On Sunday Skum’s lead guitarist John Eaton joined friend and country superstar Trisha Yearwood at her country style brunch held at the Loew’s Miami Beach. The brunch was a highlight of the Miami Wine and Food Festival, an annual event that attracts scores of celebrities and celebrity chefs from around the world,
Trisha not only hosted her brunch, but many of her dishes were on display for all to taste and to top if off and she even played a five song set for sold out event. Tickets were impossible to get, but the band was well represented as John was there to support Trisha with her event.
“Brunch on the beach with Trisha? Are you kidding me? Great way to end the Food Fest”, said John who even got behind the table and whipped up some omelets for thrilled guests.
“I couldn’t believe John Eaton was cooking my omelet”, said Food Fest patron Robin van Calcar who flew in from London, England for the festival. “I look up and he asks me if I want some mushrooms and salsa. “Only in Miami!”
“I told Trisha that next year we should do something special with the whole band and she was all in. She was giving me a hard time that we didn’t ask her to join us on stage last month.”
“Martika is great and I love her but I would have loved to do it,” said a smiling Yearwood. ”But I did hear it was a great compilation.
“I met Trisha a few years ago at her wedding to Garth and always loved her music,” said John. “When our friends come into town we always make it a point to get out and support them. It is what makes this band great.”
On Saturday, Feb 15, John Eaton and Hart Baur of SKUM joined Deborah Harry, Clem Burke, and Chris Stein of Blondie on the red carpet at Miami Beach’s Fontainebleau Resort. Blondie’s sold-out show was held in the Fontainebleau’s BleauLive, the same grand ballroom where Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and other music legends performed in the resort’s heyday.
Eaton and Baur spoke with Blondie about the band’s impact on rock and roll and pop culture. “It was sort of a natural progression,” said Deborah Harry. “People learn what they hear. We did the same.”
Eaton agreed, commenting, “The difference was that everybody learned your songs. They were the soundtrack to an entire generation.”
“The last time we stayed at the Fontainebleau in the 70’s, I opened a window and the humidity blew out the television,” laughed founding Blondie member and guitarist Chris Stein.
“I told him that was just an excuse,” Baur laughed. “Everybody knows rock and rollers destroy TV’s in hotels. It’s just what we do.”
Blondie was excited to hear about Skum’s collaboration on their classic track “Dreaming” with 80′s superstar Martika at their reunion show in January. “I was telling Clem that Tommy (Craig) killed it on drums that night, and he wants Mark Brasel to send him the track,” said Eaton. “Clem is an amazing drummer himself, and it’s cool to be out here tonight with people who are genuine legends.”
After walking the red carpet, Skum was invited backstage to watch the show. Blondie rocked the room, and the crowd responded with a prolonged standing ovation at the conclusion of the concert. “Blondie always delivers,” said Eaton. “They went out and put some much needed rock and roll back into the Miami Beach scene. No club music tonight, just straight up rock, and the people ate it up.”
“A lot of bands owe their livelihood to these guys,” said Baur. “No one might have ever heard of No Doubt, the Go Go’s, Madonna, or any of them if it weren’t for the Runaways and especially Blondie. They were the first band to mix pop with punk, and they were doing rap in the 70′s. They blazed a trail for everyone else. ”
John Eaton added, “The catalog of songs Blondie’s written is simply amazing, and they gave an amazing performance tonight — a real piece of rock and roll history. It was a privilege to be a part of it.”
Posted by insidecelebrities on January 30th, 2014
After their January 17th reunion show in Melbourne, Florida, Skum garnered the coveted cover on US Rockstar Magazine’s February edition. Written by Sunset Strip veteran insider, Johnny LeRue, the cover story captures the moment in a real time style article, that well, it is pretty rock and roll.
The very fact that LeRue ventured out of LA for the story surprised many colleagues, as he is known to rarely leave the sanctity of the Sunset Strip. “I had to be there,” said LeRue. “Nigel was slated to do the story, but I was talking with Gilby (Clarke) and he said I was crazy not to take the assignment. Then I heard that Frankie (Banali) was joining them on stage as was Martika and I thought hell, I need to be there. I called Nigel and asked if he would mind if I did the piece and he was so cool. He said ‘no problem mate, this way I can enjoy the show.’ So Boe flew me out.”
The show was more than just a concert, it was also the final scene in the massive film “Skum Rocks!’, directed by famed LA director Clay Wetservelt, which has chronicled the band and their subsequent comeback. “I was focused on the shoot and the show, but Pat told me backstage that Johnny was there, so I knew this was becoming a bigger story.” said Westervelt. “He never leaves LA. So yeah, we knew.”
“I’m pretty happy the way the piece came out,” said LeRue. ”These guys put on one hell of a show, this could easily have been at the Whiskey back in 87′. It was a special event and I just hope I did it justice. Great night!”
“I was pretty pumped when I heard we were on the cover,” said lead guitarist John Eaton. “I am big fan of Johnny LeRue, so it was just cool that he was there.”
Look for the article in the February edition of US Rockstar Magazine or you can view it online at www.usrockstarmagazine.com
It was a great night at Baroos Beachside Bar on January 17th! Great performances by Martika, Frankie Banali, the Scoobee Doos, Pinch, and others – and a really rocking crowd as we wrapped up shooting of the Skum Rocks! movie and raised funds for the Shining Through Shadows Foundation. Thanks to everyone who participated, making this night such a great success!
Skum, the Band “No One Really Heard,” Reunites for Documentary
By David Rolland Broward Palm Beach County Grind Thu., Jan. 16 2014 at 9:27 AM
Skum was always more hype than band. Starting out in Williamsburg, VA, in the 1980s they were better at promoting themselves than playing their instruments. They did everything in their power, including calling the cops to shut down their shows, to make certain they weren’t exposed as only knowing how to play three songs.
After relocating to Miami, in a cruel twist of irony, Hurricane Andrew destroyed all their equipment and master tapes, so that the album they actually did record would never see the light of day. Decades later, a box of tapes were found, inspiring Skum to make a movie about their story called Skum Rocks. The last scene of this documentary will be filmed Friday night at Baroos Beachside Bar in Indiaalatnic where Skum will reunite with an actual live show for the first time since 1990 (assuming nobody calls the cops on them).
New Times spoke with Skum frontman Hart Baur and guitarist John Eaton about Skum’s not so illustrious past and their more illustrious present, where if accomplishing nothing else, Skum has become the only band to ever record in both Sun Studio and Abbey Road in the same calendar year.
What is Skum?
Hart Baur: We just wrapped up the movie about it. Skum officially broke up in 1990, but had created quite a stir prior to that. There was talk of a record deal. When Hurricane Andrew hit, we lost everything. The band had broken up prior to that, but the album was still being worked on. But recently we found the tapes we lost and we decided to make a behind the music type thing, but it got bigger than that as we started cataloging all the people we knew and met on our run.
We started getting cameos from the guys from Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, Paul Stanley, and then pretty soon it snowballed into this massive project because everybody loved the band and everybody wanted to be a part of it. Alice Cooper wanted to narrate it and that’s when Clay Westervelt jumped in to direct it. We’re finishing up the final concert scene Friday night in Melbourne.
That scene is the band’s moment of redemption?
Hart Baur: Pretty much. The band gets back together. I grew up down here in Miami and Skum had all this wild success when I was living up in Virginia with virtually no musical talent. I’m not going to lie, we blew. But we wrote all our own songs. Then a friend I grew up with Pat Burke said he had a guy John Eaton who was a guitar virtuoso and we sat down together and John said, “You wrote pretty good songs. Let me fix them.”
John Eaton: The songs were raw. Skum weren’t musicians, they were athletes. But the melodies and hooks were there, so we rewrote the songs and recorded them with real musicians. People were getting excited. They said this would be the next White Album, that’s how big the hype got to be. Then Hurricane Andrew went right through our warehouse. We lost all our equipment, our master tapes, we were back to square one.
Who were Skum’s influences?
Hart Baur: If you took a pyramid shape with all the influences on the outside everyone would give you a different pyramid. I look at it as a little bit of Kiss, a little bit of the Clash, Van Halen, Motley Crue, and somewhere in the middle there is what we sound like.
You describe Skum as fuck-ups. How so?
Hart Baur: Back in the day, when we originally started, we sucked but we were a huge draw. We were all athletes we’d work out right before, oil ourselves up, come out in these outrageous costumes, but by the second or third song we stripped down to basically nothing. The girls are loving it. But we only had two or three songs we could play, we had to find a way to get out of these shows. We were drawing a thousand, two thousand people paying two or three dollars to get in and our shows were over in seven minutes. We had to figure ways to end these mammoth shows early so we’d call the cops on ourselves.
Not only did it work shutting down the shows, but we also became cult heroes. Here we were this punk/metal rock band being kicked off the stage by police in Williamsburg, Virginia. That’s the most rock n roll thing to happen in the area in 25 years.
John Eaton: Loading our shows with pyrotechnics is another fuck up.
Hart Baur: We headlined a show at University of Miami where we had this huge fifty foot stuffed snake. We started riding on it. The crowd went in a frenzy and started pulling on it and Styrofoam balls started falling out. It looked like it was snowing.
John Eaton: That was a snake I won at the Dade County Youth Fair and years later we’d still find Styrofoam from it in the monitors and speakers.
With all the cameos in the movie Skum also seemed to have attracted a lot of celebrities.
Hart Baur: We’re like the classic children’s story The Emperor Has No Clothes. Here’s a band everyone was talking about, but no one really heard. It was all visual, they got an article in the paper and then the cops come and bust the show down and people think it’s the best thing they’ve ever seen. No one’s talking about the music, they talk about the event.
The cool thing to do when you came to Miami was go see this band Skum. When we’d play outside Miami, rock guys would come out to see our shows. Alice Cooper had heard of us. He swears he went to our shows, but I think I would remember that. He didn’t see us, but he thinks he’d seen us. Bruce Hornsby is from Williamsburg, and he came to two shows. He liked it. He said, “I don’t know what you guys are doing, I know it’s something artistic, and I’m not getting it, but I dig it.” We don’t have a velvet rope that separates the “celebrity” world from the “real” world. I think celebrities saw a freedom that there was not a pretension that we were greater than the people we played for and found a peace in it.
John Eaton: At the time, the cool thing was to do what’s not cool and that was go see a Skum show pretty much. Over the years we built up a lot of friends. At the show Friday night we even have Martika, who did the song “Toy Soldier,” do a song with us and Frankie Banali from Quiet Riot is going to sit in on drums for a couple songs with us. Back in the day they were fans and they still are.
What else can we expect with Friday night’s show?
Hart Baur: There’s one particular song we’re doing that will be the final piece of the film. Any fans that are there will be in the movie. If it goes great, then great. If it goes bad, then that’s how it is going to end.
It was a wild night on South Beach as Skum took a break from rehearsals for their January 17th star studded concert to support the new Ice Cube and Kevin Hart film, “Ride Along.” Representing SKUM at the event was lead singer Hart Baur, lead bassist Pat Burke, and lead guitarist John Eaton.
The cold and rainy Miami night caused delays on the MacArthur Causeway, making Pat and John arrive late. They had to be let in through a side door so as not to disrupt the film. “My flight was delayed due to the weather and then John and I were stuck in traffic for over an hour,” said Pat. “I’m just glad we were able to make it and support these guys who put together a really kickass film.”
by Ben Kennedy (Class of ’05) for William & Mary Alumni Magazine (Winter 2014)
When confronted with a near-crippling lack of musical talent, most people take up a more realistic hobby and leave their dreams of rock stardom behind. The other three guys decided to start Skum.
Formed in 1984 by “renegade” members of the William & Mary soccer team, Skum became known for catchy songs, a rotating cast of band members, a few debaucherous years in Miami and eventually a tragic implosion. Their exploits and the ensuing wake of destruction are chronicled in “Skum Rocks!,” an upcoming documentary on the band’s rise and fall. It’s the stuff rock dreams are made of, made all the more impressive by how they got their start:
They did not know how to play their instruments. They were awful.
“He sent over a bunch of footage and it was very difficult to watch,” said Westervelt, “but some of it was so intriguing.” The man had sent old home videos of a bombastic rock band, along with on-thespot comments about that band from an array of celebrities. Westervelt was suspicious, but elected to take the project on anyway.
“I was very nervous about this movie from the beginning because it became clear fairly early on that I wasn’t necessarily going to be able to trust the information I was being given,” said Westervelt. “But that’s what these guys are masters at: making something out of nothing and making it go when it shouldn’t.”
The man was Hart Baur ’86, and his band, Skum, was back. Which is impressive, considering they probably shouldn’t have existed in the first place.
One night at the Green Leafe in early 1984, Baur and a couple of his soccer teammates thought it’d be fun if they had a band.
“We were always on the edge anyway,” Baur said. “I found a couple guys on the team who were willing to venture further out on the edge with me.”
That night at the Leafe, Skum was born. Todd Middlebrook ’85 became the bass player, just because he owned a bass. Scott Bell ’87 was dubbed the drummer, soon to sit behind a set of Mickey Mouse drums — which he didn’t know how to play. Baur would front the band with a $60 guitar he bought later in Newport News, Va. Skum would play the finest cover songs 1984 had to offer, from bands like Van Halen, the Clash and KISS. The mission — “meet girls and have more fun,” said Middlebrook — was clear.
A week later, the first band practice was held in the basement of Middlebrook’s dorm at James Blair Terrace.
“We made as much noise as you could possibly make with two amps and drums,” said Baur. “Apparently it vibrated the building all the way up to the attic. Within minutes, we had made enemies of the entire dorm.”
Skum barely played for half an hour before an RA came down and forced them to stop. But the guys were hooked, even if understaffed. Enter Jon Tarrant ’87, who — believe it or not — had studied at London’s Royal Academy of Music. His background was in piano, but he was recruited as a second guitarist to help out Baur, who “didn’t even know what tuning was.”
“I auditioned,” said Tarrant. “Which is kind of funny, given that they sucked.” Tarrant made the cut and joined the band, now practicing near the heart of Old Campus on South Boundary Street.
“We were terrible,” said Bell. “We were laughing the whole time we were playing because it was so bad, but we were enjoying it. At first we started to try to play real songs — like other people’s songs — and realized quickly that we didn’t have the chops to play any real songs. We started making up our own.”
Almost-classic tunes like “We Are Skum” and “Hanging Out With Fred” emerged from late-night dormitory songwriting sessions. Fred, incidentally, was the soccer team’s laundry man, while “Bad Checks” was a story of a former teammate who fled the country after having an insufficient account balance. In large part, the early songs were about the goings-on around the Tribe soccer team, so the first gig was a natural choice: surprising a teammate with 300 people crammed into his house.
“It was a great party,” said Baur. “People went crazy cheering and it sounded godawful, but it was a great moment with 300 of your closest friends.” Soon Skum was scheduled to play Trinkle Hall, but rather than be outed as the terrible band they were, Skum passed out beer and called the cops on themselves. The police broke the show up before they finished the first song. The audience saw a rock band fighting the law; the band saw their legend — and their ranks — grow even further. Herb George ’89 later joined the band as “lead bassist,” a move they claimed was unprecedented in rock history. Now Middlebrook, like Baur, could focus on their trademark energetic stage show, while George and Tarrant handled the music. Bell, for his part, had his role locked down.
“My right foot is just constantly going 100 miles an hour,” he remembered. “That’s my bass drum in every song. In no way, shape or form am I a drummer.”
Skum soon entered a Battle of the Bands, where they played for 90 seconds before protesting the supposed poor sound quality and storming off the stage — impressing yet another guitarist, Jerry Mann, in the process. Later shows featured the band members each dressed in a different fast-food uniform, a July show dubbed Pumpkinfest, and assorted other shenanigans. The local press ate it up, but Commencement was looming.
Middlebrook graduated first, and the band carried on with George as the only bass player. By his own graduation, Baur had caught the rock band bug, and wanted to keep Skum going in his hometown of Miami. They bid Bell, George and Tarrant goodbye and headed south. All the original members remain friends, but “Skum Rocks!” half-mockingly suggests that the split was not entirely harmonious; George is featured in a phone tirade against his replacement at lead bass. Tarrant suggests Skum failed at piecing his life back together.
“They went on to their lives at that time and we went on to our lives,” said Middlebrook. “Throughout, I cannot tell you the fondness that we have for each other.”
Bell remembered it slightly differently. “The part [in “Skum Rocks!”] about me getting fired because I was too handsome and got all the chicks — some of that is absolutely the truth.”
“Skum Rocks!” tackles the Miami years with even more ferocity than Skum’s time at William & Mary. They added bassist Pat Burke, a high school guitar prodigy named John Eaton, and a litany of itinerant drummers. Armed with Baur’s and Middlebrook’s charisma and bonafide musicians in Burke and Eaton, Skum set about terrorizing the East Coast with increasingly legitimate rock & roll.
It started to work — barely. By day, Baur was teaching high school. By night, he was opening a concert at West Dade Prison with “I Fought The Law,” featuring a random Skum fan replacing their usual drummer, who was too young to get into his own show. The band raised tens of thousands of dollars to record their first album, “Lost at the Circus,” independently, which they burned on more parties, groupies and paying damages for the havoc they caused. The album that eventually came out of their sessions was hyped as “the next White Album,” but it all came crashing down when “Lost at the Circus” was itself mysteriously lost. The band was devastated. Skum split and left the rock lifestyle behind for good. Probably.
“[Skum represented] some of the most enjoyable years of our lives,” said Middlebrook from his home in London. “On the other hand, we had gone on to our adult lives. So when we heard the tapes were found, it was, ‘OK, what do we do now?’”
After nearly two decades, “Lost at the Circus” had been found stashed in an old associate’s bathtub. Baur, ever the showman, immediately started going to work. Before long, he had re-assembled the early ’90s lineup (with yet another drummer), began restoring the “Lost at the Circus” tapes and booked Westervelt to shoot the documentary. Alice Cooper narrates “Skum Rocks!,” which debuted in September at the Raindance film festival in London. It’s a twisted tale that careens from Old Campus to South Beach to Memphis and then London, featuring dozens of cameos from rock legends and Hollywood stars. One notable alumnus even riffs on Skum from the set of the “Daily Show.”
In the end, the parties and girls didn’t turn out to matter as much as the brotherhood and inspiration. The film is dedicated to the memory of former guitarist Jerry Mann, who passed away of diabetes complications in 2011. Tarrant and Bell flew to the London premiere to support their old bandmates and friends.
“I never believed that the band could carry on and still live in 2013,” said Bell. “But that’s what they have really accomplished here: they’ve gone to Abbey Road Studios in London and cut tracks there. They did amazing things that I would never believe they could do.” “Skum Rocks!” may begin as lighthearted, unbelievable insanity, but it’s shot through with a classic message of inspiration. After all, not every middleaged ex-rocker has the chance to get the old band back together.
“As you get more stuff and have more bills, the tendency is to be a little too conservative. The film reminds me to live a little — to take a chance,” said Tarrant, who certainly hadn’t planned on joining a rock band all those years ago. “I was a math major.”
“There is that nostalgia for sure,” Middlebrook said, “but I love being 50. I am so much less afraid. You know what you want and you go for those things.”
“This is about going for your dreams no matter how old you are,” said Baur. “We’re just using rock and roll as a platform for that.”
And you can catch Skum live — 23 years later — in Melbourne, Fla., on Jan. 17.
For more on the band and “Skum Rocks!,” visit www.skumrocks.com.
Want to rock and become a part of Hollywood legend? Then join us as we film the final scene of our movie, Skum Rocks! on January 17th, 2014, at Baroos Beachside Bar in Indialantic, Florida We’ll be joined by good friend Frankie Banali of QUIET RIOT as well as other surprise guest celebrities. This is certain to be an epic show - as it will be the first on-stage live performance since Skum broke up in 1990. Director Clay Westervelt plans to shoot the concert scene with no cuts. This is an extraordinary undertaking in what Hollywood Film said “is about as innovative as it gets”, calling Westervelt “the mad genius of rock and roll filmmaking.” “This is an opportunity for fans to not only be in the Skum Rocks! movie – which will immortalize them forever – but to help a great cause,” said lead singer Hart Baur. Proceeds from the concert will go to help launch the non-profit Shining Through Shadows Foundation, in memory of our good friend Seth Stark who died in September 2011. ”Seth was a great friend of ours, so this is a win-win for everyone. Clay Westervelt gets his shot, our fans get to see us play and be a part of the movie before the summer premiere, and Shining Through Shadows gets launched properly.” “We have Frankie Banali joining us on stage for a couple of songs. How does it get any cooler than that? ” asked lead bassist Pat Burke. “This concert is going to have Rock and Roll and Hollywood – we are bringing it all – and it’ll be great to be back onstage before the Skum Rocks! film, book and album are released this summer.” This event is a must if you are anywhere near Baroos Beachside. Where else can you see one of the greatest underground bands of our generation perform, participate in the filming of a major Hollywood movie, and help raise money for an extremely worthy cause? “There are going to be a lot of surprises and surprise celebrities showing up,” said lead guitarist John Eaton. “We’ve performed at Sun Studio and Abbey Road this year. And now Baroos? I’d say it’s been a pretty good year.” All net proceeds from the performance will go to help launch the non-profit Shining Through Shadows Foundation. If you wish to donate or become an event sponsor, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to see you January 17th!
“You know when you hear a band that everyone thinks is great but deep down, you suspect they actually suck? That happened in the 1980s to Skum Rocks, a group with no musical talent – but somehow enough luck to almost become stars. Narrated by Alice Cooper, this looks set to be a curious strange-but-true story.”
Posted by Nigel Pandomonium of Inside Celebrities on September 18th, 2013
“Without question, you should see this film. You will wet your knickers laughing.”
Last night in Los Angeles, a private screening of SkumROCKS! was held for film distributors and movie executives at SoHo House West Hollywood on the Sunset Strip. It was L.A.’s first “sneak-peak” at Clay Westervelt’s — the award winning director of Popatopolis — latest film, and he was on hand to answer questions. “It was a great screening,” Westervelt said afterwards. “We had a full house and all the right things happened — so it was an exciting night for all us involved with the film.”
Audience reaction to the film, including that of this journalist, was nothing short of sensational. The story of Skum is the stuff of Greek Mythology – a Phoenix rising only to crash and burn – but perhaps rise again? That Westervelt was able to capture the essence of the band’s struggles and hoped-for renaissance – and to present it in such a raw and humorous manner – is a true testament to his talent. I am calling SkumROCKS! the most important rock movie to be made since Spinal Tap and Almost Famous. It is, in a word, captivating. You will laugh, you will shudder, and you will never forget this brilliant and completely original documentary.
Skum made their name on the East Coast of America in the mid 1980’s — three soccer mates bored with campus life who decided to become a rock band so they could meet girls. The only problem? None of them played instruments. The key to the humor of the film and to Skum’s early success wasn’t their talent – it was their chutzpah. The band knew no fear – often to their detriment. They talked their way into winning talent contests, headlining news articles, and pilfering investor’s money. Fast forward several years and a number of drummers later and Skum became a regional powerhouse, filling clubs to capacity from Virginia to Florida. They believed they were on the verge of creating their generation’s White Album — only to lose everything — including the master tapes with all their recorded music.
Westervelt blends a clever mix of celebrity cameos with band member interviews to tell the story. Alice Cooper narrates, weaving the celebrities, interviews, and vintage footage together in a manner that brings the viewer on board with Skum’s turbulent and bizarre journey. Like a faulted relative with a good heart, viewers find themselves hoping the band will overcome their demons and succeed.
This journalist gives SkumROCKS! a smashing thumbs up. But with a warning — the film is not for the faint of heart. But it is for the classic rock movie lover in all of us. The number of major rock artists appearing in the film is astounding. Westervelt has produced a tremendously entertaining film on a minimal budget, yet with an entirely original texture and format for a documentary. Westervelt said, “I wanted to make something original. I was too young to know Skum’s music growing up, but the more I learned about the band, the more I was convinced their story had to be told. They are unlike any band or group of friends I have ever met.”
SkumROCKS! is a rough-edged documentary – certainly in stark contrast to the plush, luxurious surroundings of the SoHo House last night. In attendance were a number of notable film stars, producers and executives, including Randal Kleiser (director of Grease and Blue Lagoon), Sharon Lawrence (Rizzoli & Isles, Drop Dead Diva, NYPD Blue), and Chanel Ryan (actress). Also in attendance was Ms Rashel Mereness, the film’s attorney, who appeared to be squirming in her seat throughout much of the screening.
I found the audience pulling for the band by the movie’s end — a very good sign for this “small budget movie that could …” If enough people end up rooting for this extremely likable group of guys called Skum, perhaps the band will receive the recognition that has eluded them for so long.
Westervelt and the band will be traveling to London next week in support of the film’s global premiere at the Raindance Film Festival on September 26th. Based on the film’s reception last night, they’ll be going with positive momentum on their side. Skum’s lead singer Hart Baur commented, “This is a dream come true. Now we get to show our side of the story to the world.” Lead guitarist John Eaton added, “It’s been a long time coming. A lot of people misunderstood our break up, but after 20 years, the party continues.”
For more information visit the band’s website at www.skumrocks.com. For our readers in London, you can see the film at Piccadilly Vue on September 26th via the Raindance Film Festival. Visit http://raindancefestival.org/films/skum-rocks/ for more information and show times. I will be in London to cover the premiere of SkumROCKS! exclusively for Inside Celebrities and US Rockstar Magazine.
as posted on the U.K.’s VultureHound by Lee Hazell
“One of the most shocking, funny and outrageous documentaries I have ever seen”.
“Somewhere down the road, Rock and Roll was hijacked by a bunch of musicians.” This is the philosophy of Skum. Read it, re-read it, memorize it. It will help the 77 minutes it takes to watch Skum Rocks! make a lot more sense. Skum was a punk band of loose definition made from the members of the William & Mary varsity soccer team. Starting their careers playing the student parties of their classmates at their college in Virginia, Skum set the scene for their future in the music business by making the entry fee for their parties consuming two shots at the door.
Their parties became so notoriously wild people started crossing the country or even the borders just to be a part of one of their nights. The parties turned into gigs and the gigs turned into professional shows, the first few of which were ended by police shutdown. Their reputation grew, their fan base became rabid and the PR machine that propelled them was fuelled by nothing other than their own determination and self-confidence. Theirs was the American dream made real.
Only one problem. They had no idea how to play their instruments. Skum loved the idea of becoming Rockstars far more than they loved the idea of becoming musicians. They wanted the girls, the fame, the lifestyle but none of the hard work that came from mastering guitars and commanding drums. All of the shows they played back in the 80’s? They only ever played one full song. The shots at the door? If you were drunk when the show started you wouldn’t notice the band couldn’t play. The police that came to their concerts? They were called by the band themselves who needed to get the hell out of dodge before they were required to play another tune.
The guitarist Hart Baur even described it as the greatest marketing move they ever made. An anarchic punk outfit dragged kicking and screaming by the local authority? After just one song? How punk is that? This exemplifies the idea behind Skum. That music was never the important part to a great rock and roll band. The experience of seeing them live, the theatrics on stage, the shenanigans off and the headlines in the paper the next day; they were all the important bits.
The film documenting their rise and fall begins with a confession by the documentary makers that upon taking this assignment they had no idea what they were getting themselves into. This fades into a mischievous looking Alice Cooper, grin on his face and glint in his eye, saying that does he have a story for us. Immediately we are engaged. Tell us more oh hallowed rock god. Tell us of these strange days and drunken minstrels.
What proceeds is one of the most shocking, funny and outrageous documentaries I have ever seen. The way the film builds the story of the band in a straight shooting almost “Behind the Music” like fashion, only to waylay you with the truth once the band has been legitimized in your head.
The stories, backed up by archive footage, are a parade of unbelievable anecdotes that play buckaroo with your suspension of disbelief. Talking to my fellow patrons after the show each of us had a different point in the movie where we simply ceased to believe the film to be anything other than farce. These moments ranged from the opening five seconds to the end credit sequence. Personally the moment that had me thinking I was looking at one long con involved a made up publicist from Kingston. You can’t believe anyone would have the gall to get away with this shit, or the stupidity to believe it.
The film is made all the funnier by the director’s immaculate sense of comic timing. I thought this must be the way my elders felt like discovering This is Spinal Tap for the first time. Events almost feel scripted but the authenticity of the period detail and the fact that they are clearly not actors force you to accept the reality that the events are real. But while the editing may lead you to question the authenticity, it also raises the level of intrigue. What puts this film over the edge is that you are constantly trying to figure it out. It will leave with questions you will spend the next two weeks trying to answer.
But for all the bravado and deception, at the heart of the film is a strange core of optimism and a message of self belief. The band never had any reason to think they could make it as far as they did, but they went for it anyway. They ended up with a record deal and a series of sold out shows. It’s heart-warming in its own way. It’s a theme so strong it even permeates the way the film was made. Looking at the endless parade of celebrities the film showcases throughout you never really believe any of them have ever heard of the band, yet there they are talking to camera about them, bigging up their names and legitimizing their reputation. This is a film all about blagging and blagging is how the bulk of the film was made. Even when the shit hits the fan you never hear a word about regret and nothing can wipe the smiles off their faces.
Skum Rocks! looks like it was as much fun to make as it was to watch. Even if you’re never quite sure what is going on, whether too believe its crazy delusions or dismiss it as a sham, you can’t ever be persuaded to disengage from the ride. Skum Rocks! is never laughing at you but encouraging you to laugh along with it.
Angel of Harlem
–as posted on Inside Celebrities by Jeremy Radnor – UK Music World
When the rock band Skum entered legendary Abbey Road Studios on the 26th of September, they were walking into history. No band had ever recorded in Memphis’ Sun Studios as well as London’s Abbey Road in the same calendar year. Ever. The occasion was momentous, to say the least.
Skum was in London for the Raindance Film Festival premiere of “Skum Rocks!”, the rock documentary helmed by notable director Clay Westervelt. And with their album still underway, they thought, “why not record some tracks at Abbey Road?” It was no easy feat booking time at the Beatles-famed studio, especially with a mere two weeks’ notice, but a few calls were made and a few generous artists — who wish to remain anonymous — swapped their studio slots to give Skum the needed time.
Skum rhythm bassist, Todd Mittlebrook, said, “It’s great that we made rock and roll history with these recordings. And don’t get me wrong, it’s a huge accomplishment and one we’ll be telling our grandkids about for sure…But we didn’t do this to get into the history books, we did this for our fans. We want these bonus tracks to be something special, and they are.”
By all accounts, the Abbey Road session was vintage Skum, laying down their tracks in one or two takes. In what has become an urban myth, Skum likes to do everything live. “There is so much more that goes into a good recording session other than recording,” said lead guitarist, John Eaton. “We figure if we knock the main stuff out in ten minutes or so we have a lot more time for what makes this band great. And that’s hanging out.”
While in the studio, the band recorded their underground 80’s classic, “We Are Skum,” which will be the opening track on their upcoming album, Lost at the Circus. They also completed a blistering cover of the Beatles’ “Back in the USSR”.
“We wanted to pay homage to the Beatles, especially the White Album,” said lead bassist Pat Burke. “The background vocals alone (performed by Victoria Rummler and Roveina) will knock this track out of the park. They made our job easy. This is simply a classic version of a great Beatles song. It may even be better than the original version, to be honest. With all due respect, of course.”
The session was intense as fans kept pouring into famed Studio 2. By noon there were over thirty people crammed into the control room to witness the madness unfolding below. Once the levels were set and Skum producer Mark Brasel was satisfied, the band knocked out their tracks, including a piano/accordion sonata lead-in for the Beatles track. Written and performed by Dr. Andrew and Peter Watson, “Drowning the Gypsy in the Volga” is a sad tale of life under the yoke of totalitarianism in an age when life was measured in days rather than years. “‘Gypsy’ tells a story no one wants to hear,” said Dr. Watson. “It’s very much in tune with this album’s theme. Except this tale takes place outside of Samara in 1937.”
Musically, these tracks will blow you away. Skum’s powerhouse drummer, Tommy Craig, drives both tracks with a vengeance that will make even the casual fan turn his head. “I wanted to give the tracks an edge,” said Craig. “I played around with the intro, and Johnny just told me to go for it, so I did. I’m really happy with the results.”
Eaton was in epic form on both tracks, and his preparation showed. His solo on “USSR” was sharp and on target. “I had about eight days to prepare. I was ready,” said Eaton. “Besides, Abbey Road, are you kidding me? This is what this band is all about. Skum at Abbey? Next up, Electric Ladyland!”
Burke and Mittlebrook laid down the bass lines in one take, high fiving each other after, as they listened to the playback. “It’s what we do,” said Burke. “It’s just cool we did it at Abbey Road in front of our fans.”
“The importance of recording at Abbey Road really goes without saying,” said lead singer Hart Baur. “We wanted to give our fans and investors something special. The bonus tracks, from Sun Studios and now Abbey Road, deliver that. They’ve waited over twenty-five years for this album, and we’re giving them everything we can. Abbey Road is our thank you to the fans. But it’s also a thank you to the greatest band ever, the Beatles. They are why we have rock and roll today.”
The Abbey Road session legitimized this album. Lost at the Circus is destined to be one of the most explosive albums of 2014. This band is crazy. To the untrained eye, they may seem scattered at best. But without a doubt, these guys know what they are doing. And they’re laughing the whole time. Skum: fun mixed with sinister brilliance.