Thrash Producers: The Sound And The Fury
“Suicidal were venturing away from what was traditionally considered okay to do in punk rock,” says Burns. “There were some really straightforward fast and simple punk songs on there, but they were also moving in a different direction. They really did merge some of the qualities of heavy metal and bringing that into the punk thing. Punk started going less garage and toward more of a produced sound.”
The song “Institutionalized” would also became an unlikely alternative radio hit. Burns never thought about whether the song had any airplay potential. “I was just desperately trying to get the product out in this ridiculously short amount of time,” he says. The first Suicidal album had a $2,500 budget and was completed in four separate eight-hour sessions.
Burns loved the fact that punk and metal were starting to come together and saw no reason why it shouldn’t happen. “I always found sticking people in these musical pigeonholes really ridiculous,” he says. “There were people in punk bands that would literally say to me, ‘We can’t do that, that’s too heavy metal.’ But it seemed pretty clear to me that those two worlds were merging in a big way, and I was kinda right in the middle of that.”
Suicidal Tendencies' self-titled 1983 debut
Still, the walls separating punk and metal didn’t come down easily; neither side could get past the stereotypes and hear the music for what it was. Metal was bloated with Spinal Tap–like clichés, and the punks resented metalheads trying to infiltrate their scene. At the same time, those who didn’t understand punk in those early days dismissed it as a bunch of noise—a joke perpetrated by people who couldn’t play their instruments.
One day Burns was contacted by Steve Sinclair, who produced the Hell Comes to Your House compilation and had since moved over to the indie metal label Combat Records. He wanted Burns to produce the 1985 debut album, Seven Churches, from the San Francisco band Possessed.
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