Mark Slaughter: Musical and Making a Difference
Interview by Alison “MetalBabe” Cohen
Mark Slaughter, who is most known from Vinnie Vincent Invasion/Slaughter, has recently released his first ever solo single “Never Givin’ Up.” Mark was inspired to record this song because he saw a commercial for the Wounded Warriors and wanted to do something for our Troops. He recorded the single and is donating a portion of proceeds to the Red Circle Foundation, which” supports families of the U.S. Military Special Operations community in times of extenuating circumstances.” Even though Slaughter hasn’t recorded a studio album since 1999, they still have been playing 30 to 50 shows a year and have a few new songs in the works. Whether Mark is playing with his band, solo, or with his new project Scrap Metal, he “just wants to be musical and make a difference.”
All Access Magazine: Congratulations on releasing your first solo song! What inspired you to release a solo track at this point in your career?
Mark Slaughter: I really wanted to make music. Slaughter hasn’t released a record in 14 years and I have some songs that I’ve been recording. I was inspired by seeing a Wounded Warrior commercial and thought that I’d do something for our Troops… The people that give us the freedom to rock. I got in touch with a gentleman named Brandon Webb, who inevitably has this foundation called the Red Circle Foundation… Basically it was gap funding for the Special-Ops guys. I just wanted to make a difference, so I wrote the song. I had Mark Goodin, who’s a gentleman that I went to high school with, plays drums on it. I play everything else. We went to legendary producer Michael Wagener to mix it. I recorded it, he mixed it, and we were done.
AAM: That’s such an inspirational and unique way to come about your first solo song. What is the message you are trying to get out there?
Mark: We all go through difficult times in our lives and there are challenging moments where we’re just wondering, what am I gonna do and how am I gonna do it? I just really wanted to write a song that was inspiration; the friend that’s beside you. It’s the song that’s beside you. That’s really what the song is about. It’s always being that support system for those who face that adversity. It’s not just our Military; it’s people fighting Cancer, or people battling depression. There are all kinds of ways people go through adversity. That’s really what I wanted to do, just write a song that’s says “I’m there.”
Mark: It is. I’ve always written stuff that has a positive swing to it and I think this was the right moment and the right song for this.
AAM: Slaughter has always been known for having a positive message. You’re donating a portion of proceeds from this single to the Red Circle Foundation, right?
Mark: That’s correct. They actually take 100% of the money that is given to their facility and give it to the charity. It’s not like there’s a huge administrative cost. They do it properly. They make sure that the people see the money that people donate.
AAM: That’s comforting for sure. You mentioned that you did this song with Mark Goodin on drums, and you played everything else. We all know you as a singer/guitarist. How does the bass guitar fit in?
Mark: I’ve been playing music for a lifetime. When I was just out of high school I taught guitar, and then I ended up teaching bass because it was a natural progression. It was an instrument that I picked up because it was around me. Dana (Strum) is one of the most underrated bass players out there. He’s a really, really superb bass player. I’ve heard him since Vinnie Vincent Invasion and I hear his phrasing and how he plays, so I kind of know what bass players would play because I’ve been around it long enough.
AAM: I never knew that. Dana is definitely an amazing bass player. Do you have plans on pursuing a career as solo artist, putting out another single, or releasing a full CD?
Mark: I’ll probably put out some other music, but it’s not like I’m running from the band or anything else. I’m just enjoying the process of making music… Just getting out there and being an artist.
AAM: That makes sense. Everyone knows you from Slaughter and Vinnie Vincent Invasion. I read in your bio that you have worked as a voice-over actor and you have composed music for television. Tell me more about the side of Mark Slaughter that we don’t know.
Mark: I did some music stuff for Fox television and the casinos’ in Las Vegas. It’s just being musical… Even on that side of it. It’s writing the tag lines, or the hooks, or the things that really grab people. I did some voice-over stuff a while back on cartoons I’ve always been a goofball, so I’ve always played around doing voices. It just happened that I met a couple people that were doing that, and they pulled me into the mix for a little while and I got a taste. I love it… But I live in Tennessee and the voice-overs are done in Los Angeles, so it doesn’t really play out well.
AAM: I thought you still lived in Las Vegas! Wow… I was looking through your tour dates and I saw quite a few upcoming shows throughout 2014. Tell me about your upcoming tour dates.
Mark: We have a lot of shows in the works. We’re going to Japan, which we haven’t done in quite a few years. So that’ll be exciting. The band has been touring every year… 30, 40, 50 dates a year. It’s what we do. We just do it by airplane instead of bus nowadays. We just fly out and do shows. We pick and choose. There are a lot of markets we haven’t made it to in a long time, but we’re still doing it.
AAM: I didn’t realize that you were playing so many shows each year! That’s exciting about playing Japan too. The last studio album you released with Slaughter was ‘Back to Reality’ in 1999. Do you have anything new in the works for Slaughter?
Mark: We actually have a couple songs written. Since everybody lives in completely different states, it’s hard to get together and track it down. My band is Zoltan, Blando, and Dana. They also play with Vince Neil. This next weekend I’ll be playing, and the weekend after that they have two Vince Neil shows in between the final Motley Crue tour. Everybody’s kinda just wearing a lot of hats right now. I’m just trying to be musical, get the music out there, and show the support for those who deserve it.
AAM: Crazy that you and Vince Neil share a band! I’m sure it’s difficult having different schedules, show dates, and living in separate states.
Mark: Yeah, but everyone gets along great, and it’s been a great run. We continue to play. It’s all good right now.
AAM: I’m glad to hear that. Your first Slaughter CD, ‘Stick it to Ya’ was released in 1990. When you think about Slaughter’s career, what are your fondest memories?
Mark: Just the fact that we’ve been able to do it. We wrote our own music, we played our own music, and we produced our own music. I think we are the only band from our genre that was able to have that type of control from front to end from the beginning of our career. There wasn’t anybody else involved. That could be to our downfall, and some people could think that’s a good thing. Having that, I think, is a very personal thing, because it’s us. It’s what we do. It’s our baby. We really love the music and it’s really honest and believable because it’s from us. As far as my fondest memories, I think it’s when you play your first guitar chord and then you hear your stuff recorded. To me, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do and I’m living the dream.
AAM: That is rare for a band from that time period. I’d like to ask you about Tim Kelly… He is still definitely loved and missed. Is there a story or memory that you would like to share about him?
Mark: I talk about Tim often. He was such a funny guy. He really was a character. If there was ever anything going on that a laugh was involved, Tim was behind it. Just a really nice guy… He got a new pair of custom boots one time. We had just joined the Poison tour, and he goes running out onstage, but it was a different type of stage than he had experienced with Kiss. He stopped in his tracks, and it was metal grating, as opposed to just your standard stage. He slid off the stage in the first row, right into the pit. And in Tim fashion, he just kind of got his wits about him, and he kept playing. All of a sudden he’s gone, and you don’t see him. He had his cordless on and he had walked all the way around and just stepped on the stage. Just to see his look… It was almost like Derek Smalls when he comes out of the cocoon in Spinal Tap. It was just a funny moment. You would have to know Tim to really get it. He was a trooper. He kept playing when other people would have stopped. He was a great man, and he is truly missed.
AAM: Thank you for sharing that. Tell me about your band Scrap Metal. Who’s in it, and what type of songs do you play?
Mark: It’s the Nelson brothers, (Gunnar and Matt) and myself. It’s a rotating cast of characters. Eric Martin (Mr. Big) has done it, Kelly Keagy from Night Ranger, John Payne from Asia, Derek St. Holmes from Ted Nugent’s band, Janet Gardner from Vixen… It’s usually the singers that we concentrate on because it’s the singers who sang the songs that made them famous.
AAM: Who plays the music?
Mark: Gunnar plays guitar. Matt plays bass. I play guitar. There’s usually a secondary guitar player. Then Howie Simon, Neil Zaza, Joel Hoekstra on occasion, and then there’s Bobby Rock on drums. It just kind of depends on who’s available at the time. We do all the hits, and it turns into two or three hours of music. It’s a lot of fun.
AAM: Where do you typically play out with Scrap Metal?
Mark: We play at a lot of casinos. Mohegun Sun Casino’s are our mainstay for the most part. We do a lot of shows and it’s always ‘the hits.’ That’s the crazy part of it… If you take four songs from each band, and you multiply that between five or six artists, it turns into a lot of music for the set. It’s fun to do because we have a chance to play and not be so caught up in our own thing. It’s a chance to get out and jam.
AAM: What would you like to say to your fans?
Mark: I’d like to say thank you for the years. Thanks for picking up the single “Never Givin’ Up” on iTunes and Amazon, etc. It’s for a good cause. I appreciate the journey we’ve had musically through all the years and I hope that I can continue to be part of the soundtrack for all my peers that are out there, and the music that I listen to as well. Thanks to everybody. I’m looking forward to playing real soon in your area.
AAM: Thank you Mark. I appreciate your time, and I look forward to seeing you out on the road!