One of the key members of the legendary Stackridge band, Mutter
Slater could sing and write great songs and he was the bands
flautist too. Going in and out of Stackridge at varying times since
they formed in 1969, Mutter was a key member on the bands 2011
comeback classic A
Victory For Common Sense, so its even more surprising
to find that in 2014 Mutter has left Stackridge again but it isnt
all for naught. With the 2014 CD release of Absobloodylutely,
Mutter further establishes himself as a solo artist. Backed by
a tight rock band, the songs on Absobloodylutely offer a variety
of late period Mutter music: one part pop, one part tin pan alley,
vaudeville and even cabaret. Speaking about his band Mutter Slater
tells mwe3, Weve only been together a year or two,
but I agree that it sounds nice and tight. That is down to the musical
experience, pedigree if you like, of the individual members.
Balancing the solid rock and pop vibe of Absobloodylutely,
some of the tracks are more soulful and R&B tinged but each of
these tracks accurately reflects the many talents of long time British
pop maestro Mutter Slater. A 21st century pop/rock masterpiece from
Stackridge icon Mutter Slater, Absobloodylutely brings the
classic Stackridge rock sound alive and kickin' into the 21st century.
mwe3.com presents an interview with
The new Mutter Slater Band album is called Absobloodylutely.
How did you come up with that title? (lol) Is it one of your favorite
Mutter Slater: We recorded the track with that name and a couple
of band members said that it would make a good album title so I went
along with that in the absence of a better idea. Absobloodylutely
as a song came about after I had gotten exasperated with the over
use of absolutely as a synonym for yes or certainly. It really got
to me If I hear abso bloody lutely
again Ill go nuts... that sort of thing. The song itself
deals with the shallow commercialization and feeble celebrity of modern
mwe3: Tell us about your band, the Mutter Slater Band. When
did you form it and how long have you been working with the MSB? I
was amazed at how good the band sounds, as I had never heard you as
a solo artist. You released another CD before called Riding A Hurricane
too right? Have you worked with other bands besides Stackridge over
Mutter Slater: Ive only really done my own thing outside
of Stackridge so MSB is my only project these days. The band was only
a three piece at the time of Riding A Hurricane, unfortunately
the other two musicians were busy with other outfits and couldnt
commit to MSB. I decided to try again after a short break. The other
members are all local to me here in South West Dorset and were all
people I had heard play around the area who I rated. I had no preconception
as to the final lineup, it grew organically. I did stop at six though;
I had no desire to run a big band. Weve only been together a
year or two, but I agree that it sounds nice and tight. That is down
to the musical experience, pedigree if you like, of the individual
How does Absobloodylutely reflect your interest in American
blues, soul and R&B and how does Absobloodylutely compare to your
other album, Riding A Hurricane, sound wise and compositionally?
How different was it working with Chris Cleaver as a producer, compared
with Billy Bragg, who worked with you on Riding A Hurricane?
Chris Cleaver, who in addition to engineering and co-producing the
Absobloodylutely album, also played all the guitars. Theres
some amazing guitar and sax work on Absobloodylutely too. Where
did you find a major guitar talent like Chris? The MSB band sounds
Mutter Slater: I think that anything I write these days will
be heavily influenced by my fondness for American R&B, blues and
soul. It carries so much emotion as well as being able to bear the
weight of a decent tune. Billy and Chris are completely different
to work with. Billy tended to let me have my head and only really
come up with a suggestion when he thought it was necessary. Chris,
on the other hand, rolls up his sleeves and really gets stuck in.
He was a key factor in the way the band sounds, both in the studio
and on stage. He is such a distinctive guitarist and always brings
something fresh and unexpected to a song. I first saw and heard Chris
playing in a local blues band and was impressed from the word go.
As you so rightly say Clive Ashley our saxophone player is a mean
player too. Ive been playing with him for years now, once you
find someone that good you hang on to them! Im glad you like
the band: I couldnt be happier with the result myself.
mwe3: I remember how great A
Victory For Common Sense sounded in 2011 and then I just recently
found out you left Stackridge! I cant imagine a better Stackridge
album, seems to me like A Victory For Common Sense is kind
of like Mr. Mick in that, with you and Crun leaving the band,
its kind of a 21st century swan song now. So now Stackridge
is only Andy and James left? What of Crun?
Slater: Yes I think A Victory For Common Sense was our
best ever album. Chris Hughes the producer managed to make it sound
both coherent and cohesive. The song writing is not as patchy as our
previous offerings either. It was a nice way to draw a line under
my Stackridge career. Yes, Crun left shortly after I had done the
same. He had moved to Hereford which is some distance from Bath where
the band is essentially based and found the logistics a bit of a problem.
Ive no idea if he is doing anything musical these days. Andy
and James are still working together though, either as Stackridge
or The Korgis.
mwe3: So how do you compare Absobloodylutely with your
sound in Stackridge? Absobloodylutely is a lot heavier right?
Were any of the Absobloodylutely tracks played with Stackridge
or are they all new?
Mutter Slater: I dont know if its possible to compare
the two really. Absobloodylutely is probably more consistently
American in its influences than anything Stackridge would do. No,
nothing here was played by Stackridge. I did play a couple of the
songs to Andy Davis on an acoustic guitar before a gig, but he didnt
rate them, so I took the hint and did them myself.
mwe3: The lead off track on Absobloodylutely is Were
In The Money which you commented was about some guy going off
his head after he wins the lottery. Is there a social statement in
the song about that kind of unimaginable excess? People stampeding
for money is the other extreme. Sad to say but, music to stampede
to? Im thinking of that crazy new years eve cash stampede
Slater: There was some oaf who won 9 million on the lottery and
basically made a spectacle of himself by going nuts with the stuff.
Hes all right now though hes lost the lot. I dont
know about a social statement. The song is written in the first person,
so the singer is basically dropping himself in it by listing all the
pointless things hes doing with the money. The opening lines
were inspired by the story of Keith Moon driving a car into a swimming
pool. Ive no idea if it was actually true or not, but its
a good story nonetheless. Weve had retail lunacy over here too.
People fighting on a store floor for a flat screen TV blinking
mwe3: Track 2 is The Price follows Were
In The Money. I dont think Ive ever heard that sort
of powerful kind of track from you. Is that the most powerful, sound
and lyric, track on the Absobloodylutely CD? Another very un-Stackridge
kind of track.
Mutter Slater: I wrote The Price years ago when
I was going through a really rough time with my ex-wife so it really
was written from the heart. It does seem to connect with people who
have had similar experiences though.
Bridport kind of gets back to that upbeat Stackridge kind
of sound. Tell us about Bridport and is it a real place?
Can you tell us something about where you grew up and what your childhood
Mutter Slater: I live in a place called Bridport. I wanted
to do a place name type of song but try and use an English location
instead of American. You have such great city and state names that
lend themselves to use in song in the USA, were not so lucky
in the UK. Going to school always involved a long walk for short legs.
We eventually settled in a village in Somerset when I was 7 years
old. That was the first place Id lived where there were neighbors.
I must say that I enjoyed the free range life style. It was idyllic.
mwe3: The Old Dog is really creepy and sounds like
Creedence Clearwater Revival or even Led Zep. Is that Chris Cleaver
on slide guitar? Great sound. Is that as heavy as you get as
a solo artist?
Mutter Slater: Yes Chris on slide. Nice and dirty. Its
interesting that you should mention Creedence and Led Zep. I hadnt
thought of them. The lyrics were intentionally vague yet dark, like
Edgar Allan Poe. Ive got a new song for the next album which
is just as heavy and dark, if not more so.
mwe3: The title track Absobloodylutely is also
pretty harrowing. You sing so calmly yet the subject matter is like
the twilight zone. You mention its about pulp television.
Mutter Slater: It astonishes me that we have so many TV channels
these days and yet so few decent programs. I think that were
turning peoples brains to mush with these channel fillers. Thats
what Absobloodylutely tries to deal with.
the woman walking down the street,
Sister lives at 39,
She's got a son, a real celebrity,
He's on telly all the time,
Selling plastic nails for babies' feet,
Out on channel Gotta Buy,
He's the golden one with screaming teeth,
And a sleeper through his eye.
Absobloodylutely, we've fallen,
Under their spell.
Absobloodylutely, we're buying,
Everything they sell.
Hear the wise man on the late night show,
He's an expert in his field,
What it is I couldn't really say,
But he is such a lovely build.
He's been seen out with that green eyed blonde,
She used to be with what's his name.
Hear the wise man on the late night show,
What exactly is he saying?
See the low life on the TV screen,
All that fat it's so grotesque,
They can hardly walk and they can barely breathe,
And their rooms are such a mess.
Clock the ASBO on the mantelpiece,
And the dog bowl full of fags.
See the low life throw their lives away,
Come on everybody laugh.
mwe3: Think Of Me Once is pretty classic sounding.
A million dollar song that should be top ten. Its kind of oozing
with a heartbreaking kind of sentiment and then your flute solo kind
of seals the deal.
Mutter Slater: Mick Howe, an old musical mate of mine, had
the chorus and its words and hence the sentiment. I tried to write
verses that echoed it. It has that old blues sort of pay off
if you dont want me Im out the door and moving on.
mwe3: The Boy has a story but I cant make
out the lyrics. Another country type track. I couldnt understand
what you said about it being about the arrival of a shamanistic
toddler... (lol) Its kind of a funny song right? What
are the key lyrics to The Boy?
Mutter Slater: It was inspired by a program about Rasputin,
believe it or not. His childhood was spent in a remote Siberian village
where superstition and pagan beliefs maintained equilibrium. They
still go to the shaman rather than a doctor if theyre ill today.
I thought it would be fun to have a toddler suddenly appear in such
a community and let the subsequent fear and superstition gnaw at its
core. Its a light hearted romp really.
In the badlands, in the backend of beyond,
Where desperadoes toed the line and bit their tongues,
Came a small boy. No one knew where he belonged.
Old woman stared out, shed never seen such a thing before,
Tried to step out, but she couldnt get through the door,
The boy had power, could drive a turbine with those thoughts.
Winters rages froze the locks and killed the pigs,
And in the springtime came the fever and the fits.
But the boy was fine, looking in his prime,
No one fed him, no one cared but the boy was doin fine.
Cindy Lou is another MSB classic. It should have been
a hit with Stackridge! Its lyrically complex but I cant
tell if the lyrics are serious or a put on. (lol) I pray to
you for guidance but your answer is obscure... (lol) ZZ Top
meets Stackridge. Whats the inside story on Cindy Lou?
The rise of feminism? You set your eyes on someone, then you
load your magazine... A cry out to return to the way love used
Mutter Slater: Its a cry from the heart from a husband
whose wife is a high powered executive who jet sets from boardroom
to boardroom. Youre half way round the world, but I still
get in your hair. Youre lead to believe that its
a simple cry to return to what used to be, but the real, more sinister,
reason is revealed at the end:
Im blinded by your power, when you are next in town, Im
gonna be like Samson, Im gonna tear that temple down.
mwe3: The Unforgiving Man closes the CD and is
another highlight of the Absobloodylutely CD. Its certainly
the most cryptic track on the album. The unforgiving man is the one
causing all the trouble in the world? Are we all guilty? Is there
a message to man about how we can settle the score once
and for all or is that armageddon?
Mutter Slater: Every songwriter has to have at least one song
featuring the devil. This is the one for this album. The human addiction
for making war regardless of human and financial costs never seems
to leave us. I thought Id write about it from the devils
viewpoint: rubbing his claws with relish as the unforgiving man gives
him further opportunities to wreak havoc and perpetuate misery and
suffering. No message other than I can see no improvement on the horizon
business as usual for the devil and his buddies.
devil and his buddies were standing by the fire,
Sipping on the blood of some lost soul,
The devil said 'Hey buddies I must propose a toast,
To the memory of the unforgiving man'.
He raised a carmine claw and pointed to the pit,
A gentle smile playing on his lips,
'The unforgiving man has really done his part,
In greasing the cogs of our machine.
Nothing helps us more than the settling of the score,
That satisfies the unforgiving man.
Oh! The beauty off it all,
We can't deny the unforgiving man'.
we're having a ball. The misery is backing up in waves,
You know man may not be much at all,
But he came and brightened up our fall from grace.
Vengeance is mine, said The Lord, my wrath it will descend,
I shall repay.
Vengeance is mine, said The Lord?
He really ought to hear himself one day'.
The devil and his buddies were riding round the world,
Playing midst the bitter grief and pain,
The devil said, 'Hey buddies, the unforgiving man?
We'll never see the likes of him again'.
Whats been the reaction to Absobloodylutely among Stackridge
fans and has anyone from the band, Andy, James or Crun given you any
feedback on Absobloodylutely?
Mutter Slater: Mike Tobin, Stackridges manager, likes
it. I dont know if anyone in the band has heard it, although
Andy has come to a couple of gigs and has enjoyed those. A compliment
from Andy is very rare currency.
mwe3: In addition to your song writing and vocals you were
also the flutist in Stackridge as well and you also played the mellotron
in the band too. Do you also play guitar as Ive seen you playing
guitar in some pictures and do you still play the tron? What
instrument do you mostly write music on? Is every song written differently
or do you have a set song writing style?
Slater: Yes I play guitar and flute in the band. I havent
played any keyboards for years so all song writing is done on the
guitar too. All writing begins with the music for me. It may be a
certain chord sequence that grabs my attention, a riff or a melody.
Once I get hooked I keep playing the bit I like and let that inspire
the next section of the song. I try to find an interesting path
nothing too predictable. This also applies to the lyrics, which invariably
come last. I need to discover a different angle or an intriguing line
then Im off.
mwe3: Stackridge were always such an upbeat kind of band. How
do you maintain a positive attitude these days with so much hatred
and violence in the world today? Besides singing Wonderful Day
all day? A song I didnt realize Crun wrote that song! (lol)
Mutter Slater: Im just lucky I guess. I certainly dont
sing any Crun songs he doesnt sing any of mine!
mwe3: Looking back one more time, the final Stackridge album
(so far) A Victory For Common Sense was such a great album.
Were you disappointed that the album wasnt a bigger hit? Is
Chris Hughes still working at Helium Records? What a way to go out!
Is there still hope for another Stackridge album in our lifetimes?
Mutter Slater: There certainly wont be another Stackridge
album with me on board, but Andy and James may have something in the
pipeline. I really have no idea what Chris is up to these days. I
hope he still has some projects on the go as he is such a supremely
gifted producer. Releasing a CD is a lottery with the odds stacked
heavily against success, so A Victory For Common Senses
failure was unfortunate but no great surprise.
mwe3: Looking back what do you think was the high point in Stackridge?
Some albums you left, but for instance Mr. Mick and Extravaganza
are still brilliant. Do you have a favorite Stackridge album or does
that opinion change every day?
Slater: As I have said, I think A Victory For Common Sense
was our most successful album artistically. The others each have their
highlights and conjure up some fond and not so fond memories, but
I dont dwell on the past as a rule. The present is perfectly
OK with me.
mwe3: Do you keep an eye on whats going on musically
in the world these days or is it all over the top? I remember 1975!
Can music still thrill you with anything new these days?
Mutter Slater: No I dont keep abreast of contemporary
music. Time is too short. I get my musical kicks from writing and
playing, if I happen to hear anything I like on the radio or TV Ill
pay attention. Its a rare event though.
mwe3: Do you have any side projects or other interests outside
of music that you can share with the readers?
Mutter Slater: I work as a barman and doorman to help subsidize
my music and I have my home life with my lovely wife Linda that really
fills my days.
mwe3: What plans do you have for 2015 as far as writing, recording,
performances, collaborations? I hope therell be another album
as good as Absobloodylutely from the Mutter Slater Band at
some point in the future.
Slater: We start recording the next album next week. Weve
already gigged four of the new songs so theyre nice and tight.
Once weve nailed those well start learning some more that
wait in the wings. Im proud of what Im writing these days
and weve learnt a lot from the process of recording Absobloodylutely
so Im confident that well maintain the standard.
to Mutter Slater @ www.MutterSlater.co.uk