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Interview with Skull Fist | Zach Slaughter

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BVR
so, Zach, the new studio instalment for Skull Fist and the title “Paid in Full”. So, guys how do you feel about that?

ZACH
Um, a little tired a little uh a little sore I fell off my skateboard that's how I feel [Laughter].

 

BVR
Okay, your new album “Paid in Full” is due to be released two days from now on the 22nd of April (the Interview was on the 20th) via Atomic Fire Records. What we are going to hear from you guys this time?

ZACH
Um, you're going to hear me trying desperately to sing high notes, um you know kicking myself on the balls or whatever, I got to do in order to hit the notes and then you'll clearly hear a drummer that wants to put drum fills on every possible second [Laughter] and uh a guitar player that clearly has ATD.

 

BVR
Okay, I’m not going to lie. Before this interview I never heard of you guys, you got a new fan here you know that?

ZACH
Cool man cool yeah, I appreciate it.

 

BVR
The thing that I like about you is that, uh how can I say it, a “vintage freshness” that you have if I’m going to say it like that. Straightforward music and uh I don't know what to do first… headbang, raise my fist in the air

or start to jumping…

ZACH
uh you know you can do them all at the same time man it's like patting your belly and rubbing your head or whatever. It's like an aerobic workout [Laughter].

 

BVR
something that the press release stated is something like that and I believe I can confirm that, it's like 70s scorpions have the heavy metal Treatment. That's awesome! how do you manage all this colossal power to channel it?

ZACH
um well, I do a lot of sacrifices so that's a huge part of uh… sorry man I gotta give you an honest answer [Laughter]… You know when we were younger, vocally people used to compare me to uh Vince Neil all the time and they'd be like oh man you guys you sound like Vince Neil and in my head, I always thought to myself like that's not a compliment bro… But people are lately been saying things about scorpions on this new record and it's a much nicer compliment because I would say that scorpions definitely, songwriting is you know much more advanced than something like Motley Crue. So, in a sense I appreciate it man. It's nice to hear it. You know I’m not trying to make a certain thing or whatever it's like, just making songs, and how (the songs) come out. You know what I mean. it is probably unintentional. I just like making music.

 

BVR
Also, a straightforward artwork for the album. I have read the press release as I said before, and I have to ask… Does the title and the artwork mean something important for you guys?

ZACH
Um, I’ve always been Crazy [Laughter]. Yeah, I was always doing crazy shit until the last couple of years and I think the title (of the album) mostly came from personal experiences I guess you’re kind of just get tired of. You get tired of dealing with people you get tired of bad scenarios and so for that, was just me saying fuck this all right that's enough man I’m not doing this shit anymore. I mean I did my time I went to social and emotional prison I’m not fucking going back.

 

BVR
so, as we spoke about the artwork, I made a little research and on the first two albums “Head of The Pack” and “Chasing the Dream” there is a skull-faced figure any chance of seeing him again?
Does he have a name?
ZACH
[Laughs]I always called him lead. originally his name was Lead. I think originally was Lead Foot. You know I was pretty young when I started Skull Fist And a lot of it was just fun things that I thought were cool you know I was like I bought this Halloween decoration and it was a big skull head and this is like, I was like 18-19 at the time, and I bought it from like a shopper's drug mart in Canada and it was cool looking, so what I had done was, I just took a knife and I cut it open and made it into a helmet-like, I had like a hat you know like something you put over your head and we cut a hole in it in the front. We used to drink a lot so we would drink with it. you'd put it on your head and you'd put beers through the hole in the mouth and you know just chug and it was just something we did for fun. But at the same time, I also started doing Skull Fist at the same time. So, I remember one of the first things that we did, a photograph from Myspace back then it was just a photo of my buddy wearing that helmet and I just took a picture of it and just put that on the internet and it honestly just progressed from there.
There was a guy that I knew that did art and before we had even released anything he was always liked what we had already done on the demo the “No False Metal” and at that time we hadn't really used this Lead Foot thing and we were just drunk and we came up with a funny story about what it was. It was just you know rambling on about making up garbage basically. And this guy that was making art, he was just a buddy and he liked the band and we used to hang out and drink together and on his own time, he made art out of that helmet guy. And we ended up being like “yeah all right let's do this” you know this is fun and now we have something to do for art instead of like a picture you know a butt or something you know so it was uh I think it was just like an accidental progression as we were going.

 


BVR
A few words about the recordings. if you had any difficulties in making the album? any particular song that was tricky making, or any funny story making the album?

ZACH
Yeah, there's a little tapping part in this song called “Crush Kill Destroy”, it's really quick man it's only like 15 seconds and it's like two guitars just harmonizing like a tapping thing but it's like an offset finger thing where you tap on the same finger that you're hammering on with and I actually stole that idea from Ian (Chains) from Cauldron when we were kids. I remember seeing him do that and I was like, “oh that's a good idea and I had never done it up until recently. And Chris the guy that was recording with us in the studio man [Laughs] just sat there for like an hour while I tried to fucking do this thing properly and must have been a huge pain in the ass for him. So, that was a bit annoying but the album it was okay to record. being in a studio is definitely a pain in the ass because you've got to sit there all day and uh just play the guitar for all that long. But I think we recorded all the music in five-six days or something like that.

 


BVR
Something that I’m impressed with is the length of the album. We are living in a music industry where the more tracks or the lengthier the album the better. “Paid in Full” has eight tracks as the old days and 33 and something minutes of total album time. Actually, for me it works. It's refreshing and not tiresome and it motivates me to hear the album many times again with no “ear fatigue”. It was Something intentional or something that came on the way?

ZACH
I don't know uh, it's eight songs… Four by four you know on a record, and I like the uniform to it you know it’s uniquely organized. Four titles on this side four titles on the other side. I don't know, I am just writing at my own pace and I just didn't feel like writing any more song honestly. I was just like I remember finishing the last song that I finished for a demo to give to the guys I think it was “Crush Kill Destroy” song and I remember when I finished it, I was like don't feel writing any more songs. I had other songs but I thought to myself these songs fit together, I don't want to all the other songs that I have. I don't think would fit. And so, I just said “Fuck it” that's what it is. If was me I would rather do EPs to be honest. I like EPs a lot better. I think five four songs or six songs it's great, you know. If you've got six good songs, I love that kind of stuff and you can release them a lot quicker. You know say you could release a six-song ep once a year and put a full you know eight whatever song record every two years although we fuck that up sometimes. Um something always happens in between records that delays recording the next record. Yeah, a lot of people complain about it. they're like it's too short (the album) and honestly, I don't care.

 

BVR
believe that is good. For me it's good and that's fine. because it's you know it's fresh. I can hear the album again and again and again. You know I’ve been a little bit tired of the all-long albums with one hour and a half.

ZACH
yeah, I’m not into that either man I honestly like I think I’ve listened to the full “Rime of The Ancient Mariner” five times of my life. [Laughter].

 


BVR
Let's talk about the promotion videos Now. The first videos for the promotion of the album were first the video “Long Live the Fist” -my god what a song- then followed “For the Last Time”. What made you to choose those specific songs for videos? Can we expect any more videos?


ZACH
Yeah, we'll release another video on Friday (day of the release) with the album. I'm actually supposed to upload it on the internet today and send the link to the label or something. Yeah “Long Live the Fist” honestly, it’s a pretty basic song. It's definitely not pushing the boundaries of songwriting in that one. it's more just a pounder song and has all the elements of a sculpture track. I find it super obnoxious releasing singles because any time you release the first song from an album people are just fucking jump all over that and they're like “oh this is what the album's going to sound like” and you're like “every song is having different elements of stuff in it you know”. I remember when we did “Way of The Road” and it's funny because some of the heaviest tracks we ever wrote were on “Way of The Road “and some of the mellowest tracks where I ever wrote were on “Way of The Road” as well so, I remember releasing uh the first song was kind of a pounder. The second song I released was a mellower song and a lot of people just fucking jumped on it like “oh this next record is so mellow and so” and I was just like “man get out of here” [Laughter]. So long “Long Live the Fist “was just an easy track to release and then “For the Last Time” I wanted to do that one because, I like the lyrics, although I don't think anybody even reads lyrics anymore. I have no idea.

 

BVR
okay I’m going to take you now back to 2015 on the movie “Deathgasm”. “Hour to Live” and “Bad for Good” from the album “chasing the Dream” was on the soundtrack of the movie. I have to know the backstory of all this.

ZACH
I remember the guy who had made the movie, he emailed and asked us you know put Skull Fist in one of his movies. I don't mind doing certain things like that it’s something that I’m interested in and somebody wants to use a track like that's cool. There's a handful of lower budgets, you know, not Hollywood horror movies that have used Skull Fist tracks before, so I had no problem. I was like “yeah dude go ahead man do you think and uh let me know when it's done and I’ll watch the movie”. He was a cool dude, a nice guy from New Zealand and when the movie came out, I was just checking updates and I think he was updating me every once in a while. He had a really great soundtrack on there, had a lot of cool bands and I kept noticing that I was like “oh Shit you know what I haven't seen the movie yet” and every time I looked it was always getting much much more popular and I was like “oh fuck good for this guy man like you know he must be so stoked man the guy's probably you know he's got a boner or something [Laughter]. And then when I finally did see the movie they did a premiere in Toronto so Me, Casey and my friend Sharon went and we hung out and in the premiere there was a lot of people there and uh and unfortunately for that guy me and Casey were drunk as fuck, he came up with a microphone and just talked for a few minutes about the movie and it was doing so well and he was doing great with it and so he was like kind of introducing the movie before people watched it and he asked us to come down and say hi so we made complete idiots out of ourselves and uh and we ended up getting drunk with them later on [Laughter]. After watching the movie, I thought it was such a great movie I was like “this is hilarious” it reminded me like a funnier version of Trick or Treat” (the movie) I think he did a really great job and I was honestly I had no idea that he was going to make such a fun movie that people liked so much.

 

BVR
Okay one question that I like to ask. Do you believe that the pandemic unintentionally made a new way of creativity for the artists? With so many collaborations and the “Quarantine” songs throughout those two and a half years?

ZACH
I think that you can see the desperation in a lot of bands [Laughter]. I mean you know a lot of guys love the attention. A lot of guys get addicted to the constant influx of people appreciating them right, and when I was young, I craved to an extent you know. I think that over the last two years some guys were dealing with it really well of course and just doing their thing and being like “you know let's just make tunes” or whatever it was you know and but I think it was pretty funny checking out, sometimes you would see people just like fucking begging for attention you know. they're just like “give me SOMETHING, HIT LIKE, COMMENT on my whatever” [Laughter]. I mean I had done like some live streams you know and I regretted them after, because I felt very weird afterwards. I understand it you know I mean it's like the dynamics on how bands interact or market themselves, I guess. It is such a long topic. I kind of just stopped paying attention to it a while ago but it is a long topic you know. Some guys were dealing with it really well and some guys are having a hard time and you can definitely tell the difference you know it is what it is and especially for the guys that do this as a job you know. There are guys and bands much bigger than skull fist and they do this for their job and they cut their income from touring and a lot of them are like got to do live streams. some guys had it really shitty you know and I don't blame them for doing it. A lot of guys released a lot of really good records that kind of went unnoticed.

 

BVR
as we talked about the pandemic uh what are the plans for tours now that we have vaccinations and the first heavy metal tours are starting to get announced or do you believe cancellations are on the way?

ZACH
well, I just read this article the other day that said uh who's the guy from windows again what's his name?

 

BVR
Bill Gates (I am starting to laugh already)

ZACH
yeah so, I just read that bill gates put computer chips and tracking devices in vaccinations so…I’m just kidding [Laughter] I know that the lizard people are planning a takeover of earth soon so I got to wait and see what's going to happen with that. And I also just read an article that birds are not real they're actually are drones from the U.S. government so you know what I mean we got to be careful out there. [Laughter]. I honestly don't know I think at the moment it seems like it's a debate between, is life normal or is life not normal. We just canceled the tour we had a tour booked for May. I’m in that boat of canceling things. Some people were really offended that I cancelled the tour um, the same one guy on the internet called me a coward son of a bitch [Laughter]. so, it's a debate right, it's like maybe the virus thing now may not be as bad as it was originally, but at the same time for me personally I can't get sick on tour. I can barely sing as it is. I’ve had multiple surgeries on my voice you know it's like I can't go out there and get sick and then fuck it all up you know. But it's hard to say it's such a huge debate on whether or not things are normal. I understand most points of view on it whether it's opposite ends to each. Some guys are doing it (canceling tours) some guys don't give a fuck, they're going out and that's good for them and you know I’m happy for them. Everyone has their own limits. I mean I canceled that tour for May because if I lost a lot of gigs on that tour uh, we'd be fucked financially you know If I cancel five six seven shows I’m screwed you know I’m coming home way more broke than I am already so it's hard to say right?

 

BVR
Which bands do you believe influenced Skull Fist? Which bands you grow up with?

ZACH
I don't know, I’ve just been trying to steal riffs from other bands so lately I’ve just been stealing ideas from uh Enforcer just stealing just listen to their old records and see if I can steal any riffs or something[Laughter] I don't know I mean I listen to lots of music it's like I don't listen to as much heavy metal at the moment I think I’ve been listening to a lot of old rock lately the last couple years um trying to mail it out because if I listen to you know if I listen to super heavy stuff or something there I’m going to get too bad or going to be in my basement you know yelling at my wall or something. I don't know I think that's probably what affects Skull Fist the most we're like songwriting mostly it's just like things that are on your brain you know if it's good stuff you write nicer stuff if it's you know annoying stuff you make right more angry or desperate type stuff. I mostly listen to those you know those things you find on YouTube it's like three hours of a classical guitar over top of a stupid waterfall or something. [Laughter]. I spent a lot of time listening to those eh because they’re pretty mellow…wish I could be a monk or something [Laughter].

 

BVR
okay what other bands are you listening this time around?

ZACH
I just finished going through uh I was going through a couple Kansas records recently I was on Tom Waits. I went through his albums years ago but I’ve been listening to a couple of his records over, Kate Bush a lot too she has this album called “Lionheart” I was listening to that a lot um and I used to listen to that while I’m exercising or something. I was on Styx although I went through their records years ago, I was again listening to them for a little while I probably listened to “Come Sail Away” like 20 times in like three days, that was about a couple months ago. I haven't been listening to Slayer but for some reason I’ve been thinking about them you know. when we were recording the last video, we did I just kept playing the riff for the song “The Antichrist”. And “Show no Mercy”,

 

BVR
any memories from the first time you went on stage?

ZACH
As Skull Fist?

 

BVR
You pick.

ZACH
the first time I went on stage was uh in high school. We played one of those school performance things you know. We played a song that I wrote with my old band and we played paranoid by Black Sabbath I wasn't singing at the time it was my friend singing, and when I was young, I wanted to be a songwriter I didn't really, I didn't want to play lead guitar I didn't really care about lead guitar and so I wanted to write songs that was my main thing. So, the guy that was playing the lead guitar was a great guitar player, we were like 15 16 but he was a great player, and I remember after we had played the concert. it was funny, I remember thinking how nobody cared about that song, they only cared about the cover song black sabbath song which of course is going to happen in a sense and they only cared about the lead guitar player they didn't give a shit about me and I remember thinking in my head, I was a kid you know and I was trying to build myself an ego, and I remember thinking like “man I wrote the song and nobody cares man” they just care about the guy doing these flashy pentatonics” but it was still fun though there's still a good time but it was just something that I had realized. Very few people care about things like lyrics you know. For me lyrics is always one of the most important things and over the years I realized that in this genre or whatever it's like a lot of people don't really care about lyrics so I was always surprised by that.

 

BVR
Any memories from the worst or best show you had any funny moments?


ZACH
[Laughter]. Well, it's lots of funny moments for sure. I remember in Brazil somebody's stealing my shoe that was funny and getting it back until way later, so I played like you know 30 minutes on stage with one shoe that's funny. We used to be so stupid all the time so I think 40% of the concerts we played either were terrible and then 60% of them were really good. We had a pretty bad turnaround right back then [Laughter], it was hit or miss you know. There was lots of funny things man there was always lots of fun concerts and we did a lot of silly stuff, there's a lot of interesting and unique memories on both sides (good or bad). I wouldn't change it you know what I mean it is what it is right. There are so many little things that we've done over the years. We played this concert in Brazil once I think it was Brazil. and instead of a banner, they had this giant screen that they were going to put the band logo on like those projector screens yeah and they didn't want us to put the flag up they wanted us to use the projector screen. So, right before the concert started right before we got on stage the photo that I put instead I found a photo on our old Facebook page and it was just a photo of Casey drunk as shit they trying to eat a burrito and he's like he just looks like a homeless guy and that was the banner for the whole concert [Laughter]. it was like 30 by 30 feet and people were laughing their ass off. When Casey came out and seen it, he was like “oh you fucking dick” and then he had to play the whole concert like that I mean he thought it was hilarious dude.

 

BVR
something that you regret throughout your career?

ZACH
well then, how many hours you got? [Laughter] you want to turn this into a fucking novel, let's do it, it's a podcast at this point you're going to lose a lot of viewership though… “Jesus Christ this guy won't stop Bitching” [Laughter]. Everybody has regrets you know everybody fucked up at some point.

 

BVR
have you ever been to Greece?

ZACH
yeah yeah

 

BVR
what do you believe?


ZACH
We've been there twice. I haven't been there in years. Last time we were there we played Thessaloniki?

 

BVR
Yep

ZACH
Um and Athens and I remember the first time we went there we played Up the Hammers and I got so pissed drunk you know me and this guy got mangled on that fucking ouzo Jesus Christ that shit is dirty oh yeah man we got destroyed on that. And we got so drunk we started crying together I don't even know why it was not like a sad thing, we weren't complaining, we just were so hammered we with just some guy in Athens I don't think I’ve seen that guy ever again got so drunk talking about music, we just started crying about how awesome we loved music. and one of next day that was one of the funniest things in my head, I was like “I got so shit-faced with a guy I just met we cried and hugged for like an hour” there was a couple of guys standing a bit further from us like 15 feet away and they were just watching this shit and they were probably like “yo what the fuck is wrong with these guys bro. Like these guys are fucked” and uh it was really fun. Up the hammers was great. That was one of my genuine times in touring.

 

BVR
one last message to your fans?

ZACH
which ones in Greece?

 

BVR
All of them, all of them in general

ZACH
Um trying to think of something funny here give me a second…. um stop sending me drunk voice messages on Instagram… no no I’m just kidding…so yeah it happens I had a couple of guys that in Europe they get shittered and then I wake up in the morning and there's like five six voice messages “hey I’m listening to Skull Fist, Fuck you [Laughter]. But I’m just kidding it's really entertaining it's fucking great. I think that the guys that are have been around for a long time listening to Skull Fist there's a bunch of guys that, I don't say the word fans it's weird, They're just dudes that we're kind of on the same mental spot. I fucking love that man it's like sometimes I finish a concert and I talk to somebody for a couple hours and I’m like, I wake up in the morning I’m like that guy's is cool man I like that guy.

 

BVR
Zach thank you very much about this interview, keep the faith guys.

ZACH
yeah, buddy I mean hopefully we can get back to Greece sometime and see what happens man.

 

 

 

Chris Mouskos, Tasos Zervoudakis

Black Velvet Radio

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