SLAVES ON DOPE – Horse Is The New Drug
October 6, 2016, a year ago
Jason Rockman is one busy gentleman, as nowadays, he splits his time between fronting veteran nu metallists Slaves On Dope, and also, works as a radio personality (the host of ‘Amped with the Rockman’ each weekday evening on Canada’s CHOM). And on October 7th, Slaves On Dope will be releasing their latest album, Horse. Rockman spoke with BraveWords correspondent Greg Prato a few weeks before the album’s release, and gave us the lowdown on juggling his careers, the new disc, and working with special guests.
BraveWords: Let’s discuss the new album, Horse.
Jason Rockman: “This band has been around for so long - Kevin and I have been at this for almost 24 years. February 5th will be 24 years since we played our first show. It’s natural that in 24 years together as a band, you’re going to go through changes musically. You’d like to think you would…unless you’re AC/DC. [Laughs] But we’ve always been an aggressive band. At times, we can be very alternative, at times, we can be a little more hardcore. I don’t think we’re a band that really cares about labels. We never have. We just want to write good songs. And I think with this record, the goal was to try to write the best songs we could, and still sound like what people would expect from Slaves On Dope - but add melodic elements that in the past may not have been there. I’m a big fan of melody. It doesn’t really matter in which form it comes - it can be in the rhythm, it can be in the vocals, but there has got to be some kind of a melody and some kind of a hook that brings the listener in and grabs them. I think with this album, we tried to do that as much as we could. We’ve never been a band that has cared about getting airplay, radio play, major support. We just do it because we want to do it - do it for us. And if it works, great, if it doesn’t, we’re still happy, because we made the record we wanted to make. And every album we’ve done has been that. It’s been an experience and an adventure. Just cathartic in a way - this is what we need to get out, this is what we need to create right now, and we’re doing it. So with this album, I think there is a little bit more emphasis in having more mainstream potential, because a lot of people who have heard it have said, ‘Oh man, these songs are really, really good.’ It seems to be swinging in a way where it may get a little bit more attention than past releases, for the fact that there is some more melody. But it wasn’t something that was calculated - it was, ‘Let’s just write the best songs we can.’ We also took a lot of time with this record. We’ve been working on this record for the better part of three and a half years.”
BraveWords: Why did it take so long to work on this record?
Jason Rockman: “Well, one of the main things is it’s not the only thing that we do anymore. Slaves On Dope isn’t the only job myself or Kevin have. We’re both very busy - Kevin produces bands, and I work in media in Montreal. We come to Slaves On Dope and give the time we can to it, when we have the time. So after the last record, we put it out and toured a little bit with it, and it was more like, ‘Let’s see if we can still do this.’ And with this record, we were like, ‘Well, we’re still doing it and we want to continue doing it. Let’s start writing again.’ The process started probably a year after the last album came out - which is 2013. We would do it in stages. We would pre-produce the entire thing, and then have the entire record pre-produced and ‘This is what it sounds like,’ and then we would go back and start the whole process over again, where we would re-record the drums, record proper vocals, write proper lyrics. It just takes time - especially when you are not working the normal 40-60 hours a band might work a week, when they’re doing it full-time.”
BraveWords: You said you work in media.
Jason Rockman: “I’m a radio host here in Montreal. I have a radio show, and I also work in TV. I’m busy - I do a lot of stuff that takes up a lot of time, plus I’ve got two kids. I got a lot on my plate, so Slaves On Dope, because it’s not the main thing anymore, it’s kind of like a glorified hobby for us, but it’s one we take really seriously.”
BraveWords: Let’s discuss your radio work.
Jason Rockman: “I’ve been working at CHOM, which is a rock station in Montreal - it’s been around for about 46 years. It’s a station I grew up listening to as a kid. Slaves On Dope in the early ‘90s won a contest which was a city-wide talent search, when getting studio time was a big deal, when you would ‘win’ studio time. We won that, and it solidified our relationship with the station, and it was just fun - years later, I got to do a demo for them, because they were looking for a host. It was when we were actually recording the last album. I did it, they liked what they heard, and since then, I’ve been working at the station. It’s kind of like one of those ‘happy accidents’.”
BraveWords: There are special guests on Horse, as well.
Jason Rockman: “We’ve got Bill Kelliher from Mastodon, we’ve got Darryl McDaniels from Run-DMC, Lee-La Baum from the Damn Truth, and HR from Bad Brains. The song that we did with Darryl is huge [‘Script Writer’]. It’s the first single from the record and we did a video for it. That was a lot of fun. Being a hip-hop fan and being the guy who has been listening to Run-DMC since I was twelve years old, it was a dream come true to collaborate with him. The fact that we’ve stayed friends and are working on other music together now is amazing, because we’ve got kind of a trilogy of songs that we’re working on. We have the one that we did for our album, we have another song that we did with HR and with DJ Lord from Public Enemy for a documentary about Spencer Haywood, the NBA player, and then we’re doing a third song for DMC’s album, with Chuck D. So it’s really cool. It’s turned into this really fun collaboration.”
BraveWords: What are the band’s touring plans?
Jason Rockman: “We’re going to do stuff in Canada for the rest of 2016. We might do a couple or radio things in the States before that, but the plan is to hit the US in 2017.”
(Top photo by: Tim Snow)