INTERVIEW: Slaves On Dope

The recently reformed nu metal band Slaves On Dope made their way to Another Hole In The Wall in Steger, Illinois this past Friday evening.  The band hails from Montreal, Canada where they originally formed back in 1993.  In 2000 the band released “Inches from the Mainline” on the now defunct Divine Records being run by Ozzy and Sharon OsbourneThe Osbournes also put the band on Ozzfest in 2000, sending the band all across the country gaining them a plethora of fans.  Slaves On Dope went on to release “Metafour” on Bieler Bros. Records in 2003, but then disbanded and went their separate ways in 2004.  In late 2011 founding members Jason Rockman, vocals, and Kevin Jardine, guitar, reformed the band adding Sebastien Ducap on bass and Peter Tzaferis on drums.  Original bassist Frank Salvaggio and drummer Rob Urbani had formed the band Anew Revolution when Slaves On Dope had broken up, and are still currently touring and releasing music.


Slaves On Dope released “Over The Influence” on February 28, 2012 through THC Music/Rocket Science Ventures.  The band embarked on a summer tour to promote their release.  This was the first time the band has toured in nearly ten years, but it was hard to tell based off of how well their performed together.  Lead singer Jason Rockman‘s screams soared throughout the venue sounding just as crisp as they did over a decade ago.  It was clear from the moment the band took the stage that each one of them was literally just having the time of their lives up there.  This was a band truly just having fun playing the music they loved, and not because they were forced to abide by a strict corporate contract and regime.  The crowd was extremely active, especially due to Rockman lending the microphone to the fans in the front for their help on multiple choruses.  Slaves On Dope went on to play a set extending well over an hour as the crowd continually screamed for more.  The band invited multiple members of the crowd on stage to use extra microphones and sing along on “Pushing Me” to end their performance.  It was certainly a once in a lifetime experience for the handful of people chosen to go up on stage and close out the night with the band.  Slaves On Dope proved that despite how many years it has been, they have not lost a beat and are more motivated than ever to continue writing and performing the music they love.


Guitarist and founding member of Slaves On Dope, Kevin Jardine was kind enough to answer a few questions after the show.


Slaves On Dope, so how did you come up with your band name?  Does it have any significance?


Kevin:  The band name, well we had a show booked but we didn’t have a name if you could believe that.  I booked a show back on February 5, 1993; had no name but we wanted to play.  So, my singer and I each came up with a name.  He came up with Stuffed Santa and I came up with Slaves On Dope, and they both sucked, but Slaves On Dope sucked a little less so we kept that.  The significance is like, everyone knows what drugs do you know, you do drugs you become a slave to them.  You know for us the dope is the music, we’re slaves to the music.  There is a lot of significance in the name.  It can be seen as a little derogatory but it’s really not.  It’s actually quite positive.  We like having double entendres within our names, and with our lyrics and stuff.  So we kind of evolved with that name and carried in suit with everything.  It’s pretty deep; we’re not idiots.


Who were your biggest musical influences as a band?


Kevin:  The two bands that put Slaves On Dope together is Faith No More and Jane’s Addiction.  Those are our two favorite bands.  It was pretty much that we wanted to be in a band that was a non-metal band, that wasn’t a rock band, that didn’t have borders, you couldn’t pigeonhole us.  Yeah, we have heavy songs that could be considered metal; yeah, we have stuff that could be considered sort of ballady/rocky whatever.  We just want to write good songs.  Whether it’s metal, or it’s a rock song or whatever; it always has to have a hook.  Whether it’s a guitar riff, whether it’s a hook where he’s screaming it, or whether he is singing it.  Whatever it is, its got a hook.  So for us, that is what Faith No More and Jane’s Addiction did.  In the 90’s Faith No More was funky metal, but really, really aggressive, and then they could do these ballady, weird, easy listening songs.  And with Jane’s Addiction it was the same thing; they came out of left field.  It’s just about creating art and making music that’s not one dimensional.  For me, that is what attracts me to bands.  It attracts me when I hear stuff or when you look through their catalog, you look through a David Bowie or you look through a Metallica; there is always growth and evolution.  There is things that happen that surpass the smaller bands.  They don’t get that, they miss all that.  They jump on a trend or bandwagon and they kind of try to ride it.  There is nothing in the music, there’s no substance.  They’re just like well so and so is big, let’s rip off them and then we’ll be huge.


How did it feel to get back together and write Over the Influence?


Kevin:  Jason and I stopped talking for about, from 2004 till 2007, for about three years we stopped talking.  Then we were actually bidding on a box of “Inches from the Mainline” cds on Ebay.  Some guy had a box of them, some street team kid.  So we actually kept bidding and he actually sniped me in the end, for like $53.00 for a box of our cds.  So we kind of laughed about it, but I was still a little pissed at him, and then we kind of reached out, sat down and had breakfast one night from midnight till five in the morning.  We talked and worked everything out.  Jason had a son, and I actually run a recording studio in Montreal.  I was recording a band that was big Slaves On Dope fans, and they wanted Jason to guest.  Jason had not sang in four years.  I told the guys in the band that if he would do it, nobody could be there.  It would have to be me and him and it would have to be recorded and I couldn’t tell them how it would go or if it would even work, but I’d get him in and we’d try it.  He did it, and it was awesome.  I was sitting there just hearing his voice coming through the monitors and I was like man he is such a good singer!  I’ve got a lot of singers that come through my studio; when I hear Jay‘s voice that’s the voice I love, that’s the voice I remember hearing.  So he called me one night and was like would you want to write a couple songs?  I said well yeah, I’ll write a couple tunes, but I don’t have time, with my studio I am really slammed.  He said well let’s just write a handful and we’ll see what happens, and we started and I think I had written nineteen songs, within a month, musically.  I had another band, besides Slaves, a rock band in Montreal.  We did some regional touring stuff, but nothing too much.  So I started writing really quick and Jason started coming in three nights a week.  We had the whole record written in four or five months and then it was like what are we going to do; I’ve programmed all the drums and I played all the bass and I was like well, we got to get a band.  I produced Peter’s and Seb’s bands, our bass player and drummer.  So I said look there is only two guys I want to play in Slaves; that would be Peter and Seb.  I know a lot of musicians, and it’s not that they are not great musicians but personality wise, musical tastes, and talent.  Seb does all of our music videos, Peter is the pull everything together guy – he is always the anchor, I make all the records, Jason does all of the PR, press, radio he does all of that.  So we had a fit that was natural.  Seb was actually the guitar player and lead singer in his band, so I really liked that he could sing lead and carry a band.  I wanted a strong bass player.  So that is pretty much how we got back together, it was kind of a long process.  We did this record, and we have a whole bunch of b-sides and covers in the bag we are going to put out soon.  I have a record to do with another band in September when I get home.  As soon as I have a break, I’m going to start hammering out riffs and we’ll start a second record because it will be twenty years on February 5.  So for twenty years we want to put out a record again.  We are going to try to put one out every year for as long as we can keep doing it.


How did the intro track on “Over The Influence” with Rob Halford, come to be?


Kevin:  Jason actually works as a dj at the big rock station in Montreal.  One of our good friends, Metal Mike who has a super famous blog, and he interviews all these guys.  We had just gotten back together, and Metal Mike knew Judas Priest was my favorite band.  K.K. Downing is the reason I started playing guitar.  I saw them on TV in ’93 and I was like guitar, I need a flying-v, a flanger pedal, and I’m going to be a guitar player.  Mike knew that and knew that Jason was a big Rob Halford fan too.  I had met Rob a few times; I don’t think Jason met him.  Metal Mike asked Rob for us, kind of as a pseudo present for us, so he asked Rob.  He sent an email to both of us without saying anything, and I listened to it and I’m like, are you kidding me?  Are you kidding me?  So that was my buddy Mike that did that.  Rob, I haven’t talked to him since.  He is a class act and for him to do that for us is awesome.  Judas Priest is my favorite band ever.


What are your plans for the near future?


Kevin:  We’re going to do a record, like I said we have some b-sides.  We’re doing one more show tomorrow and then we are home, but we missed a week so we are going to go back out to do some make up dates.  We are going to try to have the record out for our twentieth anniversary, and shoot one or two more videos when we get home.  We have fun doing it and we just want to keep doing it!  I don’t care if there is five thousand people or fifty people there.  I enjoy playing.  We don’t tour a lot because of my studio and Jay’s radio show in Montreal.  We can’t tour two hundred dates a year, but we can do twenty-five to maybe forty dates a year at most.  We have enough to do America pretty much and that is it.


What is the name of your studio?


Kevin:  Uplift Recording Studio, it’s in Montreal.  I do metal, rock, all sorts of stuff.  I’m a producer.  I always took that role in the band.  I always look for new bands and I’ll work with whoever is into it.