Interview with Slander
HMTM-For those readers who might not be familiar with Slander can you share how the band came about.
Steve Slater (original Singer) and Andy Saxon-Lamb had known each other for a while and had been discussing starting a band during 1989. They already had Andy ‘Greg’ Gregson (original guitarist) on board and they started auditioning people in early 1990. They received a phone call from Robin Duke (Entertainments correspondent @ the Blackpool Evening Gazette) stating that a band had dropped out of the local Rock Battle and could they fill their slot the day after. Robin basically asked if ‘Meanstreak’ could play it at short notice, which was Andy Gregson’s and ASL’s former band that had played throughout the 80’s in the Lancashire area. Steve said they could and they set about poaching musicians from other bands to play with them as a ‘one off’. They managed to get a bassist called ‘Chad’ from the band ‘Dog Food’ and a drummer called ‘Mick Mason’ from a band called ‘Fantasia’.
They then rehearsed at a local rehearsal room called ‘Red Box’ overnight and finished at about 04.00am. They did a couple of Maiden Covers and a couple of Priest covers, ‘Cry of the Wolf’ and ‘Lay down The Law’, which were originally played by Greg and ASL with Meanstreak. The next evening they played a 30 minute slot at the Rock Battle and at the end received a loud amount of applause and cheering. (They didn’t win!!) Robin Duke mentioned them in his review of the event and said that they showed promise and would be a good addition to the local scene if they decided to stay together as a band. After reading the review, Steve, Greg and ASL decided to recruit some new members. That’s when Kieran Shellard (Bass) and Eddie joined. They named the band ‘Slander’ and started rehearsing 3 nights and 1 Saturday every week. That is how ‘Slander’ came to be straight from the horse’s mouth!!
HMTM-Despite forming in 1990 your sound had more in common with the NWOBHM movement. What were some of the bands that helped to shape your sound?
We all listened to classic rock bands such as Priest, Maiden, Scorpions, ACDC, Purple, Sabbath, and Zeppelin when we were younger and there is no doubt that we wanted to play their type of music. ASL is also a big fan of Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax at the time, so when he wrote the music, I think this influenced me him as well.
HMTM-The NWOBHM sound seems to be more in style now than it was back when you guys did your demos in the early 90's. Do you agree with that and if so then why do you think that is?
It would seem that NWOBHM is on its way back. We call it the SWOBHM (Second Wave). It is great to see a fantastic genre on its way back to the forefront of music in the Rock scene. I would say that we definitely missed the boat by about 10 years as a band for any commercial success. This was due to age more than anything really, as at the time of the original NWOBHM movement we were all in school lol!! Slander was never really about commercial success (although it would have been nice!) it is more about playing the music we love. It is amazing that people actually regard ‘Careless’ as a great NWOBHM album. I think we are all grateful that we have had the opportunity to put our music out there when so many good bands never get the chance.
HMTM-Your band formed almost half a decade after NWOBHM had died down. Do you think playing that style limited the audience you got back then or where there enough fans still starved to hear that kind of metal?
I would say that was definitely the case. From 1990 - 1991 we found ourselves quite popular and ‘Careless’ sold out the original 500 in late 1991 very quickly. We did get some large crowds, but ‘Guns & Roses’ had really taken off by this point as had Metallica’s ‘Black Album’, so we sounded pretty dated. Once Nirvana launched ‘Nevermind’ then the whole scene was dead for us and that was one of the main reasons we called it a day in early 1993.
HMTM-Your song "Fighting Talk" is one of the album's highlights. It received some airplay back in the day correct?
It was the first song Steve and I wrote in early 1990 along with Lonely Nights. It is a song everyone seems to know and sing along to when we play live. When we played a recent gig in Lancaster (Lancashire UK) and the crowd were singing it word for word. That was a huge surprise for us. After 20 years, one of our tracks is being sung by an audience. It’s that sort of thing that makes being in a band worthwhile. I am also aware that bands in the states cover this song amongst others. That’s quite an accolade! In late 1990 'Fighting Talk' appeared on Radio 1’s Friday Rock Show’s ’ Rock Wars’. The feature showcased the talents of unsigned bands and was hosted by the late Tommy Vance. Unfortunately, we were runners up.
HMTM-Was there ever any label interest in the band the first time around?
There were a few tentative enquiries from them, but that was it. As soon as they found out we weren’t Grunge the phone went down lol!!
HMTM-Even though the musical landscape was changing Slander was a popular live act at the time. Who were some of the bands you shared a stage with?
We played with Wraith in 1992 a couple of times, Beki and the Bombshells (Beki Bondage for Vice Squad), Marshall Law and were on the Headbangers Ball Tour around the UK where we alternated nights at different venues with Paul Di’Anno’s Killers, Saxon & Samson. We probably played with a few more bands, but I can’t recall them now to be honest. We must have played 100’s of gigs between 1990 and 1993.
HMTM-The cover art from "Careless talk costs lives" has a very cool early 80's vibe to it. Who did the artwork?
The cover art work was designed and drawn by a local artist called Paul Grundy. The cover has various references to land marks around our local area and the one thing we all wanted to do was leave there and play in an HM band!! We received a lot of criticism and unhelpfulness from some parties (there were some brilliant people as well!) in the very early days of the band and it was almost like we could never escape. We used to call our hometown Doomsville and Paul took the idea and elaborated on it as having someone trying to escape our home town and all the forces that conspire against you doing that are signified by the Dragons and Train Driver. I think there was also touch of influence from the film ‘Night Of The Demon’. It’s A little surreal, but not to serious.
HMTM-You have been working on new material right? Can you tell us a little about that. Does it feel different writing together now then as it did back in the 90s?
We have been working on new material and will start playing some live this summer. It’s definitely different, as for one Steve is no longer with us and his lyrics were what I wrote the music around for ‘Careless’. Now we have Si and Pete who both write as well. There is a more mature feel to the playing now and I think this show’s through on the 2011 re-release of ‘Careless’. We are keeping the a similar sound but with a bit more maturity around the writing. The next album will definitely have the former songs energy!!
HMTM-Who is in Slander now?
Si Staples – Lead Vocals
Andy Saxon-Lamb – Guitars
Pete Hewitt – Bass
Andy ‘ Eddie’ Edwards -Drums
HMTM-Is there an album in the works?
Yes. We start recording it in October for an early 2013 release. In the meantime we have a covers EP coming out in May that will introduce the fans to Simon. It’s basically a stop gap before the next album. It will be entitled ‘Get Em Slandered’, so watch out for it!!
HMTM-How does it feel to see your album getting such great reviews now? It must be some justification to know you were onto something with your sound.
It is a fantastic honor to have such kind reviews from people about our music. It can be sometimes dreamlike as you ask yourself is that our music they are being kind about. It does add some justification to our song writing back in 1991, but to be fair the trends had turned against our music at that time.
HMTM-Is there any chance we might see Slander here in the States?
We would love to play over in the States as a support act to someone over there. It is something we have always wanted to do, but without a promoter paying for it, then it would be difficult. We get so many nice messages for the States that I am sure we would go down well out there. I think we have to say ‘Never Say Never !!’ Maybe our chance will come in the not too distant future.
We had a long gap between 1993 and the full reunion in 2009 and it is like starting over again, with the energy, writing and the music we play. This line-up is probably the strongest we have had in terms of unification and musicianship, so Slander is definitely going to continue and produce new music moving forward. I would just like to also thank everyone who had bought our music and supported us over the years. You really are an inspiration to the band and your support is much appreciated. We would also like to thank HMTM for the opportunity to be interviewed.
***Andy conducted this interview. I just posted it for him because he had some computer problems. Enjoy. -Metal Mark