pay house rent: join couple of bands in some house, make concert for friends and neighbors and give back the money for the house-owner.
Back then the band was: Mike Muir (microphone), Mike Dunningan (bass), Mike Ball (guitar), Carlos Egert (drums). As for the style and appearance we could easily see the influence of Muir's favorite band — Sex Pistols
Suicidal Tendencies performed in the clubs, recording their 1st demo. Journal Punk-fanzine Flipside was writing about them. In 41st publication of Flipside ST according to the reader's voting became both «The Best Band» and «The Biggest Assholes».
At the same time the article about punk scene of LA was published by Penthouse magazine under the title of Slamdancing in a fast city. In Holland film «Surfpunks» went on screens, where 2 songs of band were shown — Kill & Parents for Adoption. Line up was all the time changing, brothers Dunningan and Mike Ball were off the band and Mike Muir was thinking of gathering talented and experienced musicians for Suicidal. On the wave of popularity of hardcore-punk major label Capitol records offered a contract to the band, however Mike refused this opportunity because of too though record label's policy of music character.
In the end of 1982 the line up of Suicidal Tendencies became more or less stable: the bass-player Louichi Mayorga joined the band so as drummer Amery Smith & guitarist Rick Battson. 1st recordings of the band (in 1982 the compilation Slamulation I saw your Mommy was published) had a huge difference from the start of ST. Hardcore expression of punk rock went along with wiz playing, more usual for metal, and and obvious funk groove. As Louichi Mayorga became a part of the band (we've to notice a lot of his friends and family members were tight up with gangs) the look for the musicians gained some 'gangster' parts: blue bandanas, chinos pants and Pendleton shirts.
The year of recording the first album of Suicidal Tendencies on Frontier. Glen E. Friedman With Lisa Fancher, owner of Frontier, Mike and Co were put up by Glen E. Friedman, a well-known photographer even back then. He made photos of skaters, punk-rockers, published his own photo-fanzine My Rules and made the album covers of Frontier records' bands (such as The Adolescents). For the album recording Mike invited new guitar player into the band. It was Grant Estes, young but with very good technical issues if not a whiz, then shredder for sure, the sound of his guitar made a point in the quite unusual sound the debut long play.
Glen E. Friedman became manager of the band and producer of their 1st album. The recording of album was very usual: band had couple of hours in the studio, all the pre-rehearsed songs were played and recorded as the studio jams at one breath. Mike Muir and Grant Estes the next day overdubbed some of the parts but the most job was done in just one night. During next 5 days of recordings were mixed and remastered. So as most of 80s punk-albums, so nothing new to us.
The cover and inlays for the album was done by Glen as well and the logo was drawn by Rick Clayton – the band's homie-boy lived next door. Song Institutionalized from the album got in the soundtrack for Alex Cox' Repo Man with Emilio Esteves. In the movie apart from song of famous back then in Los Angeles punk-bands (Circle Jerks и Black Flag), there was the OG-graphics, in particular, drawn by Rick Clayton. There was a interesting and unique music-video for Institutionalized where we can see Tom Araya from Slayer.
In 1983 after the accident with total destruction of Perkins Palace hall by fans during the concert Suicidal Tendencies were banned to perform in the LA area and also were charged for the connections with gangs because the band members were alike gangster not just by the way they look but also had fans among gangsters and a lot of followers wearing bandanas, pendleton & chinos. After that moment question about connections with gangsters or Suicidal gang follows the band each interview. For the text of I Shot The Devil (the former name of which on the cover should look as I Shot Reagan – for Reagan was president of the United States) the band had it's own real-deal case in FBI.
After the recording and couple of shows also as a support-acts for stars Minor Threat, Grant Estes had leaved the band and Mike took the new guitar player Jon Nelson, with who ST on the Emery Smith's father truck went touring in USA to support the just issued album. Before joining in Suicidal Tendencies, Jon was Neighborhood Watch's manager, who took part in shows with Suicidal Tendencies and had a lot common with Suicidal fans. Jon Nelson put show in the band — he played the guitar with teeth as Hendrix and gave an interview for MTV hanging upside down, played silly bleeders all the time. However the band refused to be with him after something both Jon and band members do not talk. At the time Emery Smith leaved the band. To replace Jon guitar player Rocky George from Culver City joined the band and R.J. Herrera for Emery.
It is considered that from 83 up to 85 ST didn’t exist in fact. However it wasn’t exactly so. Mike Muir and Louichi Mayorga were working on creating their own personal record label Suicidal Records. This label was thought up for recording and publishing Suicidal music so as music of bands from Venice-Beach and Santa Monica neighborhood. It was hard to call it studio or label because all the recordings were made in the house of Mike and Jim Muir in Venice-Beach, West Washington district. What house it was you can understand if you watch published couple years later Suicidal Tendencies’ video-clip for song How Will I Laugh Tomorrow. And also you can see it on Monster House, one of TV-shows of Discovery. How Muir brothers made up for big screen, no one knows.
However despite kitchen-made things, Suicidal Records showed the world their newborn in 1985.It was the compilation Welcome To Venice, where sounded the recording of Suicidal Tendencies and also 3 local bands: No Mercy, Excel and Beowulf. It was planned for old ST friends Neighborhood Watch to preform, but the band no longer existed by that time. Instead of them another song was recorded - It's Not Easy, recorded by Los Cycos project. In fact it was combined team of all the participants of Welcome To Venice compilation. The guitar parts was played by member of No Mercy Mike Clark, bass — supposing, Rocky George, and sang by Mike Muir for sure.
Summer 1985. The band went touring around US, mostly in East coast accompanied by Anthrax and Methods of Destruction. It was the first big tour made more then 40 concerts on different stages in total.
In the end of their 1st 5th anniversary Suicidal Tendencies became a band with reputation of playing unusual hard music, which didn’t fit in any of genre canons with openly gangsters’ image and a ban for preforming in Los Angeles, a band with a line up who was destined for big and interesting life in future.
© Photos posted by a kind permission of the author.