Suicide is an American synthpunk music duo intermittently active since 1971 and composed of vocalist Alan Vega and Martin Rev on synthesizers and drum machines. 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. Rev's simple keyboard riffs (initially played on a battered Farfisa organ before he acquired a synthesizer) were accompanied by primitive drum machines, providing 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's witnessing of 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, proto-punk anthems rank among the
most visionary, melodic experiments the rock realm has yet produced. 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, Panthére, Gang Gang Dance, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Sisters of Mercy, She Wants Revenge, Henry Rollins, Joy Division/New Order, Soft Cell, Nick Cave, Cassandra Complex, Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Radiohead, Spacemen 3, Spiritualized, Michael Gira, 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 all listed Suicide as an influence. Bruce Springsteen was also influenced by the band, as evident by the song "State Trooper" from his album 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
In September 2009, the group performed their debut LP live in its entirety as part of the All Tomorrow's Parties-curated Don't Look Back series.(via Wikipedia Oct 2009)
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