Suicide : Vega, Rev

Ghost Riders
Alan Vega - Martin Rev

-- Alan Vega died on Friday, July 16, 2016. He was 78. RIP.

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Suicide : Vega, RevFormed in 1971, from New York City and always with the avant-garde, they made the sound of New York... They were part of that "pre-punk era" with all that bands from Max Kansas City and CBGB's (Velvet Underground, the New York Dolls, Ramones, Blondie, Dead Boys, Wayne/Jayne County, Richard Hell, Lydia Lunch, ... cf. compilations) and today, they are venerated by any Techno-CowBoy which respects himself. Few bands (Velvet Underground, Suicide, the Stooges...) had and still have such an impact on the others (as diverse as OMD, Human League, Spiritualized, Orbital, Pulp, Soft Celle, Nick Cave, Jesus & Mary Chain, Primal Scream, Chemical Brothers, Luna, Foil, Bloodstar, etc etc).

Alan Vega (a.k.a. Alan Bermowitz) was born in Brooklyn, New York, and Martin Rev (a.k.a. Martin Reverby) grown up in the Bronx. Alan Vega started as a sculptor. In 1974 he opened a small gallery in the lower Manhattan, where he put up the Project of Living Artists, pluri-artistic place (like Andy Warhol's Factory, but much smaller), where they tried any kind of happening or artistic attempts. What enabled him to meet a jazz band Reverend B, with certain Martin Rev on piano (electric). It was the first step of an adventure of (more) 30 years : they recently gave a gig at CCCP, Barcelona, Spain (june 1999), for the SONAR festival of techno music, wich such comments as "deliberate demonstration of sounds provocation and irreverent toward assistence".

" Suicide was always about life. But we couldn' t call it Life. So we called it Suicide because we wanted to recognize life. " (Alan Vega, 1985).
"Y'know, people have always said that my work was ahead of its time. But I've always believed it's been right on time." (Alan Vega)
"One of the great myths about Suicide," says Vega, "is that we were all about nihilism and negativity. In choosing that name, we were referring to how the world itself seemed on the verge of suicide. But we were also about recognising how alive things were. When it came to our live shows, we didn't want to entertain people. We wanted to throw the meanness and nastiness of the street right back at the audience. If we sent them all running for the exits, that was considered a good show. Some nights we'd barricade the doors so they had no choice but to stay and listen. Every night was like fighting a revolution."

Roy Trakin said when they issued their first record : "Suicide is not about alienation but about hope. They are not robotic monsters intent on leveling civilization and culture. Suicide will outlast each trend because they are the real thing -unique and experimental, yet totally accessible and in line with the tradition of rock and roll. Suicide is Alan Vega's vulnerability and cock-eyed pessimism/optimism as it is Martin Rev's stoical mask hiding a sense of humor and humility that is inspiring as it is heartbreaking."

REVEGA: Martin Rev, Alan Vega"... I never heard anything avant-garde. To me it was just New York City Blues." -Alan Vega 1980

Just think about Suicide acting live: Martin Rev with his cheap-second-hand Farfisa and drum-machine, binary-playing, not even a guitarist nor drummer. Alan Vega howling and threaten the audience with a chain, as if downtown. Obviously that often finished in riot (a happening?). And when they happen to open the set for the Ramones in a stadium... fun! In comparison, the audience during their last acts in London in 1998 seemed so formal, in spite of the of Alan Vega'efforts. In fact, in an unexplainable way for much, one of the few to support them, so far to ask them to open his own acts with the Cars was Ric Ocasek, which remains close to them up to now.

Suicide 2002After some 6 years away from the front scene, Blast First invited them to play live in London to coincide with the re-release of the first albums: "The band played four sold out nights at The Garage in the Spring of 1998 and reaction was so positive from audience and media alike that they continued to work together and later that year played their first shows in their home town of New York for nearly twenty years." After that they began again to tour, specially in places related to Art e.g. : Glasgow Centre for Contemporary Art, London Institute of Contemporary Art) (Oct. 2001), Fondation Cartier (Paris, Feb.2002), Centre Georges Pompidou (Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris, nov.2002) and also invited to the most important Techno festivals : Sonar (Barcelona, 2000) and Astropolis (Brest, France, 2001).

American Supreme, their first opus from 10 years and Why Be Blues, reaction from NYC to the cultural fall that followed 9-11. Tours in USA & Europe in 2003 & 2004 confirm their come back as one of the biggest influencers of the modern music, with in addition some solo gigs, in particular Martin Rev at the festival Synthétique Plaisir in Pau, France, and Alan Vega in Bilbao, Spanish Basque Country.
In 2005, the book Suicide: No Compromise is published to coincide with the release of Suicide’s remastered CDs:– A Way of Life and Why Be Blue, both coming with bonus live CDs, on Mute records, and the first Suicide DVD: Live à la Loco, Paris.

And since then, Suicide, Alan Vega and Martin Rev are still alive and go on their creative journey through records, collaboration with other artists, concerts and other happenings.

see also : REVEGA, the mail-list-group dedicated to Suicide

Last update: Aug.2013
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