The Suicide Machines are one of the most beloved ska-punk bands that came out of the period affectionately known as the 3rd Wave. Their fantastic songwriting and energetic live shows have been winning over fans for many, many years. Even with their break-up as a full time band in 2006, the passion of their fanbase did not diminish. In fact, the love for the band has just grown more and more. I recently had the chance to ask Jason Navarro a few questions about the band and what is next for him.
Let’s go back. It is 2006 and the Suicide Machines have been going for almost 15 years. The band just came off 2 of their best albums. And suddenly, it seemed the band was no more. What led to the break-up?
Ryan and Rich had quit. They couldn’t get along with Dan anymore which really took a lotta the wind outta my sails. I had a possible job offer that I was going to take. Dan was pissed but I was done with touring and done with him too. There was a huge blowout between him and I in LA because he wouldn’t do an encore. We went on stage without him and played Vans Song. He lost his shit on me and that was that. Good way to end on our 2nd best record.
The Suicide Machines are considered one of the most beloved, influential, and successful bands coming from the punk and ska scenes. Did you expect the outpouring of love and mourning over the band in the wake of the break-up?
No, it’s weird. Like kinda we were to the 2nd wave of punk ska what Operation ivy was to me, not that we were ever as awesome as that band, just putting it how someone put it like that to me. I don’t know why people even ever liked my band at all. Very strange. Just always been a house show kinda band, never expected or even thought about? Like I don’t really know how we got big or whatever. No idols or that kind of bullshit.
Only 3 years later, in 2009, the band reformed for some gigs. What was the catalyst for getting back together?
My great friend Steve, ex road homie, is an activist. A real one. Their affinity got infiltrated by a NARC from the Seattle G8. I really don’t think I’m supposed to talk about this for obvious reasons. Plain and simple, I don’t leave my friends behind. I raised money to pay for his lawyer. ELF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wake up people it’s a fuckin’ war on our earth being raged by corporations!
You guys have been playing a ton of festivals and larger shows. Does the band have any desire to do either smaller tours or weekend jaunts?
Talking about a 2 week farewell tour
Is there any Suicide Machines material sitting on the shelf that you’d love to release?
Yes, quite a bit but you will see very soon what is about to be unveiled. (Note: after sending Jay these questions we learned that the first 2 Suicide Machines records would be released on vinyl by Asbestos Records).
You and your bands are pretty synonymous with the city of Detroit. What does the city mean to you?
Detroit is everything to me. Our scene is better than any city in the USA. Our bands are better too.
Following the Suicide Machines, you fronted and played guitar for two excellent bands, Hellmouth and Break Anchor. What is the status of those groups?
Hellmouth is doing demos for a new record and has a dance goth industrial remix record coming out. Oh and a split with Common Enemy! Out real soon! Break Anchor just did a West Coast tour. Gunna try and write a full length this summer
Later last year, tapes surfaced of you lending your vocals to a few Pennywise tunes as they were trying to replace Jim Lindberg. What was that experience like?
The Pennywise thing was stressful. Those guys are real good friends of mine and when Fletcher asked I blew it off for like 3 months. He asked, “where are the demos?” So I told him I felt weird about it. He talked me into it cuz Jim quit of his own free will. So after one shitty 12 hour shift I grabbed a case of beer got drunk as fuck and knocked out those songs. Told Fletcher, “Fuck it, I hate my job get me outta here.” Ha…too late Zoli was on board. It’s all for the better.
You guys are one of the headliners for the first ever Apple Stomp shows in NYC. The festival features a lot of reunited ska bands performing. Is there anyone on the show you are really looking forward to playing with or seeing?
Not really. Just happy to play an all ska show. Pilfers!!!!!
If you could indulge me for a second, I read an interview with Jeff Dean where he cites you as a major influence. He talks about this chord that you would do that he picked up and then used in a number of his compositions. Are you willing to talk about trade secrets?
I just look at a guitar as there aren’t just bibles of so many chords. I think noisy discordant ones can be beautiful. Make up your own within the context of the song to bring something more.