It’s 6am in Sydney, my eyes are a little bleary but mentally, more or less, somewhat sharpened by my double espresso.
I’m on the phone with Mark Slaughter, who actually sounds sharp as a tack, in Tennessee, and is at this moment driving around catching up with some last-minute errands before starting out on tour again.
What’s going on then, Mark? “We’re flying out to do a show in Albuquerque tomorrow and then I come back, and I basically turn around and fly to Los Angeles, and then fly out to you guys. So, it’s some pretty jam-packed travel here so just trying to get everything done.”
No rest. “No.”
“Where are you based at?” I’m in Sydney. “Oh, you’re in Sydney. That’s our last stop, we have Melbourne, Brisbane (since withdrawn) and then Sydney.” Yeah-and I’m looking forward to seeing you guys. I’ve been aware of Slaughter since back in the day. Even going back to the Vinnie Vincent stuff. “Man, I appreciate that. Thank you, that’s great.”
Actually, I’m doing that Glamfest show with you, in Sydney. One of the opening acts. “Oh! Awesome! So, when we play obviously stick around and we’ll chat. I’ll look forward to that. “Absolutely, me too.”
Is this your first visit to Australia or have you been here before, perhaps as a tourist? “No, this is my very first time and I’m really excited about it, and actually I’m bringing my wife with me because we’ve never been and it’s really exciting for us so, y’know, it’s gonna be a wonderful experience.”
Will you guys get to stick around and stay in Australia for a bit and look around or will you need to rush back? “We have to rush back. Basically, I’m home for two days and I have to drive from Tennessee to Mississippi, do a show there and then I fly to Chicago. It’s just jam packed-we are just all over the place. It’s nice to be working, but it would be nice to actually enjoy ourselves and poke around a bit, but unfortunately this time we’re just gonna have to in and out it. So, how is the Metro in Sydney? Have you played there before?” Yeah – quite a bit! In fact I just played there last Saturday opening for Wednesday 13. “Oh, did you really? That’s great.” Yeah, really good room- capacity about one thousand, there’s a main stage and a smaller stage. Great production, great lighting. “Oh great!”
Your last album, Back to Reality, came out in 1999. Are there any plans for a new release at some time? “Well…what we’re doing is putting together kind of a biopic type thing… a lot of bands are doing that. So, we’re doing the biopic and we’ll probably record some songs for that. It’s odd because the whole industry as you know has completely changed. I’m currently finishing up Mark Farner’s (Grand Funk Railroad) record right now, so I’ve been producing that for some time and we’re just about to put that to rest (and when that’s done) a lot of things will open up. So, once that happens, I’m sure I’ll be doing some music from one capacity to another.”
How about a book then? I’m sure you could tell some stories… “Oh yeah. But I think we’re probably gonna do that in the biopic thing – that’s what we’re lookin’ to do because obviously it would take a lot to fill a book. I’ve read the Peter Frampton one, the Geezer Butler one – which are fantastic, but it takes a minute – I think you really have to be able to sit long enough to do it – so nothing in the near future, but at some point, I probably will.”
OK. Will the setlist for Glamfest lean pretty heavily on material from Stick it to Ya? “It does. We look at what people listen to. You know, we are not running from where we came from or the songs that we wrote and we really try to play what we think people are listening to or at least streaming as it’s a good barometer to know what’s actually being played and people are wanting to hear. So, we’re really sticking to that. That’s really what we’re doing.”
Well, that album was pretty popular here when it was released in 1990. I remember seeing the video for Up All Night on TV pretty regularly. And that was something, because back then our only connection with what was happening in the U.S. scene was the magazines we got, like Metal Edge and Circus. “And it took a minute to get over there, right?” More like a month or two! Hard to stay up to date back then!
So, last I knew you and Dana (Strum, bassist) were doing the Vinnie Vincent Invasion, and next thing I knew you had Slaughter. “It’s all uncharted territory for us – (Australia) I mean, it’s been far too long that we haven’t played there – but then we’ve never been asked to come out there or where it actually made sense. We’re so busy here in the States that it’s hard for us even to fit it in, so we’ve created this window now and we couldn’t be more excited. And our friends in Skid Row did Australia I guess a year or so ago so…It’s great to come out there and give it a shot and see how it goes.”
I’m sure it’s gonna go great man. I know you and Dana have worked together a long time and are still in Slaughter but is Blas Elias (original drummer) making this trip with you? “No. It’s actually Jordan Cannata. Blas is doing other things. After we finish this biopic thing, he’ll probably be entering the picture at that point. Right now, Jordan is the drummer and he’s phenomenal – he played in Adrenaline Mob and he’s just a powerhouse, great player. I think people will really be entertained by his playing and we’re still on great terms with Blas – he’s still one of the original members – all’s good. We’re all just adults, all just doing what we can to make ends meet and make it right for everybody.”
Going back to the early Nineties, no one saw what was coming for this type of music, which kind of derailed a lot of careers for a long time. It’s great that some bands including yourselves from that era managed to adapt in different ways and managed to survive, and now you’ve come back to this point where it’s full circle and people are accepting what was good back then again. Like it’s OK again to be who you are without having to apologise for it. “Yeah! And I think that’s the key point – I mean you just do what you do – no one’s putting on an act here. We stayed true to it and when it wasn’t cool and fashionable, we were still doing shows. And… that’s what we do, so, unapologetic but we do what we do. You know it’s like one of those things – doers do and bitchers bitch you know? (laughs) So, we love what we do and it’s exciting for us – again, for the first time to Australia I pinch myself because to be able to travel the world and see it… it’s a place we haven’t been yet. So, it’s really really exciting for us for the first time to bring our music to a different territory – obviously we’ve done Japan several times and we should have just been able to piggyback there but we never had the contacts and so it never made sense for us, so finally this is something that’s working for everybody.”
Excellent. And the reason you can do this is because you did stay true to yourselves, because a lot of acts from that era tried to make changes to fit in, which was a little cynical but those that stuck to their guns are able to carry on today. “Yeah, it’s really true… it’s very different in our band to some other artists from the time because we were the ones who wrote, produced and still performed this music – in fact I think we’re the only band from our genre that actually had that much control, and actually did that. A lot of other artists had other people writing for them or producing for them and there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s an art form no matter how you look at it, but I think we’re emotional about it because it’s our baby you know, if it wins or loses, it’s us.”
And of course, both you and Dana are both quite well known as producers. “Oh absolutely – absolutely. I mean, he’s a guy finding talent, as well as doing production and I still do it too. It’s still something we love to do. If anything is really true to you… I always look at it as you get paid to travel and you play for free, because you have to look at why you started doing this in the first place – because you love music. And there’s a lot of musicians that are like, ah, the trip was horrendous and this and that, you know – none of that stuff matters. You should look at it as you’re getting paid for that and then you play because you love to play. And I think it’s in the perspective of how you look at it. And we’ve kept that perspective for a long time – we still love it. We still love to perform and see people smile and that’s what it’s all about. Music is an escape for us as well.”
Absolutely. And it’s a privilege to be able to do it. “And that’s the key. I think that’s the most important part of music anyway-playing to like minded people, a like minded crowd-it’s a celebration. Those that have a drink, have a drink, everybody smile and sing.”
One hundred per cent!
Glamfest, where Slaughter will play with fellow hair metal legends Lynch Mob and Tyketto as well as a supporting cast that includes our own Leeno Dee and Department of Gloom in Sydney, hits Melbourne and Sydney this weekend. with the Melbourne show taking place on February 16 and the Sydney following two days later!