Suffocation’s Derek Boyer: The Gun Shy Interview

Derek Boyer

The new Suffocation album, Pinnacle of Bedlam, is coming out soon and it is literally one of the heaviest records we’re likely to hear all year.

That’s because Suffocation are, hands down, one of the heaviest bands on the planet. Their music is disgusting and I love it. For me, the fact that Suffocation’s from my home state of New York is a point of pride.

Recently, I had a chance to chat with Suffocation bassist Derek Boyer, and rather than kiss his ass about how brutal the new one is, I had to ask Derek about these rumors regarding the Brutal Big 5.

The Brutal Big 5 is Suffocation, Deicide, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse and Obituary. And Boyer says the rumors are true: Efforts are ongoing to get all five bands to tour under the Brutal Big 5 banner.

“[Guitarist] Guy Marchais came up with it,” Derek tells GunShyAssassin. “He posted it online, to see if people would react to it and it seems to have really fucking blown up.”

So…?

“I’m not sure if that’s something that’s realistic, or if that’s just something he’s trying to petition, to see if there would be interest in it,” says Boyer. “We have already talked to Cannibal Corpse, and we’ve already talked to a lot of our friends in those other bands, and guys are into it. We just have to find a way to make it work.”

Logistically, assembling such a tour would be a fucking nightmare, says Derek.

“You are talking about five headlining bands here,” Boyer starts. “Unless you are rotating headlining spots and rotating headlining money…there’s a lot of politics that would go into it but we are way interested in pushing it, to see if it can be a reality.”

Financially, it’d be a major tour to pull together and fund.

“The ticket price would have to be so high just to pay for the headliners,” Derek says with a chortle. “But it is doable. If you were able to rotate a headlining spot, maybe the headlining purse, and do 30 shows with five bands getting six headlining shows each, blah blah blah…that could work. But right now, it’s up in the air. We have spoken to some booking agents about it but nothing is concrete about it yet.”

Boyer says right now, Suffocation is focused on touring the fuck out of their new record, which the band’s extremely happy with as you might imagine. They should be. It seriously is pure death metal perfection.

“If the Brutal Big 5 happens, it would be the end of this year or early next year,” he says.

Of course, when the band does tour this year, they’ll be playing certain shows without frontman Frank Mullen.

So, who do they have lined up to take over in Frank’s place?

“We are not supposed to talk about it,” says Derek. “We got somebody who is really respected and good, that’s brutal, and who everyone knows and loves.”

Boyer said that Frank is “still very much in Suffocation” but can’t devote the same time to the band, considering the demands of his private sector job and his family.

“He has financial obligations and family obligations. He needs to do what’s right for him. Being responsible is something we encourage. That said, if he were to say, ‘Fuck family and fuck this, let’s go out,’ we’d still go out.

“But we appreciate the fact that he’s trying to do the right thing and we will just have a stand-in,” says Derek. “The industry needs to know Suffocation isn’t a one-man band.”

When pressed for more details, Boyer laughs.

“We will have someone real fun and you will be like, ‘We get to see Suffocation with so-and-so as a special guest? That’s awesome.’”

I probably will say that.

“Frank is doing the major markets with us, but otherwise, it will be a special treat. People will go, ‘Holy shit! So-and-so is fronting this? What a trip!’”

The record marks a new time for Suffocation. The band’s got stellar management for the first time in eons, and they’re on Nuclear Blast, a label that appreciates their importance.

I ask Derek if it ever gets to him that Suffocation isn’t bigger than it is.

He laughs. “As far as the live show goes, the quality of the records and the song-writing, I can’t say we are missing anything but…we just recently took on management — a professional company that can go to bat for us and push us a little harder. It happened late in the game but it happened.”

He pauses.

“For us, Suffocation has always been one of those bands that we joke about how we’ve got a black cloud that follows us around,” Boyer says. “We have never packed the fucking trailer for a tour when it didn’t pour rain. It’s ironic, but that black cloud inspired us to push through and persevere.”

Suffocation’s new album drops February 15. You should get it.

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