While an official reason behind Mike Smith’s departure from Suffocation wasn’t given at the time, both sides made it clear that the split wasn’t under good terms. And in a recent interview with Sick Drummer Magazine, Smith makes that fact even clearer.
At first, though, Smith points out how a lack of income played a major deciding factor behind his departure, saying:
“The decision was pretty much inevitable. When we first reunited the economy was in a much different place and I was able to make Suffocation my full-time job. Over the last few years the ability to tour and support a house, family and all it entails, became a strain on myself and my family. Once you reach a certain point financially, decisions have to be made before falling to a point of no return.”
That’s an understandable point, especially considering how grueling life on the road can be for little in return. However, Smith then starts to shift focus on his former bandmates in Suffocation, referring to his relationship with them as “suspect and brittle.” When asked about his thoughts on being replaced by former Suffocation drummer Dave Culross, Smith replied with the following:
“My position in Suffocation isn’t as simple as mounting a drum throne. The position I held within the band as President, founder, manager, songwriter, spokesperson, and all else pertaining to the working business of the band can never be replaced. Anyone drumming for the group now is just enjoying a moment in time, on me.”
Smith then went on to call unidentified members of Suffocation “hired guitarists” who cannot play songs from albums like Souls to Deny and Blood Oath. As if it wasn’t clear enough that bad blood remained, Smith went on to say:
“There are only 2 members that I need to consider grudges with concerning Suffocation. I only direct my concerns with founding stake holding members. The respect that the brand gained and deserves was always a sour issue. In my opinion, it was always a simple concept to respect and protect the brand/band you created. No exceptions. Anyone who knows the dynamics of the band and the individual members already have a realistic understanding of why things could turn for the worst at any moment.”
Is Smith being a little harsh on his former band? Whether you agree with the drummer or not, it’s clear that this split has taken an even uglier turn. Sick Drummer says that they will be interviewing Culross (who was previously in the group from 1996-1998) soon. It’ll definitely be interesting to hear what he has to say about his predecessor’s comments. For now, you can read the rest of Sick Drummer’s interview with Smith, where he also talks about other projects he’s working on (including Unsigned & Streamed featured band Synesis Absorption), online.