Band-to-Band Interview: The Suicide Machines’ Jay Navarro and Coquettish’s Lee Hizde

On July 29, Detroit’s The Suicide Machines and Tokyo’s Coquettish will be releasing a split LP, titled Gebo Gomi, on Bad Time Records. The bands took some time to chat with each other about the album, the state of ska, and life in general.

Vocalist Jay Navarro of The Suicide Machines interviewing Vocalist Lee Hizde of Coquettish:  

Why punk ska?
It all started when I saw The Suicide Machines being categorized as “punk ska” in Skank for Brains (1995). I felt the strong passion for punk over ska from The Suicide Machines.
How many bands have you created art for?
I’ve worked for an incredible number of bands from the ‘90s. Potshot’s first album and The Suicide Machine’s recent release, Revolution Spring, are especially in my memory. Both of them have been released internationally and there was much to learn.
Do either of your sons have artistic talent like you?
My sons praise my art, but these days they seem to be more devoted to games, and we have not seen their potentials flourish yet.

What’s your top 10 favorite Japanese bands?
Hard to give a rank. Electric Summer, Rollings, The Redemption, Seven Step, El Carnavalow, U Can’t Say No!, Tropical Gorilla, etc. There are so many awesome bands around us.

Who’s your favorite artist as far as art goes?
Daniel Clowes, James Jarvis, Paul Frank, KAWS, Giorgio de Chirico, Akira Toriyama…  I like art that is pop with some sense of emptiness.

What are some great ska, punk ska, or skacore bands you dig in Japan that the world needs to know about?
Rollings is a new ska band with an outstanding musical sense. They have some presence in the U.K., but they should be much more recognized across the world.
How do you take your coffee? I know it makes you sleepy, so what wakes you up?
I drink more coffee than water. No Milk, More Sugar. Love it so much that I even have a tattoo of a coffee cup, but these days, I listen to hardcore and powerviolence to pump myself up.
Thoughts on the near-revolutions that have happened in America over the past three years?
As an Asian, the hatred that still exists against the Asian and African Americans concerns me. Racism is ridiculous, and people should realize that the color of the skin is only a color. However, it does not justify attacking the police station in revenge. Violence for violence will only result in an endless loop of retaliation and grow the hatred even stronger. But on the other hand, it will be a lengthy process to peacefully talk things out and could take forever. I think it is a very difficult issue. 


Singer Lee Hizde of Coquettish interviewingSinger Jay Navarro of The Suicide Machines:

It’s been a while since you last released a split album. Do you have any special thoughts about this new masterpiece?
It’s the new Skank for Brains part two.

How is the ska/punk scene in the U.S. these days? 
The ska/punk scene is pretty awesome here, lots of young people with way more open minds playing that style here. People taking it further than we did. Same with the traditional ska scene as well. I’m not sure I would classify all the new bands as just traditional because they are also putting a different spin on it.  

The Suicide Machines have continued to stay active at the forefront. What is the key element in maintaining this consistency?
To not care and have fun. 

What’s your absolute favorite ska/punk record?
Operation Ivy Energy of course!

What is the most unforgettable show or event you experienced with The Suicide Machines?
Escaping death in a really bad crash where a person was killed by a semi-truck, and we somehow lived.  

You are a hero in the SKA/PUNK world. How does your family feel about this?
I don’t believe in heroes, idols, gods etc. My family could care less. I’m just dad. A bit of a crazy dad, but still just dad.  

Other than music, what do you like to do to chill out or get yourself relaxed?
I don’t really ever relax. Ride one of my scooters down the river? I don’t know, I don’t slow down ever. 

What’s coming next for The Suicide Machines?

Listen to “Awake” from Gebo Gomi here:

For more from The Suicide Machines, find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
For more from Coquettish, find them on Twitter and Facebook.

Photo courtesy of The Suicide Machines and Coquettish

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