"This Is the End Of Hardcore. We Started It and We're Ending It Here Today"
Springa of SS Decontrol at a Jerry's Kids show in 1984.
It might be a bold statement, but to a large extend he was right - at least in the case of Boston Hardcore. Little remained of the original scene as bands such as SS Decontrol, DYS, Gang Green and The FU's had either disbanded, or gone Metal [a sound that didn't appeal to many within the Hardcore scene].
People were simply growing up, and with adulthood came other priorities. Either that or they discovered that they could play music other than the 60 second, three chord assault that Hardcore Punk was.
Either way, by 1985 there were just a few bands kicking around, and the scene had gone from Hardcore to Metal to dead.
Steve Risteen [ex Terminally Ill] kept bumping into Jack Kelly [ex Negative FX and Last Rights] in a 24-hour Food mart week after week. Jack Kelly, who wasn't in a band at the time, wanted to play again. So in October of 1985 Steve Risteen, Mark McKay [Terminally Ill's manager] and Jack Kelly formed Slapshot [they were originally supposed to be called Straight Satan, after the motorcycle gang which protected Charles Manson].
The threesome started writing songs and soon after Jonathan Anastas [ex Decadence and DYS] joined the band. He had been good friends with Jack Kelly through the Boston Crew, had roomed with him for a time and respected his vision for a new version of an old school Hardcore band.
There was big hype about Slapshot before they ever played a live show due to Jack Kelly's and Jonathan Anastas's reputations in Hardcore circles. And also since a friend of the band, Mike Gitter, who was writing for a lot of magazines at the time [one of which was his own zine - "xXx"], had written that Slapshot was a great live act. Note - in the Punk tradition of Malcolm McLauren and The Sex Pistols - these stories were written before the band had even played in front of an audience.
Mike Gitter later went on to work as an A&R executive for Atlantic Records and Roadrunner Records where he signed CIV and Orange 9MM to their major label debuts.
In October of 1986 Slapshot released their debut album. To save money [as the band wanted to record the album on a full 24 tracks instead of the usual low-quality 8 or 16 tracks Punk records were recorded on at the time], the group had to record from midnight to 8 AM to get the lower overnight rate.
The album was completed in only four sessions. There were no real overdubs, a few takes per song - it was very live. Titled "Back on the Map" [a challenge to the world that Boston Hardcore was back], the album was released by Taang! Records.
Slapshot was about to get reinforcement in the shape Jordan Wood [ex STP, The Loved Ones and Deathwish]. He joined the band as a second guitar player right after "Back on the Map" was released.
However, soon after, Jonathan Anastas left the band. Jonathan Anastas left, as the sort of extensive touring the band needed to do began to conflict with his college studies. Back to a four piece, Jordan Wood temporarily replaced Jonathan Anastas on bass until Jamie Sciarappa [ex SS Decontrol] joined the band in early 1988 and Jordan Wood returned to guitar. Jamie Sciarappa's first show with the band was on June 5 1988 at CBGB's in New York.
In July of 1988, three songs ["Same Mistake", "Might Makes Right" and "Gilligan" - an acapella version of the Gilligan's Island theme] were released as a 7" single ["Same Mistake/Might Makes Right"] and in October of 1988 the 7" single was followed by the band's next release, a full-length album, called "Step on It".
Somewhere around this time, Jack Kelly, Mark McKay and Jordan Wood formed the somewhat misunderstood Oi band Stars and Stripes.
When the band was writing new material for their next album Jamie Sciarappa said that he'd be moving to Los Angeles and Slapshot therefore once again needed a new bass player.
So in March of 1990 Mark McKay asked his friend Chris Lauria if he could fill the position. Mark McKay, Steve Risteen and Chris Lauria all knew each other from the days with Terminally Ill. Steve Risteen wanted to try out some others first but eventually Chris Lauria was their choice.
In two week Chris Lauria learned to play 25 songs and the first show with the new bass player was in Allentown, Philadelphia.
Three tracks, "Firewalker", "Chip on My Shoulder" and "Moment of Truth", were then released as a 7" single called "Firewalker".
Then the band released "Sudden Death Overtime" and toured the US in support of it in September and October of 1990 and in Europe February of 1991. However, when the band got back it was obvious that Jordan Wood wasn't getting along with neither Steve Risteen nor Jack Kelly. So Jordan Wood convinced Chris Lauria to quit the band with him and start another. Chris Lauria soon returned to the band but Jordan Wood didn't. Therefor the band was now in need of a second guitar player and they found Darryl Sheppard. He and Chris Lauria had played together in a band a long time ago called Deslok.
Mark McKay and Jack Kelly decided to kick out Steve Risteen in the summer of 1992. This may sound a bit harsh perhaps but it was actually true. Despite Steve Risteen's passion and drive for the band, the other two founding members found his actual playing weak and they felt musically limited with Steve Risteen in the band.
There are rumors [unproven] that Steve Risteen was not a recording member at the time of his dismissal, that Jordan Wood had actually recorded the entire guitar tracks [or most of them] on the releases they shared together, that Steve Risteen's role was reduced to live player only. Steve Risteen being fired led to a lot of turbulence in the band. One of their roadies, Hank Pierce, considered by the band to be the bands fifth [or sixth] member left as a result of Steve Risteen being fired.
The band was about to tour the US in the fall and - while it was being booked - Mark McKay told the band that he couldn't join the rest of the band, so Darryl Sheppard got Barry Hite, the drummer from his other band, Slaughter Shack [which included ex DYS guitar player Andy Strachan], to fill in for the tour.
When the band came back Jack Kelly didn't want Mark McKay back. Jack Kelly thought Barry Hite was a much better drummer and Mark McKay didn't seem like he wanted to come back. However, there was never an official split.
Meanwhile, due to the lineup changes, the band had to change the names on the contracts that they had signed with We Bite Records the year before. The relations with We Bite Records were however sour even before the band released any of the albums that they had signed to do.
The band's next album, "Blast Furnace", took about 2 weeks to write and about 3 days to record, and the band members were sick of it before it even came out. However, that was album number one of a three-album deal - that's how the band saw it.
After releasing "Blast Furnace" and with only one original member left the band went to Europe in the spring of 1993. On the second date of the tour, what was to become the band's next release, a live album entitled "Live at SO36", was recorded at a show in Berlin.
When the band got back Darryl Sheppard wanted to pursue other musical interests so the band again needed a new guitar player. Mike Bowser, who knew Darryl Sheppard through a mutual, joined the band in the summer of 1993.
A month after "Live at SO36" was recorded band flew to Berlin to play two shows, then came back and released "Live at SO36" [two down one to go].
The winter of 1993-1994 was tough... The band was writing/scrapping material for what was to become their next release. About 30 songs were written all in all. Chris Lauria wanted to get Mark McKay back to liven things up but Jack Kelly wouldn't have anything to do with it.
There was a lot of tension in the band at the time. Chris Lauria wasn't getting along with Barry Hite, Barry Hite wasn't getting along with Jack Kelly. And then, tragically, former Slapshot member Jordan Wood committed suicide on June 7 1994. Mark McKay, Jack Kelly and Chris Lauria were reunited for the funeral, but Steve Risteen was out of the country at the time. Once again Chris Lauria tried to convince Jack Kelly to get Mark McKay back, but Jack Kelly wasn't interested.
The band went to Chicago to record. The band really thought that this album was the greatest thing - a whole new direction. The album was called "Unconsciousness" and was produced by Steve Albini, ex Big Black member and Nirvana producer.
In August of 1994 Slapshot when off to Europe for a two month tour with Ignite and a split 7" single record was released to promote it ["Split with Ignite"]. The tour kicked off at the Hultsfred Festival in Sweden on August 11 and ended on October 4 in Germany. Slapshot played 50 shows in 7 countries in 54 days.
There were a lot of rumors going around about how Slapshot didn't get along with Ignite. The tour went very well and Slapshot didn't have anything against Ignite - the band just opposed the idea of having an opening band.
When the band got back, Chris Lauria managed to convince Jack Kelly to get Mark McKay back.
The band started working on a new album but to Chris Lauria it all sounded like the previous album. So he decided to start his own band and they would be the opener on the next tour. The band was to be called Bitter and since the singer and drummer were roadies for Slapshot so it would only be one extra person on the tour bus.
Jack Kelly was listening to some of Bitter's material and was apparently so impressed that the band scrapped just about all the material they had, moved into a new rehearsal space and started collaborating. Jack Kelly and Chris Lauria collaborated on the music while Jack Kelly wrote the lyrics.
The collaboration resulted in a completely new album, called "16 Valve Hate". It was first released by Lost & Found Records in Europe. The deal was very low key. No contract, Lost & Found Records paid for the recording and gave the band some CDs.
The album was then released by Taang! Records in the US. The band couldn't get a hold of the artwork [which Lost & Found Records had done by themselves] on the first album so a new one was made [therefore the two different layouts]. The US version also featured two additional tracks - "If You Had" and "I Knew I'd Lose".
The relations between the band and Lost & Found Records went very sour after the release of "16 Valve Hate". Lost & Found Records accused Slapshot of ripping off the fans [they weren't very happy about Slapshot letting Taang! Records release "16 Valve Hate" in the US] and Slapshot accused Lost & Found Records of being crooks. Lost & Found Records has a history of allegations of ripping of bands. According to Mark McKay, Slapshot has never received any royalties for the sales of "16 Valve Hate" by Lost & Found Records.
Anyway, on August 25 1995 the band set off on their most ambitious tour to date in support of "16 Valve Hate". With Doug McKinnon [ex Vandals] filling in for Mark McKay, Slapshot played over 60 shows in 8 countries with only 4 days off. Right Direction from the Netherlands was the opener.
When the band came back from the tour they started planning for the next album, writing songs and playing shows. The album, called "Old Tyme Hardcore", was then recorded and released. "Old Tyme Hardcore" was originally recorded for Taang! Records but Century Media Records wanted to put it out in Europe, so the band signed a deal with them [hence the different layouts].
In the spring of 1996, Century Media Records asked Slapshot to headline the Crossover 2000 tour in Europe. It was a disaster from the beginning and somehow managed to get worse everyday. It was because of this tour that the lineup would once again change. It was 3 weeks into this tour that Chris Lauria, sick and fed up, quit the band and headed home. Brian Omer, the bass player from one of the other bands on this tour, replaced him and played the remaining shows.
In the midst of this turmoil, Slapshot played one of their biggest shows to date, headlining the Skate Fest stage at the Dynamo Open Air Festival in the Netherlands on May 24 1996.
Two weeks later the band returned to Europe and played a short two and a half week club tour with John Madden [ex Doc Hopper] on bass. This tour featured Slapshot's first appearance at the With Full Force Festival in Germany on June 23 1996. Opening for Motorhead and Ministry, Slapshot played to a crowd of over 20.000.
Slapshot did not tour again for almost 3 year...
On January 18 1997, Slapshot played what was intended to be their last show in Haverhill, Massachusetts with Proclamation, Floorpunch, Bane and Ten Yard Fight [whose cover photo for their album "Back on Track" was taken at this show].
Slapshot intended to record the show and put out a live album. However, a technical difficulty occurred and the master only had six and a half songs on it and could not be released as a full-length album. Four of the tracks were issued on the "Life Sentence Soundtrack" compilation issued by Ratmonkey Records.
In July 1997, Slapshot played what was to be their last US show for 5 years in Plymouth, Massachusetts. For a long time, it looked as if this show was going to be their last US show, ever. The show was videotaped for a local TV and the band was interviewed after the show [i.e. Mark McKay and Jack Kelly since John LaCroix and Ben Chused from Ten Yard Fight played the guitar and bass for that show]. At the interview Jack Kelly stated that he don't know if this was Slapshot last show or not, every show can be the last, but then again, they might come out a few years later and do another show...
Then everything went all quiet and the mandatory rumors of a split surfaced. However, all rumors were killed off when there was a confirmation of a forthcoming European tour. Initially, the idea was that the lineup would consist of Chris Lauria, Steve Risteen, Mike Bowser, Mark McKay and Jack Kelly. A sort of a reunited Slapshot tour. However, soon it was obvious that the former band members still couldn't get along so Chris Lauria and Steve Risteen wouldn't participate. The replacement came in the shape of David Link, the bass player from Mike Bowser's other band, Claymore.
The tour kicked off on March 26 1999 in Chemnitz, Germany and ended, 16 shows later in Maastricht, Holland. The band also made it over to Europe for a couple of shows in July, making their second appearance at the With Full Force Festival and their first appearance at the Graspop Festival in the Belgium.
"Boston Drops the Gloves: A Tribute to Slapshot" was the title of a tribute album issued by Ken Casey's [Dropkick Murphys' bass player] Flat Records and San Francisco based label TKO Records. The release date was December 12 1999. 22 Boston bands paying homage to Boston's finest Hardcore outfit.
On October 22 2001 a new Slapshot album, entitled "Greatest Hits, Slashes and Crosschecks", was released by Century Media Records and a new chapter in Slapshot's legendary history began. Featuring fierce rerecorded version of classic Slapshot songs, the records was an instant favorite for long time Slapshot fans and helped introduce Slapshot to a new generation of Hardcore kids.
Chris Lauria rejoined Slapshot and the band returned to Europe in May of 2002 to play 17 shows in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and England. The tour was well received and the band was invited back to Europe for two club shows and two festival shows [the Graspop Festival and the With Full Force Festival] over the 4 of July weekend, 2002.
On August 3rd 2002, Slapshot played a short set as special guests on the Kill Your Idols/Poison Idea show at The Hideaway club in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
On October 13 2002, Slapshot would have played their first official show at The Hideaway in Cambridge, Massachusetts but due to the venue shutting its doors at the last minute, and with no alternative venues, the show got cancelled.
On October 26, Slapshot played the 6th annual Back to School Jam festival with Blood for Blood, Reach the Sky, Converge, Panic, No Warning, Count Me Out, Fit for Abuse, Impact and Some Kind of Hate. Slapshot also played this show as Stars and Stripes.
In November of 2002, Slapshot returned to Europe for three club dates and an appearance at the European Hardcore Party, playing Stars and Stripes.
In November of 2002, Boston based label Bridge 9 Records reissued "Greatest Hits, Slashes and Crosschecks" in the US. One year after the album's initial release date, it had become obvious that Century Media Records hadn't been able to distribute it in the US so Bridge 9 Records stepped to the plate.