The Slaughterhouse Chorus are Back, But Not for Long
Written by Ralph Renna on May 30, 2019
An abridged version of this article appeared in the June 2019 Issue of Xperience Monthly.
For a decade The Slaughterhouse Chorus has been a staple in the local music scene. The band has toured not only the Northeast but has ventured as far south as New Orleans and many places in between. Bandmates: Jay Bonafide (Guitar), Mark McKenna (Drums), Bob Watson (Bass) and Chris Jordan (Guitar/Lead Vocals) have just put together a brand-new EP entitled “In The Name of Progress” but they say it will be their final release. Wait… What?
RRX: Built4BBQ is the name of the recording and distribution group that your band established collectively producing at least 15 releases; including not only TSHC but also local artists Henry’s Rifle, Kimono Dragons, Charmboy, and The Savage Randys. With that being said, why is “In The Name of Progress” going to be TSHC’s last? And do you have plans for Built4BBQ to continue with other projects?
Chris: Basically, I guess we decided to end the band simply because we had run out of ideas for this band and have several ideas for other musical projects. So… “In the Name of Progress” is just us saying, this is the last record and we can move on to other projects. Originally, we were trying to write another full-length and we couldn’t come up with enough ideas, so we just recorded the five songs we had. Unrelated to Built4BBQ as a larger enterprise, we’re ending the band because that’s what we feel like doing and moving on to other things. As far the continuation of Built4BBQ, I don’t see why not. I don’t know if we’ve ever discussed this.
Mark: Can Built4BBQ end?
Jay: No, I think Built4BBQ is forever.
Bob: It passes down to the next generation.
Mark: I could see a renewal of energy toward other people’s projects.
Chris: So yeah, why not? “Built for BBQ” is the name of a Slaughterhouse Chorus song, but eventually it became a phrase that we used to describe any band that we thought was sweet. So as long as there’s sweet bands, they could potentially be bands that are Built4BBQ.
Jay: You too could be Built4BBQ!
Chris: U2 the band is NOT Built4BBQ. [band laughs]
Jay: U2 the band is the opposite of Built4BBQ. OK, next question…
RRX: It is truly the end of an era for TSHC, I am sure the memories and stories will live on forever. What would you say have been the band’s fondest achievements?
Chris: Oh man… So, it’s the first one I can think of – it’s not our most significant but a cool one that we did – for Ghosts of Hardcore Past [annual cover show] we decided to play NOFX‘s “The Decline,” which for the uninitiated is an 18 minute and 44 second song – and we did it! And it was pretty good.
Mark: You learned the trombone and everything.
Chris: Yeah, I played the trombone. It was a pretty ambitious thing.
Bob: That was before me, but I was in the audience watching that. It was at upstairs Valentines, and I remember being upset because no one else in the crowd wanted to do a circle pit. But it was a great cover, you guys nailed it!
Chris: Well yeah, I think there’s the normal milestones bands should be proud of. We put out the full-length, which I guess still holds up okay. We’re about to put out this EP – it’s not a moment we’ve had yet, but a moment I anticipate having as one of our finer points. I don’t know, we’ve played a few shows for some unsuspecting crowds and they turned out to really enjoy it. We went on tours that were not commercially successful, but I think were really character-building experiences.
Jay: Really great times.
Mark: I mean, I honestly can’t even really think of a single crowning achievement. For me, it’s like blocks, you know what I mean? Like when the band first started, the initial excitement of playing at Valentines, meeting new people and making new friends, and kind of building this whole group of friends. I look back on that fondly, but it’s not a memory, those are still my friends.
Chris: That’s a good point. I think probably the crowning achievement of this band is that it’s probably built our entire social circle. Through this band, we’ve met people we still hang out with and will probably continue to hang out with until everyone has kids.
Jay: That’s the end of everything. [Band laughs]
RRX: Sorry to keep dwelling on the fact that THSC is wrapping it up this year but to be honest I didn’t know so I am in a bit of shock. Is there anything you would care to share about your experiences together over the years?
Mark: For some reason going to Kansas, like being in Kansas was like the weirdest…
Jay: I think that’s really the beauty of being in a band or just being alive. We meet Matt Hendershot from the End Men, I think at the Putnam Den in Saratoga at some weird, off-brand show we probably shouldn’t have been on to begin with, it didn’t make any sense… and we meet these wonderful people from Brooklyn and the next thing you know we’re eating dinner with their family in Kansas and it’s the greatest BBQ that’s ever existed. We’re sitting around a kitchen table, everything’s flat, there’s no mountains anywhere, it’s like you’re on the face of the moon or something. It’s pretty cool to have an experience like that.
Chris: To interject a dose of realism – everyone hated that tour while we were on it. [Band laughs] There were some good moments…
Jay: Oh, I didn’t hate it, man! I had a great time.
Mark: I did too.
Jay: I do remember I had to buck everyone up at a certain point. I mean it didn’t go well, it wasn’t a great tour.
Chris: There were never more than 15 people there. The drum kit kept moving around. The morale was kinda low at times… but we never ate better.
Jay: It was a great road trip, but a so-so kinda tour. And there was the one the year before with John [Henry’s Rifle].
Mark: The first tour with John was awesome. That was my first tour ever.
Chris: We got pulled over in Macon, Georgia. It was like “Super Troopers” but it wasn’t funny, and it sucked. They harassed us for a while and they brought us all out of the car and they made us feel bad but none of us broke. You could tell the one guy definitely just wanted to hit us or arrest us or whatever. We got out of it alive and we paid some fines. And then later we found out that the cop that harassed us got arrested himself for impersonating a lady on the internet to try to ruin his ex-girlfriend’s new relationship. So that’s a really fond memory for me – being harassed by Officer Willis of the Macon Police Department and then later finding out that the same individual is now in prison for 10 years.
Mark: He literally asked me if I fart weed. He was a real special guy. It’s funny how the hard times really turn into the best memories.
Chris: Any experience good or bad can turn into a great story, so embrace the bad times. Deal with Officer Willis.
Jay: I think that’s a good segue back to the record too. “Hambone” is just the recounting of one of these alternately good and bad experiences, where we were on our way to the Muddy Roots Festival in Tennessee to play, but at the Open Mic Tent, I think, with John from Henry’s Rifle.
Chris: I mean, we went down to see the show too.
Jay: Yeah, it was amazing, amazing music. It started beautifully. It’s a very long drive but we got down there and the beer was flowing and the food was cooking and the bands were playing and it was wonderful, but then the skies opened up and everything fell apart.
Mark: But we made it home!
Jay: I don’t think you get that, just working your 9 to 5 and not leaving town. We’re lucky to have that opportunity to get in the car and drive and make music as part of a grand adventure somewhere. So it’s cool that we’ve been able to do that over the years.
RRX: Without saying the name of the supermarket that took over the site of the church that is in ruin on your album cover, explain why this brilliant photo was chosen and if there are any obvious or hidden meanings behind this choice photograph.
Chris: Yeah, so I just happened to have driven by St. Patrick’s Church in Watervliet during its demolition and I saw the state it was in as captured in that photograph. I called up my mom, who has a lot of nice cameras and is just a great amateur photographer, and I said hey, if you want to capture a really cool picture, you should go up to Watervliet. The steeple of the church is still up but the rest of the church is gone, and you could probably get some pretty dramatic shots. And she did, and we never really thought about it. But it was kinda right around that exact same time that those few blocks of New Scotland Avenue in Albany were demolished to make way… you know, Valentines and Quintessence; so at least to us, there were a lot of significant, historical or cultural, places that were being destroyed in the area. So when we came up with the whole concept of “In the Name of Progress” including artwork from Saratoga Winners burning down or Valentines being torn down, having the couple of photos my mom took of St. Patrick’s Church, and I mean for lack of a better word, it’s badass, look at it, it’s cool. We saw that and we were like, that’s the album cover photo for sure.
Jay: And I don’t know what the metaphor is but there’s some metaphor there…
Mark: In the name of progress we’re ending this band.
Chris: And that’s just it. In the name of progress we recorded these five songs in the first place. In the name of progress we’re ending this band to move on to other things. And then artistically, the photography, the unnamed grocery store tore that church down in the name of progress. Valentines was torn down in the name of progress. Saratoga Winners was burned down in the name of that guy making some more money, which I guess is sort of progress.
Jay: His own personal progress.
Chris: So it all ties together and has different meanings.
Jay: I think what’s cool about the photo on the cover and that whole situation is that wrecking ball couldn’t take that steeple down.
Chris: It’s a last stand almost.
Jay: You’ve gotta bring a bigger wrecking ball.
So The Slaughterhouse Chorus may be calling it quits but you will still have a handful of opportunities to see them perform live. The record release show will be held on May 31st at The Hollow 8pm, the sixth annual Built4BBQ Star Spangled Bonanza July 3rd at The Hangar on the Hudson and the Divine Vibes music festival at the Beer Diviner Brewery July 19-21. For more on The Slaughterhouse Chorus and to order music and merch visit them online at www.theslaughterhousechorus.com