LW – Thanks for taking the time out to discuss things Slander related for the Planetmosh readers.
LW – For the people out there just discovering Slander as a result of this interview how did the band form ?
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 at 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 Andy Saxon-Lamb’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 Andy Saxon-Lamb 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 Andy Saxon-Lamb 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!!
LW – What made you choose the name Slander for the band ?
Andy Saxon-Lamb and Steve came up with the idea in 1990. There wasn’t really any real thought process behind it other than they did a few covers and rather than do ‘note for note’ renditions, Andy Saxon-Lamb said let’s Slander them. The name sounded good and just stuck. A friend of the band Danny Higgins was a technical graphics artist and he knocked up the first logo.
LW – What bands/artists have influenced you over the years ?
We all listened to classic rock bands such as Priest, Maiden, Scorpions, AC/DC, Purple, Sabbath, and Zeppelin when we were younger and there is no doubt that we wanted to play their type of music. Andy Saxon-Lamb 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.
LW – I believe you disbanded in 1993 – what were the reasons behind this decision ?
The reason we disbanded was when the band started to implode after we decided to move to Colchester in Essex. The reason we moved there was there seemed to be a better live music scene than in Blackpool. Blackpool caters for holiday makers and only had one Rock Venue in the whole town. As we don’t play too many Nolan’s covers lol we had to find an alternative circuit and after we played the Oliver Twist in 1992, we decided to relocate after a good reception from the audience. We had also played a venue in Clacton and went down a storm, which was another deciding factor. The proximity to London was also an advantage. We stayed in the area for about 9 months in total. We played many gigs and built up a fan base, but we all lived in the same house and Steve and Andy Saxon-Lamb had recruited a new drummer, because Eddie didn’t want to go with them and tensions started to show between band members. We travelled all over the UK in a couple of old vans, playing everywhere and anywhere, but we just couldn’t make the breakthrough we needed. In late 1993 we held a meeting and decided to fold the band. It was a shame as we did show promise, but Grunge ruled the airwaves and money ran out to sustain the band.
LW – Is this something you regret doing ?
From Andy Saxon-Lamb’s point of view, who was the only member from that time left in the band the answer is ‘No’. The band had reached a point where a change was needed. The earlier ‘buzz’ of 1990-1992 had gone and it was just constant bickering by mid 1993. The only disappointment was that we had started writing a second album and even demoed some tracks, two of which found their way onto the ‘Careless’ 2011 2nd cd (“Hangman” and “Ends of the Circle”. The time was right to call it a day at that time.
LW – In 2008 you had a reformation. How did this occur ?
Andy and Eddie always kept in touch and in November 2008 they talked about a Slander reunion. Following a chance meeting in a pub in St. Anne’s, Andy’s brother met Joe Tyerman (early Slander bassist) and asked him how he felt about a reunion. He said yes without hesitation, so then they turned their attention to finding Steve. Steve got in touch following an appeal in the Blackpool Evening Gazette and the line-up was completed.
LW – What prompted original vocalist Steve Slater to leave the band ?
Steve left the band in mid July 2011 due to personal reasons. It was a simple as that really. Steve is a good lyricist and singer, but he felt the demands of the band a 2nd time round were affecting his personal life. We recognise Steve’s contribution to Slander and wish him all the best in future endeavours.
LW – In Si Staples you now have a new singer. How did you meet him ?
The band advertised for singers on several musicians wanted websites and Si applied. Si sent some demo songs through and he was short listed for the job.
LW – What made you choose him amongst the people who applied for the singer position ?
It was obvious that Si was a big talent. Apart from when he sings “Michael Bublé” lol!! The advantage for us was that Si lives near the main stay of the bands members and has a great voice. When we met him we hit it off immediately and as a Slander member you need to have a very warped sense of humour. Si has a warped sense of humour!!
(Si “I sing some Bublé song’s better than him lol.”)
LW – You recently re-released your debut album “Careless Talk Costs Lives”. How did this come together ?
We started re-recording the 2011 versions back in late 2009. It was a slow process as we chose to record with Carl Harris at The Zoo in Nuneaton and apart from Andy Saxon-Lamb (who lives in the area) everyone had to travel there. We also thought, let’s do it justice and take our time. We chose Carl’s studio as it was a converted garage and out buildings and has a very early 80’s feel and we wanted to capture the original mood of the earlier song versions. We also continued gigging, so that also delayed the process. This was all our own idea, as after the remarks on You Tube, we wanted to do a self funded release again as we had no label at the time. We didn’t make contact with Stormspell until early January 2011, which was facilitated by a now friend of the band Bruce Wanzie JR. Bruce discovered a bootleg cd copy of ‘Careless’ in a record shop in Pennsylvania and wrote some comments on ‘You Tube’. We started corresponding after that and Bruce put us in touch with Stormspell and here we are.
LW – In terms of the album what are your favourite songs from it ?
Andy Saxon-Lamb likes ‘On The Run’, ‘Fighting Talk’ & ‘This Time You Lose’
Si – I would say Fighting Talk but i really like Ends Of The Circle.
Eddy – Cry of the Wolf for the cowbell bits!!
Pete – I like them all at the moment as they are new to me with joining a month ago!!
LW – How do you think it compares to your earlier release of the same name ?
We think we have provided a good interpretation of the original album, which was just demo’s thrown together to try and get a record deal. The production on the first version was poor, but it did have a certain sound in the context of early NWOBHM albums of the early 80’s. There were some songs that had been written, but were yet to be recorded and there was song’s like “Land of Darkness” that had been recorded, but were not good enough to be included, even though they were stronger than some of the other tracks on the original. The Stormspell release was really to draw a line under that period for both the band and fans by providing a definitive version. “Hangman” and “Ends of the Circle” were written after “Careless” was released for a follow up album in 1992 that never materialised. They were included as they were certainly stronger than some of the earlier tracks. There are a couple of songs on demo that were from that period that have never been released, so they may end up on a future release.
LW – If you had to pick one song to sum up Slander right now what would it be ?
Probably a new track called “Resolution: Defiance” which basically sums up the hard ships that the band have been through over the years they have been together and coming out the other side. But off “Careless” ~ “Fighting Talk” as we are back out there fighting to win back our old fans and get some new ones!!
LW – You are in the process of lining quite a few gigs up. Are there any in particular that you are looking forward to ?
The gig supporting Marco Mendoza from Thin Lizzy and Whitesnake fame would have to be the highlight at the moment. This takes place at Rio’s in Bradford on April the 20th. It’s a real honour to get on with a talent like Marco.
Si – yeah getting that gig him Mr Mendoza is really exciting and hopefully he can go back to the rest of the Lizzy guys and say “Hey, you wanna hear the Slander guys”. Getting associated with that sort of company can only be good for us.
LW – Besides the current tour what do you have planned for the rest of 2012 ?
We have an ep of covers coming out in May entitled “Get Em Slandered” We asked our fans through our MySpace page to suggest covers that they would like us to do. We also thought it would be a nice idea to introduce Si to the fans and also give us a chance to play and record songs that we love. There are some real surprises on it!! We are hoping to enter the studio again with Carl Harris later this year to start recording a new album. We also hope to continue doing a few shows over the next few months as well, as gigging is our greatest passion.
LW – Are there any bands out there you would recommend keeping an eye on right now ?
Si – Oh personally I really like Exit State and I think we can all say we’re completely jealous that they’re touring with Michael Schenker right now. I even offered for Slander to take over if they decided they were getting a bit tired and needed a rest but they said it’s cool, they’ll be fine ha ha ha.
LW – Are there any messages that you would like to pass on to your fans ?
We 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.