Listening to the band Suicide in a Peet’s coffeeshop in the suburbs, Redmond

DSC_0026I didn’t like the band Suicide before I heard them because I didn’t like their name, and when I saw the album art I liked them even less, it was the name Suicide made to look like it’d been carved by a razor, dripping blood. It seemed like a line had been crossed for me. Like that was a realm I’d call tasteless. And when I listened to them I thought that even more, but I liked parts of it. I liked the mad, raw energy of it that felt unrehearsed and spontaneous. It created a very dark, tense mood. The singer sometimes screamed, but it’s like you’d been sneaked up on, it made you jump. The garbled, choking oh baby baby baby baby baby…Anthony said it was listening to one of their albums that inspired Springsteen to make Nebraska. And Anthony knows his shit.

When they visit, Anthony and I normally peel off to the den while Alison and Dawn stick to the kitchen. There are four kids between us and we like them to stay elsewhere. I joked, the music I play in the den is like a repellant or invisible fence designed to keep others out. It was that way, playing Suicide. No one wanted to come in. Maybe how dogs crap around the edges of the yard to signal to wolves, keep out.

It was a loft in Amsterdam we rented late October I connected with the band Suicide, playing it from the portable speakers I carried around, set in the crook on a baseboard so the sound webbed out along the framework in spooky angles with the lights dim, picking up the ambience of the peach street lamps outside, the reflections off the canal, the shadowy figures on bikes, the soft glow and resonance of Amsterdam and us in it, and Suicide, and me sneaking out to the car so I could take hits off store-bought cigarettes cut with pot in the shadows of the streets like I was hiding something even when I didn’t have to (it was more fun that way), and coming back bobbing my head and trancing out toΒ Suicide; the kids and Dawn on their laptops trancing out themselves, resting from a long day, not much to do in the evenings as a family in Amsterdam, per se.

And there would come a time with the music where Dawn would intervene and call me by name, which is rare: Bill…Bill…and I knew what I had to do next, I had to change it.

I was on the part of the sofa I normally am when I nap, the part that shouldn’t smell like dog puke anymore but still does, when Dawn texted me today saying they’re playing the band Suicide at the Peets in Redmond…and my first reaction was pride she knew that, and my next wonder, at how they got away with that.

Categories: music, travel

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20 replies

  1. When the manager is away, Suicide will play.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to listen to this band. I totally understand what you mean, to be able to zone out to the music – that is something special. This post was a really good read – sort of peaceful and nostalgic, like watching a short film.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh thanks my friend! Nice to meet another fan. I played a playlist by them while I wrote it to try to get in the mood but after about a half a hour needed to play some Solange, to lighten up. Like the analogy to a short film, that’s good. Why the name Ocean Bream? It has a cool sound to it. Bill

      Liked by 1 person

      • I read a book when I was fifteen called ‘The Spellbook of Listen Taylor’ and one of the characters wanted this question asked to her, ‘How is your Ocean Bream, my love?’. I didn’t know what ocean bream was, so I made it up. I imagined it was the light the sun makes when it shines through water on a seabed. I eventually found out it was just a kind of fish, but the name always held some kind of magic for me. πŸ™‚ Hahaha, yes, you do need to lighten up after a bit of Suicide πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s a great story, it looks like Dream at first but the word has a good sound and like you say, the image of light through a seabed, real pretty. Thanks for sharing that and for reading. Put on something “light.”

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I like this bland line from Wiki: “…their early performances were confrontational and often ended in violence.”

    I didn’t listen to them back in the day, but now they don’t sound as transgressive as they probably did then. There’s kind of a Talking Heads vibe, actually. Cool!


    • That’s neat you looked them up…good on you man, a real music lover. I don’t know much about their story but I bet it’s interesting and sordid. They were a couple guys from Brooklyn and I heard, near homeless. Whatever that scene was like then, must have been interesting…from afar…to read about. It’s funny, on the Springsteen song “State Trooper” I can hear how that Suicide sound inspired him to make that mic/vocal effect that sounds sort of shocking at a couple parts, in the Springsteen song. He must have copped that from Suicide. A pairing I never, ever would have imagined.


  4. I recently read Nick Hornby’s essay on “Frankie Teardrop.” He said listen to it once so you never have to listen to it again.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Naming your band Suicide and using aggressive album art reeks of trying too hard. Show, don’t tell. How many times do I have to tell you? Do you know what’s a perfect example? Springsteen’s ‘Nebraska.’


  6. The reminiscences of Amsterdam and of the sofa – beautifully evocative and something to latch on to as a known and shared experience. Insightful.


    • Thank you Dean! I took your last comment to heart about wanting to see more visual descriptions of my characters and tried it, so thanks for that…glad you liked that piece too. Amsterdam is such a fun place. Best, Bill

      Liked by 1 person

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