Suicide Silence has come under fire from some of its hardcore fans over their latest self-titled release. The album, produced by Ross Robinson (Korn, Slipknot, Limp Bizkit), departs from their signature deathcore sound in favor of a more ‘90s-influenced nü-metal vibe. It’s become a polarizing issue for the band and its fans. But that doesn’t seem to phase Dan Kenny. His muscular bass playing, particularly on songs like “Listen” and “Hold Me Up Hold Me Down,” remains a cornerstone of the band’s sound, no matter what subgenre of metal they fall into.
BP caught up with Kenny while on the road in California. Suicide Silence is headlining a tour that features an album release party every night after the show, allowing fans to hang with the band. It’s a great concept that is sure to smooth things over between the band and their fans.
The band spreads their wings on the new record. Was the songwriting process different this time?
This record was kind of different. We would just get in a room and start jamming and hit record—the old-school way. We’d just record a bunch of it and listen back and pick out the cool parts. The cool part about us is that we’re all so different, with regard to influences. I’m the token death metal dude in the band, so I write a lot of the crazier, chunky riffs.
Being the “token death metal dude,” who are your main influences?
Alex Webster from Cannibal Corpse is by far number one. He is one of my gods. I also thought David Vincent [Evil D] had a cool role in Morbid Angel. I don’t know how much writing he did, but there are definitely some cool bass grooves in their songs. And Derek Boyer, who used to be in Decrepit Birth and now plays in Suffocation—he’s been one of my idols since I was a young kid.
With so much low end coming from the de-tuned guitars, how do you get the bass to cut through the mix?
I think that battle is harder live than in the studio. There’s so much low end on stage. On the record, I had a lot of freedom on this one, so I got to experiment a bit. I actually use a lot of high end on my tone - an insane amount - and a lot of low end and I scoop the mids hard. It’s kind of like a Korn move, but I also try to get it even more shiny than Fieldy. I try to mix the Korn style with death metal.
Did you always play 5-string?
I never played 5-string until I joined Suicide Silence. Now it feels almost weird to play 4-string. On my first tour with Suicide Silence, I used the 4-string that I used in my previous band, Animosity. It was a weird switch, but I got used to it pretty fast. The 5-string is tuned low A [on the B-string] and then the rest is the same: EADG. It’s cool because we can do all the drop A stuff, but we can also play something in standard E, like Alice in Chains—it’s right there for us.
How did you gravitate towards being a pick player?
I was a guitar player first, so it just feels natural. Sometimes I will say fuck it and play some songs, or practice, with my fingers for fun, but I’m primarily a pick player.
What’s your secret weapon live or in the studio?
The SansAmp Bass DI. If your rig cuts out live for some reason, you still have that trusty old SansAmp coming out of the front-of-house. I’ve even thought about getting a tattoo of one with my settings [laughs]. In the studio, we used that and miked a Mesa Boogie combo amp and blended it all together. It made some nice kaboom.
HEAR HIM ON
Suicide Silence, Suicide Silence (Nuclear Blast, 2017)
Bass ESP LTD DK-5 & ESP LTD F-415 (5-string basses)
RIG Mesa Boogie Bass Strategy Eight:88 head, Mesa Boogie Subway D-800 head,
Mesa Boogie PowerHouse 8X10 cabs
Effects Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Drive DI
Strings D’Addario .045 - .130
Picks Dunlop Gator Grip 1.14mm