FORMERLY THE “FREAK SHOW” OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA METAL, SUFFER NO GUILT SMASH DOORS DOWN WITH RAW, THRASH METAL SOUND

SNG 1INTERVIEW BY JOE FITZPATRICK

PHOTOS PROVIDED BY SUFFER NO GUILT

Though the origins of SUFFER NO GUILT were a bit “freaky,” the new face of the band, which includes vocalist Neil Rice-Johnston, drummer Bobby Roman, bassist Chris Emerson, and guitarist Chris Walsh, are making a name for themselves as one of the top metal bands in the Northern Virginia and Maryland metal scenes. Based in Falls Church, SUFFER NO GUILT combine influences all over the musical spectrum to create raw, “in your face” lyrics, with thrashy, aggressive riffs that make you want to get off your feet and mosh. We spoke with Roman, who is not only the band founder but also the only remaining original member, regarding the bands beginnings, their unique sound, as well as their upcoming EP and performances.

According to your band’s Facebook page, you band used to be known as ODIUM. Why did you decide to change your name to SUFFER NO GUILT?

We started watching Conan The Barbarian, and right when he finds the Sword of Crom, we ended up translating what the sword said. It basically [translated to] “the bearer of the sword shall suffer no guilt, for this is the Sword of Crom. SUFFER NO GUILT stuck out [to us], and it had a lot of meaning to me personally. So we decided to run with it.

In your band’s bio, you describe yourselves as “The New Face of Metal (formerly Crip Metal)”. Can you tell me what you mean by that?

In the “one true lineup” we had before the lineup we have now, we had a transvestite on bass, a guitar player that looked like grandfather time, and a one-legged vocalist. We were a freak show (laughs), but it got us shows. And the fat Mexican in the back (laughs). Our other vocalist was a cancer survivor and lost his leg from the hip, but he was very committed to the scene and also a tattoo artist. Good dude, but we had a falling out due to money issues and [his] living situation. Then that kind of split up, and Neil, who used to be my one of my clients when I used to work at Guitar Center, was trying out for vocals. I didn’t know he was auditioning until I actually met him. So we decided to keep the history of the old lineup still alive and still build on something new.

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How would you describe your sound to someone that has never heard your music before?

We kind of focus more on the thrash, groove metal side, since everything around this area is more hardcore, post-hardcore, or electronic. We haven’t really heard that many old school metal bands that just throwdown without any fancy song tricks and go as raw as possible.

On your Bandcamp page, you have released a demo and a live album. Do you have any plans to release an EP or full-length record any time soon?

Right now, we are actually shopping around for studios, and we are already in the process of writing an EP.

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How much progress have you made so far on that EP?

Right now, we just need to record it. It’s already written. It just needs to be put on the disk and shipped out.

Are you looking at any recording studios in particular?

At the moment, we are hooking up with good friends of ours — BLUNT FORCE REBELLION. We are gonna team up with them. Their sound quality on their EP Nuts and Neckbolts shocked me. It rocked my world. They have a whole basement studio set up, and the quality on that was just phenomenal.

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Who are some of your primary influences musically?

BATTLECROSS, LAMB OF GOD, METALLICA, a little bit of BASSNECTAR, AESOP ROCK (laughs). We are big fans of WHITECHAPEL, SUICIDE SILENCE, ya know the big heavy hitters that are out on the scene right now. Whoever sounds the most raw, aggressive, and ignorant. That’s what we look for.

On September 6, you guys are playing the “Party for Paws” benefit show at Old Firehouse #3 in Fairfax. Can you tell me more about the cause?

There is actually a documentary on Netflix called The Paw Project, and it’s to support [ending the] declawing [of] cats. Neil, our vocalist, is a huge cat lover; I am a huge animal lover. I was never a supporter of the declawing thing, and seeing this and another documentary that showed me what declawing actually was. What declawing does is just a straight up amputation like taking the final digits of your fingers and cutting them straight off. On that line up, we are pretty out of place. We are the only metal band, as far as I know, that’s on that bill, but we all like environments like that where we are out of place yet we come to smash doors down.

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Do you have any other shows coming up soon?

We are doing Shredfest 5 at Fish Head Cantina on the outskirts of Baltimore on September 20. It’s a two-day festival. We are doing day one. BLUNT FORCE REBELLION gave us the link on the show, and they are playing day two, so we will be hanging out at the whole festival even though we are only playing day one.

For more updates on SUFFER NO GUILT, be sure to “like” their Facebook page, and check out their music on Bandcamp.