Foreword by Lydia Lunch
With the collaboration of Martin Rev, Alan Vega and many friends and fellow artists.
Extract and author interview at the Quietus
Extract at Perfect Sound Forever
Classic Rock review
Record Collector review
Electronic Sound feature
Appearing in early 1970s New York City as prototype street punks, Suicide are now hailed as one of the most important and influential groups of the 20th century, inspiring that decade’s major musical movements but too feared and shunned to be awarded their rightful acclaim at the time.
Confronting shocked audiences with their electronic “New York blues”, singer Alan Vega and instrumentalist Martin Rev fearlessly mirrored their city’s decaying underbelly and a country ravaged by the Vietnam war on blood-freezing gutter-scapes such as ‘Ghost Rider’ and ‘Frankie Teardrop’, while invoking doo-wop purity on timeless love songs such as ‘Cheree’ and ‘Dream Baby Dream’.
After giving the first ever detailed account of the early lives of Vega and Rev, the book charts Suicide’s uncompromising roller coaster from its gestation at downtown radical hotbed the Project of Living Artists. The duo were so poor they customised old clothes found in the garbage into their own gonzo-alien street warrior look, while Rev ripped unearthly cacophonies from a hotwired ten dollar Japanese organ topped by Vega’s Elvis in hell terror-croon. By 1970, the duo were presaging things to come billing their shows as ‘Punk Music’.
Against an electrifying backdrop of anarchic, abandoned early 70s New York, Suicide first gained notoriety playing room-clearing gigs at the Mercer Arts Center, where the New York Dolls had started the city’s first underground scene since Warhol’s Factory, moving to nascent punk epicentre CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City, which resulted in their first recordings. Rev added a primitive drum machine to his hotwired Farfisa organ to create the perfect setting for Vega’s chilling howls and whispers. As Vega puts it, “We were the next generation, living through the realities of war and bringing the war onto the stage… Everybody hated us, man. We were like the fuckin’ plague.”
Along with detailed accounts of Suicide’s influences, contemporaries and the environment which spawned them, the book will position the duo as one of New York’s most pivotal but derided outfits as the story moves through their pioneering first album, 1978’s shockingly violent European tour supporting The Clash and subsequent recordings, live sorties and respective parallel solo careers, going up to the present day, which sees Suicide still taking stages around a world which now embraces them.
The author’s eye witness accounts and extensive first-hand interviews with Alan Vega and Martin Rev are joined by conversations with pivotal figures in the Suicide story, including producers, promoters and champions. The author also reaches back into 40 years chronicling and interviewing major players in New York’s musical history, including Blondie, Jayne County, James Chance, Lydia Lunch and the New York Dolls, all adding up to the definitive account of this unique duo.
Published in the UK in Autumn 2015 and in France by Camion Blanc. All other rights now available