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Arts and Entertainment

Take Five with Martin Rev from Suicide

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After I first heard Suicide, many years ago, I immediately launched into a search for more bands that sounded like them. Search forever, no one can duplicate the spectral minimalism of Martin Rev’s entrancing synth lines and drum machine repetitions mixed with Alan Vega’s menacing yelps prickling at you in their infinite reverb. Released in 1977, their first record still holds the punk and new wave world in its grip. Suicide are still going; they released a full-length album in 2005 and there’s surely more to come. In the meantime, since the ’80s, Rev has continued to release solo material spanning a gamut of genres. His 1992 Cheyenne mixes synthy ambient sounds with dance beats in a dark yet playful experimental style. Mind Expansion records, in concert with their re-release of Cheyenne, are sending Rev on a live tour with labelmates Fuxa and LSD and the Search for God. Tonight at Silverlake Lounge and 8 p.m. tomorrow night (Wednesday) at the Knitting Factory. Rev was traveling when we caught up with him, but still managed to dash off some quick responses.

LAist: What do you get out of (or put into) your solo work that's different from your work with Suicide?

That's not easy to say in words, since it's all in sound and imagination. On the surface, I combine different aspects of the relationship between instruments and vocals, which is a lot easier to do when your doing both.

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Synthesizers and drum machines have come a long way since Suicide's first record, which defined their sound. Are you into newfangled equipment?

I basically use anything that sounds good to me, new or not ⎯ although the new stuff usually has something unique about it, at least it did up to a few years ago when hardware was still really creative. Lately I still use keys, samplers and extra sounds on stage. The best sound at the most portable.

Suicide were known for their ability to incite fighting and spark riots. How does Rev solo do at creating mayhem? Should I bring a bodyguard to the show?

I'm basically doing the same thing I did then, but people usually have more sound references to it now not to be threatened and react that way. And of course I'm not working with an additional antagonizer, so they only have one to deal with.

You guys were around as early as 1970, before punk took hold of New York. What was NY like before the punk revolution? And what were you doing musically before you and Alan Vega got together?

Before Punk, at least in the early ’70s, NY was kind of in limbo between the previous ’60s culture and what was soon to be the next. It was also going through economic changes, as many American cities at the time. It was still a great city, full of the artistic legacy from decades of masters living and creating there.
Before Suicide got together, I had my own electronic free rock band called the Reverend B and had been doing gigs in lots of various settings for many years before that, from a very early age.

Gotta ask: Can we expect a new Suicide record anytime soon? And what other Rev solo projects can we look forward to?

You can expect a new Suicide record but one never knows when it'll appear. That's the state of the business where we're concerned in any case. I have a couple of CDs already in final stages. It's up to destiny when and where they'll appear as well.

image courtesy of Mind Expansion records