Everyday, people put their lives on the line for skateboarding and pay heavy prices for doing so. However, few people that have ever set foot on a board can say that they’ve sent it and gotten broken off the same way that frontman of Skull Fist, Zach Slaughter can.
Aside from being a badass singer/guitarist from Canada, Slaughter is a ripping street head who broke his neck attempting a kinked rail back in 2013. Despite this and a collection of other gnarly slams, Slaughter has graduated from small scale skate sponsorships to living the heavy metal dream, releasing albums and touring with his Skull Fist bandmates. In preparation of the drop for their third album, Way of the Road, released through Napalm Records, we shot Slaughter over a few questions regarding time on the board and the influence that it’s grown to have on his music.
Who are you and how did you get involved in skateboarding?
I am Zach, singer and guitar guy of Skull Fist. I’ve been skating since I was real little in Northern Canada. I remember the cops, the punks (Being one of them) and the baggy pants. I stepped in near the end of the ‘little wheel’ phase – when those ‘Skateboarding Is Not a Crime’ stickers boards mattered.
Skating was for the outcast shitheads that had no other interests. I’ve been skating ever since. I sent sponsor-me tapes when I was 16 and got sponsored by a few small companies when I was a kid but then got into music as a “career” instead.
Let’s get straight to it, what’s the story behind breaking your neck?
Man, it was the end of a session. We had just seen this 6 flat 6 with a wooden rail and thought it would be funny to try and boardslide it. There was grass beside so I thought I’d just roll into the grass. Nope.
It was dark, I went to catch myself with my hands as I was about to faceplant but I swiped at the ground and missed apparently. Broken neck – lucky no spinal cord damage. I also broke my cheek bone, cracked my forehead and got a gnarly head scar from it. That’s not even the worst. I always get the weirdest skate bails, I cut my sack open with a jagged board once and got 12 stitches.
Are you able to focus more on music during your recoveries?
Yeah, music has always been the main attraction for me. Skating is like a meditation/zen thing now – I do it to chill and think about nothing else. I try to skate a few times a week, although I tweaked my knee last month and am currently on a break. Honestly man, breaking the neck was real calm. I just laid around for a month and relaxed. I had a real long concussion that made Super Mario really hard to beat though (laughs).
How does your style of music correlate to your style of skateboarding?
I grew up with street skating. Tons of skull fist songs are about skating or have plenty of references to skating. I skate recklessly, I think – always trying to push my abilities, which I suppose is why I always hurt myself. I just think [about] pushing it and always feeling the mad rush from rolling away from something.
Crushing obstacles, you know? Spending hours trying a trick and shitting your pants with hype after you land it. I think heavy metal/punk is a lot like that. I listen to tons of different music and if it’s Neil Young I usually just end up rolling around the skatepark doing half-assed ollies looking at the clouds.
What’s something about Way of the Road that people don’t know, but should?
It was recorded in a week, minus the vocals. It’s the first album we’ve done without all the 80’s sounding reverbs and shit. It’s the first album we’ve done without our little skull dude on the cover too.
Any particular skater-fronted or skate-oriented bands that you’re backing these days?
The Shrine. They are from California – really good band. There’s a band here in Toronto called HEAD too. The drummer/singer shreds on the board.