Many thanks to the people over at for letting me copy this interview. If you haven't checked out their website, do so right away because it's that great!
Question: How's your edge?
Mark McKay: "...straight mind, razor edge- firm footing on a social ledge..." ah, the good old days. I still don't indulge in drink or drug and try to stay positive in these troubled times. I still call it Straight Edge, but I really don't have too much involvement with that scene. It's a good thing!
Question: First off, welcome back. Thanks! How does it feel to be playing again, and how much will we be seeing of Slapshot?
Mark McKay: It feels really great to play, it always did. But it's got to be done for the right reasons. In the past, it was great to go out and just RAGE and play your hardest - no matter what happened. Then go out and meet people and find out about scenes and people and things that you normally wouldn't be exposed to. We met so many great people in places like St. Louis, Albany, LA. And we're still in touch with a lot of them. Isn't that what it's all about? Or should be ... not sure what we will be doing for shows, probably not too often. The way things are now here in the US - not too favorable for us. We do really well in Europe - the kids go nuts and treat us like human beings. It's like old Boston every show. We will do what we always did: play when we feel like we're ready to play. New recordings on the way, that's for sure - but shows may be few and far between.
Question: What is the current lineup?
Mark McKay: Apparently I play the drums, Choke: vocal stylings, Chris: bass rumblings, Mike: les paul copy guitar. It's a pretty good lineup, we get on ok.
Question: Is there any truth to the rumor that Slapshot and Stars and Stripes will be recording new albums?
Mark McKay: Yes. We are in the process of writing now and hope to be recording by February 2003. The "Greatest Hits" CD was the latest recording we did, all the stuff on that is re-recorded or remixed. we didn't want to put out a "hits" package with a rehash of the same old stuff, and since we sound very different and play the songs differently, we figured "let's let people get a taste of what it's like now and hear the songs updated." We're pretty happy with it, and it's being released for the first time in the US on Chris Wrenn's Bridge 9 Records.
Question: Seeing that Slapshot has always been a Straight Edge band, are the members still Straight Edge?
Mark McKay: I really can only speak for myself, and I am still Straight Edge. I never questioned that and never will. I knew back then as I still know now that this is the way for me. The interpretations of "SE" have been under fire for years - no meat, hare Krishna stuff, positivity, etc., so I can't blame anyone for bailing on the title - but I think we all have a good attitude towards the things we choose to be involved in and don't let anything control our lives or actions.
Question: What is the story of the old Boston/NY rivalry?
Mark McKay: Same old story, in every walk of life - we think we're better than you! Show us what you got! I wasn't there for the early SSD trips and the ensuing incidents, so I can't comment, but the later stuff was just that - show us what you got, you think your bands are so great! [some of them were! It was all a game and healthy competition.] but a negative and surprising incident with Youth of Today the first time we went to NYC to play CBGB's made us kick it into high gear. It's all water under the bridge now, and so unimportant in the whole scheme of things, I won't bore you with the details. To sum it up: healthy scene pride in the timeless spirit of competition.
Question: Tell us the story of Choke and the hockey stick.
Mark McKay: Long one, but I'll do my best. Choke busted up his leg at a show in NYC [stage diving incident] and had an operation to repair the damage. All messed up, cast and all. He decided it was a good idea to keep people away from him while performing with Negative FX preventing any further damage by swinging the top half of a mic stand out in front of him. We saw Negative FX and saw him do this and said "that guy's such a dick!" not knowing the story. Then we saw Last Rights and he was doing the same thing! "that guy's such a dick!" we finally met and formed Slapshot and decided it would be funny to update his trademark and saw off a hockey stick and use that! "that guy's such a dick!" was the uproar at our first couple of shows.
Question: Why have there been no Slapshot shows in Boston or the US in so many years?
Mark McKay: Why would we? The scene here was tearing itself apart - violence, backstabbing, attitude thru the roof! We had been to Europe many times and found that the scene there was much better. Kids were psyched and really respectful and wanted to see Slapshot. Great! Trips to Europe, tons of good friends, we can play anywhere unabated and do anything we wanted. "Why play here, tell me again?" Boston was dead, as far as we were concerned. We still wanted to play, but there WAS no place to play. Now we can do it here on our terms, kids seem to be excited about it. I think there is a whole new crop of kids here who have never seen Slapshot! That just seemed criminal to not have played our home town in years and years, so we are taking some tentative steps towards playing out in the US again...
Question: Seeing that Slapshot has influenced many bands, you're too kind. What bands have influenced Slapshot past and present?
Mark McKay: Man, the obvious bands: Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Negative Approach, all old Boston stuff... me personally: I taught myself to play drums from The Clash and Ramones [my first punk band loves!], Minor Threat, Dead Kennedys - the usual. As for recent influences: no musical influences to speak of, but we draw a lot of inspiration from intense music forms. Black/Death Metal, some Hardcore, Drum & Bass - anything that is done well can inspire. I like old blues/bluegrass and think that stuff is as intense as any Hardcore I've heard. Maybe not in the volume dept. or speed, but like I said anything that's well done and done from the heart is an influence.
Question: What was your favorite show that you have ever played? Most violent?
Mark McKay: I think I had the best time at the Haverhill Massachusetts show. Chaos, even the stage was collapsing while we were playing - but great bands, no trouble and I think we played well. It's a good thing too, that was to be the last proper Slapshot show for a LONG time... most violent? I really don't pay too much attention while we're playing - not to fights anyway. As Choke said all those years ago, "we don't stop and break up fights that happen while we are playing, we want to see who wins." There was one incident in Canada years and years ago - the details are fuzzy, but it was a hall show and there was a redneck bachelor party in the hall downstairs at the same time. We heard there were some incidents outside the hall during the show, but we just thought whatever. Then while we were on stage playing, the front doors burst open and this gang of really drunk rednecks from the party came rushing in swinging! The brawl spilled outside, but we didn't stop so I don't know what happened, but it was pretty funny. I do remember some fights at shows I was seeing, but not much while we were playing.
Question: Do you feel that the intimidation factor has gone out of Hardcore? That the sense of fear doesn't exist at shows anymore?
Mark McKay: I really wouldn't know, I haven't been to a Hardcore show in YEARS. But I would imagine with the advent of more melodic music, the shows would have less agro. Not to say that there aren't bands who do it old style - I know they are out there, but I really can't comment. I stopped going to shows because the "intimidation factor" become acting out those impulses and fights were everywhere at every show. That's not what I was in it for, so I got out.
Question: Any final words of wisdom or cool stories to share?
Mark McKay: Wisdom is not something I'm that good at - I just try to get thru the times by being focused and positive, that's all I personally can offer. As for cool stories, I got a million of them. I'm just not sure that anyone else will think they are cool!
Mark McKay: The coolest thing I can think of is keeping this scene alive and positive - not positive in the lame sense of the word, but moving forward and keeping it an aggressive medium for expression, communication and a safe harbor for those that need something to believe in. We had such a good time over the years, traveling, playing, meeting people and seeing America and the world, talking to kids and hearing their bands, trading demos and t-shirts - alas, that's gone for us, but keeping those friends and friendships that last thru the years - that's what I think this is all about. Thanks for your time and attention.