As you talk to Mark Slaughter, it’s clear that for all his success in music, he’s never lost a sense of gratitude. Toward his fans, certainly — the thousands of listeners who jammed arenas nationwide when his hard rock group first crashed into the charts in the 1990s — but also to those who have sacrificed their lives to keep America safe.
“Through the years that Slaughter, which is my band, has been touring, we’ve dedicated ‘Fly to the Angels,’ which is one of our big hits, out to our troops,” Mark said in an interview with Toledo Free Press. “And it’s just been an ongoing thing where we run into many of the armed forces, people in armed forces, throughout our travels.”
It makes sense, then, that when Mark would release his first solo single in over 30 years of music, he would want to do something where the goal was to give back to those who had given so much for the rest of us. That’s how “Never Givin’ Up,” the new song he released this past spring, came about.
“Basically, the whole thought was, to write something about people who face adversity. I saw a commercial about the Wounded Warrior program, and I thought, ‘You know, it’d be nice to do something that is really helpful for people who are in need, have gone through some of the traumatic things that these people have gone through.
“And so I spoke to a gentleman I know named Brandon Webb, and he has a foundation that 100 percent of all the proceeds go to the special ops guys. And I just thought it was a good idea to put some music out there and spread the word.”
The track, released digitally on March 18, is a hard-driving tune that certainly has the feel of the tracks Slaughter’s band made famous during their rise to prominence. But in many ways, it’s also the most personal song Mark has made in his career.
Beyond the funds the track will raise — a portion of the proceeds go to the Red Circle Foundation, which benefits the families of U.S. Special Operations Forces — the song represents Slaughter’s growth in a new era of music technology. Besides percussion, everything fans hear on the track — vocals, guitars and all — comes from Mark himself.
“I played everything on it except for the drums, which is a gentleman named Mark Goodin, which I actually reconnected from — we went to high school [together] many years ago, and we were in rival bands. And I brought him in to play drums, and he’s just done a phenomenal job.”
Granted, the track was mixed and mastered by Michael Wagener, a legend of musical production who has more gold records than most of us have real ones. But the actual performances on each piece of the song came from Slaughter himself, who is clearly enthusiastic about what this new era of recording technology can mean for musicians.
“It’s very empowering,” he said. “Today’s technology, what would have cost a million, millions of dollars to do, now you can do in the convenience of your own home. I think it’s very empowering for artists. And I think that’s one of the things I was thinking is, really, there are no rules. I didn’t, with the record company and everything else, it was kinda like, just put it out there and stop worrying about the logistics of how things are going to go.”
The arrival of “Never Givin’ Up” should be taken as a good sign for fans of Slaughter’s band, as well — fans who have been waiting patiently for a new album for 15 years, since “Back to Reality,” the group’s last CD, was released in 1999. “No doubt we’ll do some more recording with the band, and no doubt I’ll do some more recording on my own,” Slaughter said. “Like I said, it’s a really cool time for an artist, because I think the technology has finally caught up with the musician’s brain.”
As for “Never Givin’ Up,” Slaughter said, he hopes fans will enjoy the work and the message it contains — a message he insists is applicable no matter where one stands on the political spectrum.
“I know there’s a lot of people out there who are like, ‘War, this is bad, and that’s bad.’ This not about your political, who you’re affiliated with. This is about supporting those with honor who have given their lives — whether it be good or bad in your eyes — but these people have fought for our freedom. And I think that it’s just fair game to say thank you to them for that.”