Way of the Road: Zach Slaughter Interview

Way of the Road: Zach Slaughter Interview

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.

Those looking to get a listen to Way Of The Road will have to wait until it drops on October 26th. Stay tuned to the latest from the band on their Facebook here or from their Instagram here.

Finding a Line: Skateboarding, Music and Media

Finding a Line: Skateboarding, Music and Media

Though skateboarding has made it into Hollywood on screen and in the streets on plenty of occasions in it’s 60 year lifespan, it’s presence in the music and media capital of Los Angeles this past week was unlike any other depiction of skateboarding this area has ever seen. This can be credited to the Finding a Line event, hosted at the Ford Theatre. Billed as a celebration of the intersection between skateboarding, music and media, the county owned space provided the grounds for one of the most progressive events that skateboarding has seen in recent years.

Beginning this past Tuesday, the process was kicked off by a gallery exhibition, panel discussion and film screening, curated by the likes of Collegiate Skateboarding Educational Foundation Board Member, Neftalie Williams, former pro skater, Laban and filmmaker, Diana Wyenn. Featuring visuals from around the world, the issues of race and diversity in skateboarding culture served as an underlying narrative carried by some of the most iconic people of color in the skateboarding community, including Paul Rodriguez and Stevie Williams. Drawing solid reception at the beginning of the week, this event set the tone for the days that followed.

The resounding capstone to this weeklong celebration was a performance by jazz pianist, Jason Moran with backing instrumentalists, The Bandwagon, fused with a live skate demo. Thanks to some help from the OC Ramps wood shop, the stage for such an unconventional event directed a group of skateboarders front and center as a crowd of hundreds gazed on. Unlike other skate-centric events in the area, this crowd was not intrinsically filled with messy haired teenagers but rather with patrons of all ages whose banter indicated that they hadn’t a clue of who these skaters were or what tricks they were throwing down. At the same time, the mix of pro and am skaters taking the stage seemed undeniably unfazed by the fact that they were skating in front of hundreds, rather than in the privacy of their local park.

However, the interplay between the different occupants of the space was something that Executive Director, Olga Garay-English, noted in her opening address. Speaking on the ownership of physical space that skateboarders take in their communities, Garay-English noted that the evening was a way for a recognized institutions to better embrace skate culture. At the same time, she noted how the weeklong event was a means of skateboarders being able to celebrate their culture alongside the culture of their neighbors in one of the most multicultural places in the world. Though these opening remarks praised skaters as “philosophers” pursuing a “counter culture art form,” the crew of rider sat idly by, seeming less interested in the compliments as they were about sizing up the ramp for the shredding that was set to commence.

With no further ado, the likes of Greg Lutzka, Brad McClain and a host of other rippers began to drop in as the performance commenced. Coming out firing, Lutzka stomped out a series of 360 flips and backside flips that evoked greater ovation from the crowd with each consistent land. Then, after a period of somewhat standard runs for the jam, the cast of skaters began attacking the ramp from all angles. What originally started with casual manuals on the deck led a pair of skaters to take over the entire area, ollieing a gap from the band stage into the half pipe before promptly launching a kickflip indy grab and a massive 360 grab (respectively) out to the other end of the stage. At the same time, there were nose manuals across the deck, 360 spins from Jim Gray on the flat of the ramp and even a drop off the stage and into the crowd.

With all of this was going on in the forefront, Jason Moran and the Bandwagon remained equally unfazed by the crowd and the skaters as they powered through their performance for well over an hour. With instrumental improvisations that matched the off-the-cuff skateboarding, the sounds and the visuals complimented one another perfectly. Plus, Ron Allen tapped into both his skate and MC side by switching from freestyling on the ramp to freestyling on the microphone throughout.

All things considered, the evening and the week of programming represented much more than a couple nights out in Hollywood. Instead, it was a visual testament of skateboarding’s ascension into mainstream culture as we know it. Whether through jazz musicians tailoring their notes around the actions of skateboarders or skateboarders dropping in and skating to the tune of music they had probably never skated to before, it was as much a learning experience on the stage as it was for those in the surrounding crowd. With a positive example of the benefits that sharing skateboarding with other cultures can have on the community, we sincerely hope that efforts like this one are replicated in the future.

All photos shot and authorized to use by Lindsey Best.

Evening Music Break – Spin

Evening Music Break – Spin

This weeks spotlight shines on Philadelphia’s own Spin, a four-piece rock group who’s latest single ‘Dig Your Own Grave” is off their latest EP ‘Meant To Rise’ which was released January 2017. “Dig Your Own Grave” is a ripping tune that leads you through a no holds bared journey of play now, pay later. Reminiscent of The Cult with the energy of The Struts, if you like guitar and drum based rock these guys are right up your alley. Check out the video and be sure to watch all the way through, the mini movie at the end is hilarious! Ultimately, you are the best judge of what you like. Give it a listen and let us know what you think.   

Evening Music Break

 

Torrion Dedmon is an R&B artist hailing from San Diego, Ca. and is smooth as they come. His new single “Down (My Love)” is a great example of how talented this man is. Dedmon’s sound is simultaneously sensual and contemporary while retaining a classic r&b feel.

 

“Down (My Darling)” is Torrion’s follow up to his 2015 releases “Go Down” and “Champagne Problems”, all of which show the chops of this incredible talent. Real R&B artists seem to be a rare commodity these days. Torrions writing and delivery are dead on, his music reminds me of a combination of Al Green and Chris Brown. If you’re spending the evening in with your Honey, spin this…you can thank me in the morning.

 

Ultimately you are the best judge of what you like. We encourage our readers to give a listen and leave a comment letting us know what you think. Thanks for reading (& listening), see you here next time.

Evening Music Break

 

Bitter’s Kiss “My God”

 

 

Bitter’s Kiss is showcase project of Chloe Baker, young folk/pop artist Coming out of New Jersey, her latest single “My God” is an attempt to illustrate the things used to build us up are often also used to manipulate and divide us (in this case religion).

 A sweet and fluid social commentary delivered with solid piano work, overlaid with acoustic riffs and a mellow horn section create a multi-layered sound that doesn’t feel forced. 

the production quality is decent. “My god” does have a rather familiar vibe you’ll get at nearly any coffee house, sort of a Alison Krauss/Norah Jones sound that really isn’t unique. While I appreciate the sentiment, Bitter’s Kiss could really use some originality in terms of delivery.

 

 

Ultimately you are the best judge of what you like. We encourage our readers to give a listen and leave a comment letting us know what you think. Thanks for reading (& listening), see you here next time.

Evening Music Break

Evening Music Break

 

 

 

SakkieFTW is a dub-step/electronic artist from Vancouver, B.C. and has just released his second EP “Wasteland”. This collection has everything from deep, hypnotic rhythms to high RPM beats that can get your blood pumping at 1A.M. While I’ll be the first to admit ‘techno’ is dead, bumping bass will never go out of style. SakkieFTW is more Prodigy than Moby. As I rolled through this album I became more curious with each passing track, finding multiple layers of varied techniques and musical styles. Fans of the aforementioned Prodigy as well as NIN should find this four song EP “Wasteland” entertaining. Though not my personal style, it is really well done. Ultimately you are the best judge of what you like. We encourage our readers to give a listen and leave a comment letting us know what you think.

 

Thanks for reading (& listening), see you here next time.

 

  

Evening Music Break

Evening Music Break

 The Psyatics are a Las Vegas based trio who’s latest release “Famous Monster” reminds me of a Replacements/Cramps mash-up -super cool! Featuring one of the tightest rhythm sections I’ve come across in some time and the guitar parts are on point, these fellas rip. With a refreshingly original sound; vintage instruments lend to a familiar feel without sounding like a cover-band. With that said, there are some influences found here, aside from the previously mentioned Cramps & Replacements there’s a bit of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds in there mixed with some Fishbone -all legit in my mind. I think I have a new favorite band; The Psyatics “Famous Monster” is a killer ride through truly inspired/talented musicianship and artistry.

Evening Music Break – GUAS

Evening Music Break – GUAS

This week’s spotlight shines on Grown Up Avenger Stuff (GUAS), a four-piece out of Charlotte, North Carolina. The band consists of veteran guitarist John Thomsen and his two sons, Hunter on Bass & percussionist Tyler. Rounding out the band is their new edition, ripping lead vocalist Ray Stern who’s deep, round tones reminds me of Florence (Florence and the machine) mixed with Debbie harry (Blonde). “Pins” video above Founding member John puts it like this “What you get from us live is pure fun rock and roll. The connection and chemistry between us is so strong, especially between Hunter and Tyler, and Ray has proven to be a perfect fit, as though she was created to be the perfect front person for GUAS.” GUAS’ latest single “A.I.M.”, released just this year, is a great example of the depth of this well-round group of musicians. If you enjoy Grace Potter and/or the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s we think you’ll really dig GUAS. Have a listen here Ultimately, you are the best judge of what you like. Give it a listen and let us know what you think.

EVENING MUSIC BREAK

EVENING MUSIC BREAK

“Get Off Easy” by Savage Henry

 

 

 

The fourth full-length album titled “Get Off Easy” from this Saskatoon, Canada based band is a carnal carnival and is not for the easily offended. Savage Henry manages to rip through tales of sexual endeavors with witty and humorous lyrics backed by solid, double timed rhythm section wrapped in furious guitar work. This band is truly savage, reminiscent of Black Flag and Misfits mixed with a little early AC/DC.

 

Rolling through this album “Get Off Easy” feels like your staggering through a long Saturday night. CH manages to saturate you in loose sexuality without coming off vulgar for the sake of being vulgar. Honestly, I love this album. The quality of both musicianship and that of their production is spot on.

 

 

 

Listen to the full album here: Get Off Easy

Ultimately you are the best judge of what you like so let us know what you think. 

Thanks for reading (& listening), see you here next time!