Dean Pleasants is the lead guitarist for the seminal skate punk band Suicidal Tendencies. The group has just released their first full length studio in 13 years simply titled “13”. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Dean about the album and working with other acts such as Jessica Simpson and Infectious Grooves.
Adam Lawton: What were the writing/recording sessions like for the new album “13”?
Dean Pleasants: The sessions were cool. Some of the songs we started working on were things that had been started in the past. We did some touching up on those ones but others were songs that were done from scratch. The ones that were older we had the news guys play on those so that everyone could do what they do best. We wanted everyone to be a part of it and have a vested interest in what we were doing. Writing wise there were some songs where we worked on them as a group and then there were others that were brought in and pieced together. We were very open with things and the fact that everyone in the band is prolific with their instrument makes things go very smooth. Mike is the guy who does all the arranging as he is the one who has to sing these songs so us other guys bring in bits and pieces which works really well for us.
AL: Once you got in to the studio how long did the recording process take?
DP: We started last summer while we were on tour and then we came back and worked some more on it. I think it was about 6 or 7 months off and on minus those 13 years in between. (Laughs) When we really were buckled down we did a few months on and a few months off. The longest parts were really spent working on the finishing touches and getting everything the way we wanted it to sound. I like to call that the icing on the cake. (Laughs)
AL: Did you find it hard to reconnect with fans after taking such an extended break?
DP: It can be. I think some of the fans were willing to wait as long as it took. We were still touring during the years between albums and reaching new fans who had never heard us before. So because a newer group of fans were interested in what we had coming out it has sort of sparked a resurgence for us. The new album I think speaks to all ages and though it took awhile the end product I feel is really good.
AL: Do you have a song off the album your most proud of?
DP: I wouldn’t say there was just one as I am emotionally attached to all of them. There are a few where I am a little more attached because I may have written more of the parts for it. The song “God Only Knows” is one that sparks some emotion for me. I actually played that when I had a broken finger. A broken finger for a guitarist can be pretty scary. That song means a lot to me as does “Last Breath”. I was happy to be playing again after that injury.
AL: Is it difficult in any way to go from playing with someone like Jessica Simpson to recording/playing songs with Suicidal Tendencies?
DP: Not really. When I am working with someone I only try and do one thing and that is to become their music. For me it is more important to bring out the best parts for the artist than to be selfish for myself and try and be heard. In Suicidal Tendencies I do get to be more myself as I am a vested member of that band. I still want what’s best for the band so I think the music is first and my personality is second. I try and throw my ego out the door.
AL: Can you tell us what the bands tour plans are for the spring/summer?
DP: We have a few weeks left on our current tour and then we get to go home for a little break. During that time we also will be doing some practicing with Robert Trujillo for the Infectious Grooves reunion which will happen during this year’s Orion Festival. We will be playing right before the Red Hot Chili Peppers. From there we have a few festival dates in Mexico City and then some shows over in Europe.
AL: Has there been any talks of a larger scale Infectious Grooves tour?
DP: Well we did the initial reunion gig with Robert at last year’s Orion Festival and he got really excited about it which led to doing it again this year. This year’s show is going to feature the entire lineup as well as Jim Martin of Faith No More sitting in on guitar. As far as more shows go you never know what could happen. We have had offers come in from overseas so I am hoping for a great experience and we will have to see where things go from there.
AL: Being in Suicidal Tendencies since the late 90’s what do you feel has been the biggest change in the band from then till now?
DP: I think these days everyone is on the same page with how they feel about the band. Everyone loves the music and performing and they have realized that our bread and butter is in fact our live show. I think we really try hard to give 110% every night. That’s not something we have to do. It is something we want to do. Playing live is our way to spread the music around. It is very important to play the new songs and be heard every night. I think when people see us live it touches them on an emotional level and they see what’s going on and want to be part of it.