Local Band Scene
metal band Slaughter is one of the few Las Vegas
acts to make it big on the national scene. And their
legacy? Music video channel VH1 named the group the
ninth best "hair band" ever.
"That's kind of funny to
me," singer Mark Slaughter says, while preparing to
open a metal show Saturday at the Orleans Arena.
"It's really a genre that a lot of the industry
tries to forget."
For instance, he says, the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame features exhibitions on
20th century stars, from Etta James to Aretha
Franklin, the Rolling Stones and beyond. But hair
bands from the late 1980s and early 1990s are not
"There's a big part of (hair
band music) that's still out there. Motley Crue is
huge and has sold 50 million records. People try to
forget they lived through that" era.
Why is that?
"I don't know," Slaughter
says, bewildered. "The time of the '80s was a time
of big fun, and big parties, and a free life."
Even though Slaughter's band
put a national star on Las Vegas' map, he doesn't
live here anymore. He took his wife, his two sons
and his dead-on Wayne Newton impression to Nashville
several years ago.
The story of his leaving is
a story that started in the early 1990s. While still
living in a Las Vegas neighborhood, neighbors began
complaining about the traffic generated by fans who
journeyed to Slaughter's house.
"There were a couple girls
who parked on my lawn and kind of sat outside,"
Slaughter says. "I can't complain, but they did."
The singer moved to the
Fountains subdivision, because its gates were more
prohibitive. That didn't satisfy him, either.
"When I bought my house in
the Fountains, I planted over 87 pine trees. I
finally realized I wanted a change of scenery. (In
Nashville), the trees are natural. And I'm not
fighting God's way," he says and laughs.
The rest of Slaughter is
scattered geographically. Blas Elias lives in Las
Vegas and drums in "Blue Man Group: Live at Luxor."
Bass player Dana Strum runs a video production
company in Las Vegas. And guitarist Jeff Blando
lives in Orlando, Fla.
In Nashville, Slaughter
plays on some other people's records. He has played
music for Hot Wheels ads, Fox Sports and taken other
TV jobs. He has done voice-overs on cartoons such as
"Animaniacs" and "Batman Beyond."
But his band is his real
career. In the late 1990s, Slaughter was playing 300
shows a year. In 2002, the band took its first
full-year break. Now the band is performing 30 to 60
shows a year. And record companies are rereleasing
albums by Slaughter and Slaughter's precursor, the
Vinnie Vincent Invasion.
When Slaughter did live
here, he did his share of mentoring. He taught
guitar to Scott Kirkland, of the electronic duo,
Crystal Method, which is one of the only other Vegas
acts to go big nationally.
"I totally remember that.
The one thing about not doing drugs is I have a
memory of everything," Slaughter says. "It's great
music. I'm real proud of him."
Slaughter says his vocal
chords haven't taken a beating from his unique
delivery, which gets pretty high. In 1992, he developed nodes
on his vocal chords by talking and singing too much,
and not resting enough. "It's like if you're curling
weight, you can only curl so long before you end up
pulling the muscle so much that it doesn't work,"
Slaughter says. But it wasn't a case of
Slaughter singing too frequently in his
high-register voice, he says. But what of that high voice?
Other macho metal and rock bands of the 1980s and
early 1990s had their own vocalists who sung in high
pitches and falsetto, too. Why is that?
"When we were doing it at
that time, the melody would pop out much easier in a
higher voice than it would in a lower voice, against
a rock and roll guitar and everything else,"
Slaughter says. "Now, everybody sings in a low
Slaughter says Las Vegas has
always been good to hard music such as Slaughter's
rock, as well as to punk, heavy rock and other forms
of metal. He recognized this when he was growing up.
"The Aladdin Theatre for the
Performing Arts was the venue. And I had seen
everybody of a rock and roll ilk there. In fact, my
first concert was right there. On that same stage, I
ended up graduating" from Chaparral High School.
"And I ended up playing" at the Aladdin, he says.
All these years later,
Slaughter has found an ever-decreasing number of
1970s and 1980s metal acts and hair bands to tour
with. They are a collection of survivors, such as
Alice Cooper, Whitesnake, Warrant, Motley Crue and
Dokken. Slaughter fits right in.
"To me, even after touring
with him twice," Slaughter says of Cooper, "I still
look at him and go, `This is so cool.' I'm lucky to
be onstage with people I'm a fan of."