Personifying the American Dream
I was lucky enough to meet the band behind the ‘life is stranger than fiction’ documentary ‘SKUM ROCKS‘. Interviewing them at the legendary Abbey Road Studios, there to record the final touches to their never quite finished debut album ‘Lost at the Circus’. In the peaceful surroundings of the studios gardens SKUM’s founding band mates Hart Baur, Pat Burke, John Eaton, Tommy Gunn and Todd Mittlebrooke explained that they formed in the early 1980’s by three members of a varsity soccer team with no musical background. Happy to divulge their side of the story, which is an absurd tale of the quest for the American Dream. Hart explained ”we went to a tremendously boring campus, the place was starved of fun, press was starved for stories, it was like a tinder box ready to go up’.
SKUM ROCKS is the true story narrated by Alice Cooper, about a band who gained popularity on the East Coast of America in the 80’s despite the fact that none of its members knew how to play their instruments. An overwhelming manipulation of the media led to their rapid rise in popularity, such that their main objective became inventing new and creative ways to get kicked off stage without actually playing. Stating they couldn’t be bothered with ‘practice’ and ‘learning chords’ yet still managed to make it to fame and fortune. Eaton added “Yes the first gigs were more about a party, very carnival like as the gigs grew and grew the pressure grew, so we started calling the cops on ourselves, in hope of getting the gig shut down. Usually by plying our underage fans with booze, it was hilarious’.
Three years and several hundreds of thousands of dollars later, which was borrowed from girlfriends, friends and family they sadly went bust. The filming of SKUM ROCKS led to the band reuniting more than twenty years after they disbanded. The film features a number of hilarious celebrity cameos, Baur adds that watching ‘SKUM ROCKS ‘is a lot like going to a gig, that no one leaves unscathed’.
Cooper’s narration in the film claims, “These guys may have been naïve, they may have flat-out sucked; but nobody can say they didn’t ‘go for it’. Pat Burke added “lots of people said we symbolised what rock and roll really was, the spirit of rock and roll was not technical ability”
The consistent motto of the band throughout their heyday and still now was ‘if you’re not laughing you’re not living’ and the documentary certainly encompasses that.