Skum Rocks Hollywood!

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Skum really rocked the house at the Hollywood premiere of their rockumentary tour de force, Skum Rocks!  The first official US showing, held May 30th at the 17thAnnual Dances With Films Festival on Hollywood Boulevard in LA, was a stupendous success. And with a theatre packed with fans, friends, and celebrities, the members of Skum couldn’t have been happier.

Skum’s lead guitarist, John Eaton, was elated. “The Chinese Theatre? Are you kidding me? I could get used to this. Tommy [Craig] and I stayed at the Roosevelt, and hung out in the Lair of the Hollywood Vampires at the Rainbow.  It’s been a great week, and it’s great to be part of Hollywood Folklore.”

“This was a huge step for the film, being screened here at the Chinese Theatre,” commented Clay Westervelt, the film’s Emmy-winning director. “And this is just the beginning. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished.”

“Tonight was great, being out with the band and all these fantastic fans”, added Phoenix Benjamin, the uber-talented guitarist, who, from time to time, rocks his guitar with Skum.

Master musician and friend of the band, Frankie Banali, agreed, stating simply that “Skum does rock!”

The roaring triumph of the band’s Hollywood premiere is not the last you’ll be hearing from the rockers of Skum. According to lead singer, Hart Baur, there may be another Skum big project in the works. “There’s been talk of a TV show,” Baur revealed after the premiere. “If that happens, it’ll be way over the top.”

For now, the members of Skum are taking things one day at a time, and they’ve had some pretty great days. Tommy Craig, Skum’s drummer extraordinaire, left me with this comment. “A few months back we had the world premiere at Raindance in London, and then cut tracks at Abbey Road. That was amazing. But now, being on the big screen in Hollywood? That’s really something. I can’t wait ‘til we play at the Whiskey later this year.”

We can’t wait either, Skum.

Dances With Films 2014: ‘Skum Rocks!’ Focuses on Fear of Success

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Rockumentary Looks Back at a Band That Almost Was

Published June 5, 2014 by Steven Bryan – Yahoo Voices

Without a doubt, “Skum Rocks!” is not the typical Hollywood success story. Directed by Clay Westervelt and narrated by Alice Cooper, this rockumentary examines SKUM, a real-life band that, when faced with success, decided to quit. “That’s what this film is about: the abject fear of not failing,” SKUM co-founder Hart Baur said when reached by telephone for an interview. “The whole name of the band was a play on the fact that we couldn’t play. It was self-degradation.”
In spite of the band’s original fears, “Skum Rocks!” has been doing well on the festival circuit, making its Dance with Films debut last week in Hollywood. In the 1980’s, SKUM had a serious following on the East Coast, even though the band didn’t know how to play their instruments. Baur said the band eventually travelled to Los Angeles, playing a gig at what he called a non-descript venue. “That wasn’t even a real show; it was us getting up and doing a couple of songs. [SKUM] was just about to hit when everything imploded,” he explained. “Just when we started getting cognizant of the fact that we could do something with this, by that time everything was well overblown. It was like we were chasing cars with no intention of catching a car. But it was fun being in the street, it was fun playing in traffic.”
Lost master tapes and SKUM on film
Joining Baur on the call, director Clay Westervelt said he grew up in Iowa and hadn’t heard of SKUM until he was in graduate school at USC. “Hart actually got in touch with me based on another film I had made called ‘Popatopolis,’ which is about a B-movie director who was kind of getting well-known,” Westervelt said. “He was expected to be the next Roger Corman. He ended up becoming better-known for doing late-night Cinemax movies like ‘The Devil Wears Nada.’ I followed him around while he tried to make a motion picture in 3 days.”
Baur points out that though the band members comes across as dumb and uneducated, the opposite actually is true: “We really understood that fact that if you signed a record contract, especially back in the 80s, you owned nothing. You got a bonus, but that bonus was against earned income.” SKUM did record some tracks in the hopes of producing their own album, but the band broke up in 1990 and the master tapes were lost. “It was all kind of done and over. Then, about 5 years ago, this guy Steve Martindale called me. He had found the box in his bathroom. It turned out he had the master tapes the entire time,” he said.
Disgruntled girlfriends and celebrities
SKUM represented a high degree of artistic freedom, especially to creative folks laboring for other people. “A lot of celebrities liked us; they gravitated towards us because of the freedom that we had. We could do what we wanted; we didn’t have to worry about a record label saying ‘You have to do this song. You have to wear these outfits or you have to go here,'” Baur said. “We were always about bringing the fan onstage, backstage with us. It was all interactive.” Though Baur said there was no “Yoko Ono” involved in the breakup of the band, there had been a “Disgruntled Girlfriend” chapter in “Skum Rocks!” that didn’t make the final cut. “But hopefully, we’ll get a TV show and we can bring these girls on and show their stories. The girls were actively involved and everything, but they were in way over their heads,” he said. “We had one girl who moved to Miami, and the [band member] who invited her to move to Miami didn’t think she would actually show up.” —    

SKUM ROCKS US ROCKSTAR COVER

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

MFW INTERVIEW: Skum Rocks! Boys Just Want to Have Fun

Skum Rocks!: Boys Just Want to Have Fun
Posted on October 11, 2013 by Andy Markowitz on Musicfilmweb.com

Alice Cooper with Skum

Skum Rocks! narrator Alice Cooper with (from left) John Eaton, Hart Baur, Todd Mittlebrook, and Pat Burke of Skum.
Malcolm McLaren famously declared that the Sex Pistols couldn’t play, which (except for Sid Vicious) was patently untrue. Skum actually couldn’t play, and that was kind of the point.

Skum was launched in 1984 by Hart Baur and Todd Mittlebrook, soccer players at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. (Another teammate was Jon Leibowitz, who later changed his name to Stewart and tried his hand at comedy.) Lacking any musical background, they gained a regional following despite – or perhaps because of – their skill at not performing at their own booze-soaked gigs.

After graduating Baur and Mittlebrook moved the band to Miami, this time with some guys who could play. They partied with celebs, got courted by record labels, separated investors from their money, and flirted with actual fame – until the tapes of their would-be debut album, Lost at the Circus, were lost in an automotive mishap. By ’91 Skum was done, a footnote to the mad excess of the hard rock ’80s.

That’s the tale told in Skum Rocks!, a music documentary directed by Clay Westervelt that had its world premiere late last month at the Raindance Film Festival in London. And if it sounds implausible, Skum is back to tell you it’s all true, as Baur and Mittlebrook told me in a phone interview the day after the movie’s London debut.

The band – frontman Baur, “rhythm bass player” Mittlebrook, guitarist John Eaton, bassist Pat Burke, and drummer Tommy Craig – has remade Lost at the Circus, adding bonus covers recorded at the world’s two most famous studios, Sun in Memphis and Abbey Road in London. They’re looking for a distributor for the movie, which is narrated by Alice Cooper and features cameos from dozens of rock, entertainment, and adult-entertainment personalities of Skum’s acquaintance, including Jon Stewart, Kevin Bacon, Traci Lords, and members of KISS, Ratt, and Motley Crue.

And judging by their website and the media links dotting it, they’re not taking any of it too seriously and having a roaring time self-promoting, which seems to fit what Baur says has been Skum’s metier all along. He calls Skum Rocks! “a story about a bunch of guys who pursued the American dream in a very unorthodox fashion.” Cooper’s narration puts it more directly: “These guys may have been naive, they may have flat-out sucked, but nobody can say they didn’t go for it.”

MFW: When I first heard about this I was a little skeptical – I lived on the East Coast all through the ’80s and never heard of you guys. Now, I was in Maryland, and I understand you were mainly working Virginia to Florida, so maybe I was just a little too far north.

Hart Baur: We were a band that wouldn’t play clubs. We’d play our own events. We always wanted to be in control. We would book our own shows where we would get a yard, get a couple of bands to open up for us, put the money up for the kegs, and then suddenly you’ve got a thousand people and you’ve got a huge night going on. In the early days we never even really wanted to play. It was a lot better to be the headliner and then have some reason not to play, because we weren’t that good back then. It became more of an urban legend, did-you-actually-see-them-play thing. That completely countered anything that a real band would try to do. A real band would try to actually get there and play. We wanted to get on the bill, headline, and then not play.

Which begs the question, why be a band?

Todd Mittlebrook: If you lived in Maryland you’ve probably been to Williamsburg, Virginia. [William & Mary] is a great academic school, but it’s a boring town. There wasn’t even a damn bar. We were pretty close on the soccer team, and we wanted to meet more girls, and the way to do that is to form a band. The drummer, Hart, and myself formed a band, and then we quickly realized that we needed some help in the guitar area, so we brought on another guy by the name of Jon Tarrant. The band was around for eight years, and there’s a clear delineation. For the first three years in Virginia it was kind of a college band, a house band. We had a great time, got bigger in sort of a grass roots fashion.

HB: When we’d play it would be an event. We’d spend four or five weeks promoting the event. It would have a theme. Some bands play every weekend, three times a weekend – that defeats the purpose. We had a show. It was like, “Oh my god, they’re actually gonna play!” We might not play because the cops came and broke it down, or something would happen. Things would happen that would go wrong before the show, or after the second song the power would get cut. It was all planned out to get out of actually playing.

Did that piss people off?

HB: Not really. The band was fun. There’s no pretension, there’s no egos, there’s no “we’re writing songs that are gonna save the world.” People who would go see our shows had a freakin’ blast, whether we played or not. They’re there, they’re getting beer. We had some shows where we had a two-shot cover charge – you didn’t have to pay, but you had to take two shots at the door to get in. People were getting laid, it was just crazy. And we took that attitude to Miami when we got the real musicians.

Hart Baur (left) and Todd Mittlebrook in Skum’s early days.
There’s footage in the film of some of those shows. Did you guys shoot stuff? Was it just sitting around in boxes?

HB: It was all on VHS tapes. We dug through, we found it. It was amazing, all the photos we found. I was thinking, how in the hell did someone take all these pictures? I didn’t have a camera. There are some tapes of stuff that happened, I’m watching the tapes – oh my God, my wife’s in the next room, I’ve got to get this off. It’s like some orgy thing that we filmed. I didn’t even remember that being filmed.

It sounds like there might have been a lot of stuff going on that you wouldn’t remember.

HB: Oh, yeah, yeah. That’s what I’m saying. You went to the show and we didn’t play, but you woke up and you’d scored with a hot chick. “Man, I’m coming back. [Laughs] I don’t know what happened but I’m coming back. That was the best rock show I’ve ever been to.”

But at a certain point you guys did have actual musicians and started writing proper songs.

HB: Correct. A lot of the songs we wrote in the early days were restructured a little bit. We wrote them and we didn’t know what we were doing when we were writing them, but when John Eaton came in, he’d say, “This is a great song, let’s put this bridge here, let’s move the verse here.”

We’re really proud of [Lost at the Circus]. It’s a really good rock album. From a musical standpoint, it stands on its own in terms of hard rock, a punk, funk, poppish kind of sound. John Eaton is a brilliant guitarist. Tommy Craig is probably one of the best unsigned drummers in America. He session-ed with Duff [McKagan] and Slash a couple of times out in LA. When Steven Adler was getting run out of Guns ‘n’ Roses, he was in the pool of drummers to possibly replace Adler, but they went with Matt Sorum. But he’s at that level. And Pat Burke, the bass player, is just a straight up – he’s the quarterback of the musical team.

Todd, you’re credited as rhythm bass player. What’s a rhythm bass player?

TM: It’s a bass player who’s not too good but still wants to be in the band, so the band needs a better bass player to function.

Why did you decide that you wanted to become an actual band, as opposed to this performance art project of putting on gigs but not playing?

TM: That’s a good term, “performance art project.” I think the answer is, we were always the same people. We have always been friends first and a band second. We were always just a fun group of guys. But as soon as we started playing in Skum, the perception of who we were changed. Suddenly we were, for some cosmic reason, a lot more interesting to speak to. That’s pretty addictive. We wanted more.

The fact that you guys went to Florida, and primarily Miami – is that where you came into contact with all these celebrities who are in the film?

TM: Miami used to be a small town. When we moved down there South Beach hadn’t happened, there weren’t that many places to party. There was a place called Fire and Ice that was off the hook. We played a lot there. When people were in town they came there. It’s not like we went out to find these people. We didn’t seek some of the porn stars, we just became friends with them.

So everyone who’s in the movie is actually someone who did see the band or knew you guys back in the day?

TM: That’s right. Obviously we were closer with some people than other people. When people came into Miami, they came to Fire and Ice, and that’s how we got to know everybody.

HB: We had connections with a company called Cellar Door Productions [a major East Coast promoter in the ’80s and ’90s]. We had an in with one of the guys who worked with them, he would get us backstage passes to all the shows. We almost opened up for a couple of big acts. At the end it didn’t go through, but we’d be backstage, hanging out with these guys. It was a lot different back then. Now all the acts are a lot older. They get offstage, get on a bus, and go. Back in the ’80s it was a party. Backstage was backstage. People who hung around our group had fun, and that was really what the thing was all about. It never was about the music.

So how did it end? And what happened to the album?

HB: The tapes were being taken to be mastered. The guy who was driving ‘em, he never – his car was stolen, and the tapes were [supposedly] lost. The band at that point, people were like, it’s time to get a real life, time to get jobs. It wasn’t as driving as it had been two or three years before. You get older and decide, I’ve maybe got to be more realistic here.

Why did you start up again?

HB: It was the tapes. This guy called me, I guess it was five years [ago] now, and said, “I have a box with a bunch of shit in there, and your name’s on the side of it.” I go, “What’s in the box?” “Well, there’s boxes in the box.” “What’s in the boxes?” He opened them up and said, “Looks like there’s tapes.”

Was this the guy who had the car that was stolen?

HB: No, no – they’d put the tapes in the wrong car. It was a clusterfuck. This guy drove around with the box in his car for, like, 10 years, and he sold his car and put the box in his bathroom. Then one day he cleans his bathroom and he goes through the box – what’s in this thing? You know how boxes accumulate, it’s just there, you don’t ever look in it. So we went and looked at ‘em, and yeah, those are the tapes all right. The tapes were not in good condition. Pat, being the quarterback, said, “If we’re gonna do this we’ve got to re-record everything. If we’re gonna do it, let’s do it the best we can, because this is now our legacy, this album.” So we re-recorded everything, and we did the Sun studio thing, which was cool, because we’d never recorded a cover before. The only cover we ever did live was, we played a federal prison in Miami and we opened the show with “I Fought the Law.”

How did the movie get rolling? Whose idea was it?

HB: We started to film the remaking of the album. Someone got wind of that out west, then Clay Westervelt got wind of that. He started doing some research. He picked this up, we had a long talk, he read a lot of the old press clippings. He was like, this is really, really interesting. He started realizing who we knew, and from that it kept growing and growing and growing. It became much bigger than any of us expected. But we are guys who just sort of roll with it. As long as it didn’t interrupt our real world and our real lives and our families, we loved it and embraced it.

From the stuff I’ve seen on your website and the trailers, you guys are almost pushing it as a comedy.

HB: It is a comedy. We poke fun at ourselves. We revel in the fact that we were basically, from a musical standpoint, a bunch of fuckups who had a good time and didn’t take it seriously. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do from a professional perspective, but it was what we did.

Are you going to try and make it stick now that you’ve gotten back together?

HB: Well, we’re gonna release the album. There’s talk of a TV show in the US, we’ll see what happens. I’m not gonna get on a tour bus, [do] 50 shows. Unless they throw an incredible amount of money on the table. But I’d love to play a couple shows here and there, and go from there.

CHERIE CURRIE TO APPEAR IN SKUMROCKS!

The film SkumROCKS! has gotten even better. cherie currieart561971_621413557901476_1514730799_n

Skum has announced that Cherie Currie, the rock and roll icon who sang lead vocals for the legendary Runaways, filmed a spot for SkumROCKS! on location in Los Angeles this weekend.  Director Clay Westervelt of Imaginaut Entertainment says he was thrilled to add such a well-regarded musician to the movie.  “Cherie is great.  She’s so busy it was a challenge to find time in her schedule to film her, but once it was organized, it all flowed easily.  It took longer to drive to the location than it did to shoot.  She nailed it.”

The movie already features a star-studded lineup that some are calling titanic.  To see the complete list visit IMDB at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2434688/.

Cherie will receive the “Prestigious Rock Legend Award” at the Malibu Music Festival and Awards Show on October 19th at Pepperdine University.  Grace Slick, Robert Hays and Jake Hays will present.  She will perform three songs for this event including “Air That I Breathe” from her upcoming album.  Congratulations Cherie!

Currie is the Californian beauty who fronted the first great all girls rock and roll band, The Runaways, who many consider the greatest female rock band ever. runawaysThe Runaways, with Currie in the lead, established themselves at the forefront of the music scene, headlining major venues and having such acts as Cheap Trick and Van Halen as openers — and all before they were eighteen years old!  It’s crazy to look back on that era and see the talent level the Runaways had — Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Sandy West, Jackie Fox — and of course Cherie Currie.  They left a lasting legacy that paved the way for so many female bands to emulate down the road.

Skum’s lead bass player, Pat Burke, commented, “I am thrilled that Cherie will be a part of SkumROCKS!  The Runaways are one of those iconic bands that belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  It’s an honor to have Cherie in our movie.”

Westervelt added that Ms. Currie would be the last artist added to the film before it makes its world premiere in London next week at the Raindance Film Festival.

For more information on the SkumROCKS! Premiere at the 21st Raindance Film Festival, visit http://raindancefestival.org/films/skum-rocks/ .

A SNEAK PEEK WITH SKUM

If you’ve never ridden in a limo with rock stars, allow me to paint you a picture.

There was a lot of alcohol, my favorite being the topnotch champagnechampagne
that was put into everyone’s hand and continually topped off (except for Todd Mittlebrook, who was content to sip from a flask).

There were a lot of beautiful women.  The ratio of musicians to these women, whom I can only assume were models, was easily 2:1.  I found myself squeezed in between Hart Baur and a lady whose skirt was so short I quickly came to know far more about her than I cared to.

The air was filled with excitement.  And cologne — lots of perfume and cologne — which stood in harsh contrast to the smell of the bag filled with Krystal burgers John Eaton insisted we stop for.  Have you ever gone through a drive-thru in a limo?  That’s a story in itself.limoAnd of course there was music.  Skum’s hit single “Bad Checks” played repeatedly throughout the long drive from the recording studio to the theater (to the exclusion of any other tracks and I never did get an explanation).  After a while, jammed in as I was and on my seventh glass of bubbly, I stopped questioning the music choice and tried to sing along, but the feathers from Hart’s red boa made their way into my nose every time I inhaled.

The limousine was so packed with people I can only imagine our exit resembled that of a clown car (perhaps one lost at the circus) once we reached our destination.  It was Skum’s final night in Memphis, and hundreds of their fans had gathered outside the Malco MalcoParadiso Theatre in hopes of catching a glimpse of the band.  A lucky few scored some autographs.  And an extremely lucky few had tickets to see a sneak peek of the film SkumRocks!

And me?  I didn’t need a ticket.  I was with the band (after ditching my date for Pat Burke).

As soon as we hit the red carpet, we were blinded by the lights of dozens of photographers.  Me and the women were, anyway.  The Skum dudes, having been through all this before, had put on their sunglasses, nighttime be damned.

Skum appeared to have the biggest entourage of the night as we all walked down the red carpet.  I think I only stumbled in my high heels once.  After the band chatted up the reporters and made some dreams come true by slipping a few girls their room keys, we headed inside for the sneak peek.  It was lucky director Clay Westervelt had reserved the front row, because it was a full house.

I won’t give out any spoilers here, but I will say this: SkumRocks! had an amazing reception that night in Memphis.  I’ve never seen a more captivated audience.  And when the film makes its debut at Raindance on the 26th of September, I’m going to make sure I’m in a reserved seat again.  Because if I’ve learned anything from my recent time with the band, it’s that Skum really does rock.redcarpet