The band Slaughter hit the ground running in the early 1990s, with mega hits Up All Night and Fly to the Angels. The debut Stick It to Ya sold well and earned the band a career that still continues today. After the band’s sophomore effort in 1992, things unraveled for the band. From motorcycle accidents to drug and health issues… the band hit a pretty rough patch in their long-running and determined story.
Today, the guys in Slaughter have been the backing band for another one of the hair era’s most famous frontmen, Vince Neil. Slaughter has stuck it out and continues to play around Neil’s solo schedule.
Mark Slaughter, vocalist, songwriter and namesake of the hard rock/glam-metal band branched out in 2015 with his solo release Reflections in a Rear View Mirror… and there’s more where that came from. On May 26, Slaughter will be releasing his sophomore solo record entitled Halfway There via EMP Label Group. Mark recently reached out to Screamer Magazine to fill us in on his past and present music ventures.
For many artists in the music industry, who they are today stems heavily from who they used to be. Music has always been a part of who they are. For Slaughter, his story was one in the same.
“When I was a very young kid, I always had a love for music,” Slaughter recalled. “My mom and dad [said] if I was good that week, I got a 45 record. The incentive was always something [for me], I was always driven off music since I was a kid. So, It’s just a natural progression for me. I’ve always loved it. It was just something that would always make my day better and it was just something that I really enjoyed. Radio was king. You‘d listen to the radio and it was always hits and they were great songs…there were always great rock bands, but they still had that commercial appeal to them. As I grew older, I started liking bands like Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath, obviously AC/DC and the classic rock stuff like Led Zeppelin. So, as far as inspiration goes, it was a whole journey for me.”
Pulling from his past, Slaughter said his fans can expect a few changes in Halfway There. Compared to his last solo album, Slaughter described his upcoming album as “more mature” and “focused.” The first single from the release, Hey You, was posted recently and has already received positive feedback from fans and music critics.
“I think Halfway There is a lot more directed album. Reflections in a Rear View Mirror was just one of those things that I kind of put out there as a collection of songs… Halfway There was a mindful thought, meant to be a vinyl record and to be able to be the right amount of songs per side, so that it could be a long-playing record. It will be in the digital form, as well. But I just really wanted to have something that took me back to that classic rock sensibility that made me who I am… to bring that life back of what I used to love.”
According to Slaughter, those musical influences from his past really began to come together during the songwriting phase.
“I thought of myself looking back and in… It would be as though I was a young kid putting headphones on and falling asleep to that record with my headphones. It really has that nostalgic, classic-sensibility factor and there’s some songs that sound like something that the classic rock bands that I grew up with, The Beatles, this or that. And it’s not necessarily the song or the notes that are like that, but the tonality of what I did. Like the Mellotron, which is not really a popular instrument, but The Beatles made it popular in Strawberry Fields Forever. That instrument’s huge on it… it has these elements that will make you go, ‘Man, this reminds me of this and that.’ And I’m trying to tap into everybody’s musical environment they grew up in, such as mine. If they don’t know it, then that’ll be something they’ll be introduced to.”
The title track Halfway There serves as the culmination of his history and provides a glimpse into his story.
“I’ve gone through a lot these last couple years. Number one, the intro line is ‘Long ago, when I was younger, it was just me and my mother and she told me everything would be alright.’ … and then talking about how she passed away, because I lost my mom a couple years ago… Things that we go through in life and then it goes through talking about my kids being born and going through that and then talking about how they graduate and go away. I couldn’t write a song and convincingly sing a song like that if it had been 25 years ago because I had not lived that much. The last verse is basically talking about when I’m gone, when I pass away and how I’m with my mother at that point. And I’m saying to my kids ‘There you go, you’re halfway there.’ It’s just not necessarily the middle of life so to speak, but certainly the way that life goes and there’s just looking out in the end,” said Slaughter.
Having taken a more casual approach in his previous solo album, Slaughter said the recording of the more thoughtful Halfway There came with some unique challenges.
“For me, the biggest challenge with this album was to try and make it a long-playing record and not be too musical,” said Slaughter. “On the first record, I had all these music interludes in between and I really had to chop it down to where I was just making it a really nice-fitting record that was fit for vinyl. I think that was the biggest conscious effort and for the body of work to just sound like a strong record. I did put some songs aside and said ‘You know, this one doesn’t belong in this one. That one doesn’t belong.’ And consciously made this record the way it is.”
Breaking from the path of many modern musicians, his latest album will not be released through independent means. Instead, he’s joined forces with EMP Label Group—the U.S. based label of Megadeth bassist David Ellefson.
“I’ve known Dave (Ellefson) a lifetime and it was just one of those things that I talked to Thom (Hazaert), the director, and he said ‘Look, I really dig what you’re doing. This belongs on a label and we should all do this together’… and I just thought ‘You know what? It would be really nice to be able to just make a record and just move on…’ When you’re your own label, you wind up wearing a lot of hats, which is fine, but I think it’s just a little bit easier to just get the product done and move on. I’m already working on songs for the next record. I think it keeps that creative flow flowing,” Slaughter said.
Where some artists may try to distance themselves from the projects of yesterday, Slaughter said he embraces them instead. The song Fly to the Angels was arguably one of the band’s most popular. As a singer/songwriter Mark Slaughter said he takes the track’s popularity as a compliment.
“Fly to the Angels is a staple, there are over 9 million plays on Spotify per year, so I know that’s touched some people’s hearts. I think if you look at just the songs that people are probably influenced by or have been a part of their lives, those are the things that certainly are the strongest to me because it’s just like the music has influenced me. It’s what became a part of people’s lives. I don’t run from it, I embrace it. I’m a music fan who never lost that love for where I came from, which is the listener, the audience and trying to make it to where it is a part of people’s lives.”
Although Slaughter the band has not released any new albums since 1999’s Back to Reality, they are currently set to perform in shows around the U.S. with the band throughout the remainder of the year. For a full list of shows, visit his website.
“First of all, thanks for the years of support with the band Slaughter. I think this record really has a lot of the Slaughter-esque tones of yesteryears and I hope they give the record a spin and check it out,” said Slaughter. “It’s a labor of love and I certainly had a really, really good time doing it and I’m hoping that people will get a chance to make it a part of their lives. Ultimately, as an artist, that’s all you want is for your art to be seen or heard… It’s a big thank you to all those people because it’s something I understand at this time in my life is that I was put here by other people and I don’t take that lightly. I’m very thankful.”