Many thanks to James Sinks over at www.dementlieu.com/~obik for letting us use this interview.
In the 3 1/2 to 4 years Slapshot has been around, they've produced three records; a single containing a voice-only version of Gilligan's Island the 1986 EP "Back on the Map" and last fall "Step on It", a full album. They've toured all over gaining, a huge and devoted following. They were invited to the WBCN Rumble this year. Most of all, Slapshot have earned a gigantic reputation for being one of the mightiest, most ferocious Straight Edge bands that ever existed. Slapshot records pin your ears back. Slapshot gigs are legendary for violent, brawling slam dance pits. But, what is "Straight Edge"? What are the Slapshot guys really like? Why is it still OK to like this band? Having just returned from the most recent Slapshot tour, drummer Mark McKay sits in my living room and tells all.
Question: I recently saw a video of your last show at Axis. Bodies flying through the air, slamming everywhere, the bouncers not even bothering with crowd control...
Mark McKay: Yeah! Exactly! That's what we like. We like it when we can control the stage. A lot of kids won't come up on the stage while we're playing. They're doing their thing, diving off and stuff, but we don't have much problem with equipment. I think that maybe it's due to the fact that they're intimidated by us. A lot of people have told us, "We don't even go NEAR you guys when you're playing, because you're all swinging around and Choke's got the stick... " [Choke, Slapshot's lead singer, stalks the stage with a sawed off hockey stick.]
Question: Has he ever nailed anyone accidentally with that stick?
Mark McKay: Yeah, he has. Not intentionally, of course, but, he gets into it and is swinging the thing around. Everyone in the band has been hit by accident at one time or another, even me. How do you hit the drummer? Well he had bounced the stick down and it came up and creased me right across the face at the beginning of the set. I thought, "I'm not bleeding, I'm not unconscious, so I must be OK" and I just kept going. WISE: What exactly is "Straight Edge"? How does Slapshot fit in? DOES the band fit in? Mark McKay: Straight Edge to us, and what it always has been, is no drinks, no drugs, don't smoke, just keep your mind straight. That was your Straight Edge. .The kids today have kind of fumed it and are adding new things on. They're saying, "Well, in order to be TRUE Straight Edge, you got to be a vegetarian." And we're like, '"Wait a minute, you don't have to be a vegetarian, just don't screw up your mind." So they say, "You aren't Straight Edge if you eat meat." So, do we fit in now, or not? I tend to think of Slapshot as classic Straight Edge. The last of a dying breed, unfortunately.
Question: Is everybody in the group of the same mind as to Straight Edge?
Mark McKay: Yeah. Everybody's got different interpretations of how far they can take it, but we're all drug-free, and we're all NOT vegetarians. And blatantly so! We like to eat meat and one of our favorite places to eat is Hilltop Steak House in Saugus. They serve it up big there.
Question: What have been the lineups of the band?
Mark McKay: It started out with Choke, me, Steve Risteen on guitar and Jon Anastas from DYS
on bass. We did our first record with Jon but his obligations with school got too much for him and he quit. Then we got Jordan Wood, he played bass and lead guitar on "Step on It". Just recently, we added Jaime Sciarappa. From SSD
. on bass. Jordan plays guitar full-time and we're a five piece group. It gives us a little more expansion in guitar work, lets Steve go wild on rhythm guitar. That's what he does best!
Question: You'll have to describe the other guys for me.
Mark McKay: Steve is a happy-go-lucky, nutty guy. He goes insane on stage. Real social guy. Jordan, I have to admit I don't know much about, he lives a real private life. He used to be in a couple of other bands, but he's settled down- with us. He's got himself a house and everything, so I guess he's a bit domesticated! [laughs] He's the youngest in the band and a great, great guitar player. Jaime's a real rocker. He's married he loves Rock & Roll. He's kind of domestic, too, but he's added so much to the band, a very buoyant personality, fun to have around. Me, I'm sure the others would agree, that I'm the most social guy in the bard. I always try to keep as many ties with as many people as I can. They always make fun of me because of it. I guess I'm just friendly by nature. Choke? Nasty. A nice guy, really, but he's... angry... very straight, and strong in his convictions. Whatever he's into, he's INTO! And nothing's gonna get in his way. I say Choke is strong in his convictions, but really, we all are. Adamantly Straight Edge 1 guess is the message we want to put forth. And when we were on tour, we heard so many rumors! In one rumor, we had kicked Choke out because he was a Nazi. Now, Choke is NOT a Nazi. Another, Choke kicked us all out because we had beaten up friends of his. One of our readies was the new lead singer. So, we're out on the road hearing all this, none of it is true, and we're thinking, "Wow, what's going en back there? What are people saying about us?" I don't know. We're gone for a month, and all this stuff starts up. It's pretty funny. And it's stupid, too. I can't stress enough how against that whole racist thing I am. I'm pro-humanity. It sickens me to see people like that. To see people sieg-heiling us at gigs. I mean, we never sang about it, we have nothing to do with that, what are you doing? Go away. We don't want you here. We don't encourage any of those kids at all. To see people doing that to MY band, I just want to pep them all.
Mark McKay: AH! I was hoping you were going to ask about that! Well, Choke came in one day and said, "Hey, I wrote seven new songs." And we said, "What are you talking about?" So, he played a tape of these Oi! songs [Oi! being a type of punk so popular in England these last 3 or 4 years] and they were great tunes. Then later, he came in with lyrics and we HOWLED over them. "Skinheads on the Rampage", "Doc Marten Army", "Shaved for Battle" ["Our heads are shaved for battle/And that's what we're gonna do/Our boots are made for kicking/And they'll kick the shit out of you!"] we had a great laugh. Choke said we should record it, and put a single out. We thought it would be a fun thing to do, and we ended up writing a lot more songs in the studio. Choke pressed it up, and it'll be out [by the time you read this article in the form of a full album].
Question: Getting back to Slapshot...
Mark McKay: I think Slapshot had a hand in bringing back the Hardcore scene in Boston. There are a lot of new bands creeping up, and it's really good to see things happening again. It was lost for a while. Gang Green was the biggest Hardcore attraction in town for a while, and there were no other real bands. That's pretty much why Slapshot was formed, out of the apathetic Hardcore scene in Boston. That's what our whole first record is about. "Back on the Map". The title song is still kind of our anthem. Put Hardcore back on the map, Boston, in particular. We have real pride in our scene, we think it's one of the best. So, we wanted people to know there's a band that doesn't pull any punches in Boston. I think we prove that wherever we go.