Mick Rossi Interview: “I love where I’m at right now musically”

The former Slaughter And The Dogs member talks about his new band and their debut album.

Mick Rossi is a founding member and main songwriter in Manchester punk legends Slaughter And The Dogs. He’s responsible for writing such anthems as Where Have All The Bootboys Gone and You’re A Bore and the immortal Manchester classic Cranked Up Really High. He’s sited as an influence from artists such as Green Day and Oasis

After being thrust into the spotlight as main support on the Pistols’ second Manchester Free Trade Hall gig on July 20, 1976, the band were quick to get themselves down to London, playing at the legendary Roxy club very early on. They were then snapped up by Decca Records and released the classic album, Do It Dog Style.

When original singer Wayne Barret left the band for the third time around 1979, Mick recruited Eddie Garrity from the Nosebleeds and the band released the album Bite Back, and they completed a successful tour on the back of it. However, musical trends move on, and the band finally called it a day at the end of 1980. 

Mick reformed the band in 1996, having played with the likes of Martin Degville and Gary Holton in the intervening years. After reforming, Slaughter released two very well received albums, and also did several world tours until their very public split in 2019. Mick has also played with legendary Heartbreakers’ guitarist Walter Lure and if you were lucky enough to catch any of those shows, you will know Mick has lost none of his fire and passion for Rock n Roll. 

During the lockdown of 2020, Mick released his first solo album entitled All The Saints And All The Souls, it’s an album full of beautiful arrangements and beautiful songs. 

And now, Mick is back with a new band, Mick Rossi’s Gun St. He’s gone back to his glam roots, and produced a killer Rock n Roll album. It’s out today, 23 Feb, and is well worth getting. 

I caught up with Mick and asked him about how Gun St came about, and the reaction to All The Saints.

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Sun 13: First off Mick, congratulations on the success of your debut solo acoustic album All The Saints And All The Souls. You must have been pleased with the reception it got.

Mick Rossi: “Very happy with the reception Saints got. It was such a welcome gift. It’s one of the best reviewed albums I’ve ever had.

“Every time I release an album, it’s the equivalent of putting my heart and soul out there, the rock & roll soul of me, so to speak. And it’s at that point, I have to let go and realise that the album doesn’t belong to me anymore, it’s out there in the ether finding it’s own way. So when critics and indeed fans, who are really the more important critics , get behind my work, it’s really rewarding. I was very touched by all the love it received.”

S13: The album contains many highlights, but for me and many others, the stand out track is Singing With Angels, your tribute to David Bowie. Given that he was such a huge influence on your early years, how hard was it to write that song?

MR: “I was devastated when Bowie left Planet Earth. He’s been such a crucial part of my life since I was a kid, along with Mick Ronson. I had a burning desire to pay homage to Bowie, but I didn’t know how, I was full of emotion. I remember being in the bedroom and picking up my guitar, I was grieving and felt a huge sense of loss as we all did. Then, I was hit with a stream of consciousness and the song came very quickly. It’s really a love letter to Bowie.”

S13: The album was written and recorded during the lockdown of 2020, how difficult was it to work under those circumstances?

MR: “As difficult and challenging as lockdown was, it also gave me time and space in which to reflect and write songs, so a silver lining… I’ve always been a very prolific songwriter, rarely a day goes by when I don’t pick up the guitar and try something out. As the lockdown went on, I was writing songs ferociously and before I knew it, I had a really good batch of songs. And studio time was freed up due to the lockdown, so under the encouragement of Moz Murray, I was able to get into Winslow Ct. Studios in Los Angeles with the brilliant Craig Parker Adams.

“Initially, I just intended to make an acoustic album but as the days went on, I brought in other musicians and used cellos, violins, pianos – you name it I wanted it.”

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S13: Okay, Mick. So, you have a new band called Mick Rossi’s Gun St. Tell us a bit about it. Where the name comes from, who’s in the band?

MR: “The name of the band is Mick Rossi’s Gun St and it’s quite personal to me. Its named after the street where my family lived in Ancoats, Manchester. The Rossi’s emigrated from Monte Casino in Italy during the 30’s and Gun St is where they settled. My father used play on that street as a little kid. I wanted to do a little homage to my Italian heritage and Gun St seemed as good a place as any to start. Back to my roots – which is kind of a metaphor for me, as this album is really going back to the beginning of my musical education, the music that really started it all for me. Bowie, Ronson, T-Rex, Lou Reed etc., the influences that are still so important to me today.

Mick Rossi’s Gun St is made up of Mark Reback, drums, Dan Graziano, bass. Mark and Dan have been with me for five years now. They were in Slaughter And The Dogs with me and they were also with me, when I went out on the road with the late, great Walter Lure performing the LAMF album. We have Jennifer Alicea on backing vocals, she is such a beautiful bright light, and Jerry Evans on keyboards.”

Mick Rossi's Gun Street.

S13: The debut album is out this month, it leans very heavily on your 70’s musical influences, and you also have some very special guests on it right?

MR: “Yes, Gun St. is out this month, I’m very excited and very proud of this album. I very much leaned into the artists that shaped me as a young musician. I love the production and songwriting of those classic ’70s albums – Aladdin Sane, Slider, Transformer etc.

“Discovering these albums was a wondrous time for me as a kid. So, even though Gun St. is of the now, its definitely a nod to my glam roots.

“And, I’m thrilled to have my good friend & wicked guitarist Billy Duffy from The Cult, guest on Give Me Life, Gun St.’s opening track. Billy does a blistering guitar solo.

“The amazing Zac Rae joined us on keyboards and strings for I’ll never Love Again & Brightest Sta”. Zac’s played with Death Cab for Cutie, Aerosmith, Stevie Nicks, Leonard Cohen ….I could go on and on.”

S13: You played your debut gig at last years Rebellion festival, where Gun St. went down a storm. Did that surprise you, with Gun St. being such an unknown quantity? You were certainly one of the most talked about bands of the weekend.

MR: “Well, thats nice of you to say, Richie. Thank you. I love playing Rebellion. Jennie and Darren are total rock stars! Amazing what they’ve managed to achieve. Rebellion is the Best Festival in the world. I try to never take anything for granted, especially live performances.

“The audiences play a huge part in our performance. I firmly believe if you come from a place of truth and you’re putting yourself on the line, people pick up on that energy and it resonates with them. I was both thrilled and happily surprised at the reaction Gun St. got at Rebellion.

“Introducing a new band and playing new songs can be risky, so it was gratifying to be received so well. We felt very at home.”

S13: You have a special relationship with Rebellion don’t you?

MR: “I’ve been a part of Rebellion for over 30 years. Jennie and Darren are my rock & roll family and I theirs. Love them. Need I say more.”

S13: How does being in Gun St. differ from being in Slaughter And The Dogs? For instance, when you were recording the album, did you feel you had more freedom to spreads your wings and try a different approach to certain things?

MR: “I love where I’m at right now musically, I have complete freedom and it’s a joy recording with the Gun St crew.”

S13: What’s next for Gun St? Can we expect a tour to promote the album?

MR: “We’re just wrapping up on an official video for High High Low Low, directed by the visionary Sean Stanek. As for tours we’ll be announcing dates soon. East & West coast USA and the UK of course.”

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S13: You’ve taken a fair amount of abuse from certain people regarding the splitting up of Slaughter And The Dogs. That must have been hurtful considering you are one of the founding members and one of the main songwriters. I also have to say, you’ve maintained a dignified silence throughout it all too.

MR: “I put a lot of time over many years into building the brand of Slaughter And The Dogs into a very credible band. We played Rebellion many times and toured all over the world. I will cherish the good memories.

“Sadly the abuse continues to this day – the trolling of social media and writing ugly comments makes some people feel relevant but I don’t focus on it. I play music and I have a great band!”

S13: I know you do other things outside of music, acting, writing etc. What’s next for you on a personal level?

MR: “Well, I’m halfway through writing the second Gun St. album. I’m hoping to shoot an indie movie with director Sean Stanek this fall. And I have a T.V. show set in Manchester that I wrote which I’m in the process of setting up.

“It’s been a long road but we’re slowly getting closer. I love acting, performing and writing. And of course, there’s always Marlowe, my heart of a lion little dog that requires my attention and then some…”

And with that, Mick Rossi heads off back to his life, his guitar and his dog.

Mick Rossi’s Gun St is out now via Secret Records. Purchase here.

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