Suicide Queen is the uncompromising trio from Oakland “carrying on the industrial torch with sounds resonating from the likes of Ministry and Skinny Puppy” says Dark Beauty Magazine. Featuring Kay Dolores on vocals, programming and guitars, Todd Buller on guitars and Ira Mortem on bass, they relish in turning pain into power with deafening noise as seen on their hellishly wicked new track, “Swan”
The grand soundscape in “Swan”—dripping with violence, sexuality and understated rage—sets the stage for Dolores’ harrowing vocals that oscillate between a low, husky growl and punctuated whips of energy that border on a breakdown. Mortem and Buller drive the track forward with a powerful array of chunky riffs, playing off the mechanical heart that forms the foundation of this attention-grabbing trio. They’re assisted on the track by the lauded producer and engineer John Fryer (Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Love And Rockets) that adds another layer of intensity.
Let’s get to know a little bit more about the band, We sent them a few questions to ask and they were nice enough to get back to us with some awesome answers below…
IM – Ira Mortem (bass)KD – Kay Dolores (vocals, programming and guitars)TB – Todd Buller (guitars)
1. Tell us a little bit about the band and how long you have been together for some of our readers that may not know about the band?
- Suicide Queen is an industrial/metal band from Oakland, CA. The band started in late 2014.
What is new with the band? New Album out? New Videos?
- TB: The debut LP is finished and we released our first single “Swan” February 2. It was recorded across three different locations in Oakland. [Frontman] Kay Dolores recorded the guitars at his home studio, and we tracked vocals at engineer Stephen Lam’s home studio, then moved to a studio we set up at our label COP International’s HQ. John Fryer (Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, This Mortal Coil, Gravity Kills, Stabbing Westward) mixed the record and Joe Haze did the master. The pandemic has given us some time to consider how we want to connect with the audience since seeing everyone in person is off the table for the moment. We released a split single earlier this year (our contribution was a track called “Scarecrow”) with our friends and label mates, LUNA 13 from Los Angeles. The full record will be released soon but until then, we’ll be releasing a few more singles and working on a video project.
With all this madness going on with the virus…What do you think the music scene will be like in the future…and how are you prepared to make your music heard if there will not be any concerts or festivals for the year of 2020?
- IM: The music scene has definitely been affected by all of this, especially venues. I think it will take a while for things to go back to normal, I’m not sure what concerts will look like, but I hope they’re still a thing. I think networking and cross-promoting is the way to share your music. Make your music available for content creators and streamers to use and share with the world.
- KD: The music scene will absolutely recover from this. It’ll take time, patience, diligence, and respect for the people around us and respect for the science, but we’ll definitely have live music again. The venues have really been hit hard. I’m glad to see some places are still going, in whatever way they can, and ideally, all those people who have given live music a home for years and had to shut down will come back with new events and new venues. We’re all going to be so much more grateful than ever before for music. During this time that we can’t be with people in person, I agree—we need to get strange.
- TB: The industry has taken a MASSIVE hit and will take a LONG time to obtain, whatever level of recovery there is, from 2020. The venues that survived and the new venues that surface will have to adjust like never before. I’ve seen what they’re having to do, and it’s costing a lot of money. Keep in mind, this is a business that thrives on bringing hundreds to tens of thousands of people together…often times indoors. The days of fans squeezed in the front row are far, far ahead. They say you don’t miss what you don’t know/remember, so this will be an interesting ride into the unknown.
What got you into music and what is your earliest memory of when you told yourself…”THIS IS WHAT I WANT”?
- IM: I think just growing up in a home with music, my parents always had music on, especially my dad. My first album was the Mortal Kombat Annihilation soundtrack and that definitely made me enjoy certain genres at a young age. I think when I was 12 or 13 is when I decided I was going to play guitar and be a rockstar, Of course that didn’t happen since I play bass…
- KD: When I was a kid, my mom had this big stereo and I always knew we were going to be listening to some Celine Dion when the intro from “It’s All Coming Back to Me” would start playing, and it was always LOUD. Somehow, I never got into Celine, surprise, but my mom had a couple things I really liked like Chris Isaak and Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Phantom of the Opera.” I liked the Counting Crows, that kind of thing. And it was actually Mortal Kombat that got me into heavier music too! Gravity Kills were on the first soundtrack and they were from my hometown, so I got to see them all the time and between the singer and the synth player, they were the coolest thing I had ever seen. And on the same soundtrack there was Type O Negative, Sister Machine Gun, Fear Factory, all that stuff. A friend in grade school got me into The Offspring—remember the ‘90s, when they were good?—and Social Distortion, then I heard L7 on the radio and loved them. My mom was the coolest; she would take me to see all those shows. At some point in there, I knew I couldn’t just rock out in my room forever; I had to get up and do it myself. So I learned how to play the guitar and bought a drum machine.
- TB: Everything. Everything got me into music. My childhood was rich with music from day one. Vinyl records, turntables, daydreaming, guitars, keyboards, radio, concerts, music videos, real ROCKSTARS. I traveled a lot when I was young, music was my soundtrack to life. It was my best friend. Still is. The desire to travel, see the world and play guitar is all I ever wanted.
Who was your first concert and what is your best memory?
- IM: My first concert was AFI. My favorite memory was jumping in a car with my friends blasting the music you’re about to listen to live, waiting in line for hours, getting in and then being mesmerized for the entire show. Then when it ends you snap back into reality.
- KD: I saw The Offspring, Social Distortion, L7 and a bunch of other bands at a local radio festival in St. Louis called Pointfest. I want to say that was 1997. I mostly remember the smell of beer and weed, but I wouldn’t call that memory good.
- TB: Anytime you walk out of show forever different, that’s my best memory.
If you didn’t become a musician, what would you be doing right now?
- IM: What I do now, which is gaming, and I’m working on creating content, streaming and video editing. Still learning, but I’m doing a lot of the things I enjoy.
- KD: I would have to be a filmmaker or put some work into being a decent painter. There’s a world in my head that keeps filling up, it needs somewhere to go before it gets too crowded in there.
- TB: I’ve been asked this question a lot. The truth is, I have absolutely no idea. Writing, recording, performing, touring, all things relating to a band is all that matters to me. I’ve designed my life to be as such.
On a scale of 1 to 2593, How good is your newest single compared to your last single? (my attempt at humor, but please still answer)
- IM: 6,666. I mean, we have John Fryer producing this bad boi.
- KD: Infinitely.
- TB: Continuously.
What do you feel is the best song you have released to date and why?.
- IM: Well so far we have one fully mastered one, and there’s more to come, so I can’t say without spoiling future releases.
- KD: We released “Scarecrow” as the first single. I’ve always liked the groove and the build of that track. If I were to be eaten by spiders later, I’d be pleased to have put that into the world.
- TB: “Scarecrow” is certainly a song to be eaten by. One of my favorites to play live. “Swan” is our current one, and that’s been somewhat of a crowd favorite.
Do you think you can get any better as a musician/singer? And if so, how would you achieve that?
- IM: Of course. I think practicing, taking lessons or just consistently creating is how you will improve your craft.
- KD: When we get back to work after some time off, there’s a huge difference between my voice at the first rehearsal and my voice at the 3rd or 4th. Getting back in tune with your physicality and your instrument and strengthening that relationship is how you improve.
- TB: When the day comes to where you think you know everything there is to know about being a musician and you just can’t get any better, QUIT! Because you’ve already lost the game. Music is an endless journey that takes a ridiculous amount of commitment and dedication. If you wanna do it for real, it’s not for the faint of heart. I strive every day.
If you could give your fans one random fact about you that you think they should (or should “not” know) about you what would that be?
- IM: That one of my favorite soundtracks of all time is Donkey Kong 2, what a masterpiece.
- KD: I am hardcore on the pumpkin spice train. Almond pumpkin spice coffee creamer all season long.
- TB: I hate Phil Collins.
You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?
- IM: I’d call it Mortem, a deep red, almost black hues in there, because that’s what I think of when i describe Mortem as a color.
- KD: Guns N Roses.
- TB: Andrew Eldritch: it’s black and long overdue.
Who are you inspired by?
- IM: At the moment I’m very inspired by Japanese Rock and Visual Kei bands. Japan just crushes it with music and aesthetics.
- KD: I got into Lingua Ignota about a year ago. I love the brutal honesty of her work, how clear and undisguised her lyrics and delivery are.
- TB: I’m inspired by so many things all the time. I absolutely love black and white photography. Fashion is a big one. Lyrics. I get inspired by honest connections—connections with animals and all living things. I’m inspired by otherworldly human connection, while being inspired by misanthropic tendencies. Then there’s music, the soundtrack to our lives is the biggest inspiration of all.
What’s an average day like one tour? And what about these days?
- IM: Lots of driving, arriving to your destination, load in, soundcheck, wait, get ready in a poorly lit bathroom or back stage area, play a show, hang out, load up, drive to your next destination or crash on someone’s floor. These days, I sleep in, spend most of my days learning about production and video editing, and to unwind I play video games until it’s time for bed.
- KD: For most of our travel engagements, it’s been a lot of CDs and cigarettes. Now, I’m back in writing and revision mode, so I occasionally scrawl a few lines of lyrics, switch out drum samples, play with synth sounds, make some tiny fader adjustments. Then I sit and I scheme.
- TB: Being on tour is like a traveling circus, especially when it gets to larger tours with 20-30 people on board. Everything is new and different every day/night. It’s amazing, living a lot of life in condensed moments of time. My best life stories are from the road, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Now, I write music, dream about touring at night and anxiously wait for it to return.
Please discuss how you interact with and respond to fans?
– IM: I am surprisingly an extreme extrovert when in a social environment, so I just try to get to know them if they wanna talk. We’re all very chill people, so please say hi!
- KD: It’s still a shock to me, to hear all the good things people have to say after we play. I’m still dragging myself off the floor after the process that happens onstage. It takes me a little time to get back to normal. But then I’m down to hang out!
- TB: Calm, cool and collected. Always love to say hi and hangout with anyone that enjoys what we do. Chances are, we have more in common then we initially realized.
Have you ever dealt with performance anxiety?
- IM: Yes, my first show I couldn’t stop shaking. Like literally my body was shaking. I still get anxious, but is mostly before the show, because I feel like I’m on a schedule, and a bit before I hit the stage, after the first minute, it’s cruise control from there.
- KD: Yeah, definitely in the early days. Now, by the time we start the first song of the night, it’s all adrenaline.
- TB: I’m nervous EVERY TIME. But as soon as the first song kicks in, like Kay said, it’s all adrenaline from there on out. Like jumping out of a plane.
Tell me about your favorite performance venues?
- IM: Social Hall SF in San Francisco was probably the biggest venue and shows we played, I liked it because we had our own dressing room and got a bottle of booze. However, The Main Room at DNA Lounge in San Francisco is my favorite to play. The stage is fun, and the people who work there are amazing.
- KD: Social Hall and DNA have definitely been outstanding. I love the Golden Bull in Oakland. And it’s always great to play Bar Sinister in Hollywood. It was really sad to see the Uptown in Oakland close this year, and I hope the owners and staff set up something new in the future.
- TB: All the venues mentioned above, from a local standpoint. DNA & The Uptown were like homes for us. Add Bottom of the Hill, Slims, Rickshaw Stop, etc. in Northern California had a long list of stellar venues before COVID-19. We’ll see what happens in 2021.
What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
- IM: I would advise them to just go for it, that’s what I did. I learned an entire set in two weeks without any bass experience. Learn easy songs and have fun. That’s what it comes down to. As long as you want to do it and enjoy it, then I say give it a try.
- KD: Keep your interests broad and figure out what you’re good at, rather than try to sound like anyone else. Your own interests and your own talents will give you your own sound.
- TB: Don’t, just be YOU. The world wants a first rate you, not a second rate somebody else. Don’t plagiarize. Don’t be afraid of serious dedication, serious lifestyle dedication. That’s what it takes. Be honest with yourself—the good, bad and the ugly. Learn to accept criticism. Learn your tools. Find a balance between music education and rock ‘n’ roll. Learn to collaborate, it’s the key to this business. Be genuine, be refreshing. Listen to all music. Give everything you’ve got, give people what they paid for, provide them the escape they need from you. Give them a fucking show…or get out of the way.
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