While their name not inspired by suicide (it was actually a title of comic book and a favorite of Alan Vega), Suicide themselves certainly had a dark undertone to their music. While not being a pure punk band (even though they proudly displayed punk spirit in many ways, including fights with audience members), neither a new wave band, Suicide created a sonic template for many rock,industrial and electronic bands.
Armed by broken Farfisa organ and primitive drum machines, they recorded their first self-titled album in 1977, which eventually became a classic, thanks in part to songs like “Che”, “Ghost Rider” and “Frankie Teardrop”. The latter is a morbid tale of Vietnam vet who’s returning home and shooting his family and himself, after being pushed to the edge. Combined with muttering and screams (courtesy of Vega), it certainly makes for some bloodcurling experience.
Their live shows matched their musical output – both Vega and Rev were dressed and street thugs and their conversations/fights with audience resembled those by Stooges. Vega was also known for bringing motorcycle drive chain to stage.
They continued recording throughout next few decades, and while none of their follow-up albums was as revelatory as “Suicide”, they still gathered an enormous fanbase, which included many of those who list them as influences – Soft Cell, Nick Cave, Henry Rollins, Joy Division, Spacemen 3, Radiohead and many others.
Both Vega and Rev recorded a number of solo albums and collaborated with other musicians – Vega recorded 2 albums with members of Finnish band Pan Sonic and he also teamed up with Stephen Leroni (Altered Images) and they recorded as Revolutionary Corpse Of Teenage Jesus, while Rev did remixes for artists such as Polysics and 22 Pistepirrko.