Play It Again, Suicidal

Don’t be surprised if 13 of the songs on the new Suicidal Tendencies album sound a lot like the 13 songs on the Venice punk-metal band’s 1983 small-label debut.

They are the same songs--re-recorded.

Why bother to redo them--especially since the debut album is still available in the stores?

“The majority of fans who got into the band did so in the last few years,” says singer Mike Muir, 29, the only original member left in the group, which has made four more albums since 1983.


“A lot of them don’t even know about the first records we made. People said we should do a live record with some of the old songs, but I never liked the idea of live albums.”

So two years ago when the band found itself in the studio, having finished its “Lights, Camera, Revolution” album with $30,000 left in the budget, it took the opportunity to re-cut the old songs, plus two from Suicidal’s second album, 1987’s “Join the Army.” The new title: “Still Cyco After All These Years.”

Band manager Peter Mensch says there are other reasons, too: “They thought they could do it better, and they thought that they might actually have a chance to get paid this time.”

Mensch says that royalties from the original album--considered a landmark for the L.A. skate-punk scene--have not been forthcoming from Frontier Records, the North Hollywood-based company that still owns the rights to it. The new album, like ST’s last three, is on Epic Records.


Lisa Fancher, Frontier’s president, disputes Mensch’s charge, claiming that Muir has received more than $100,000 for royalties and publishing from the album, which has sold 400,000 copies, largely thanks to “Institutionalized,” the rage-filled song about a teen-ager whose parents want him put in an institution in his “own best interest.” The song, which was featured in and virtually sums up the movie “Repo Man,” has been called the punk equivalent of “My Generation.”

Fancher adds that it really doesn’t matter to her whether ST fans buy the new album or the old one, since she gets money from both.

“It’s a win-win situation for me, since I own a quarter of the publishing from those songs,” she says. “I’m sure they intended to irritate me, but no no no. Unfortunately, the other guys in the original band are cut off from royalties on the new album, though.”

So now it’s up to fans to decide which they like better. There has been some concern that the new one, though better recorded, lacks some of the youthful attitude that fueled the original.

“People have said, ‘Dude, do you have the same attitude that you did when you were 19?’ ” Muir says. “Man, I got a worse attitude than I did then.”