SLAMCAT: One Cat’s Journey of Reconciliation
I talked to a lot of people at Immortal Festival last month and made a lot of friends. If you didn’t attend, and you’re wondering why I’m still yammering on about it, come to Immortal in Ohio next Labor Day, if the Lord should tarry, and see for yourself. Normal people are boring to me. I like characters- and metalheads, non-conformists that we are, tend to fit that bill. One character that I met was Syke Mochek, one of Fear Not’s roadies. Syke looks every part of the rockstar- from his long black hair under the ever-present bandana, aviator glasses, soul patch, and beefy fists. I was trying to describe him to another friend who was there and he exclaimed- “The dude that looks like Mick Mars?” Yep, that’s him. That’s Syke. I think I talked to him several times before it came out that he had been the singer of hardcore/thrash band Slamcat. But this is less a story about “Whatever happened to Slamcat,” and more a story about how God can work in a person’s life and bring healing and restoration. But that part comes later…
When Roxx released the Slamcat- Greatest Hits and Misdemeanors CD earlier this year, did that generate some interest in your old band?
Syke Mochek: It did! I got in touch with people I haven’t heard from in years, meeting fans I’ve never met, and it is introducing Slamcat’s music to people that have never heard of us before.
That is Greatest Hits and Misconducts, btw. I just wanted to make sure it was correct.
It’s a reference to a “Game Misconduct” in hockey, of course.
Slamcat really had a hockey theme going. Who’s your favorite hockey team?
I have a few. L.A. Kings, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Detroit Red Wings.
Red Wings?!? Oh no!
Ha ha ha, I get that a lot! I was more of a fan in the 90’s. Also, Gordie Howe was my all-time favorite player.
I’m a lifelong Flyers fan.
Cool, nothing wrong with that.
What started the whole band gig for you? Was rock and roll calling you? What was the ignition source?
God was definitely calling! We had a heart for the lost and hurting from the start, and the band was formed as a ministry, not just a band.
Where did your stage name come from? My guess would be Syke comes from your song “Mr. Psycho” and Mochek is more hockey references, right?
Well, ha ha, that’s a good guess! Mr. Sykeo Mochek! The story is not really that interesting, but funny. I have a little trouble speaking sometimes and get dyslexic and tongue tied. As some people know, my birth name is pronounced Mike Sochek. I had a friend that would call me out every time I would slip and get my words tangled. I would say something like- Hey, let’s go get Bam-ferg- Er, Hamburgers! He would reply- Ok, Syke Mochek, lol. I just kept it and have been going by Syke for years now.
Cool. What drew you to the hardcore and thrash scenes?
I like all kinds of music, but grew up on bands like Metallica and Anthrax. I’ve always loved the punk scene and bands like Alice in Chains were top bands around the time El Gato came out. So, throw in some Galactic Cowboys-influenced harmonies, and there you have it, lol.
Can you give me a brief overview of Slamcat’s history?
Janna (Squires) and I started the band with Jonathon Ford on bass and Jeff Luker on drums in 1992. Jonathon and Janna went to school together. We recorded the Slamcat demo. Duane (Mullins) came to fill the drum spot and a little later Jonathon went off to his wonderful career. We spent the majority of our time together looking for a permanent bassist. I finally switched over and fell in love with playing bass. Over that time, we got to see and do a lot of cool stuff, and some stuff I’d like to forget, lol. One of the earliest memories is playing the Texas Rockfest for the first time. It wasn’t quite what we pictured on arrival, but turned out to be an experience we’d never forget. An older woman named Blanche Pall put the show on, and had a heart for seeing kids led to the Lord by heavy metal music. She was one of a kind and didn’t take crap from anyone! Lol. The other bands we met instantly became our best friends. We were invited to be part of one of HM’s hard and heavy cd samplers with POD, Bride, Precious Death, and others, and that’s what kickstarted our worldwide following. From there, it was C-stone Fest, Michigan Mosh Fest, and more Texas Rockfests while doing small tours and regional shows. By 1998 there was stuff that had gone on behind the scenes, on the road with churches, promoters, and other “christians” that left us sour with the scene and our spirit was broken. I really don’t want to delve into detail of what went on, but like The Blamed’s awesome album The Church is Hurting People, I found that to be the story. We called it quits and I didn’t want anything to do with “those people” anymore. We were pretty bitter by the end of it.
I think it’s a lesson that we all had to go through, and you can’t blame God for situations, even though it’s hard to at the time. It’s good to step back and look at the big picture, and learn how to give it totally to God and not try to control things that are out of your control. Hard lessons learned, but I’m now thankful for the learning experience. There were a lot of great times that outweighed the bad.
Where did the name Slamcat come from? The fighter jet?
The fighter jet stole it from us! Ha ha. No, I was on a plane flying home and we were just starting out and needed a name. I thought of drawing a line down the middle of a page, and writing a list of verbs down the left side and a list of nouns down the right. Kick, slam, run, jump, mosh… then chicken, cat, and so on. Kick Chicken was a close second! Ha ha.
My first experience with Slamcat was your album El Gato de la Slam. I couldn’t resist buying an album with my family name in the title.
Ha ha ha! The album name actually came from Kemper Crabb (Atomic Opera)… we were at a showcase in Houston where he was speaking. And walked in late to his seminar and tried to sneak in. He looked up, stopped, and said El Gato de la Slam! We were busted, but had to name the album after that.
That’s pretty funny! Are you still in contact with Jenna and Mr. Wee (Duane)?
Yes, we talk on a regular basis… we will always be family, life has just taken us on different busy paths. But I think we all agree to being open to writing a couple new songs and maybe even a reunion show somewhere down the line. Never say never, lol.
So where has life taken you since Slamcat? Are you still involved in music?
After Slamcat, Janna and I remained in a couple bands, and separately played the cover band scene. Janna has always held dear to her faith in God, while I walked away. I became bitter. I was going through some hard times and someone told me, “The devil must really want you to fight for you like that!” At that moment, I looked back at everything I had sacrificed for God, and the “works” I did and the stuff that the band went through and said, “If the devil wants me that bad and God isn’t going to fight for me, then the devil can have me, I’m done.” Later, I cooled down a bit and prayed to God, “If you want me and all of this is real, then burn a (expletive) bush right in front of my eyes and I will give up everything and follow you… Until then, I’m done.”
Well, no fire, no bush. Just 15+ years in the wilderness until one day, my beautiful girl, Angel was being silly on a Fat Tuesday night and asked what I was giving up for Lent. I thought for a moment, then heard a still small voice say “Go.” I started to look for Lent services in my area just for the heck of it (and I’m not Catholic) and I found a Baptist church that was holding one. I thought “How odd,” then again, the voice said “Go.” So, the next morning, I went to the quiet peaceful service and wept like a baby. God called me, in His timing. Not by a burning bush, but by a still small voice, saying “Go.” Leave it to God to do the opposite of what we expect to get His point across, lol. I didn’t jump back into it at first, I was still leery, but I had the faith of a mustard seed, and man, did it bloom in no time.
I learned a lot of lessons while I was away, which I think have made me wiser and opened my eyes to the way I need to strive in my walk in Christ. My faith and walk are stronger now than they have ever been, and after a little more than 3 years being back in the grace of God, I see things differently now- how walking in love is SO important! We need to have and share that same love with everyone. Ephesians 5:2 says “Walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us as an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” So as far as my music now, I feel called to share about that love and the ill effects of tearing down each other, not throwing stones, instead finding the truth and praying for people, and helping them back to their feet. I’ve been doing some studio work, but ready to get back out playing live. I just had a little taste filling in with my bros in Fear Not last weekend and it gave me the itch, lol. But it’s all in God’s timing, he’ll put the pieces together.
Wow, that’s quite a journey and a powerful testimony! God loves us so much that He never stops caring for us even when we turn our backs on Him.
So, you came out to Immortal Fest with Fear Not, which is where I met you, and last weekend you filled in on vocals for Eddie Green with Fear Not at a festival in Arkansas. How did that go?
It was great! Eddie had to bow out due to something that came up, so I was asked to fill in for him so that Fear Not could keep their commitment to the festival. Outstanding, faithful to God guys they are- the real deal, and I’m so glad they’re in my life. It was a little stressful trying to memorize all the songs and lyrics in 2 weeks without a rehearsal, but people said they liked it, and that’s what counts! Lol, it was an amazing time.
So now you’ve got the itch to start performing again?
Yeah, it kinda did. Well… it really did! Ha, ha, ha.
Good. God’s not done with any of us yet. It’s “all-hands-on-deck” time.
Amen, brother! He’s been tugging at me for a while, lol. I just want it to be His timing and all about Him.
So now you are in a good place of just wanting to be used by God for His plan in His timing. I was happy just to make your acquaintance, but I really feel like the Holy Spirit was prodding me towards interviewing you. I guess your story needed to get out. Not sure if that means someone in our audience needed to hear it or if someone’s going to track you down to start working with you. All good, either way, right?
Totally! I hope everyone hears my story. Tere needs to be more love and lifting up within the body of Christ and less tearing down, and being ready to attack. As far as me playing again, I have in mind who I’d like to assemble, but I‘d love to see what God has in store. It’s all in His timing and I‘m done trying to force open the wrong doors.
You’d better start writing songs, bro…