Over the past 8 years since I moved back to New York, one band has become not only my favorite bands but also friends I enjoy skating with. In that span of time I’ve seen their shows and set lists grow in size as well as their opportunities, but never their egos. These humble dudes shred on a skateboard and on their instruments with the same energy and positive attitudes whether they are playing a basement show for 10 people or getting banned from a packed Rough Trade for inciting a riot. With their latest music video coming out today I wanted to share a little bit of their story from their own mouths. Jesse, Paco, Shane and Blake were happy to accomodate my dumb questions and hopefully after reading this you learn a little more about them too.
How did Slashers initially form? Did you skate together or play music together first?
BLAKE: Slashers started when Shane asked me to jam under the premise of starting a skate rock band where all members had to skate. We had both done this before so I lied about having song ideas and we just wrote 2 or 3 songs immediately. We recruited Jesse after I asked him to go skate to sus him out a bit. He ripped and can play the fuck out of just about any instrument so it was hand in hoof. After a rigorous process of trying multiple singers out we landed on Paco who came in with zero idea what he was doing and absolutely no lyrics. Despite that, he fuckin’ killed it and even talked shit to a non-existent audience between songs so we knew it was golden. Plus he has the loosest trucks I think possible before the bolt will fall off so you know he’s greazy on the crete’.
JESSE: We all knew each other separately from the skate scene. Shane and Blake started jamming on some tunes, Blake yelled at me at McCarren skatepark to come play with them, and then Paco joined forces with us a month or two later. We skate and play music at the same time, all the time. Skate, jam, eat, repeat.
SHANE: Blake and I met through the local heavy music scene then became skate buds. I figured we had half a band already, so I suggested we find a bassist and singer that skate and without missing a beat Blake said “Yeah, and we’ll call it Slashers”
PACO: I was the closest with Shane, knew Blake from here and there, and had never met Jesse before. By the time I showed up, the band was already formed with six songs (which would become our first demo) but they were still trying out different singers. Shane had asked me to come to rehearsal a few times, but either my work schedule wasn’t lining up or I wasn’t really confident on what to do if I tried. One day I just said the hell with it and met up the boys. I had no idea what the songs were or really any experience doing vocals. From there, they never even said “Ok, you got the job” or anything, we just kept moving.
What’s been your favorite experience from the band?
PACO: Opening for Pennywise and Sick of It All was a highlight, having John Cardiel introduce the band at House of Vans, working with some amazing people on our music videos, and touring the country / meeting new people have all been humbling. And then running into these new friends randomly in a different city years later, what a trip! Getting banned from Rough Trade because our crowd got too crazy. But honestly playing with Ghost Alien in Portland and hanging out with Xeno Miller still stands out in my mind as one of the funnest nights I’ve ever had. I’ve never seen anyone stack clips for his video part at the bar like Xeno can. West Coast!
JESSE: Traveling around the country with friends / bandmates and skating the best parks. Tour is always the most fun.
SHANE: Making all these new fans and friends so quickly and being able to take the show on the road so efficiently and immediate. Not to mention cultivating positive relationships with companies like Vans and Volcom.
BLAKE: The corniest cliche of em all; getting to see the world with friends. We skate wherever we go and there’s no quicker way to make bonds then by sharing blood.
Do you feel like coming from NY carries a lot of weight when you play other states?
JESSE: NYC holds its weight, but all places have their scene. We just want to play to as many different people and audiences as possible.
BLAKE: Sometimes people who have never been to NY might seem impressed initially… but after talking to us they realize everyone is a dumbass no matter where you pay rent.
SHANE: I think it carries a little weight. For every out of town show we make sure promoters add “from NYC” – even if that brings one extra person it’s cool.
PACO: People’s ears seem to perk up when we announce the band is from NYC. Crowds and other bands always seem to appreciate that we’ve traveled a long way to play for them, especially cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and Atlanta. Philadelphia always goes off, one of our favorite places to play.
What’s your process for writing songs?
BLAKE: A lot of the time I’ll have an idea and Shane and I would pound it out and make a song happen pretty quick in the beginning. As we worked out the album everyone would have little bits of input to existing ideas. Paco and I even TRIED to write an intentionally bad song that was A-musical and it ended up being one of the catchier songs on the record! Generally I’m a well of ideas but everyone has a say as to the seasoning of the dish.
PACO: Blake is a riff machine and has years of experience writing and arranging songs. He cracked the code to playing the guitar years ago, so the possibilities are endless with what direction we can go with our songs. So Blake brings the meat to the table and everyone chops it up and puts it through our grinder. Lately we’ve all been throwing in riffs, melodies, and arrangements into the music and it’s pretty exciting. I think the new material is already more focused and mature than our first record.
SHANE: Blake has come in with full song ideas pretty much, then we all chip in to make them our own.
JESSE: Blake wrote most of the main ideas of the first album, the rest of us write our own parts and kinda just work together to arrange and solidify the tracks.
Worst show you ever played?
JESSE: Haven’t really had a bad show with this band. Surprising, cause it always happens eventually, but so far so good. Guess there was that one time at Ceremony…
BLAKE: Man, I’m not sure? Let’s see, I’ve played with a hole in my face that I got stitched up after the gig. Been stitched up on the way to a gig. Had so many borrowed amps blow up, I sang a guitar solo a capella, we’ve been banned for inciting a riot… ? Those are all fond memories though so I’m not sure what’s a bad show for this band? BRING IT.
SHANE: I don’t think there has been any “worst” shows. Even the worse ones are the best somehow. Like our second show we go shut down but still managed to finish the set Minor Threat style. Some people might consider meat flying through the air a bad thing, but as skateboarders we thrive on unpredictability and improvisation any live show can bring.
PACO: We’ve been pretty fortunate in having a great time playing front of ten people or a thousand people, because the feeling is still there. There’s been a few awkward moments with miscommunication involving backline or a couple of drunk fools that step out of line but that’s life in a rock band. You should have seen Blake check this one guy in New Orleans…
What are the Slashers up to in 2020?
SHANE: Play bigger shows in NY, hit the road when the weather gets warm, and we got some cool music videos coming too. Also check out our other bands that we are active with: Concussion, Prostitution, the SM project, and Hightower.
BLAKE: Blowing out your spots. Eating your leftovers. Sleeping in tents. Melding Van Halen and Warzone into one singular genre. Accepting all the free shit. Denying the bullshit.
JESSE: New songs, new music videos, more shows and tours, and as much skating as possible. Thanks to all our friends and fans for the continued support.
PACO: We have a few brand new music videos that we are very excited to release. Working with artists like Dylan Goldberger, Nick Skolnick, James Schieberl, Vega, and Elias Parise on our videos past and future has by far exceeded our expectations. Our goal is to have a music video for every song on our first record. We’re working on new material for our next release. We want to take our time and be proud of it. We don’t have to answer to anyone except our fans. They’re not going to take kindly to B-roll material, you hear me? Much love to Thrasher, Lowcard, NYskateboarding, Vans, Volcom and everyone else who has showed their support. And everyone out there reading this.
Tell me a little about this new video…
Our friend Nick Skolnick came up with an idea and premise for the video for our title track “Slashers”. It just so happens that Nick has been working in the TV industry for years. He had his crew at TV BOY productions come out and shoot the video with all of their big boy broadcast quality cameras. I think we shot everything over three days with the whole crew. One day for the kidnapping and van scenes, one day for the basement shots, and one day for the live show. The live show was pretty rowdy as you can see; I held a ‘raffle’ for a skateboard deck that consisted of me going “Who wants it?” and tomahawking it into the crowd. Turns out I hit the bullseye between the eyes of one our cameramen and split him open, blood gushing. Then the cops came because of a noise complaint and we all watched Amy Gunther of KCDC explain the NY state liquor laws to a junior police officer. Just another day in Slashers, man.