Despite an imperfect PA system and lead singer Jason Navarro barely having a voice, The Suicide Machines rocked the Living Room on Tuesday, June 18. As guitar player Daniel Lukacinsky said, “This is punk rock and we don’t give a fuck.”
There weren’t a lot of people there, maybe because there was a hardcore show going on next door or maybe because it was a school night, but the show was well worth admission. The band played an array of songs from 1998’s Battle Hymns, as well as a couple of songs from the latest album, Steal This Record, including “Bleeding Heart,” which Navarro said was his favorite TSM song. The audience got a special treat in “The Vans Song,” a cute ode to shoes that TSM leaves until the end of its set. Lukacinsky claimed it was “the silliest song ever written,” although “Sometimes I Don’t Mind,” ranks a close second.
Navarro was unsure what the quality of the show would be. His voice was shot, thanks to his attempts to scream over the music at a PA-less gig a few days prior, and he seemed far too calm to front a punk band.
“It’s all a feel,” Navarro said. “You can tell when I’m having a good time or not. Now that I said that, it’s going to suck and I’m not going to feel the flow because I just cursed myself.”
He was wrong. After he changed his shirt and took the stage, energy filled the room. A crowd that had been reluctant to move during the opening acts was now thrashing around, sweating and having a great time. Ironically, Navarro’s strained voice enhanced the show, encouraging crowd participation as he handed the mic over to various fans in assistance.
Drummer Ryan Vandeberghe and new bassist Rich Tshirhart rounded out the performance by complementing Navarro and Lukacinsky, who happen to be the only two members remaining from the original heavily Operation Ivy-influenced lineup.
Despite the band’s status as ska-punk heavyweights, Navarro is careful not to limit the band’s musical possibilities, citing his personal whims as the reason for the band’s continually evolving sound.
“Although we don’t really narrow ourselves down to any genre, I’m sure people are always going to classify us as being in the punk scene,” Navarro said. “We just try to experiment a little bit. I mean, why not? We wanted to put a twelve-string section in a song.”
“You’re talking to guys who listen to, like, Led Zeppelin,” he continued, “The Beatles and stuff, too. I don’t just listen to punk. A lot of people, a lot of young kids, they probably think ‘That sucks, fuck you.'”
“Fuck you,” or no, the band tours on. After this four-week stint is over, TSM will be working on its new album, due out next spring.
“We’re messing around with beat machines,” he said, “so we’ll see what the next record sounds like. It’ll be a surprise to all you kids on what label it’s going to be.”
As for the future, Navarro said, “We’re talking about making our own movie, a really bad movie. We’re trying to get this guy to, like, write up a crazy script, you know, do weird stuff, like soap opera scenarios where we’re speaking in Spanish.”
And after that? “We’ll see what tomorrow brings.”