The early 1980s were a good time to be in a hardcore punk band. Music and reputation spread through underground circles, and if you added a little controversy — maybe some supposed gang affiliation — your band could go national quickly. This is how it worked for Venice Beach's Suicidal Tendencies. With a controversial name, speculative gang ties, and often violent fans, the band founded by vocalist Mike Muir — the only original member remaining — went from being voted "Worst Band/Biggest Assholes" in punk fanzine Flipside one year to "Best New Band" the following. Though recording was spotty, at best, Suicidal Tendencies did record seminal hardcore track "Institutionalized," which appears in cult classic Repo Man, an episode of Miami Vice (of all places), and, more recently, Iron Man. Muir eventually embraced thrash metal — angering punk's purists. His association with future Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo helped the band find its calling with a pair of stellar albums: Controlled by Hatred and Lights . . . Cameras . . . Revolution! Trujillo's funky side also spawned side project Infectious Grooves. Since its mid-'90s heyday, the band has toiled, rotating musicians and consistently promising new music, though disappointing fans by not providing it. Muir says 2012 will be different. Excellent solos from current bassist and funk phenom Thundercat? New songs? Finally? That alone might make a Suicidal Tendencies concert worth attending.
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