The Slaughterhouse Chorus plays Final Show Tonight

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Tonight is the end of an 18 year journey for a fixture in the local scene, and in turn it is just the beginning of a new phase for the musicians involved.

Eighteen years ago, Jay Bonafide and Chris Jordan met in middle school and by high school decided to start a band. If you frequented Valentine’s back in the day, you might remember hearing Public Access. A cross between a fun ska-punk band and a serious hardcore band, Public Access was basically a weird combination of hardcore with a sax section. But there was a national core of bands doing the same thing, and the guys were almost signed to “Community Records,” the name being exactly what it sounds like. As Jay put it, “a community of weirdos that played the same thing, this strange combination of ska core.”

Public Access went through some changes, Bob Watson joined the band after they announced at a show at Valentine’s that they were losing their bassist. After some encouragement from his buddy Rocco (everyone needs a Rocco in their life), the 15-year old had the balls to approach Chris and Jay and try out. It worked out considering the three have been playing together since then with a short break when Bob went to college in Binghamton. The band went through three different drummers, with one, Dale Nixon, changing over to bass when The Slaughterhouse Chorus was initially formed.

The break didn’t last long, the urge to write new songs and to play was at Jay and Chris’s core and a new project started as soon as the old one stopped. As Jay put it, “We just couldn’t not be in bands.”

The Slaughterhouse Chorus was formed, the name was a joke that stuck. Originally Dale suggested, JB and the Slaughterhouse Chorus, but when the dust settled the shorter name prevailed. The Slaughterhouse Chorus, don’t forget the The and remember that Slaughterhouse is one word, not two. Mistakes that seem small and appeared on flyers and media over the years that drove the band a little crazy, as they put it “it’s all about the The, without it the whole thing changes”.

The Slaughterhouse Chorus was supposed to be chill, not all encompassing, but with the energy of their newest member, Mark McKenna, on drums, he pushed the guys to “go go go”. So, in 2012 they released their full length self-titled album and in 2013 they did their first tour with Henry’s Rifle. The band (Chris, Jay, Mark, and Dale) traveled to New Orleans and back. Where’s Bob you ask? Still in college. But just as he was moving back home Dale was starting a life, buying a home, and time for the band diminished. Bob stepped back in on bass but not in time to get up to speed for the band’s NYC run. Fortunately, Matt Hendershot from The End Men was able to step in and cover bass duties.

Photo by Bryan Lasky

With the band together (in its current configuration) things smoothed out and they continued to play the Capital region and helped establish the collaborative known as Built4BBQ as a means to help produce and distribute music by like-minded local artists like Henry’s Rifle, Kimono Dragons, Charmboy, and the Savage Randys. Built4BBQ was a natural coming together of friends with unique talents such as Jay making records, Matt Hendershot from The End Men’s producing skills, and John Pipino from Henry’s Rifle sick artistic talent. Together they put out a compilation album, and helped promote each other’s projects.

As the band grew a bit older and the ideas of making it big faded, they settled into their role as a fixture in the Albany scene. Jay reflected back to the years they started out and things were more competitive “there was a music industry that you felt like you could make it to some degree. You could get out and be famous, and get a record deal. But over time that competitive feeling goes away and you all become friends (with other bands)”. Mark added, “the most competition we ever had was with ourselves. No one could be more critical of us, than us.”

In 2014 things changed again for the band. Chris bought his business and had to scale back on “fun” and focus on the business. The guys still practiced every Sunday, and spent the next couple years working on their latest EP “… In the Name of Progress” that was recorded in 2017 but put out in early 2019. The guys laughed and quipped that “it takes us a long time to figure out the best way to do stuff.” “That’s why in 18 years we release 5 songs every few years.”

When asked what advice the band had for new bands starting out, Jay’s response was the simplest, “be nice.” Chris’s advice was to “work together, everyone is trying to get to the same place so just be nice so you can exist in the community.” While Mark added, “work well with everyone and be the best version of yourself you can be.” Lastly, Bob would remind new bands to ” practice every week. We get together for 3 hours every week even if we don’t have a plan. We’ve been doing it for a decade.”

Chris is working on a bunch of songs for a solo project that the rest of the band may back him up on. “The band itself isn’t phased (about this being the last show) as much as you’d think. When Sunday comes around we are still getting together. The only reason The Slaughterhouse Chorus is coming to an end is that we ran out of ideas for it, but we have ideas for other projects.”

So, even though The Slaughterhouse Chorus’s last show is tonight, they still plan on getting together Sunday for practice. Jay, Bob and Mark have another project a self-described “crappy ska band” called Girth Control. In their defense, most ska bands are sort of crappy, but in an awesome Orange County kind of way. The guys “don’t see a day when we aren’t playing. It just might be other songs.”

As for future plans, “eventually we’ll be playing instrumental smooth jazz up in Saratoga. Don’t applause, don’t even pay attention to us, just ignore us and eat your brunch. Oh, and pay us more than we make now.”

My suggestion is don’t wait for the smooth jazz version and get your ass to The Hollow tonight for The Slaughterhouse Chorus’s final show. Sure there might be a reunion in a few years, sure you will see the guys play here and there on other gigs. But tonight, it is going to be a going-away party that will set Albany on fire. Be prepared for a night of great music with Henry’s Rifle and Charmboy (both emerging from semi-retirement for the festivities), and Boston’s Coffin Salesman. There will be some awesome sit-ins – guaranteed. Don’t miss it.

Doors open for the $10, 18+ show at 8:00 PM. Music starts at 8:30. Find music and more info on the bands at:
www.theslaughterhousechorus.com
henrysrifle.bandcamp.com
charmboy.bandcamp.com
coffinsalesman.bandcamp.com
built4bbq.com

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