New York’s Skaters are here tomorrow, Monday October 14th for an opening slot with Palma Violets. The young band, formed in 2012, offered their first EP, Schemers for free on their site, and have completed their major label debut on Warner Bros. Look forward to that, as the EP contains a diverse group of songs all done really, really awesomely. The group, comprised of Michael Ian Cummings on vocals and guitar, Noah Rubin on drums and Joshua Hubbard on guitar, have a music pedigree respectively spanning from the Dead Trees to the Paddingtons and Dirty Pretty Things, hit Seattle for the first time to play Barboza on Capitol Hill. Early this week I talked with Cummings about the band’s foundations and what’s in the future for Skaters.
Schemers had songs of varying styles. Is that what we can expect on the new album?
Michael Ian Cummings: They’re diverse. There’s a lot of different styles. They all kind of get filtered through the same Skaters vibe. We go all over the place on this record.
You worked with John Hill, a producer who works mostly in hop hop. Why did you choose him?
MIC: We were interested in getting a lot of the qualities of hip hop records. Hip hop is the most exciting music as far as production is concerned. It’s pushing things in different directions. Rock records in general haven’t changed a lot, at least since 2001. We wanted a record [that was] beat-driven.
When did you get involved in music?
MIC: When I was about 16. I didn’t want to ever sing. I got kind of forced into it when I was started this band because no one else would sing. It’s funny to think about that. I think that’s what happens to a lot of people playing in bands at a young age, you just kind of play whatever is needed of you to play. That’s why bass players are always a specific type of personality. They’re easy going. They all start as guitar players.
How did Skaters find each other?
MIC: Noah and I had grown up together in Boston. I moved around a lot. Josh was a friend of a friend – he randomly turned up at a party in Los Angeles.
I read you went to Hebrew school as a kid?
I went to public school. Growing up as a Jewish kid, they send you to Hebrew school three times a week. After school, you have to go to more school.
How was touring in England recently?
MIC: England was amazing. They play us on the radio; they played Schemers on BBC One, which is the biggest radio station. When they did that, we decided, let’s go. We got our label to help us out. When we got there we sold out a show and added three more – and sold them all out.
Do you think the fast-paced life in New York affects Skaters’ sound?
MIC: It’s kind of the pace of the band. We started so quickly, so much happened in the first year of being in this band.
You were a student at UMass Boston. What did you study?
MIC: I was an English major. I dropped out. I started out as a Philosophy major but I couldn’t take sitting in those classes and listening to such bullshit. I’d rather just read books.
How did you come up with the song “Good Weird Woman?”
MIC: It was a breakup theme, but not a dramatic one. Just kind of strange. She was an actress and she was on posters. [It was like] being haunted by someone you just broke up with. It was really weird. It turned me off the idea of public relationships.
Where did the sax idea come from in that one?
MIC: We wanted the old school Lou Reed/New York sound. We did a couple takes and put one [take] top of the other.
Who are some of your favorite lyricists?
MIC: Stephen Malkmus, Bob Dylan, John Lennon . . . I like Harry Nilsson a lot.
Are any of you in the band foodies?
MIC: Everybody in the band likes unique, local cuisine. That’s kind of a thing on a tour. That’s just something we’ve developed touring in other bands. You get to know the good stops.
So, why the name Skaters?
MIC: It reminds me of youth, of my youth. That culture’s interesting to me because you don’t have to be any particular one thing. You could be poor, white, black, whatever. You could be in the middle of a city or the richest suburb in Connecticut. It doesn’t matter. It’s an open culture. There’s not a lot of things that have that understanding.
~ interview by Dagmar