Contributor’s Note: Slaughter is an American rock band formed in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States, by lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Mark Slaughter and bassist Dana Strum. The band reached stardom in 1990 with their first album Stick It to Ya, which spawned several hit singles including “Up All Night“, “Spend My Life”, “Mad About You” and “Fly to the Angels”. The album reached double platinum status in the United States. ] The band remains a steady act in national tours, mainly in the Rock Never Stops Tour which features several bands of the same era.
I was lucky to be able to have a chat with Mark Slaughter recently for Madness To Creation about 7 Angels, his musical legacy, coping with the Covid-19 pandemic, and what’s in store for Mark Slaughter’s future. Fans can find Mark Slaughter at the following locations:
Mark Dean: Good morning Mark.I’m good. How are you?
Mark Slaughter: Doing great. Doing great.
Mark Dean: How are you spending your time these days? Obviously you can’t get out and play live?
Mark Slaughter: No. I’ve just been … I’m in the studio doing some recording and all the stuff that I neglected is on the home that I haven’t had the chance to focus on, now I’ve had a chance to focus on it. Good and bad. That’s how you have to look at it.
Mark Dean: Do you feel that it gets you down that you can’t get out and play live or are you keeping pretty busy?
Mark Slaughter: To be honest with you we have been, we have some shows are still pending, obviously waiting for the next stuff to happen, but at this point in time, we’re just kind of focused on life itself. There’s not much we can do, except for hope that they can get some of this under control.
Mark Dean: Yeah of course.
Mark Slaughter: How is it over where you’re at? Is it the same thing?
Mark Dean: Pretty much. I’m in the UK, so I haven’t been able to work. The places where I work, the venues that I work, I work in security. They’re all closed. They’re all closed at the moment. Obviously there’s no live shows.
Mark Slaughter: Right.
Mark Dean: It’s pretty, pretty similar to yourself.
Mark Slaughter: That, and it’s hard because of what we all do. Entertainment is such a major part of our life and that’s, the nonessential as they say things certainly is the thing that keeps us all sane. It’s essentially good for those of us who do that. Look, it’s a hard time. I mean, I don’t know how everybody’s mixing the two up, but it seems like everybody somehow is finding a way.
Mark Dean: What are you up to musically then? I see you, you’re doing some work with 7 Angels?
Mark Slaughter: Right. I did some work with 7 Angels and did some work with Georgia Vanni as well. I did some guitar work on her record and even to be honest with you. The beautiful part of it is that you can have a studio at your home and I can track and do all those things. I’m able to keep myself really busy and it’s been a blast to be able to go ahead and continue to make music when otherwise I would not be able to. It’s pretty exciting.
Mark Dean: Is there any sign of that next solo album for yourself? Is there any sign of the next Mark Slaughter solo album? It’s been quite a while since the last release.
Mark Slaughter: It’s been about three years. Yeah. I’ve got a lot of music going up here and I’m trying to get the band Slaughter to do some stuff. I’m not sure what we’re going to do musically, but I’ll just continue to write and do what I’m doing and hope that actually connects, but yeah I never stopped being productive as far as writing or any of that. It’s just, I’m not sure where to go with it. I mean, I think all artists are at the stage where you’re just going, what’s next? Because it’s a very different time you kind of make your music and it, and I spend all that time on it and it really doesn’t connect the way that it used to connect.
It’s, now it’s just about doing the art for the art’s sake, as opposed to really when you start paying all these people to play on your record or otherwise you got to, you got to budget your art just to be able to do the art.
Yeah. Years ago, I mean, you’d make a CD and then you’d go out on tour. That was, the CD was the path of getting out on the road. Now it’s like, you go on the road to sell the CD. Yeah. It’s a completely upside down model of what it used to be.
Mark Dean: Okay. Just like to talk about some of the music that has formed the soundtrack of your life. What would have been the first music you remember hearing?
Mark Slaughter: Oh, the first music I remember hearing? I remember hearing The Beatles and a lot of music. I was born in ’64 so I remember hearing a lot of that. My mom played the radio all the time. All the hits in that time or are certainly, even in Aretha Franklin side and all that other stuff, that’s what my mom listened to. I have a background of a lot of the Vegas type acts because I’m from Vegas originally. A lot of the big band stuff. I remember that first, but I remember hearing the Beatles and just the songs are just happy. There’s just a thing about the Beatles that nobody really has captured since that those songs all just really brought you into a sunshiny, happy, upbeat feeling and no matter and it’s unsurpassed.
Mark Dean: What about the first song that you ever performed live? Can you recall that? What was it?
Mark Slaughter: Wow. What was it? Well, I kind of, when I was a young kid, I did a lot of folk guitar playing and singing. I think I did, like … What was one of the first things I did? Kind of like the James Taylor type stuff. Fire and Rain and that type of stuff. That was what I was really into and I ended up becoming more involved in guitar playing as I grew up. Then I ended up being a lead vocalist for Vinnie Vincent Invasion. Then I kind of focused on being a frontman more so than being a guitar player. It’s kind of like I’ve gone through this whole, this life thing where you just, you go back and forth between all the love, which equals the sum of it all.
Mark Dean: Yeah. How was it for you playing with somebody who’s a musical legend, like Vinnie Vincent? I mean, you must’ve been pretty young when you were in a band with him.
Mark Slaughter: I was. I was 21. I was 21 years old and I was a guitar teacher at the time actually. After I graduated high school, I taught guitar at a music store and that was what I did. Then when I joined then it was put your guitar on your stand and just be a singer. That’s how that came to be. But yeah, I was very, very young at the time. My first tour was with Alice Cooper and then it was with Iron Maiden that same year.
Mark Dean: How do you view your musical legacy? Do you see it in terms of best album, worst album, or is each album a little step on your musical journey?
Mark Slaughter: Well, I think that you’re a storyteller and first and foremost. If you’re the writer, which I am a part of and all that it’s, the bottom line is you’re telling a story or you’re trying to reflect the times of the listener. We always focused on the songs and I don’t really have, like one record that I, I have great memories of the first record when we were doing it. The second record was … We took one month after touring for a year and a half and then we started on writing the Wildlife record, and that was, there was no rest. I mean, we didn’t even stop. There’s, that and that, and I think that we came out to be a live band when the band really essentially never played a show until we opened for Kiss. The first show that we did was actually in front of a very large crowd and we’ve all played in our local bands and I did the Vinnie Vincent thing prior, but the band Slaughter never even played a club date before we did the arena shows.
Mark Dean: Quite a baptism of fire then?
Mark Slaughter: Oh. You’re not kidding, baptism by fire, and even for me as a musician going from a guitar teacher to all of a sudden being the lead singer, I literally was teaching guitar and a month later I was fronting the Vinnie Vincent Invasion with just a microphone. That was baptism by fire because I really wasn’t my expertise, so to speak. Yeah. We have, but it’s been great, man. I love making music and like yourself, I’m a huge music fan of all the things that moved me. You know?
Mark Dean: Are there any albums that you grew up listening to that you still even today, many years later still get out and listen to and enjoy as much as you did way back when you first heard them?
Mark Slaughter: Absolutely. Absolutely. I listened to a lot of … I listened to the Beatles. I listened to Zeppelin, I listened to Black Sabbath, and then I listened to Van Halen and I got really, really heavy into jazz when I was a young kid. I listened to … I go into that jazz fusion stuff too, but it’s not something that fits in what I’m known for, but I have a love for it.
Mark Dean: Do you still keep in touch with what’s new? What’s happening? What new artists? What new acts are coming out? Do you still like to keep in touch with what’s current?
Mark Slaughter: Yeah. I try to figure out what’s going on. I mean, it’s really difficult with rock radio here in the states. There’s really nothing that is your information highway of what’s new and cool, but I try to listen for new bands and listen for new things. Obviously I’ve never stopped looking for good songs just to listen to.
Mark Dean: What in your professional career would you be most proud of?
Mark Slaughter: I’d say probably the fact that we continued to, when a lot of bands went away and stopped touring and stopped being entertainers because it wasn’t cool or wasn’t a money making thing for them, we continued to do it. I think a big portion of that is, is the love of, of the music and the fact that this is something that we really believe in. We just never gave up. We just always wanted to be that band that did like the bands that we knew when we were kids. They played because they loved to play. I think that if anything, that’s one thing for sure that you have to have an eternal love for all this or else it’s just not going to work.
Mark Dean: What would be the key lesson that a career in the music industry has taught you? Is there anything that stands out, maybe you could give as advice to somebody starting out in the music business?
Mark Slaughter: It all begins with the song. If you listen to whether it’s, the Beatles or Zeppelin or whatever’s on your playlist right now, it’s all about the song first and foremost. If the song has, it can be done in pretty much any way. A good song can go across all genres. I think that’s the key point is just really finding something that’s, and when you’re writing, write for the song. I think I’ve always been very focused on what the song asked for as opposed to what I think should go in it.
Mark Dean: Obviously the role of record companies these days has changed significantly from when you first started out. I just wondered how you feel about the more organic hands on approach and direct involvement that artists have in their careers these days.
Mark Slaughter: Well, I think it’s good and for the younger artists, I mean, it’s, you can always say this was better than, or this was better. I think that the bottom line is instead of the focus of where the industry is, is the focus on the songs and the music. I really am a true believer that music always finds its way that’s good. People will listen to it and go, yeah, man that’s killer. I love the way that makes me feel. I mean, when the 7 Angel’s track came my way and they asked me to play on it, I mean, I knew exactly what I wanted to do guitar wise on it. Cause to me, I heard Jimmy Page in my head of what would Jimmy do? You know? Again I’m not a person to go, who’s Jimmy? Jimmy who? Of course. I’ll tip the hat to Jeff Beck and all the guitar players that influenced me over the years. That’s the, that’s my environment and that’s my upbringing. I’m very proud of it and try to get everybody else to go and listen to what I listened to.
Mark Dean: Having done many interviews over the years. Is there somebody, if the roles were reversed, who would you personally like to interview maybe a personal hero or inspiration? Is there any person that you would like to sit down and talk with?
Mark Slaughter: Do you know, probably Robert Plant, because we haven’t had that chance to sit down and chat. I would probably like to interview him, such a dynamic artist through all the years and groundbreaking, same thing with Paul McCartney. I mean just people who, yeah, there’s just a wow factor. You just go wow. That’s Robert Plant. I met Jimmy Page and it was wonderful, I met him when he was doing the Coverdale-Page record and it was wonderful to meet him. I mean, it was such a, and all I asked him was, how did you record this? How’d you do that when you came up with this riff? It was all the teenage questions that came out of my mouth, but I’m proud of where I came from on that. Of course, I’m going to know it.
Mark Dean: You’ve achieved many career highs, but do you still have hopes and dreams?
Mark Slaughter: I think, yeah. I always have hopes and dreams. I think that you’re always trying to, I think any hopes or dreams for me as an artist is to write a song that allows somebody that becomes a soundtrack to somebody’s life or that it helps them through something. When, it’s kind of like a friend as the music stands for me that I, if you’re having a bad day and you could just turn on whatever song it is at the top of your head, if it moves you and brightens your day or let you get your blues out. I mean, there’s nothing like that in the world. It’s medicine, music heals. I think that’s the key point with music.
Mark Dean: That’s brilliant. Thank you very much for chatting Mark. That’s been great. Thank you very much. Have a good day.
Mark Slaughter: I appreciate that. You too, and if there’s any time that we’re going to be playing in your area, or there’s a festival, you’re going to be attending, please reach out to Jody or reach out to me and I’ll make sure that you’re taken care of and can see the band and say hello to everybody.
Mark Dean: That would be brilliant, Mark. Thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure.
Mark Slaughter: Same here and good luck with everything over there. Hopefully we’ll get through all this stuff, but remember it’s the music that gets us through it and thanks for your love and, for supporting rock and roll, not just what I do, but what we all do. Cheers to you my friend.
Mark Dean: And you. Take care.
And there you have it! Fans can check out Mark Dean at the following locations: