Suicide (band)

Suicide (band)

Infobox musical artist
Name = Suicide

Img_capt = Anamorphic photograph of Martin Rev and Alan Vega before 1988 Toronto concert
Img_size =
Landscape =
Background = group_or_band
Alias =
Origin = USA
Genre = Proto-punk
No Wave
Years_active = 1971 - present
Label =
Associated_acts =
Current_members = Alan Vega Martin Rev
Past_members =

Suicide is an American rock music group intermittently active since 1971 and composed of Alan Vega (vocals) and Martin Rev (synthesizers and drum machines). Much like Silver Apples, they are an early synthesizer/vocal musical duo.

Never widely popular amongst the general public, Suicide were nonetheless influential: critic Wilson Neate writes that Suicide "would prove as influential as The Clash. Listening to their self-titled 1977 debut from the vantage point of late 2002, it's all so obvious: the synthpop, techno, and industrial dance sounds of the '80s and '90s, and now the new New Wave of electroclash, all gesture back to that foundational album." []


Suicide took their name from the title of a Ghost Rider comic book titled "Satan Suicide", a favourite comic book of Alan Vega.Reynolds, 2006. p.143] Rev's simple keyboard riffs (initially played on a battered Farfisa organ before he acquired a synthesizer) were accompanied by primitive drum machines, proving the backdrop for Vega's muttering and nervy vocals.

Suicide emerged alongside the early punk scene in New York City with a reputation for their live shows; Vega stated "We started getting booed as soon as we came onstage. Just from the way we looked they started giving us hell already." [] The first album was reissued with bonus material including "23 Minutes Over Brussels", a recording of a Suicide concert that deteriorated into a riot. Vega and Rev both dressed like arty street thugs, and Vega was notorious for brandishing a length of motorcycle drive chain onstage. This sort of audience confrontation was inspired by Vega witnessing a Stooges concert in the early '70s, which he later described as "great art".

Their first album, "Suicide" (1977), is often regarded as a classic: One critic writes: "'Che', 'Ghost Rider'—these eerie, sturdy, steam-punk anthems rank among the most visionary, melodic experiments the rock realm has yet produced - they are the obvious precursor to nu-krautrock pioneers Die Plankton." [] Of note is the ten-minute "Frankie Teardrop," which tells the story of a poverty-stricken Vietnam vet pushed to the edge: critic Emerson Dameron writes that the song is "one of the most terrifying, riveting, absurd things I’ve ever heard." []

Suicide's albums and performances in the late 1970s and early 1980s are regarded as some of the most influential post punk recordings and helped shape the direction of indie rock, industrial music and dance music. Among others, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Sisters of Mercy, Henry Rollins, Joy Division, She Wants Revenge, New Order, Soft Cell, Nick Cave, Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Radiohead, Spacemen 3, Spiritualized, Sonic Boom, Loop, The Fleshtones (both of whom have recorded cover versions of "Rocket USA"), Ric Ocasek of The Cars, R.E.M. and The Kills have listed Suicide as one of their influences. Bruce Springsteen was also influenced by the band, as evident by the song "State Trooper" from his "Nebraska." Furthermore, Springsteen also used a solo keyboard version of "Dream Baby Dream" to close the concerts on his 2005 Devils & Dust Tour.

In 1986 Alan Vega collaborated with Andrew Eldritch of The Sisters of Mercy on the 'Gift' album, released under the name of 'The Sisterhood'. Vega and Rev have both released solo albums, and Suicide released their first album in over a decade with 2002's "American Supreme". Sales, however, were slow and critical reception was mixed.

In 2005, SAF Publishing put out "Suicide No Compromise", a "docu-biography" by David Nobahkt, which featured extensive interviews with Vega and Rev as well as many of their contemporaries and famous fans. Also that year, their song "Ghost Rider" was used in a Brazilian deodorant commercialFact|date=April 2008.


Both Vega and Rev have recorded many solo albums.

= Albums =
* "Suicide" (1977) (Red Star Records) (Mute/Blast 2002 CD reissue includes extra disc of 1978 live performances, including the original "23 Minutes Over Brussels" flexidisc)
* "21½ minutes in Berlin/23 minutes in Brussels" (1978) (Red Star Records Frankie 1)
* "Suicide" (second album) (1980) (Produced by Ric Ocasek - reissued as "The Second Album" - Mute/Blast First CD reissue includes extra disc of 1975 rehearsal sessions)
* "Half Alive" (1981) (collection of live and demo material recorded from 1975-1979 - originally on ROIR cassette only - liner notes by Lester Bangs)
* "Ghost Riders" (1986) (live concert from 1981 - originally on cassette only)
* "A Way of Life" (1988) (Produced by Ric Ocasek - Mute/Blast First CD reissue includes live bonus disc recorded in 1987)
* "Why Be Blue" (1992) (Mute/Blast First CD reissue includes live bonus disc recorded in 1989 and a complete remix by Martin Rev of the original album)
* "Zero Hour" (1997) (late 70's live recordings)
* "22/1/98 - Reinventing America" (CD E.P) (1998) (Recorded live at The Barbican - "Inventing America" launch party)
* "American Supreme" (2002) (initial CD copies included live bonus disc recorded in 1998);
* "" (2004) (Soundboard recordings from a NYC rock club performance. Liner notes by Marty Thau)
* "Live 1977-1978" (2008) (Six CD box set containing thirteen entire Suicide live performances from September 1977 to August 1978 plus other audio ephemera of the time);



*cite book
last= Reynolds
first= Simon
title= Rip it Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984
publisher= Penguin
year= 2006
isbn= 0143036726

External links

* [ Suicide and You, by Matthew Moyer]
* [ "Suicide Watch"] article by Simon Reynolds on Alan Vega, including some information on Suicide in general
* [] very complete site
* [] Martin Rev official site
* [] Alan Vega official site
* [ Interview with Martin Rev and Alan Vega of Suicide]

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