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Marvel Music

The Marvel Life: Mike Muir

The Suicidal Tendencies front man speaks on his new album, going to school with Robert Downey Jr. and digging Spider-Man!

By Blake Garris

The front man of legendary hardcore thrash band Suicidal Tendencies, Mike Muir can currently be seeing leading the band on the Slam City Tour in promotion of their first studio album in 13 years, aptly titled “13.”

He talked with us about seeing their song “Institutionalized” being prominently placed in the first Iron Man film, how he went to high school with Robert Downey Jr. and much more!


Marvel.com: You have a son. Is he into any of the Marvel characters?

Mike Muir: It’s funny because we got these little bed thingies and we take them when we go places. When he was young he’d pick Spider-Man. Spider-Man, when I was young, was cool. He likes Spider-Man. He has it on Xbox and all those kinds of things. He’s got his own way of seeing things.

Marvel.com: You used to be into Spider-Man as well?

Mike Muir: I don’t know if it was just the idea that you could squirt this thing and go flying or trap somebody in a web, I just always thought Spider-Man was cool. It was the cartoon that I watched. I never said that to my son though. I don’t want to put my biased opinion on him.

Marvel.com: What about Iron Man?

Mike Muir: Iron Man [is] obviously [big] in our family, because of “Institutionalized” [a song by Suicidal Tendencies used in “Iron Man.”] I know Robert Downey Jr., went to school with him, so the new Iron Man is very cool.

Marvel.com: So you saw the first two Iron Man movies?

Mike Muir: Yeah, because [the first one] had one of the band’s songs on it and I went to school with Robert Downey Jr. It went really well. I think it’s difficult in general to translate it and make it really come across as something that you aren’t just going to leave and think is cheesy. They took many liberties and it was really well done.

Image from "Iron Man"

Marvel.com: What was the experience like having a song in a film like that?

Mike Muir: Well, I think it’s two parts. One, you know about it beforehand but you don’t know how it’s going to be there. But you’re in the theater and it comes on and you’re like, “Oh, cool.” Then the other is what I call the “after the fact” when people go, “I saw ‘Iron Man’ and you guys were in there and it was cool.” And so many people, even to this day, comment on that. They put on “Iron Man” and they’re like, “That’s Suicidal!” So, it’s very cool.

Marvel.com: Did you get a lot of new fans based on people hearing that song?

Mike Muir: Yeah, definitely. Every kind of exposure has always done that as time goes on. People meet people in different situations where they’ll say, “The first time I heard Suicidal was this or that,” or something that you really didn’t think would be.

Suicidal has a song on the first Tony Hawk skateboard game and it’s like, “how many people are going to buy a skateboard game?” And a lot of people did and they were not skaters; and a lot of people, that was their first time listening to Suicidal. So, it’s like as time goes on, there’s way more people that you meet and they’ll say that’s where they heard us.

A lot of people will say, “Hey, I watched the movie and there was a song that was totally different than anything I’ve ever heard, looked it up and got it on iTunes” and that’s how they got into the band and got exposed to it. And I think that is always good. It’s a good experience. My younger kids are way too young but my oldest son, he’s going to be nine next week, and for him as he gets older, he watches DVDs with his friends and says, “My dad’s band is in there!” So that’s kind of a cool thing for him.

Marvel.com: You mentioned you went to school with Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr. in "Iron Man"

Mike Muir: Yeah, I went to Santa Monica High School and that’s where a lot of those people went [like Charlie Sheen as well].

Marvel.com: Have you talked to him since then?

Mike Muir: No, but someone I know said they saw him and threw it out there. A lot of guys, like from “21 Jump Street,” they’re all from Santa Monica High School. And “21 Jump Street,” they got “Institutionalized” because Holly Robinson and all those people went to Santa Monica and they said, “Hey, we got to get Suicidal in there.” So I think they tried to help out but I don’t know if he [had] anything to do with it or not.

Marvel.com: Your new, appropriately titled, album “13” is your first studio release in 13 years. How does it feel coming out with something after such a long time?

Mike Muir: Well, it’s a lot of work. Now that we’ve done the record, we get all the press and now we have an American person doing press and we have the tour press we got to do, and then we have a person for England, one for France, one for Europe, one for Eastern Europe, we got one for South America, and they all seem to say, “Oh, we got this deadline in two days. We need to sneak in these three more interviews.” And you got like six hours of interviews a day. And you just fit it in. They send you these questions and you get a little crazy. I think if anyone tried to do interviews for four to five hours straight a couple of days in a row, you start saying, “Wait a second. What the hell am I talking about?” It’s mindboggling and that’s the hardest thing to do.

Suicidal Tendencies (image courtesy of Adrenaline PR)

After the interviews are over, I’ll probably look back and enjoy it a lot more. What the success of a record is when you finish it up is when you look back and go, “Wow, this is way better than what I hope it could be.” So yes, we want to do a record that we hope chances are that 10, 20, 30 years from now we still love it. I think that’s a challenge, that’s a goal and to people that aren’t even born now, when they’re older, 20 years from now when they’re up listening to music, they’ll be like, “Wow, that’s a great record.” And that’s how I think our approach is different than other people who try to do records and are maybe more genre specific, that they hope that a specific audience will like, rather than people like it because of the music.

Marvel.com: You’re known as a legend in the music industry. What’s that like?

Mike Muir: It’s weird because the first time I heard that was years ago when we went to Australia. “You’re a legend mate! You’re a legend.” And the first thing I thought of was, “Yeah, no, a legend is like someone who’s in a park, that they have a statue of that the pigeons [expletive] on.” It doesn’t translate. It just seems like you’re old and irrelevant. At the time it was probably cool but now it doesn’t mean anything. But I think that generally when people say things like that it is out of respect and coming from a good place and I appreciate that. I think that’s cool. To me, I look at it like a compliment and a compliment to me is when someone says something that is similar to something I would say of two or three people whom I really respected and appreciated, and their abilities. So when someone puts it in the terms that I would say to someone else, I appreciate that. And music has a big part in helping people in their life; if it gets you through some tough times, that’s the biggest compliment you could have, I think.

Suicidal Tendencies recently released their ninth studio album “13” and they’re currently touring around the world. For more information on the band, visit their website http://www.suicidaltendencies.com/ or follow them on Twitter @OFFICIALSTIG.


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