A Talk With
FRANS SWATERS (Vocals/Guitar)
Questionnaire by Stefan
On June 6th. 2015, Holland based Thrash Metal band Suicide Attack will unleash its debut EP called “Prepare For Attack!” through Clenched Fist Records, from Belgium. I’ve already listened and evaluated the songs from the EP and came to the conclusion Suicide Attack deliver their new stuff very credible and promising with an eye to the future. I immediately had the feeling that the band existed for many years, although they were established in 2013. Let's have a conversation with frontman/guitarist Frans Swaters about the weal and woe of these merciless thrashing maniacs !
Q: Welcome Frans, I’d had to know all about how and by whom Suicide Attack was created.
A: Hi Stefan. I played in a band called Stigma for 15 years. This was a full on aggressive thrash act which I founded when I was a teenager and although we had build a name in the underground scene, we never really took off. This was probably due to the fact that the line up of Stigma changed almost every year. I felt like it was time for something new, a fresh start so to speak.
So I made the decision to bury Stigma and start a new band with Snoek, the guitar player from Stigma. Around that time I wrote a song called Suicide Attack and I thought it would be a perfect band name. It sounds very 80's and thrashy. And to my surprise there were no other bands with that name. We quickly found Jordy, a very talented young drummer and started rehearsing. It took some time before we found a bass player, until I reconnected with Paul. We played together in X-tinXion for years and I knew he would be perfect for the job.
That was the very first line up of Suicide Attack, but it only lasted for 2 rehearsals. After that Snoek quit the band. Luckily Eelco stepped in and here we are!
Q: Back then, did you have certain ambitions to cherish?
A: World domination!!! Haha, just kidding. We don't have the dream to become the next Metallica, but we certainly have our goals. I cherish the ambition to achieve the level of credibility a band like Darkane has build up for themselves. Each record they make sounds amazing, they play a couple of cool shows and festivals each year, but they're not touring 365 days a year.
Q: Give up some kind of a background history briefing about the guys active within the Suicide Attack ranks.
A: I knew Jordy from the time he played in a local thrash band called Chaos. After that he played in Mortukai. Years ago he once said that if I ever needed a drummer I had to call him, so he was the first that came to mind when we started. I was really impressed by his technical skills. He knows how to thrash and is very creative with his drum rolls.
Eelco also sings and plays guitar for Bestial Devastation, a Sepultura cover band. They are amazing! He is very tight and that's exactly what we need. He's a very good rhythm guitar player and his solo's reminds me of a young Dave Mustaine. I'm hoping he will do some vocals for Suicide Attack in the future as well. And it's even more amazing that he's doing all this without seeing a damn thing, because he is blind. So he's like a metal version of Stevie Wonder.
Paul played in a band called Headhaunter and after that he joined X-tinXion of which I was also a member. We played together for years and had a lot of fun. Back then he was forced to stop playing bass because of an arm injury. It looked like he could never play again. But after 5 years he picked up a bass again and he auditioned for Suicide Attack. It immediately felt right to ask him as our bass player because he nailed it.
Now there's not much left I can tell you about myself. Like I said before: been a member of Stigma for 15 years and I also played in X-tinXion for 9 years. Right now I also play guitar in Albion, a heavy doom rock/metal band. It's something completely different and sounds like a mixture of Type O Negative and Danzig.
Q: What bands have inspired the style of Suicide Attack’s music?
A: We all love the old school Bay Area thrash metal bands from the 80's, like Exodus, Death Angel and Testament. And although it's not very cool to say anymore, but early Metallica and Megadeth had a huge impact on me when I started playing guitar and I guess it shows in some of our songs. Personally I've also been influenced by Destruction, Anthrax, King Diamond, early The Haunted and Darkane. I also love the aggression and energy of Strapping Young Lad.
Q: How the first rehearsals were conducted, what was your first impression of the musical collaboration?
A: It went very smooth actually. We all did our homework and were very prepared. So we started to sound like a 'real' band in no time. It became clear we were all on the same page.
Q: Suicide Attack quite quickly began to play for a live audience… you have an explanation for this?
A: We had this plan where we would first release an EP and after that we would start playing gigs. But things turned out quite different.
We recorded all our parts in May 2014, but the whole thing got delayed. In the meantime we got a lot of offers to play at different venues. I guess they knew us from our previous bands and were curious in what we were doing with Suicide Attack. I guess we made an impact and we got a lot of word-to-mouth exposure, because people kept asking for us. So we played quite a few shows without a decent recording.
Q: You went on a European Tour for Deathriders featuring the one and only Neil Turbin, tell me about Frans?
A: Yes, that was a great experience. We did our first show in May 2014 at Watergate Metalfest in The Netherlands and a few days afterwards I got a call from Michiel, one of the promoters of the legendary Dynamo club. He asked us if we were interested in doing a show with Neil Turbin. Hell yeah we were!
It turned out that Conrad Hultermans, my old guitar partner and buddy from X-tinXion, played in the European line up of Deathriders. So I gave him a call and asked if we could be the support on the other dates as well and he arranged it.
It was pretty special for us to be playing our second show ever as the support act of Neil Turbin at the Dynamo club. We had a hell of a good time with everyone from Deathriders and it was a great experience. So I'm very grateful towards Michiel and Conrad who stuck their neck out for us!
Q: More and more concerts were booked which denote the good reception from the fans on your music, right?
A: Yes, the shows with Neil Turbin definitely gave us some exposure and we did some cool shows afterwards. We were amazed by all the positive feedback. That gave us a really good feeling. We're doing everything we can to create some cool music and it's nice that it gets appreciated by an audience.
Q: The good live reputation of Suicide Attack was guaranteed and it was time to record a debut EP which will see daylight early June 2015 through Clenched Fist Records. First on, why did you choose to collaborate with this label?
A: The EP was already recorded and last month we posted one of the songs on YouTube. Rick Verbeek from Clenched Fist Records approached me and said he was interested in releasing it. It's a small label, but they work hard to promote their bands. They're honest and we have a good feeling about it. It's cool that they are willing to put time and energy in this thing.
Q: Secondly, was a full-length album not unfeasible in the financial field?
A: The whole EP was recorded and mixed, but we already talked about releasing a full-length album in the near future. We got quite a lot of songs ready to be recorded, so hopefully we'll be in the studio in a few months.
Q: Who wrote the songs and who’s the one behind the production?
A: I write most of the music and lyrics for Suicide Attack. I just love to create music. I'm not a musician who practices a lot of guitar techniques. When I play at home I always try to create a new song. I'll record a demo and bring it to rehearsals where everyone puts his own unique stamp on it.
We recorded the drums and vocals in the studio. We recorded the guitars and bass guitar ourselves and those tracks were later re-amped in the studio.
The production was a nightmare! Like I said, we recorded the EP in May 2014. But the guy who would be mixing the whole thing took his time haha. He said we would get a final mix in June of that year, but we eventually got it in November. It turned at to be such a disappointment. Its sounded like shit and I'm not exaggerating here: that damn thing made St. Anger sound like an audiological highlight in the history of music. So we were quite pissed off and asked for every recorded part and brought the whole thing to another mixer. After 3 months he gave us a call that he was too busy...
At that point the whole EP project seemed doomed, but luckily Edwin van Wingerden of Profanation Studio helped us out and mixed it for us. He really amazed us with his work and he's definitely our saviour! I hoping we can record our full length album at his studio.
Q: Can you tell us more about the textual content?
A: I really like 'payback themed songs'. So there's quite a lot of lyrics where I sarcastically take my revenge on certain people. There's a lot of hatred going on in the lyrics. But I also try to do some different stuff. The song 'Suicide Attack' is basically our anthem like 'Bonded by Blood' is for Exodus or 'Whiplash' for Metallica. We got another song with a sort of Twilight Zone theme and right now I'm working on some happy lyrics. That's very fucking difficult haha!
Q: How would you personally like to offer this “Prepare To Attack!” to the people?
A: Clenched Fist Records will be releasing it on CD. It can be bought through their distribution or by giving us a personal message on Facebook. And I'm sure our bass player will do his best to drunkenly convince everyone after a show to buy that damn thing. We'd like to make it available on Spotify as well.
Q: In my humble opinion, the new songs are very powerful and have a good musical character aboard as regards Thrash Metal. Full force, technical fast and quite melodic and last but not least, a singer which completely fits this genre, aggressive to the bone ! Did you read my review – agree to what I have written or not Frans?
A: Yes, I read your review and was overwhelmed by your positive feedback. It's hard to judge your own music, but our intention was to make aggressive music combined with melody and some 'catchiness'. So I'm very happy with your description, because that was our goal.
Q: There are already planned a few album release gigs, right?
A: Yes, we have a release party planned on June 6 in Gorinchem, my hometown in The Netherlands. The Eliminati, formerly known as Magnetron, will also play a set and I'm really looking forward to that. Stigma and Magnetron played a lot of shows together and that was always fun!
Q: next month, Suicide Attack will take place at the stage of Belgian based Metal Over Oostrozebeke Festival, organized by both Benny and Marre. This annual feast on Metal has a good reputation in Belgium, how did you get in touch with the organization.
A: I've known Benny for quite some years now. He's a real thrasher and a very nice guy. Benny saw a couple of Suicide Attack gigs and I guess he was sold, since he invited us to play at this year's edition of the festival. It will be our first show in Belgium and we're hoping many more will follow, because the thrash scene here is amazing with bands like Evil Invaders, Bliksem and Leave Scars. I played at 'MOO' before and I really liked the atmosphere.
Q: May I ask for your opinion about the rest of other bands playing that night?
A: I'm looking forward to see Downcast Collision, since my old band mates Peter and Monica from X-tinXion are in that band. The other bands sound great as well. I guess my neck will be quite sore the day after!
Q: What can we expect from SA show?
A: We'll be opening the festival and we hope to get the mosh pit started. We're bringing our thrash metal to Belgium and don't be surprised if we throw in a cover of Death Angel. We're not a band that tries to be evil or something. We just want to have a good time. Good friendly violent fun!
Q: Do you already have made plans for the future?
A: We hope to do a lot of gigs after releasing 'Prepare for Attack!'. And we're planning to record our first full-length in the near future.
Q: Than I wish you all the very best of success and hope to be present next month during your performance at Metal Over Oostrozebele Festival. You may close this conversation in your own words now Frans, Cheers !
A: Be sure you're early at the festival since we're the opening band! Oh, and bring some money to buy our debut EP. Thrash Till Death!!!!