An Interview with
(Photo by Thom Hazaert)
Solo Artist & Frontman of Slaughter
that took place on April 12th, 2017.
Interviewed By Glenn Milligan.
Glenn: Hi! How are you doing?
Mark: Doing great!
Glenn: What were your thoughts when David Ellefson was putting EMP together?
Mark: First of all; I know Dave. He is a great guy. I thought, This could be really great because it is nice to have honest people in this business. He is a good guy, a very talented musician, obviously done very well with it, and he really understands the records. That is what it really comes down to. There are other places I could have taken this. He understood the music, understood where it was at, and ultimately that is what it takes!
Glenn: Nice! You have known him for over 30 years? You must have had some good times with David over the years as well.
Mark: Oh, Yeah! Absolutely! We have had some really good times! He is good people, and a very talented guy. We did the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp together in Los Angeles years ago and got to know each other musically, which is just a blast.
Glenn: Yeah. I have interviewed several people who have been counsel for Rock N Roll Fantasy Camp.
I met Thom Hazaert at NAMM this year. He is great!
I also got to see David Ellefson on stage when he did the Ronnie Montrose Remembered at the Yost Theater. That was really good. I enjoyed that.
Mark: Oh Yeah! Absolutely!
Glenn: What does it mean to you being on the EMP Label? You are sharing the roster with a large crossover of artists as well; which is great!
Mark: I think, with as diverse as music is these days....
Back in the day labels used to be....THIS IS THE LABEL! And this is what they did!
Now the diversity in music in that side of it; you start to see that even more.
People are really just finding all sorts of interesting music on the internet. It is a good thing on that side that people are discovering the new.
I go from "the new" to "Hey You". I have been checking out the tracks from the forthcoming album. I thought "Hey You" is such a great teaser track! It is like going back to the full bombastic greatness of the 80's again. It is as though no time has passed between.
Glenn: Was that a reason why you decided to choose that track?
Mark: It represents that, instead of running from where we came from.
I think it was one of those things to embrace it. This is what we do; and Slaughter does it on the weekends still!!!!
We are doing a lot of shows, and it is what we love to do. It fits in perfectly with the mindset that a lot of the fans are in. This music was a good time. It was about the partying and living life to the fullest. I think that was conveyed well on this track. I was doing that for sure!
Glenn: Loved the ending where you have an
a cappella gospel bit. You do not expect that. It really works so well.
Mark: Well, Thanks!
It is all the gospel, funk, and all the other stuff. There is just this hodge-podge of influences that I have had over the years from so many different artists. Whatever I had heard at that point; I did not run from it. I just go,"Okay, I will just do that and not overthink it". I will just let it flow without being opposed to it. "NO you cannot do that"! The "No's" I really avoided on this record. I just did it! It is very creative as an artist to have stuff that is going in that direction.
Because you are not in a band confine? You are doing whatever the hell you want? You have no one in a band telling you, "We are not doing this; We are not doing that"? You are just doing what you want; when you want?!
On the other side you are going, "Does that work"?(laughter ensues)
Glenn: Yeah!(more laughter)
Mark: You find yourself answering your question! Of course it works because you can do anything you want. You are the Governer, the Mayor, the Police Chief..
Glenn: Yeah! (we laugh)
Mark: You just go man… just go!
Glenn: Awesome! Yeah! How did you come to meet up with Sam Shearon for the album design?
Mark: That was through Thom from the label. There was a gentleman that had this idea. I threw it at Thom. He said, “Oh I know the artist to do this. He is amazing". I said, “Cool!”! He said, “Well I could go to reel him in". I said, “Oh that would just be amazing”.
I am lucky! He did all that work. He did that stuff. I mean, I cannot draw a stick man – I learned to sing.
Some artist still would turn around and say, “This is my concept!”
There is no concept! I make music – it’s what I do!
He did a great job. It is a fantastic image. It really engulfs the attitude on the record. There is a lot of good, really hopeful things in this record, and also there’s darkness – there’s a little bit in there!
There’s a little bit heavier stuff than what people are going to expect from me.
Glenn: Yeah! When I looked at it I thought, ‘It’s dark and light, bad and evil, with your heart and emotion in the middle somewhere, and working out what you are going to do or something like that’.
Mark: Right! Well we all battle that. To act like we don’t is a falsehood .(We laugh)
I’m a pretty jovial guy but at the same time everybody has got their moments. That is true.
Glenn: Artists say, They are all my babies”, but are there certain songs on the album that you are really excited about?
How did those songs come to be?
What do they mean to you?
Mark: "Halfway There", which is the title track really has a lot of emotion too me. It tells a story. It starts off about the simple times when it was just me and my mother. It shares of her passing. I lost both of my parents in the last four or five years, and her not so long ago. It’s one of those things that music is the opium so to speak that gets you through it and the song talks about that. Here is what it used to be like, and now she’s gone.....,me going "Halfway There". Then, it goes to me talking about having kids, living out life with my kids, and them going to college. It goes through this whole phase of what life is. It has a lot of heartstrings in it for sure.
Glenn: It is a song you couldn’t have written 20 or 30 years ago. You did not have all that life experience back then.
Mark: Yeah. Again, to me, at that time, "Who would think that way"? I would have liked the music and said, “Well that is really cool and well written” but I could not have written it. You are right. There is no way!
Glenn: You have recently just come back from doing ‘Hard Rock Hell’ in the UK. How was that for you?
Mark: Oh that was an amazing time. We had so much fun. The audience was phenomenal. When we came over to Europe years ago it was 1991, which was the last time we were there. The fans got it, but I think some of the press people thought we were a made band. There are a lot of homogenised acts that labels put together.
It was known that Dana and I knew our way around the studios. I think a lot of people thought that we were just a studio band that were not about touring or doing a money grabbing thing. Afterall, we have been touring for 26 to 27 years. I think people look at it and say, “Okay, I guess these guys are serious and they are not pulling our leg”. It was a different type of response than when we went there before. The first couple of decades will do that. (We laugh)
Glenn: So you have dipped your toes back into the UK and Europe again.
Here is the put Mark Slaughter on the spot question. Can we expect a full set of UK dates from Slaughter?
Mark: Well look, we would love to be there. It really boils down to the promoters and people who buy the act and them making it work for us to be able to come over. We would love to be there. The reaction was phenomenal at the festival. I would think that is going to open the door a little bit for us to come there and do more shows. It was fun though.
It was a lot of fun! It really was.
Glenn: Talking of ‘Hard Rock Hell’, my buddy ,Tommy Rockitt from Stone Trigger said, “Can you thank him for being so cool at the Hard Rock Hell’ backstage when we met, and can you ask him, “What advice do you have for unsigned bands who are trying to further themselves in this day and age?”
Mark: I think honesty is the first thing in music. People can smell a rat from far away. Being honest about your music and ultimately it is doing something that is from your heart and it will go a lot further. Keeping other people out of your business and keeping the writing side close to the artist.
Slaughter is one of the very rare bands that we wrote, produced and still perform our own music. If there is a love that goes a little deeper than just playing songs for a nickel....! There is a lot of commitment because it is from us. That is the thing. The commitment. That music is from you, and not something that is a product from a label. Those bands who do that, I think they fall apart pretty quick. They do not stick around long. Obviously, what you want to do is keep your music going. To be honest, that is the thing. Over time, if it is not understood immediately, they will certainly understand eventually. You will have the believability where people go, “Yep, I get it! That is what they do. That is what they are!
Like I said, "I am not running from that. That is really what I am known for.
Why would I try to change something I say,? “Well I am not about that!” The truth of the matter is, that is what made me. That is like Rod Stewart deciding not to do anything that Rod Stewart ever did or any Faces stuff. That was all rubbish! Come on dude! That is what you do! That is really where I am at.
Anything that I have learned over the years is just keeping that honesty. I would say that to any act. Keep it honest. Keep it real. Love what you do. Sometimes, it becomes more about the love than it does about the money. That is what art is ultimately.
Glenn: Yeah, Agreed.
I am pleased that you are still around Vegas as well.
Mark: It is crazy.
Glenn: I know.
Mark: It always is out there!
Glenn: I was there in January and I knew it was going to be pretty crazy but it absolutely blows your complete mind. It is like, What the hell?!?!?!’.
Mark: It is a sub-culture.
It is not even culture.
It is like, “Well, you want to go to Paris? Well, here it is!
You want to go to Italy? Here it is”.
It is nothing like that.
It is more like the Universal Studios version of what that place is.
You just go to one place because you don’t want to travel.
It is a lazy American thing and people go there because they think they have travelled the World and they went to one spot.
Glenn: (I laugh) What a brilliant way of saying that.
Mark: I can say that. I’m an American. I can say that sh*t because it is the truth.
Glenn: (I laugh) What do you like and love about Vegas and maybe hate about your hometown?
Mark: I think that there’s this Gawdiness to it that is a little strange like that.
It is a 24 hour city.
You can find anything you want 24 hours a day. Certainly being raised in Vegas it makes it to where your clocks are completely screwed up. If you go in a casino, I do not know if you noticed, but there are no clocks.
Glenn: There are none at all.
Mark: No! You do not know what time it is. It is just all the same. “Dude it is like 5 in the morning. We gotta go to bed!” (We laugh)
The thing about Americans, which is sad, is that a lot of Americans do not travel like a rock band does. We are very able to learn a lot of things. Unfortunately, a lot of Americans are in America and just know America. They really do not know the social, the political, and the other things that are going on in the World and are just in the bubble.
Glenn: It is all edited?
Mark: Yeah! It is sad. On the other side of it is why these people are gleefully walking around in a blur. I am glad to be able to travel, see the world, and experience those things.
I will never forget when I came over to Europe the first time. It was amazing. It was just like, "Wow"! It was crazy.
Glenn: Different cultures?
Mark: Well, yeah! It is not made up. It is, what it is.
In Vegas, what I used to know as kid; all the landmarks they have imploded all that. They have built bigger places. Who does that? Who blows up where culture was to build something bigger?
Glenn: I know. It is just amazing. I should have said "blows your mind", but that is a bit of a "excuse the pun"?
Mark: Oh yeah!
Glenn: What would you say your favourite hangouts and venues there are, or even Worldwide in comparison?
Mark: In Vegas, there are some great Chefs. It is nice to go and visit some of the amazing restaurants and casinos. The food at the ‘Bellagio’ is really wonderful. To me, quite honestly, I am more about nature and getting and being out, and taking in what is natural.
I like to go out in the mountains.
I like to go out where the lake is.
I like to go out and see the world that way because I spend enough time in the cities and outside that I can get to the balance of them. That is what I enjoy more than being right in the middle of a Starbucks; with another Starbucks up the street!
Glenn: That makes a lot of sense.
Blas Elias, the former drummer does ‘Raiding The Rock Vault.
Have you ever been tempted to do a guest spot there, or have you in the past at all?
Mark: I did it before they started ‘The Rock Vault’. There was Dee Snider, Lita Ford, Jeff Keith from Tesla and myself. We did a couple of shows in the showroom where Elvis used to do his shows back in the day. That was one of the things, an experiment - the same Promoter went on to do other stuff because everybody else was doing their thing.
I would love to guest on some of the things but time’s restrictive for me. I have buried myself in the studio for the last six months on this record. I think people who hear it; I play all the guitar on there. A lot of people do not know I play guitar like that! I produced and engineered it and wore a lot of hats. It is just an honest rock record.
I am thrilled to death on it. I am looking forward to people hearing it.
Glenn: Yeah you have no doubt learned so much because you have done it mostly all yourself. Has it made a big difference to you?
Mark: Yeah! It’s different that way;I think with the songs and the song-writing. I just do it here and put it altogether. I have a place in Nashville as well. That is where I did it. I did it out on the farm in the middle of nowhere. I really isolated myself just to be able to have no outside interference, only stimulation, and just to make music.
It has been great!
Glenn: I guess you find you have different emotions and feelings because you are in that countryside area as opposed to the hustle and bustle like the Vegas area or just outside Vegas as such?
Does that have a big effect on you?
Mark: It does! I mean ‘Up All Night’ was Vegas, it was New York, it was the big city, and that city life. There is a beauty about that. I mean, I am not running from that. At the same time, in life, you sometimes need to get away to gather your thoughts and rethink. "Where am I going and where have I been"? You have to really chew on it for a second and go; "Okay, so this is where it is at? That is what I did with this record!
It was getting a chance to really focus in on the things that are important!
To make a long point final, I really wanted to do a vinyl record like what I grew up with. You can throw things on CD with no thought and put on as much information as you want but I really wanted something that has a Side A and a Side B. That was a little difficult to find and to figure out. A case of, "Okay, this song is too long so it cannot be on the record. I will go and write another one. That type of stuff! The end result was very pleasurable".
Your vocals; They have never faulted at all since you first fronted Vinnie Vincent’s Invasion; or even before that!
What is your key to keeping your vocal prowess since the quality and clarity is so good?
Mark: I live a pretty clean life. I do not abuse myself. When I am doing vocals and doing that stuff I really try to keep it as regimented as I can to have the energy for that performance to do the best I can do.
I am a perfectionist on that side of it.
I am an entertainer.
To entertain is to entertain people not to have a self indulgent moment of ego. If anything to land everybody into the same mindset where you are at while you are having a good time. Certainly, Slaughter has been about that good time. A Lifetime!
That does not mean that you cannot have emotions within it all and show them.
Glenn: It makes a lot of sense.
I know you also do voice-over acting work and music for TV.
How did that come about?
Mark: I have a friend. His name is Jeff Harnell. Basically he does voice-overs and we were friends. He said, “You know you can do that if you wanted”
I got into a couple of things. I really enjoyed it. But, I realized… there was an audition for Donald Duck of all things. I know it sounds kind of silly on that side of it to you, but I probably could have gone in there and taken the role. But, that means I would be in Hollywood and have to deal with the 101, the 405, the car jacking, or the stupidity of California life.
Quite honestly, I am just not into that.
It was kind of a weird life choice.
I said, “You know what man, I just do not think I want to do that”.
Glenn: Yeah! Plus, it is so expensive out there. It is just ridiculous rents and to book hotels. It is like, "How much??” Three times more!
Mark: It’s a; "Look at what car I drive"!
"Look at this"! That stuff does not matter to me. I have a nice car, but it is not like I am trying to be in competition with the Kardashians so to speak!
Glenn: (I laugh) It is pointless. It is sad. Basically, material goods the majority of the time are bullsh*t!
Glenn: It is who you are as a person not how much you have got in possessions or who you think you are and all this crap!
Mark: You cannot take it with you!
Mark: All that stuff doesn’t matter.
What matters is your family and your friends. To me, it is the music. Hopefully, this music becomes a part of somebody’s life, as it is a part of my life. The Art; I hope that Art becomes a part of your life, because that is really what this is about!
"Fly To The Angels" has changed a lot of people’s lives. I mean; Come on!
If you write a song that really hits people in the heart, then, you know what??? You are doing something good.
You are actually doing something that is productive instead of stroking your own ego.
I think we lived a lifetime of trying to always do things whether we might be in a band, or on our solo side, to do things that are honest, pure, and not just a bunch of bullsh*t.
Glenn: Plus ‘Up All Night’ and songs like that do affect you personally because the good nights we have had in Sheffield at the Corporation. That song comes on somewhere and it is like, ‘Wow!’
You remember those times when your getting up jamming away on your air guitar, screaming your lungs off to songs like that.
So, it is all your fault…
No, I am just kidding!
I just want to say thanks! You know?
Mark: Well, it is partially my fault.
I will take some of the credit.
I cannot take all the credit in the world.
I am not that narcissistic!
I will leave that to the others!
Glenn: Yeah! That is cool.
Mark: I will leave that to the other bands.
I am just a happy bloke and just getting up there and singing and entertaining.
Look, I am truly blessed. It has been great. It really has.
In this music, I think you are going to hear a lot of English and UK influences in my writing in the things that I have done. I do not run from it. I mean, The Beatles are huge! Black Sabbath is bad ass. Why would I ever run from Queen?!
Glenn: There is no reason.
Mark: You embrace with your Rock ‘N’ Roll environment and upbringing. I think people will really hear this in this record. I’m proud of it because I can do that and I do know how to pull that into songs. I am not stealing, I am actually paying homage to that music that really made me who I am!
Glenn: Sweet! That sounds awesome.
You are off to Japan soon as well with Ratt; which is great!
Mark: Yep! I’m going to Japan!
We are also going to be in Germany in August. The European dates are finally coming for us. I’m very pleased that we are finally getting over there.
But again; What a blast it was to be over there in Wales and play a show.
I think that we got a taste of what the bands did not see back at the Marquee.
When we played the Marquee years ago Ozzy came to the gig with his big old robe on. It was cool!
Mark: It was funny. All those years and all that stuff. It brings back a lot of great memories for us.
Glenn: I bet the crowd absolutely loved it as well!
Mark: Oh yeah! It was good. It was great. It was good times!
Glenn: When you came over to Britain last time, would you say it has changed much, or was it just a case of ‘Wow, I remember this. I remember that'?!
Mark: Well I did think food-wise I had seen a big change. I did notice that in the food, people are…
I would not say it is a California lifestyle....but I think that people eat very healthy there.
When I first went there years ago it was not the good quality that it is now. I think it has come a long way foodwise.
Obviously, your Indian food is like our American-Mexican food.
Like a staple on a beach – you notice when it’s not near you. You really get used to them.
You are like, “I would really love to have Chicken Tika tonight!”
Glenn: I love them! I have it every Friday! A chicken tika sandwich.
Mark: It is funny! There are some Americans who have never had it. They are so frikkin’ clueless.
Glenn: (Laughs) I know!
Mark: That is a staple. They do not get it. That is one of my main food groups over here.
There I am.
Think about this! I am outside right now. I am out at the farm right now, and I’ve got frozen chicken tika in the refrigerator.!
If I go driving around here in these places; people here do not even know what it is!
Glenn: That is cool! That is as cool as hell that!!! Yeah, if you ever got to Sheffield, you have got to go to a place called Rita’s Pantry. It is not far from the venues. They do the best Chicken Tika Sandwich. It’s about £2.35. It is absolutely mind-blowing.
Mark: Oh that is great. There is nothing like getting a deal on something that is great.
Glenn: Yeah! (We laugh)
Mark: You know, it does not matter if you have money flying out of your pockets!
That is awesome!
This interview has been fun man!
I really have had a great time with you!
Glenn: It has been an absolute pleasure Mark.
Mark: I appreciate it! Same here! I look forward to seeing you and hanging with you at some point.
Glenn: We will have to go out for an Indian food.
Mark: Alright! Sounds good!
Glenn: Take care brother!
Mark: Alright Man!
(Photo by Thom Hazaert)
A big thank you to Shauna O’Donnell of O’Donnell Media Group for setting up the Interview, the liaison of Amy Rae Yard and of course Mark Slaughter himself for an honest in-depth Interview!