Jason Navarro wasn’t sure the Suicide Machines would ever make another album — and was fine with that. So the Detroit punk quartet’s return on March 27 with Revolution Spring, premiering in its entirety exclusively below, came as something of a surprise.
“When the inspiration hit, we had the songs,” Navarro tells Billboard. That happened about two years ago, he adds, when the group — which formed during 1991 and released six studio album’s four for Walt Disney’s Hollywood Records imprint — came up with a small batch of new material. “Three of them were really good,” the frontman recalls. “Then a couple months later we said, ‘Let’s try to write some more songs’…and we went on a writing streak and got 28, 29, 30 songs in and were like, ‘Wow, there’s more than enough for a really good record here’.”
The group sent demos around and signed with Fat Wreck Chords, recording Revolution Spring with Less Than Jake’s Roger Lima at the rural Rancho Recordo studio in Michigan.
“We knocked it out — I think it took 12 days, probably longer than I would’ve wanted, but we took our time,” Navarro says. “We didn’t stay up and record ’til four in the morning. If we felt burnt out for the day, we called it quits. It was pretty laid back.”
Revolution Spring takes the Suicide Machines in a different creative direction as well. The punk is still furious, and there are some politically minded screeds such as “Detroit is the New Miami” about global warming, the police violence protest “Bully in Blue” and “Flint Hostage Crisis” about the continuing issues there. But as the group’s first release without co-founding guitarist and frequent songwriter Dan Lukacinsky, most of the album’s 16 tracks are “pretty autobiographical,” according to Navarro, chronicling his own journey from rebel, albeit with a cause, to an adult and parent with an evolved perspective on the world.
“My story is no more interesting than anybody else’s, but I feel like that might be the point of this record,” explains Navarro, who works days in Gordon Food Service’s distribution warehouse and is a social activist, most notably with the organization Food Not Class. “I think people will listen to these (songs) and they’re open enough that then can feel like they’ve been through something similar. I didn’t really notice it happening on the first three songs, but when we got to the next batch, I found this cohesive direction to push the lyrics.”
The novel coronavirus pandemic has performing plans on hold for the Suicide Machines, of course, with Anti-Flag’s ANTIfest near Pittsburgh and some European dates with Less Than Jake postponed. But there are hopes, both from within and outside, that more new music will be coming from the band — certainly before another 15 years. A split single with Japan’s Coquettish is planned, and a wealth of material written for Revolution Spring remains on the runway.
“The guys are saying they’ve written a couple songs and saying we need to get together and write more new songs, so I suppose we will,” Navarro says. “It’s not a focus, I guess you could say, but this album turned out so well that I’m sure we will write some more and then see what we want to do with it.”