Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Skulls - Night Of The Livung Skulls

The last album by So Cal Punk Legends The Skulls.In 2000, Billy Bones was introduced to James 'Hardslug' Harding (The Adicts) by a mutual friend, Keith Miller, who had performed with Bones in the past with other projects. After discovering Hardslug was also into performing music, a 'jam' was suggested and Bones (vocals), Miller (bass) and Hardslug(drums) got together, joined by a young Kevin Preston (guitar) who attended the same school as Bones' daughter. This band practiced by covering Skulls songs among others and was to be called the DB5's, apparently after Bones' favorite automobile and interest in old James Bond movies. A few weeks later, Bones was asked to put together a version of The Skulls to perform at the 'Tribute to 77' event at The El Rey in Los Angeles, where many of the early punk bands were to perform. That line-up was to be Bones (vocals), Preston (guitar), Sean 'Geronimo' Antillon (ex Gears, Snake Charmers) (drums, who'd also played with Bones at an impromptu quasi Skulls appearance a few years before) and Keith Miller on Bass. However, Miller had to bow out at the last minute and Bones asked Hardslug if he knew anybody who could jump in. The story goes that Hardslug bought a bass, learned the songs in a week, and after just a few rehearsals, the band nailed it at the El Rey. The new version of The Skulls was born, with the DB5 project left by the wayside.

The SKULLS’ soon released an album titled Therapy for the Shy on Dr. Strange Records containing mostly re-recorded Skulls songs written by the original members of 77, with the notable exceptions of: 'Gold and Ruby Red', a song written by Bones years earlier and subsequently rehashed, rearranged and 'punked-up' by Bones and Hardslug; 'Life Ain't So Pretty', another older composition given some Bones/Hardslug treatment and brought up to speed; 'Girlfriend, Shower, Sleep', a slice of fun by the new 4-piece; and finally an amazing cover of The Saints' 'Erotic Neurotic'. Various singles were also spawned from this release and, along with the CD and its Vinyl counterpart, all sold out fast.

In addition, The SKULLS appeared on three separate tribute compilation CD’s released by Cleopatra Records performing covers of AC/DC, Weezer and NOFX tunes. On realizing this surge of interest, The Skulls did some soul searching, wondering if their recent offerings were valid, bearing in mind they were mostly penned by past members of the band from nearly a quarter of a century before. The decision was made to write a brand new album from the ground up, with contributions from each of the new members, either solo or as collaborations. “The Golden Age of Piracy” was recorded in Los Angeles and Seattle and released in late 2003, again on Dr. Strange Records. Garnering 5 star reviews across the board, it contained 14 completely original songs and captured the energy the band was becoming renowned for in its live performances. This solidified the band's confidence as a 'new' band in its own right, and empowered them to press on with a slew of new material. Subsequent tours of the USA (including a string of dates on the Van's Warped Tour) and two tours of Europe established a large core following. Everyone who ever saw The SKULLS was amazed at the energy they delivered. Their recorded work is true to their live sound – To prove the point, The SKULLS then released a full-length LIVE DVD/CD (directed by Bad Otis Link) in 2004 on Finger Records. Titled “Night of the Living Skulls” the DVD featured a full live set from the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles, a sell out show cited by many as being THE punk rock event of 2003. It also contained priceless interviews with key members of the US and UK punk scenes and special features, including skateboard mayhem, hidden ‘easter eggs’ and other features.

Just as things seemed to be going full tilt, Kevin Preston decided to quit the band to pursue a new project for which he would be front man, called Prima Donna. Almost immediately, Antillon also quit to pursue projects with The Weirdos, the Generators and other L.A. punk rock outfits with whom he'd been filling in over previous months, leaving a big void in the band just prior to another US and European tour. Both musicians left amicably and kindly made themselves available to assist in the selection and training of their replacements if required, a legacy of the tight family the four had become. Monster Matt, singer with Chicago based skate-punk band MONSTER TRUX, took on drumming duties and relocated from Chicago to California. Guitar duties were filled by Orange County resident Skot Snot and the band embarked on the US leg of their tour, however he was subsequently replaced by L.A. musician Nate Shaw (Duane Peters & The Hunns, etc.) for the European portion. Due to Shaw's other commitments with bands and studio projects, he couldn't commit to the live performance schedule ahead, so the band finally settled with talented Swedish guitarist and studio engineer Andy Andersson who relocated to Orange County, California from Sweden. Just when it seemed that The Skulls had finally settled back down, Billy Bones suddenly announced his wish to disband, citing many reasons: he did not want to drag the SKULLS name down by having all the line up changes; it was just time to move on and do something new and different, the need to spend time with his family, and, a discomfort with the creative direction of the last configuration of The Skulls. The band went on to play three final shows and called it a day amicably in April 2006.

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