I sat down with Skipjack at their rehearsal spot the other night. We had a great talk. Ordinarily, I would try to cut down a long interview into something more manageable. But while I was typing it up, I realized that I was 4 pages in and I wasn’t even to the part that I was the most excited about. So I decided to break the interview into two parts. This is part 1, where we talk about the history of the band, and their just released split CD with Outlie (Luke Pabich from Good Riddance’s band).
Chad: lead vocals and Bass
Chad: You want to hear about the split?
Nick: I definitely want to hear about the split. But first tell me about Skipjack.
Chad: Ok. We played our first show for our parents. The second show that we played was Street Scene 1997. It was the last year that Street Scene was big downtown; it was independently run. It was Social Distortion, Rocket from the Crypt, Buck O Nine, and Less than Jake. And the coolest part about that is the side stage. While we were sound checking, around 7 or 8 in the morning, they were sound checking Ray Charles’ piano three stages down. That was probably the gnarliest thing about that day.
Travis: What band was it that tried to blow your ass up?
Chad: Less Than Jake. We had to share a trailer with Less than Jake. [Laughs] The last interview we did ten years ago, this story was in there too. [Everyone Laughs] What happened is we were supposed to play with Save Ferris on a side stage. And that day they cancelled. And somebody else who was on that stage, their Visas didn’t work out, so we got added to the main stage, somehow.
It was the hottest day downtown. They gave us way more booze than we ever should have had in our lives. They left this rule for us. Don’t go to the bathroom in the trailer. You can piss in there but don’t take a shit because there is no tank hooked up. They had something else set up for shitting.
So they put us in a trailer with Less than Jake, and all of our personal stuff was in the back of the trailer. And Less Than Jake locks themselves in there for two or three hours so we couldn’t get to anything. They finally open the door and there’s the most god-awful smell anybody ever smelled. And they come out all giggling. So we go in there and open up the toilet and there is just brown water. We think,”Ok, so they shit”. So we start smoking whatever it was we were smoking back then just to get the smell out there. Then a security guard comes to the door and is ripping the door off the hinges to get us out. They start ripping us out of the trailer. And what it was, the treat that Less than Jake left for us was; It wasn’t shit, it was Pepsi in the toilet. They left all the propane burners on. We thought it was shit, so to get rid of the smell we all started smoking. So for an hour and a half we were in a steel tube of propane just getting ready to blow downtown in half. Randy, the bass player for Less Than Jake was the culprit. So, it’s been a shit-ton of years and I am still looking for him.
So that was out second show, wrapped us as good as possible.
Nick: I also want to hear the story about tripping on stage.
Travis: It was with Agent 51.
Chad: Yeah, it was with Agent 51 and the Classified. They did it at The Epicentre. They started it really early and they had a ton of bands. It was the first time we played a Sold Out show. T was for the San Diego Music Awards. And we got added to it because our first CD was selling pretty good locally.
When we opened our set, we did this thing that everyone did in the 90’s where we all jumped up in the air.
Travis: Back when we could jump.
Chad: Back before we were all fatties. And I jumped while standing on the mic cable which had water or beer on it. I was up in the air, completely horizontal. And I landed flat on my back on the cymbals. Knocked over the stands and the drums. And we stopped and there was five hundred people staring at me.
Ian: My snare fell over. My hi-hat fell over. There was no way of saving it.
Travis: I think I stopped and was just laughing my ass off.
Chad: There was Missy from Rock 105.3 and a couple other people that were at 91X at the time were right up front. I was face down on the stage, and when I lifted my head, I was face to face with Missy. One foot away. And it took two or three, or seven songs to win everyone back. And it ended up being a really cool show.
It was good times back then. You could say that we have a pretty sober approach to shows now. Part of it might be because we are older and probably couldn’t do it the exact same way as we did before. It was pretty crazy. We looked like a bunch of cool guys with a bunch of money, but it was really just a bunch of lucky events. We looked like hot shots but…
Nick: Are you sure that you want to let out the secret?
Chad: What’s the secret?
Nick: The secret that you just LOOK like hot shots.
Chad: [Laughs] I’m married. I have two kids. Totally satisfied that I went through and did everything that I needed to do at the times that I needed to do it.
Jason: Usually the number one question that everyone asks us is ‘why is every song so fucking fast’?
Nick: Who would ask that? That seems like a stupid question.
Jason: It is usually people in other bands. We show them a riff and they ask ‘you guys ever pay anything slow’?
Chad: Talking about our style of music, I actually thought of something. It’s a pretty cool interview, if you read the new interview on AMP Magazine, Luke and Russ from Good Riddance just did an interview this last month. And they were explaining a lot. Luke came down here to write a song with us, and I was talking with him a lot back then. They felt that lot of their demise was that all the music changed and they kind of got left behind. It was time stamped. Whereas now I think if you were to take the music style-wise, it is still 1994, ‘95. I think that as people grow away from this kind of music, it usually all comes back full-circle. Back a few years ago you had all the “THE” Bands. The strokes. The Hives. That whole thing came back from the late 70s. A couple more years and everyone is going to come back to the 90’s and we are going to be right where we need to be.
That’s what I wanted to tell Luke. That as much as they got left behind, I figure as long as we hold pace, try not to get much bigger [pats his gut], in a few years people are going to want that old school circle pit music.
Nick: So let’s talk about the split album.
Chad: Alright. It’s a year in the works right now. I came to Luke Pabich from Good Riddance and Outlie with the idea. I knew that I hadn’t heard anything from Outlie in a while and Luke was sitting on some songs. I said ‘Let’s throw some stuff together as a split’. I was stoked that he remembered who I was. He said, ‘Sure. Shit yeah’, you know. Right out the gate. I was willing to throw my own money into it, and he offered to throw it out to some labels. He put it out to a half dozen labels and most of them bite right away. We sat on 8 or 9 months of promises from the labels. We came in right away and recorded and mastered the music, just so we would have everything ready for whoever took it first. And it was just two months ago when we realized that we have been waiting too long.
Travis: It was the same stories from the labels. ‘Maybe like another month from now. We have another project ahead of you guys. And then we will get to you.’ And it never happened.
Chad: I have had a label on the side, just to be able to work our own stuff out there. To not have to worry about hunting for labels so we can just focus on our own music. Especially now with how much control you have with sales with iTunes and everything else, it is a do it yourself industry.
The CD version of the split that came out last week has eight songs, each one of us doing four songs apiece. The last song on the split is a song called Zero Hour that he wrote with us. He actually cruised down here and we knocked it out in a night.
Travis: We should say who is on it. The guy from Lagwagon.
Chad: Oh yeah, Joe Raposo played bass on the Outlie acoustic stuff. He is the bass player of Lagwagon.
Nick: You started your own label. What is the benefit to going that route?
Chad: It is to stop… You don’t even need to start your own label now. But it is not stress over the fact that no labels are giving you any attention. Because if you have a few hundred dollars and a weekend free, you can do everything yourself. If you have nobody interested in you, you don’t have to spend 8 months out of the year traveling the country trying to sell your soul for anything to happen. And now with Myspace and Facebook and the social networking sites today, if we had had that stuff back in the 90’s, back when there was an actual scene in San Diego, it would have been completely out of control.
Nick: What do you think happened to the scene?
Chad: I don’t know. I think there are some old dudes out there just lying in wait, and that something is going to come back. It was that ‘time stamp’ deal. And then San Diego put on the map in the late 90’s. You know, a few bands got bigger, and that’s what every band had to sound like to get bigger. Then it changed to the Spock hairdo and white belts and the short tight pants.
There are way better bands out there that aren’t playing shows then the bands that are playing shows.
Travis: Now you don’t have to go to a show to get your fix. I remember when we would go down to Music Trader and sift through dozens of CDs looking for another band. You know, something good. Back then you actually had to spend money a lot of money to record something. You wouldn’t record something unless you really believed in it. And if you picked up a CD, you were more likely to find something good.
Read the rest of the interview here.