January 4, 2015
What does the name “Skum” stand for? Hart: “Skum” stand for the what rock and roll once stood for before the record companies and MTV made mainstream music something that was debated in board rooms and not on the stage, or in the arena, where the fans are he judge. We always represented the true rock fan who wanted to have fun, and not be told how they had to like. Like us great, hate us, great. Your choice.
What made you call the band “Skum”? I always said that rock and roll was hijacked by a bunch of musicians and the name of the band equates that. Also we really sucked, so that fit as well.
How was the band formed?
Hart: Formed out of necessity one drunken night at a bar in Wiliamsburg, Virginia. Three college soccer players who were bored with a very low level music scene where everyone tried to look and sound like Prince or whomever MTV was showing that week. Be your own person and write your own fucking songs. We did that from the get go. Never played a cover until we stepped into Sun Studios this year and did U2’s “Angel of Harlem” Did you see that video? Yes, it was great.
Can you briefly introduce your band and who you are? Hart: The band has changed over the years, now we are a kick ass unit. Todd Mittlebrook is still on rhythm bass, I am still lead vocals / guitar, Pat Burke is still lead bass and John Eaton is lead guitarist. We just added drummer Tommy Craig this year. He almost replaced Steven Adler of GNR back in the late 80’s, but he was available when we regrouped, so we fired Tommy Gunn. We never kept drummers around for too long anyway.
What was the ambitions of the band when you started? Hart: To have fun, push the boundaries a bit and to be honest, expanding the girls pool a bit. We were doing well, but we were 20 year old athletes, so we could handle a larger talent pool. And we did.
Could you explain your music to someone that haven’t heard you? Hart: Take the Clash, Kiss and Motley, we are somewhere in the middle of all of that. Fast, hard with melodic hooks, great rock and roll music for the fans.
Where was your first gig? Adam Hoge’s basement. He had no idea we were playing there and Hart: it was packed, over 400 people crammed into there. It was the very essence of what rock and roll was all about.
Where was the latest gig? Hart: Memphis. See the movie.
Who writes your songs?/Who writes the music who writes lyrics? Hart: We all write, but the majority were written by myself and Johnny.
Who has the best since of humor in the band? Hart: The band is based on humor, if you don’t have any humor (see T Gunn) you won’t last. This is one funny fucking group of guys. We premiered the unfinished film at Raindance in London and tore that city up.
What are your songs about? Hart: All of our songs are about life that we have witnessed. “Bad Checks”, which received a lot of alternative airplay back in the late 80’s, is about a man who lashes out at society but writing fraudulent checks. “Jon the Bagman” is about a man who abandoned life and chose to live on the streets. “Shaken It” tell the tale of a man who was still a virgin at age 37 and tells of how he dealt with that. All are real stories. The album “Lost at teh Corcus” is a theme album, about the fringes of American society. It doesn’t judges, just tells their stories.
Do you write your own material or mainly covers?
Hart: We started as an original band. All we do. Although we did do a U2 song in Memphis and a Beatles song at Abbey.
Tell me about the film “Skum ROCKS!”
Hart: In 2007, acclaimed Emmy Award winning film maker Clay Westervelt, a long time fan of the band’s legacy, asked if he could do a documentary on the band. He was allowed unlimited access to the band and their achieves. He was arrested during the filming and yet, still was determined to finish the piece.
“Skum ROCKS!” was alive and over 50 celebrities from the world of rock, TV, film, porn all gladly did cameos as all understood the importance of this band and their mark on the world of underground rock and roll.
Rock and Roll legend Alice Cooper signed on to be the narrator, stating ‘this is important that this story is finally told.”
The band officially reunited in the fall of 2011 and immediately fired drummer Tommy Gunn and replaced him with Tommy Craig.
Due to legal issues raised by band attorney Walter Bruning, Gunn remains a full member of the band, although he is not permitted within 50 feet from the stage.
At what age did you start playing? Hart: We were in our early 20’s when we started. Now late 40’s.
Best/worst gig you’ve played?
Best show, so many, tough to nail down. We sold over 4,000 tickets to a blow out at the University of Miami in 1988. That was when we realized, the real side of teh band was going to make it. The girls that night were off the charts. Also the Pumpkinfest, but those were years ago.
The worst, easy. Bruton Parish in 1985. Over 5,000 people and we sucked. We stopped after one song and blamed the poor sound on the sound guy and left. But let’s face it we were awful and hadn’t practiced in over two months.
What places will you be playing in in the immediate future? Hart: We are playing a show Jan 17th in Melbourne. First time we have appeared live n stage since 1990. Big night. Frankie Banali of QUIET RIOT will join us on stage, so good event.
Is it always the same set’s live? Hart: Our shows are legendary. You need to see it live and live it. But, you will have fun and everyone hooks up in the audience, so get to a show and get some action both on the stage and later in your car.
What are the plans for the rest of the year? Hart: Finish this film, get this released along with the album and the book. Big year for sure.
How do you get psyched up for a gig? Hart: If you need to get psyched for a gig or a game, you are in the room stadium. We are all ex-athletes. We show up to play ball.
What are your goals with your music? Hart: My main goal is not not become a self important musician. I always want to keep my head level and just have fun and make people laugh and smile. You see some bands ad they think they are gods. Dude, you just play a fucking guitar, it is not like you are curing cancer. Smile and have some fun and by all means treat the fans with respect!
Is it easier to get your inspiration from older bands or from bands more modern? Hart: Inspiration comes in all forms. Bands are a very small part on any real inspiration. Star filled night, or a memory of sneaking out of your house at age 16 to get laid. Things like that have much more inspiration than a band of sweaty guys.
What’s the first step when making a new song? Hart: John and I have different approaches. It may start with a riff, or a lyric, but the important thing is that you get it down. I am working in a new one right now “Driving All Night” and John is working on “London Nutcracker”. Both are going ti blow you away.
What are your sources of inspiration? Hart: Seeing something that you want to write about. “16” is about teenage girls in the porn industry. This was rampant in the 1970’s and 80’s but it was happening, so that is why I wrote the lyrics to ’16’. It is an important song on many levels and the ability to write songs that rock out and tell a true story, that is a lost art for sure. You listen to ‘One Direction and the other junk and it is all fake. Our songs, 100% real.
How do you feel about the downloading of music instead of buying albums? Hart: Piracy will kill the industry. If their is no market, soon, there will be no new music. Why would a band invest a million dollars to record when it will be stolen? The masses are being pretty ignorant about that. If you went to a restaurant because you liked the food and never paid the bill, and everyone did that, it would not be there very long. That is happening to the music industry.
Besides your own music, what genres and bands do you listen to? Hart: Mood music. I love it all. Beethovem when I am writing prose, the Boss when I am driving, the Crue, Van Halen, Quiet Riot when I am running, everything. Music is great. Not into hard core rap. That is a self defeating genre. But anyone has a right to do it.I just turn that off.
What do you hold most dear? Hart: My girls.
What would be your greatest fears for the future? Hart: I keep my politics out of the band .
When you are on stage, what do you fear most then? Hart: I fear nothing on stage. Never have, never will. Once you have any fear, you are done.
How important are your fans? Hart: The fans are what we do this for.The film is all for them They get to see everything. We have only one rule in the band. Treat the fans like family and we do. In london we had about 50 fans in Abbey Road watching us record. It is what we do.
What’s the funniest/most memorable thing a fan has done for you? Hart: Fresh Tracks Studio, 1984’ studio bathroom. I remember thinking I could get used to this.
Name 2 of your own songs you like at the moment? Hart: “Bagman” and “16”.
What do you feel is the best live band you’ve seen? Hart: Kiss set the bar pretty high. Van Halen in 1982’ were spectacular and the Crue still lays it out. Springsteen on a cold night. So many.
What drives a band that isn’t all that famous and renowned to try to make a living on their music and to keep playing? Hart: We were done, but this movie (“SkumROCKS!”) opened all of this up again, and in the end, this is a great question by the way, it is all about the love of what rock and roll once stood for and that really has nothing to do with music. I just love that vibe that we can bring that to the table and make people look beyond music for a true rock and roll experience. A true rock and roll night and you may never even get to show. The show and music are all secondary to the experience.
Do you have any webpages? Hart: www.skumrocks.com – you can check out some track and see the film’s trailer there.
Any pearls of wisdom for all other bands out there? Hart: Don’t be a music geek. Have fun and most important, write your own fucking songs and don’t worry if they suck. They are yours, so write and play them really loud. And most importantly, treat your fans like they are your family.
How do you view the music industry of today? Hart: Kind of a paradox. Dying and thriving at the same time. Piracy is killing it, yet, with the internet and so forth it could be the best ever as the record companies have been taken out of the loop. If you are good and have good songs, people will find you. So, pay for your music so there will be more of it.
What are the biggest obstacles for a band? Hart: Their egos.
Would you like to add anything else?
Hart thank you so much for the sit down.
Hart: Robex, my pleasure. Great interview and we look forward to posting this on our site. You need to go and see the film when it hits Sweden. We love our Swedish fans. I hear a fan club is starting up in there! Once again, a big shout out to all our European fans. We hope to get over there next summer and kick some ass.