Suicide Machines won’t die

Jeff Mitchell

Royce Nunley, bassist for Detroit rockers the Suicide Machines, just woke up. He is getting ready for another long drive, this time from Denver to Omaha.

The Suicide Machines had been out of the spotlight for a few months, recording and releasing its fourth major label album, “Steal This Record.”

Not resting for long, the band started touring almost immediately after releasing the new album, with a week-long stint in Japan. It is now plowing full blast across the United States and Canada.

In Japan, the band performed along with Potshot and the Chinkees as part of the Plea for Peace Vol. 2 Tour.

That was the fourth time the Machines had played in Japan.

“Japanese kids are fun; they get so pumped up for the shows,” he says. “They’re honestly having a good time.”

After that, the Machines began a month-long U.S. tour on Oct. 18 in San Diego.

So far the tour has been going well and the shows have been fun but hectic, Nunley says.

“Whenever we have a day off we are always driving all day,” he says. “We don’t usually get a chance to stop in the cities we play.”

Tonight the band will rock the Des Moines Botanical Center.

This will be its first appearance in Central Iowa since 1998 after the release of its sophomore album, “Battle Hymns.” The band has grown musically, toured with diverse bands and recorded two more albums.

Singer Jason Navarro got married about three years ago and had a child. Nunley also tied the knot in March.

Navarro, Nunley, guitarist Dan Lukacinsky and drummer Ryan Vandeberghe have reinvented themselves with each album they put out.

Pointed to by some as one of the best ska-punk CDs ever, the ’96 debut, “Destruction by Definition,” blasted the band onto the national scene.

“Battle Hymns,” released in ’98, dropped much of the ska for hardcore political anthems.

The band toured extensively for the next few years, members grew older and wiser, and the Machines made a surprising move that alienated many long-time fans: the band filled last year’s self-titled release with lush pop songs almost devoid of hardcore and ska.

“Sometimes I Don’t Mind,” the first single from the album, saw regular radio play, though some fans were upset the often political-minded band would write an ode to a dog.

“I was singing to my dog and being stupid and I actually ended up writing a whole stupid song about it,” Nunley says.

Released in late September, “Steal This Record” is an insanely catchy mix of all of the sounds of the previous albums.

The band recorded with the same producer, Julian Raymond, it used for the previous three albums, and at the same recording studio, A and M studios in Hollywood.

Again, it took about five weeks to record.

Nunley doesn’t know what style of music to call the new CD. The band never starts an album with a particular sound in mind, he says.

“Jay, Dan and I, we just come up with our own songs and bring them to practice to try them out,” he says. “I think that’s a good thing with three people writing songs. With bands that just have one person writing songs, each album sounds the same.”

Nunley says the set in Des Moines will probably be an eclectic mix.

“It will be mostly songs off our first and second record, maybe two off our next record, and five or six off the new one.”

About to get out of the tour van, Nunley makes a purposefully cheesy plea to fans.

“Go out and buy our record so I can buy my wife nice things.”