Interview with Suzi Sabotage from Masquerade

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What´s the name of your band? Suzi Sabotage: Masquerade

How was the band formed? Suzi: By me and then-bassist Sebastian as an obscure project until we got gigs and all the missing musicians aboard.

Can you tell about your band? Suzi: Four-piece male outfit with a frontwoman.

Where are all band members from?/Who does what in the band? Suzi: I'm from Helsinki, half Russian. I do vocals, artwork, lyrics, some compositions, stage harlequinade, (and at least currently,) management and promoting.

What was the ambitions of the band when you started? Suzi: To shatter the pattern of shallowness and artificiality of modern music, of course. Get big and influence people.

Could you explain your music to someone that haven't heard you? Suzi: It's a soundtrack to self-destruction! Our music drags you from this bland age decades back with it's tormenting hallucinatory effects.

Where was your first gig? Suzi: The first gig was an unofficial one, we didn't promote it much. It was at this squat-like environment in Helsinki. There was a thunderstrorm at the time and we were visited by cops. I used a borrowed effect pedal for my voice with this extreme delay and reverb. There's a video of it on youtube.

Where was the latest gig? Suzi: At Lepakkomies, Helsinki. We gathered the most audience despite it being a Thursday, risky day for gigs. We played a new song called "Deathmarch" for the first time.

Who writes your songs?/Who writes the music who writes lyrics? Suzi: We all together, but with lyrics I'm a tyrant.

Who has the best sense of humor in the band? Suzi: Me. And my multiple personalities.

What's good/bad with the band? Suzi: Team spirit and creativity with this lineup. The worst thing is to actually play with those motherfuckers.

What are your songs about? Suzi: Thus far infaticide, obsession, suspense, warfare, sadomasochism, withdrawal symptoms, monstrosity of mankind.

Do you write your own material or mainly covers? Suzi: We've never performed one singe cover. Maybe some grim day when we have nothing else to do.

Have you made any albums?/If yes what are they? Suzi: Blood is the New Black EP which will come out this week (in Finland) on 12" vinyl.

Do you have any clips on YouTube? Suzi: Plenty.

How old are you?/What got you started in music? Suzi: Twenty-two. When I was something between nine and ten years I saw my favorite artists on stage and decided that I can do that too, make music and play gigs.

At what age did you start playing? Suzi: Maybe on my 30th birthday I will learn my first guitar chord.

How old were you guys when you first stood on stage? Suzi: Eleven or twelve at school. What a farce! I played bass but refused to do it by the notes so I played only two of them, two open strings and that was it. Punk as fuck.

What year was the band started? Suzi: 2012

Best/worst gig you've played? Suzi: The best gigs for me until this point have been at On the Rocks in August 2013, T.Chances, London in March 2014 and Lepakkomies, Helsinki in September 2014. No particular reason, everything just worked out so well. The worst I felt playing The Devonshire Arms gig in London, March 2014 as well, because we had a completely mad all-nighter before it and I hadn't slept a wink. Honestly I thought I could die on that fucking stage. In addition, the place was packed (we were massively late, in a hurry and couldn't even push through the crowd), no free or even discounted booze for bands and the "backstage" was a public, clogged women's toilet. But apparently we did great.

What places will you be playing in in the immediate future? Suzi: Next ones we have on our list are Dijon and Paris in France, Oulu in Finland, then London, Bristol, Plymouth and Portsmouth in England. All new for us, except for London.

Which band is the best you´ve seen? Suzi: Since I haven't seen ours it's probably Schoolyard Heroes or Steve Ignorant/Crass.

Is it always the same songs live? Suzi: We frequently add new ones and have dropped some, like Predatory Man and untitled intro we used to play at our first shows.

Have you had any bigger tours from start to now? Suzi: England tour this December, longest we've had so far, but there's definitely going to be longer ones.

How big crowds do you usually play for? Suzi: Mostly we play intimate gigs at clubs, but fortunately often they're packed/sold out.

What are the plans for the rest of the year? Suzi: Promote our record, introduce/do a stack of new songs (including one in Russian) and play gigs. 

How do you get psyched up for a gig? Suzi: Have a couple of drinks and try to slide into this kind of a self-induced trance.

What are your goals with your music? Suzi: Usurp the arenas, of course!

Is it easier to get your inspiration from older bands or from bands more modern? Suzi: Older, always older. I'm obsessed with the history, present doesn't influence me in any way.

What are your sources of inspiration? Suzi: New, intriguing music and personalities, some art flicks, poetry books.. but I could draw inspiration from absolutely anything, I rarely shut my creative side out. That's why I have over 100 finished lyrics for Masquerade only that haven't been yet used.

What's the first step when making a new song? Suzi: I listen to the riffs boys have come up with or suggest them play some in a particular mood, in example "imitate piercing winter wind with your guitar." Often I sing a melody I have came up with for my lyrics and the composition starts from there. There's always some lyrics I'm craving to bring to life. Then when we've played enough for the song to form in our heads I usually record it and think of it at home in solitude, shaping it into perfection.

How do you feel about the downloading of music instead of buying albums? Suzi: Depends. If the artist or band and the record company behind it is stinking rich, I don't think there's anything immoral in downloading their music. I usually listen to the music first and then buy the album if I love it. Nothing can compete with vinyls, so I do it very often.

What would be your dreams for the band? Suzi: To tour every corner of the world and get a massive following. To be remembered and respected even after decades.

Besides your own music, what genres and bands do you listen to? Suzi: Hardcore punk, classical, chansons réalistes, grindcore, psychedelic rock, black metal, electronica, horror punk, even reggae.. just to mention a few.

What do you hold most dear? Suzi: Freedom to express myself.

What would be your greatest fears for the future? Suzi: Losing faith in myself.

When you are on stage, what do you fear most then? Suzi: That somebody drinks our backstage alcohol.

What songs and what years were they released? Suzi: I don't remember, but we had a significant gap in creating anything new with spring 2014 lineup because the guitarist was too unimaginative and lazy to rehearse at home. With the new lineup we instantly came up with new material, although we didn't even have a month's time to rehearse for two upcoming gigs. That was impressive.

Have you been part of any other projects? Suzi: Melusaaste (all-female hardcore punk band) was my first one and it lasted for four years, 2009-2013. Then I was a part of this unnamed grindcore outfit in 2011 as the second vocalist, but it dried up quite quickly and actually one of the guitarists is dead now. Currently I'm contemplating this electro/shock rock project which you will hear more about if I manage to get wheels in motion within all this haste of my current life situation.

What do you work with outside of the band and the music? Suzi: Random poetry, journalism.

What would you do if there was no music? Suzi: Invent it.

How important are your fans? Suzi: We have a good following and I like to acknowledge our fans.

What's the funniest/most memorable thing a fan has done for you? Suzi: Forgotten his name in my presence! He was so in awe of meeting me. Another one gave me a rose, that was a pleasant moment too. And I once received fan mail, a box which had "I Will Stalk You" written on it, there was a letter, some diy buttons of Masquerade and vinyls.

How often do you rehearse? Suzi: Once or twice a week. Less if someone of us is out of country.

Where do you rehearse? Suzi: Sörnäinen, Helsinki. It's a nice little punk dungeon, small, foul-smelling and always littered, but that's what rehearsal rooms are all about.

Name 2 of your own songs you like at the moment? Suzi: Deathmarch and Siberia. The newest ones, not-so-surprisingly. I always enjoy doing I Will Stalk You as well, the story of it and structure is so gripping.

What do you feel is the best live band you've seen? Suzi: Schoolyard Heroes and Steve Ignorant of Crass.

What drives a band that isn't all that famous and renowned to try to make a living on their music and to keep playing? Suzi: I don't give a fuck about the living, I'm used to live on minimum.

Do you have any webpages? Suzi: http://www.masquerade.fi

Any pearls of wisdom for all other bands out there? Suzi: Stop making music. You're not good.

Describe your show, visually and musically Suzi: Disturbing, eccentric, powerful.

How do you view the music industry of today? Suzi: Full of shit. People making millions on songs that have absolutely no artistry or intellectual stimulus... they can go to hell.

What advice would you like to give other bands? Suzi: Bulldoze the shit out of your horizon and aim high.

What are the biggest obstacles for a band? Suzi: Useless and deceitful members that only litter your path to achievement. It used to be haters, like this one obsessed poor girl from Finland that consumes enormous amounts of time trying to "ruin my reputation", but what she in her utter stupidity don't get is that I always wanted to be more hated than loved. It suits me well. All the scandal and disorder - doesn't bother me the least bit. I got used to all the negative attention, jealousy and backstabbing when I was in pre-school. If they could somehow pin World War II on me they would! Whatever.

What is best/worst with playing the clubs? Suzi: For worst I'd mention the age limit and unprofessional staff, like dysfunctional promoters/bookers and assholes behind mixing board. People you just can't work with because they're so stuck-up. For best it's the intimacy and the sound is usually good.

How would you describe your sound in one sentence? Suzi: "Sonic alphabet of torment."

What was one of the most quarrelsome times for you in the band? Suzi: Perhaps in studio making "Blood is the New Black". Markus was still playing drums and we had this argument that blew out of proportion. I threw all the profanities on his face and threatened to kill him, he was whining and bitching all the time with this passive aggression that annoyed the shit out of me. The guy recording us was pissing his pants!

Whats your pre-show ritual? Suzi: Soaking up all the hatred and antagonism towards humanity to make a powerful appearance on stage. You can't make an impressive show in this genre if you're too happy and sedated by the illusion of everything being so wonderful and rosy.

Do you have anything to add? Suzi: We want a lot of shows everywhere so if you like us, don't hesitate to promote us. And for you who don't like us, don't even bother with all your childish games because we are unstoppable. Viva la revolución para la musica!

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