In Memory Of Mitch

I’ve never been particularly good at talking about myself, and the story of my relationship to Suicide Silence isn’t an easy one at that. For years, I told myself I would write this story during the month of November, and always let it slide by, because it always felt painful to think about these years in my past.

But these days, I’m doing well. I’m moving forward.

And I think it’s important to remember a moment when I wasn’t.


Since 2012, every time November rolls around, I get up, shower, brush my teeth, put on clothes, and just for the month, right before I walk out of the house, I put on my little blue wristband that says ‘REST IN PEACE MITCH LUCKER 1984-2012’. And over these years, the loss of Mitch has gotten easier to bear, but I still wear the wristband to remind me of someone who helped me so much during a crucial few years in my life.

But let’s back up a bit.


SUMMER OF 2008

I’m a 15 year old about-to-be high school freshman, walking up the street to an Incubus concert with my brother Josh and my sister Liz. Josh is 10 years older than me, so when I was younger I idolized the guy. I thought he was the coolest person in the world when I was a kid, and he was nice enough to let me enjoy the things he did when I was younger. I read his comics, watched his movies, played his video games, and tried to listen to his music.

Tried is the operative word here, because while I liked most of what he showed me, I could never understand his fascination with metal music. Blisteringly fast guitars and drums with intelligible screaming vocals? I didn’t understand the appeal. Even so, he still mentioned new new stuff he was listening to when he got the chance, like that night at the concert.

“You ever heard of a band called Suicide Silence?” he tells me.

I shake my head.

“I just checked out their album ‘The Cleansing’; it’s got a dude with spikes coming out of his mouth. Pretty fucking brutal.”

“Oh yeah?” I respond, half curious.

“They’re some really heavy metal, but I like ‘em. You should check out at least No Pity For A Coward.”

“Yeah alright,” I say, thinking ‘with names like that, I can guess what they’re like.’

And sure enough, I’m right. I try them out later that week, but all I hear is noise. The guitars are so distorted and vocals so intense that it all blurs together to me.

Josh was right though in that No Pity For A Coward is alright, if only because it slows down a bit, though I still can’t understand a word this vocalist is saying.

I put the album down soon after and ultimately forget about it.


SUMMER OF 2009

It’s amazing the difference a year can make.

In that time I went from thinking that metal music was too much to handle to not being to get enough of it. Now, sitting in my basement, wearing one of my now many black band shirts, I’m scouring the Zune marketplace for new albums to listen to.

zune-sw-screenshot-client-mossyroc

Through that search there are two that I try out. The first is The Autumn Offering’s Requiem, which was about the level of ‘heavy’ that I listen to at the time. It has a little distortion and the vocals are a little growly, but the guitars also go into some speed metal-style solos and they have a guest singer to do some clean vocals as well. It’s not the most exciting stuff, but it’s well within my comfort zone.

Requiem suffers from something that had been bothering me for a while, however. When looking up the lyrics and some backstory on the group, there isn’t much to digest. The album’s lyrics mix between the standard metal fare of ancient rituals, demons, murders, and very vague emotional touch points about relationships. So while Requiem, and so many other metal albums I know at the time, are fun to listen on a surface level, they aren’t that engaging.

That’s when I spin up the other album.

At the time I remember seeing that barely familiar name.

Suicide Silence.

And I think to myself, “Why not?”

As my brother Josh liked to say, “I give every record I try at least one listen.”

When I tell Josh that I had downloaded the album, he gives me his latest issue of Revolver Magazine, with a Suicide Silence cover story interviewing the band. I take it and, rather than watching TV that night, I get under the covers, start playing No Time To Bleed from the beginning, and begin reading the interview with the band. Sitting there under my lamplight, Suicide Silence transformed from just another group of guys in the metal scene to a family of really genuine people.

There is one person who stands out in the interview through his answers though.

Mitch-Lucker-Cannot-Hear-You

Mitch Lucker tends to give a lot of human background to his answers. When asked about songs on No Time To Bleed, he speaks about how most of them reflected either a strong opinion about his worldview, and/or some aspect of himself. At least three of the tracks on the album talk about drug use pretty directly, and Mitch makes no qualms as to his feelings on them. For example, in Lifted, he says:

Inside, inside your head you’re wasting away

Away right in front of my eyes

You’re scared, so weary and worn the fuck out

The addictions made you so sick, so sick and filthy

Poison

Your burden is life

It’s made you weak and shake in the knees

Inside, inside your head you’re wasting away

Away right in front of my eyes

So get lifted

Dependent on this artificial feeling

Poison

It’s made you weak and shake in the knees

This is not your reality

This is not you

It’s made you weak and shake in the knees

This is not your reality

This is not, this is not you

This is not your reality

Mitch says in the interview that he’s of two minds about this, because he’s a germaphobe and intensely obsessive about it, so he feels like he needs drugs to calm his head, but at the time he’s also raising his daughter, and talks about how he wants to be sober around her, and around his family and friends. His germophobia is so bad that it was nigh impossible to just relax most of the time. More specifically he tells a story about being in a hotel with the band, and after showering he had to put paper plates on the floor on the way to the bed so he wouldn’t touch the carpet.

By the end of the interview and the album, I have a completely different perspective on Mitch Lucker. He isn’t just some free-wheelin’ guy who sings about death cause it’s fun; he uses this form of music as vehicle for the struggles he’s going through, be it drugs, alcohol, crisis of faith, or depression, and the raw intensity of the genre only helps to amplify it.

I crawl into bed that night skeptical of Suicide Silence, and I went to sleep a convert.


FALL 2008

16 years old, a car, and a girlfriend. Life is good, and as I would learn later, dead simple. All I have to do is show up to class, keep up with friends, treat my girlfriend Deena right, and everything would work out.

One night while hanging out with Josh, he tells me that Suicide Silence was coming to The Masquerade in Atlanta as the headliner.

“You wanna go?” he asks casually.

I can barely contain my excitement in my answer.

In the months between first listening to No Time To Bleed and that night, I had been busy replaying the album between classes while looking up the lyrics and becoming ever more engrossed in Mitch Lucker’s world. At the time I couldn’t say I strictly related to everything he spoke about, but there was this real feeling of genuineness coming from his words. He ripped himself open for the world to see, and that was a trait I honestly found attractive.

Skip ahead a few weeks, and there’s Josh and I, lining the floor in a downtown Atlanta warehouse. I’m surrounded by so many people older than me, all wearing black, drinking and cursing up a storm.

I remember Josh going up to the merch table with me, and commenting, “Yo, you wanna get Deena a pair,” when pointing some some black panties with Suicide Silence emblazoned upon them in hot pink. I half-smile in a way that seems like I find it funny while actually trying to play off my embarrassment. I never say it, but comments like that remind me of my brother and I’s 10 year age gap. Instead I get two posters, one for Deena and one for myself, to hopefully be signed at the end of the show.

Not long after, the lights dim, and the show begins.

The openers, Throwdown, and Bury Your Dead, are good, but I’m waiting for the main event. I read the stories of Suicide Silence’s legendary live shows, and I wanted to see Mitch.

SuicideSilence620

Now, If you didn’t know him, you’d think Mitch Lucker would look out of place with the band in photos. Contrast to their big camo cargo shorts and black shirts with impossible to read band names on them, Mitch looked more like he belonged in Bring Me The Horizon. Skinny jeans, white tank tops. Nice, combed hair. Always a smile on his round face.

On stage though, he was nothing less than a monster. Modern metalcore bands could never handle his sheer power. Hell, Suicide Silence could barely contain him. While I’m in that crowd, lights flashing, percussion and distorted guitars blasting, Mitch is a typhoon, and it’s impossible not to get swept up by his energy.

I don’t know that many songs of theirs yet, but I couldn’t care less. In that moment, amidst the crowd of guys all headbanging in unison, next to a giant circle pit, I feel free.

Not just in the way one does when they’re having fun; forgetting about work and bills, fights with friends and lovers. I feel liberated. I scream my guts out to the few songs I know. I headbang so hard I would’ve busted open my skull if I hit someone else. I actually get into the mosh pit, and feel the raw energy of smashing my body into other people.

And for a moment during the last song ‘No Pity For A Coward,’ as I see Mitch stomp the ground to the beat, bearing himself to the world, I felt like my heart is trying to claw its way out of my chest. It’s this potent mix of inner tranquility and outward violent excess.

And in a flash, it ends. The band walks off stage, and the hammering of the double kick drums in my head is replaced by a solid haze of noise from the ringing in my ears. Josh tries to tell me something, but I can barely hear him. I’m still trying to process everything.

After most of the crowd disperses, Josh spots the drummer, Alex Lopez, hanging right outside. We walk up, and Josh strikes up a conversation with the guy immediately like he’s an old friend.

Alex is incredibly warm and friendly to us the whole time, answering questions about touring and his technique between long drags of the cigarette he’s passing between him and his girlfriend.

About as we’re done, he says that Mitch is signing posters after he cleans up in the tour bus, and implores us to stick around for it. At the same time, Dan Kenny walks up to us, and the conversations start anew. Dan seems a little more rushed, probably just exhausted, but still makes an effort to hang for a bit. Chris Garza also stops by for just a second, and while they’re together, I get them to sign a poster for myself and Deena.

By now there’s a sizeable crowd growing around the tour bus Mitch is housed in. I think that it must be a little scary to have fans waiting to hound you the second you open the door, but if Mitch is scared, I can’t tell. He comes out with new clothes, washed hair, and a big smile on his face. He waves to everyone, and immediately goes about signing whatever’s brought to him. Sometimes someone reaches out for his hand, and he carefully touches it for a second. I get my stuff signed, but think better than to get a picture with him. He’s busy, and I know from my reading that he’ll probably appreciate not having to touch too many people.

On the drive home, everything slowly pulls back into focus. The lights become less intense, the ringing in my ears quiets bit by bit.

I spend the next day riding that concert high, telling everyone who will listen what it was like to see Mitch up onstage, but eventually, life moves on.

Not long after, Deena rightly got fed up with the way I treated her and broke up with me. Then, after a year of some sexual exploration with friends, one of them decided he wasn’t having it and took off, bringing most of my high school friends with him.

I spend my high school graduation day at Zaxby’s with my friend Taylor thinking things will still work out, and spend my first weekend of college sending Skype messages to friends who will no longer respond. Classes soon become difficult to attend, and music mostly falls out of my life.

I will miss the release of Suicide Silence’s 3rd album The Black Crown, and their final concert with Machine Head in the spring of 2012.


FALL 2012

I spend most of my time in my room. Sometimes at the computer. Usually in bed trying to sleep the day away.

That isn’t to say I don’t have classes (I do), but I started skipping them weeks ago.

Back then I chalk up my lethargy to homesickness, my parents say I’m just too bored with english major classes (even though I spend every night writing), but it is simply the roots of my depression taking hold in my head. It keeps me down, keeps me from eating or sleeping well, keeps me from feeling like it is even worth it to try to do anything productive.

On November 2nd, I wake up in my bed. My dorm-mates had already gotten up and left for classes. Early on they would message me and encourage me to keep my attendance up, but after months of me not even meeting them halfway, they quietly gave up. Lately, I barely speak to them, or anyone else.

I feel like a ghost haunting their halls.

As I sit at my desk and open up my laptop, I get a text from Taylor. In the months since college, he was one of the few high school friends who still spoke to me.

> Hey man, I don’t know if you heard, but Mitch Lucker died yesterday.

My heart skips a beat, and my breathing stops. I hold my phone tightly in my hand. I check the news myself and confirm it, and then I cry.

I cry alone in my room, surrounded by no one and nothing.

Mitch had become an ideal to me in the last few weeks. Something to aspire to. He talked so much about his mental struggles to make it, but how he felt so alive on stage, and he used that to keep him going. Sadly, I had used him to keep me going, and now he was gone.

I don’t go to my earth science field trip that day, or my history class. I don’t go to the cafeteria to eat. I don’t write.

I go back to bed and hope tomorrow will be better.

Five months later I call my parents crying to come home, and pack up my car with everything I have in the middle of the night. I give my roommates a last hug goodbye, and spend the next two hours watching passing streetlights and interstate signs. I’ve become a passive observer to my own life.

When I get home I unpack my things into my new room in the basement. It’s tiny and has no windows.

I go to bed hoping tomorrow will be better.


SPRING 2014

I’m 20 years old, driving around the neighborhoods surrounding my own, wearing a familiar tan shirt and black hat bearing the logo Pizza Primo!. After failing out of another college, my dad tells me to just get a job, so I start delivering pizzas. It’s monotonous, but not entirely soul crushing. One thing I love is when I’m working till closing and get a far away delivery late into the night. In the shroud of darkness, I feel more safe thinking, and I have a lot of mental baggage to work through.

Music helps. It helps a lot.

And I think about Suicide Silence.

And I think about Mitch.

But I can’t hear his voice without crying for months since his death.

One night though, I’m out in my car, taking a delivery out to the lake, and put on a metal playlist, and I think. I think a lot about mistakes, about how I should have tried harder in college, how I should’ve treated Deena better, how I shouldn’t have been so forward with my friends. Then I crank the music louder; so loud that I can’t hear myself think anymore.

And I hear the familiar opening of Lifted from No Time To Bleed.

I reach my hand out to skip the track, but I stop myself.

My thoughts turn to Mitch, and how he struggled so much in life, but how he strove to keep his passion at the forefront.

In the Revolver interview, he says, “[The title track] No Time to Bleed is about how I fall down, and it hurts and I wanna stop, but I tell myself that I won’t sit there and pick at my scabs and cry, cause I’ve got no time to bleed.”

So I let it go, and when his vocals come through, they tear through my eardrums the way they did at that concert so many years ago.

And just like that night, I scream along to the lyrics. I scream as hard as I can and I don’t care if anyone sees or hears me. I scream because I’m depressed, because I feel like I messed up, because part of me wants it all to be over.

But I also scream because I remember Mitch’s smile, and the way he feels alive when he screams because he’s getting through it, because every moment he’s moving forward, he’s making progress.

Keep listening to music, cause it gets you through everything, I promise. – Mitch Lucker

mitch-lucker-and-daughter

Rest In Peace Mitch Lucker.

Your music did and still does more for me than you ever could have known.

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