Reformed death metal veterans Suffocation are set to enter the studio later this month to begin the recording of their first full-length CD Souls to Deny in eight years and being the curious Suffocation fan I am, I just couldn't resist the temptation to approach drummer Mike Smith with a bunch of questions and as you can read below he had some really interesting and surprising answers.

Mike Smith interviewed by PSL

What's happening in the Suffocation camp at the moment?
At the moment we are working full time on completing the writing process of Souls to Deny. We will be entering the studio by mid January.

There are high expectations for your comeback album Souls to Deny. Is this a pressure you feel or is it something you don't care about when writing the new material?
The only pressure we feel at this time are the deadlines we've made for ourselves as to the completion and delivery of the album. We aren't pressured so much as to the expectation level. We feel it will better than most expected.

Can you lift a bit of the veil of what we can expect from Souls to Deny?
You can expect what Suffocation has always given, a blend of all the albums combined but an added intensity from a more focused Suffocation. We've had plenty of time to soak up what is the new way of death metal during our departure, now we are ready to add what we think is needed to boost the popularity and longevity of it.

The new material; is it a straight continuation from where the last recording Despise the Sun left off or have you gone back to the roots and found inspiration in a classic like Effigy of the Forgotten?
The strength of effigy will always be the foundation of our writing style. Despise the Sun is a spawn of that, it differed a little from our past albums because at the time the scene was quickly changing to "grind or die" tactics. It was Suffocation's way of showing that we won't be left behind no matter what the changes or new fads are. Souls to Deny will possess all of the new styles as well as take it back to the roots of the band.

Are you close to have written all material for the upcoming full-length? How far are you in the process?
We are just about complete with the writing and direction of this album, but once everything is in front of us as a collection we will do what we've always done, critique and fine tune it until everyone of us are satisfied with every note. If we're satisfied we're confident the fans will be. We are harder on ourselves than any fan could be.

Do you plans to include any re-worked versions of old songs on Souls to Deny? I mean you did it on both Pierced from Within and Despise the Sun!
We were considering the possibilities but we seem to be leaning to the all new side of things. We have plenty of time to revamp the old stuff later.

When do you plan/expect to enter the studio?
January 15th give or take a minute or two.

You've used Scott Burns as producer on most of your previous releases but he 's retired now as far as I know! So who will be sitting behind the knobs this time around?
Suffocation will be self recording and producing this album along with our soundman and engineer Joe Cincotta. We are a self contained unit this time around. It's the only way to survive in death metal. The fans won't be disappointed, we've heard enough garbage productions to last us a lifetime.

You've used Dan Seagrave to do the cover art in the past. Is he under consideration this time?
We've summoned the services of the mighty Dan Seagrave once again. The concept is completely our own, he was able to grasp our idea and completely take it to the next level for the people to stare into for the next few years. It's a good time right now in the Suffocation camp. Everything is falling where it needs to be.

Any release date yet or is it to early to tell?
Its too early to be precise on the date but ourselves and the label are eager to release it so you can rest assured that we are moving in quick fashion so as to take advantage of the full 2004 touring season.

I bet you've been asked this question a hundred times but how did the idea of reforming come around?
Frank started to realize that working 9-5 was more than he could stand so he decided to call upon the rest of us. Those of us whose mind were fresh and focused were able to see that there was a need for us to get on with what we truly love to do. Create.

There's been quite a buzz around the return of Suffocation. Where you overwhelmed by the interest?
We were surprised at the immediate response to our return. That alone doubled the intensity of what we already had planned to do on our return back. It made us focus that much more on creating something that really represents our roots on this new album.

It must be really encouraging to know that there has been a strong demand for your return!
It helps, death metal has never been the scene to plan your retirement on, but the scene and the labels seem to be coming around and realizing that there has been a true underground source of the real shit brewing for a long time waiting for its time to shine.

You've played a few shows after the reunion. How was it to get back on stage and play?
Incredible, it was like we never left. It's hard to imagine what was going on in our minds when we did decide that we were going to live the normal life and hang up playing professionally. Now looking back on it, we were kidding ourselves we would have all died miserable old men if we didn't play and create music.

You've already made a video for the song "Deceit", any plans to include it on the upcoming CD? Or was it only made for promotion purposes?
We had a friend who really wanted to put something together for us on our return back. It was made because we had interests from the video stations regarding a Suffocation video. Last I was involved in the scene; no death metal had any video play much less the station asking you for it. So to pass on the opportunity would have been the biggest business decision mistake #1. The new video we release to support the album will completely represent who we are. I have to thank Ben from Malamar for doing the "Deceit" video in one week's time /no charge.

Are you considering making a DVD at some point? Many death metal bands are working or are about to release DVD's in 2004.

Definitely that's one of the latest outlets that enable bands to reach out to a broader market. We will put one out in the near future for sure.

You've recently signed with Relapse again! Were they your first and obvious choice? I mean what convinced you that they were the right label for Suffocation?
We had offers from a few labels including Century Media and Nuclear Blast after comparing all Relapse had the extra edge we felt would do Suffocation good on our return. All the labels had good offers ,but you could only pick one out of three. Relapse has really proven to us that they are really out for the good of the death metal scene. Unlike other labels form the past.

Another question you've probably also been asked a lot is what went wrong with the production on Breeding the Spawn? It really sounds so thin and hollow!
What didn't go wrong? Shit Engineer/studio. Small budget, little support from label = the final outcome of Breeding the Spawn.

Do you think you'd consider re-recording "Breeding the Spawn" at some point? I think I read in a zine a few years ago that there were plans about doing so but Roadrunner wouldn't allow this. I think it was just after the release of Pierced from Within!
If we have the time and need to revamp we will in the future as for now we are trying to get on with the new.

Any chance of seeing you play in Europe in 2004?
Definitely, extensively. After we finish the Morbid Angel tour we will be planning to hit Europe until we've exhausted our welcome.

Anything you wish to add to conclude this interview?
Everyone all and together now, Souls to Deny. Thanks for your support. We can't wait to share the new Suffocation album with you.



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