AFL: Greetings. Franz and Simon here with Jack „Choke“ Kelly, singer of Boston hardcore-punk legend SLAPSHOT from Boston.
AFL: Hey Jack, how are you? Is your current line-up?
Jack: I’m the only original member. Craig Silverman our guitar player has been with us for about 7 years. Ryan our bass player has been with us for 5 or 6 years and Corey our drummer is the newest guy he’s been with us for almost one year.
AFL: Is there a person from the Hardcore and Punk scene who especially influenced you?
Jack: Whew, not particularly. Since I started Hardcore before it was there, before there was such a thing. I was kind of influenced by the punk scene, early before HC like the 70s. I was also influenced by KISS and ALICE COOPER and those types of personalities. I don’t know I guess that I try to stay on the theatrical side of things. I suppose that my style is a mixture of things like Jello – Jello Biafra (DEAD KENNEDYS) combined with a bunch of others I suppose. I don’t think that I have a terrific voice for singing, but ok for what I do, so it is what it is. It’s recognizable and people either like it or they don’t.
AFL: Do you remember the first Hardcore/Punk record you got, and do you still have it?
Jack: There was a SHAM 69 record, a live record called Tell Us The Truth. One side was recorded live, the other was studio. I think that might have been the first one. Once I hear then I got Never Mind The Bollocks (SEX PISTOLS) and the BUZZCOCKS. I could say one of those was my first one.
AFL: Which Hardcore / Punk band is in your opinion the most underrated?
Jack: Hard to say. There have been so many over the years. I don’t know what to say. Past the year 1989 I kind of stopped listening to hardcore in general. I don’t know. I never got into modern stuff like PENNYWISE or BAD RELIGION or their kind of movements.
AFL: Well I wouldn’t call PENNYWISE or BAD RELIGION underrated or without anything.
Jack: No, no they are huge. If anything overrated (laughs quietly).
AFL: Any band worth mentioning that hasn’t been giver their opportunities to get out and play?
Jack: No. Can’t really say, sorry.
AFL: Are there currently any European Hardcore bands you like?
AFL: Are there any bands you like?
Jack: No, well my issue with a lot of them is. I can’t blame them because they came along after the first wave. My issue is that there influenced by a style that I was never really a fan of, like the New York style with its breakdowns and stuff. There is a band from Sweden called, not sure of the pronunciation „Harta Tider“ (Hårda Tider). I like them a lot; we played with them a few years ago. It’s rare that we play a show, and you’ll be backstage and be like “oh! that’s different”. I went out front and actually watched them. Bands from Europe that I’ve been impressed by, they are one of them.
AFL: You’ve been on tour almost continuously this year, now on your current tour here in Europe. Is there a particular venue that you are especially looking forward to?
Jack: No. I treat them all pretty much the same. Whether we are playing to 20 people or to 20 thousand it’s all the same to me. Sometimes playing to 20 people can be a lot more fun. Honestly, you pay your money; you deserve the same show that the 20 thousand people got, as far as I’m concerned. It really bothers me sometimes when I see bands, and they’re like oh man this is going to suck. Well maybe it won’t maybe you’ll have fun anyway. You deal with it that what happens. A lot of bands they get upset when there’s not a lot of people there. Or my favorite; when the crowd isn’t moving and they’re not doing anything, and the front man is like what’s wrong with you. No! It’s you front man. It’s my job to motivate you. If you don’t want to, then stand there. You paid your money, do whatever the fuck you want to do. Sometimes you get an audience that doesn’t want to move. We have an older crowd, generally they are the ones that stand in the back and watch the show. They don’t want to get up front with these sweaty kids and get punched in the face, you know what I mean.
AFL (Franz): Yes I’m part of that older crowd.
Jack: I don’t want to do that shit. I’ve never said “come on up front” or berating the crowd to move. I don’t beg anybody, if you don’t want to move then don’t. I’ll play my show and get off when I’m done.
AFL: Not being the youngest gentleman on tour how do you stay in shape and keep your voice strong?
Jack: I don’t. I don’t worry about it. I don’t warm up. I don’t drink tee. I don’t take honey I don’t do anything at all. I get out there and yell at the top of my lungs. Over the years lots of people offered advice, because it occasionally gets rough here and there, I just take the advice and go yeah thanks. I’ve been doing this a long time I know what’s going on. I have never done a damn thing. I just get up there and yell and it comes out, and I’ve never lost it. I don’t have a problem with my voice.
AFL: After over 30 years of SLAPSHOT tell us about some of the tops and flops and the best and worst of times, perhaps a funny story about something that happened while on tour.
Jack: Our first European tour was fairly interesting. We played in Belgrade and someone pulled a gun on us. In Sarajevo we beat up a bunch of Nazis. The first European was really something. It was in the middle of winter. The headlights in our van stopped working. Our driver used a flashlight pointing it out the front window, winter driving in the snow. It was all new to us so we just kind of stayed in the van and played shows. It was a lot of fun.
AFL: This year you have been in the studio recording for a new album. We heard the release was postponed until winter because Craig still has to do his vocals. Why the delay with Craig. Do you have a release date set? How many songs will you have on it?
Jack: No that’s me, all my fault. I was supposed to be done last December. I was able to get 3 or 4 songs done but I just wasn’t coming up with anything. Or I would get in the studio record it, and I just didn’t like it. So I just stopped and I figured well you know if it comes to me it comes to me if it doesn’t, well I’m not going to force it because if I force it then… Sure I can shut out some lyrics and I’ll just blah blah, but there won’t be any meaning to me. Probably if it doesn’t mean anything to me then it won’t mean anything to someone listening to the record, so. We have scheduled studio time the week we get back. I’m hoping that I have it all ready to go. I have the rest of the songs written. I think there are 7 or 8 to do, but I have them all written and we will see how it goes.
AFL: Is there a title in the works?
Jack: Well right now its tentevely – MAKE AMERICA HATE AGAIN. It’s not political and it’s got nothing to do with Trump. It’s a play on words using his sort of tag line.
AFL: Is your song “I Told You So” about telling women off?
Jack: No, it’s actually sort of song about break-up. Between me and my ex, how things were and what was happening at the time. I’m not telling her off. It’s about people warned you to stay away and so, now here it is. Somewhat here and there, even thow a song might be personal; I try to change it a little bit if it seems too personal or aimed at someone in particular. Because if you write songs aimed a someone in particular, people might not be able to relate.
AFL: In view of recent acts of terrorism at concerts and other spectator events in Europe and most recently the attack on Gary Meskill from Pro-Pain,
Jack: Oh what Happened?
AFL: We gave a short run down of the incidents. And then Jack continued with his answer.
Jack: Oh, then don’t go to bars after you play.
AFL: Have you taken steps to tighten and elevate your own personal security while on tour?
Jack: No, I don’t go anywhere. I stay backstage, but that has nothing to do with it. Usually when thing are a bit more comfortable I walk around. Generally speaking these days I just kind of hand out backstage.
AFL: Do you go out into the crowd and mingle with the fans.
Jack: Well normally I would, but today it’s fucking hot. I’ve got a show to play so I don’t want to be walking around, I would rather be comfortable. If it was a club show I’d be hanging around. I don’t worry about terrorism, and that kind of shit. I don’t go to bars, I don’t invite that kind of shit – you know I don’t drink; there is no point. Last night the guys went out and I went back to the hotel room, I had a lovely 5 hours to myself.
AFL: When you came out with the song “Fuck New York” there were rumors that you had an altercation with Harley Flanagan. Any truth to the matter?
Jack: No. I hadn’t talked to Harley in years. Harley and I – Harley’s alright, he gets it he gets that whole sort of back and forth New York – Boston thing. He’s one of the few people who never took it all that seriously. He takes some things too seriously, but he gets that kind of beef. It’s kind of good; it’s a rivalry we’ve always had between Boston and New York. I mean that is really all that song was really. People do take some things too seriously and got bent out of shape about it; I get it maybe I went a little bit too far. But that’s what Punk-Rock is – you cross the line occasionally. I like stirring the pot. Sometimes it gets me into trouble but, ok.
AFL: The German hardcore band WOLF DOWN recently underwent an outing, which led to the band calling it quits. Some band members were accused of rape and sexual assault. Do you see a sexism problem within the punk and hardcore scene?
Jack: Depends on the person and depends on the band – if you’re sexist of course. There may be scenes or places in general, it happens. I grew up around women and I never would. I have two daughters and I hope, I never let that kind of stuff happen ever! Sure you know everyone jokes here and there. If you can’t take a joke then, sorry. There is no room for sexual assault or anything like that. As far as welcoming women into the scene, absolutely, join bands and get things going. One of the best bands now in Boston is with girls. It is called FIREWALKTER, a good band, a great band! Sure there is sexism. Its people, people ruin everything. There is racism, and all kinds of ism’s because people are people. Everyone wants to be or say we are different or we are united, you should be punk-rock. No, it’s just like any other group with different people. Even within subcultures, you have the same kind of people. You could be punk rock, and still be a dick head, just as much as a bro or a sports dude. In my experience it doesn’t matter what subculture you belong to. When people are involved, they are going to fuck it up, every time.
AFL: What things from the past would you like to have back in the scene today?
Jack: The bands (gently laughs).
AFL: Which bands and why?
Jack: MINOR THREAT and a lot of the earlier bands, GOVERNMENT ISSUE. JERRY’S KIDS and FU’S still play, so I would say bring some of them back, sure.
AFL: Where can fans best follow the band?
Jack: We have a website, but I would say Facebook. Everything is Facebook these days.
AFL: Thanks for the interview. Is there anything you would like to add?
Jack: No – wait, come see us and enjoy the show.