Interviewed By: Mick from Wasted Talent
Punk Globe: I want to avoid the usual, stereotypical "band interview" -type questions as much as possible. So let's get the basics out of the way quickly. How long have you been together, who would you say are your main influences, and how did you come up with the band name?
Anthony: We played our first show here in New York City at the now defunct Continental in July of '06, and we even got to play the basement of CBGB's before they closed. We came up with the name because the Misfits, Black Flag, and Negative Approach were already taken as band names. As far as influences go, I'd say our first album kind of sounds like we were almost exclusively influenced by those bands and now we've grown a bit to include some Venom, Black Sabbath and early Metallica too. A couple of the new ones even have a bit of a Stooges-like feel. Other key influences include the writing of Jacqueline Susann and Charles Bukowksi, as well as plenty of classic zombie flicks. Oh, and of course Screamin' J. Hawkins is a huge influence!
A: Sometimes the horror and blood and gore simply is what it is, but a lot of times, if you want to dig a little deeper, there are other hidden meanings. For instance, our song "Meat Factory," though the lyrics are about a guy picking brains out of skulls on an assembly line, the song is actually about working a crappy job. One of our new tunes, "Primordial Times," is about being a caveman, but it's also about feeling like a caveman in this rotten modern society we've got going.
Punk Globe: Your first album was pretty brutal in regard to sound, a straight-up old-school hardcore album in many ways, with some metallic leads thrown in too. I've heard some of the material that you're currently mixing for the new album. Would it be fair to say that you've expanded your sound a little, to even include, um, melody at times?
A: That's a pretty accurate assessment of our first record I'd say, as that is pretty much what we were trying to do. Once you've made your point, that's it, get out and on to the next one. No need for extended jam sections and repeated verses. We get it, you can play your instrument, now shut up! You know? But yes, as I said before, a little more of our other influences have crept into the songwriting this time around and yes that does include some of the dreaded melody sometimes.
Punk Globe: How about vocally?
Jacqueline: All I know is that pre-recording the new album, I exclusively listened to Negative Approach, Bad Brains, and Black Flag for a month, as I was hoping some of the skills would rub off, ha ha. Pretty much the same for the first album, though I do feel I was challenged more on the new songs with the new types of songwriting. A lot more key changes, and longer holdings of notes and whatnot on the new one. I got to pose like Bruce Dickinson a lot in the studio. It was badass.
J: I think we kick ass as far as this goes. Our new album's songs are a lot different from each other the whole way through, yet it undeniably sounds like the Slice 'Em Ups.
A: Yeah, you know, we just do what we do; it's not really that thought out. You can't worry about, 'Oh no this doesn't sound quite as punk as the last one!' Hank Williams, Dee Dee Ramone, and Geezer Butler were all just great songwriters; staying true to a genre doesn't matter. Genres were just created by record company marketing guys to sell records. Black Flag sounded different on every album; the one common thing being Greg Ginn's guitar. Some people loved them for it and a lot of people hated them for it. I loved them for it!
Punk Globe: Speaking of bands that evolved musically but were always great, you earlier mentioned the Stooges. And Anthony, I see that you play the Ron Asheton model Reverend guitar. Do you take anything from Ron Asheton in regard to your own style, and how does that guitar play, anyway?
A: Yeah, Ron Asheton, Greg Ginn, and probably Johnny Ramone are some of my biggest guitar playing influences. I'd say Doyle from the Misfits too, but I don't think he really even played on much of the Misfits records; supposedly that was Danzig and/or Bobby Steele, except on Earth A.D., that was all Doyle. Hopefully, in the thickness of my playing and sometimes in the leads, you might be able to hear a bit of a Ron influence. Plus I love feedback. That guitar is fucking awesome by the way! It plays like no other guitar I've ever played and it's unbelievably light. It's the only guitar I played on our new album.
J: It is totally different. If someone tries to tell you otherwise they are lying. Maybe I'm more of a "guy's gal" or something, but I felt from the start with the all male band-mates that it is a way more mellow atmosphere, which makes doing everything and having new ideas a lot easier. There's a certain vibe about working with all girls. Lady Unluck was totally different from this band and a good time, but I am much happier with this project. This is the kinda band I always wanted to have.
Punk Globe: I'd like to ask about Chesty Malone in relation to the current New York scene. It could be argued that you can trace a direct line in New York punk all the way back to the early 70s, long before the mythical punk date of "1977." The first Ramones album came out in 1976 of course, though they actually formed back in '74. Let me see, the first Patti Smith album was '75, and of course there were the New York Dolls and Johnny Thunders doing this thing in like 1971, for chrissake! Do you see Chesty as being in any way part of the lineage of New York punk bands, or do you feel that that history doesn't really matter now?
A: Of course it matters! That's part of the reason I mentioned that we got to play CB's before it got erased. Not just New York, and not just punk, it all matters. I'd love to think we're part of that lineage, we should be so lucky!
Punk Globe: Alright, yeah. Well, at least one member of Chesty Malone [cough] Van Hoek! [cough] is old enough to have played in hardcore bands in the 80s. So what's it like, either having been around for that long, or just having a sense of punk history, when you see new people at shows and they don't seem to have a clue about what punk really is, or was?
A: Sure, that stuff used to annoy the crap out of me, actually, but what can you do? Part of the problem of even saying you're a punk band these days is that the average jerk-off is going to think you're talking about Blink 182 or something. And for the record, I started playing in bands and going to shows when I was 13, so I ain't all that old!
Punk Globe: What bands do you tend to play shows with, or hang out with?
J: Some of our favorite bands to play with are and have been, the Sheckies from Cape May, NJ, Bully the Kid from here in NYC, WWIX also from here, Everyday Dollars who are a classic old-school-style NYHC band. Our friends SMUT are also cool, Seizure Crypt from the middle of nowhere Queens are awesome, and the Blame from Staten Island are also good pals of our ours. Mongrel Bitch are a fun band to play with too. You should also check out our old drummer Tom's new band Red Eyed Devil. We played with the Mentors last fall too. That was pretty cool.
A: We just like to go at it one-thousand percent. Whether there're five people there or five-hundred it doesn't matter, although we obviously prefer a packed room! Basically I hate it when a band looks bored or above it all on stage! Go the fuck home if you're so bored, 'cause you sure as hell are boring the fuck out of me!
J: There's been many a wild show our way. They typically include punches to the face, broken glasses, clothes ripped, wives and girlfriends freaking out 'ya know, the standards of a good rock'n'roll show!
Punk Globe: Ha ha, yeah. What would you say are some of the cooler clubs to play at in New York these days?
A: New York seems to be in a state of flux these days in terms of cool clubs, but we play Hank's Saloon in Brooklyn, and we used to play Lucky 13 until the yuppie neighbors moved in and started calling the cops a lot. Otherwise we just take it wherever we can get it. We played on Governor's Island this past summer too for Punk Island '09; that was a lot of fun! 70-some bands, and next to no security or cops. And no problems!
Punk Globe: What do you think are the best bars just to have a drink at?
A: Definitely Lucky 13 out here in Brooklyn, though I wish they'd listen to my jukebox suggestions once in a while! Otto's Shrunken Head in the city is still cool, and we play there once in a while too. Manitoba's is also good as long as it's not a weekend night.
Punk Globe: Oh yeah, I like those places too. Anyway, when's the new album going to be out, and are you going to tour it? What's up with the video you've been working on?
A: Torture Rock is done being recorded. Now we have to mix and master it! It should be out before the end of the year. We filmed a video for the song "Zombie Relief Fund," which is about, instead of wasting your money feeding starving humans, feed the starving humans to the hungry zombies. That will be out by Halloween, actually. We're going to debut it publicly at our Halloween show here in NYC at Port 41 so you should all come down here for that! We did a lot of weekend and mini tours for the first album, and we plan on doing way more for this one so watch out for us! We're even looking into getting over to Europe.
Punk Globe: You had some line-up changes in the past, but the current version of the band - you two guys, Uruk, and Angel - seems pretty solid. Would you say that this is now the definitive Slice 'Em Ups? And having asked that, if this is, say, your classic incarnation, what would you like to see this band accomplish? Or is it just for fun and whatever happens happens?
A: Listen, this band is never going to be on the cover of Rolling Stone, or if MTV still played videos, they certainly wouldn't play ours. But we want to spread this as far as it can go. That's why we put out albums and do tours all on our own, without any record company or anything like that. That being said, if anyone out there wants to invest some of their dollars into us let us know!
Punk Globe: Alright, this is going to come out of left field, but if you could only pick one — Keith Richards or Johnny Thunders?
A: Jeez, ok. Keith Richards to hang out with and Thunders for guitar influence. Keith's rich, so he wouldn't steal anything from me, but Thunders, you probably wouldn't want to take your eyes off of him if he was in your apartment.
J: I love them both, but Johnny Thunders! I don't play guitar, but as far as general songwriting and singing and lyrics and such, Johnny fucking rules. I would totally want to hang out with both, though I would fear Johnny Thunders would steal my wallet. But it'd sure be a zinger with how disappointed he would be! Ha ha ha...
Punk Globe: One last thing, and this is a genuine question, what are you guys drinking tonight?
A & J: We started with margaritas for lunch and now we've switched over to cans of PBR. Our cats are drinking lots of water too. How's the Iron City Beer treating you?
Punk Globe: Heh heh. Actually I've been drinking PBR too, despite the stupid "hipster" thing. It's cheap. Alright, thanks for the interview.
Punk Globe would like to thank Chesty Morgan and The Slice Em Ups along with Mick from Wasted Talent for the fun interview! We also agree that Manitoba's Rules!!