Tag Archives: The Skels

The Skels: Drink for Three Seconds

February 2002

Patterson, New Jersey’s the Skels are easily in my top five Celtic-Punk bands and their second CD, “Stoney Road” one of my favorite CD’s of all time (even if they think I’m a bastard), the prefect cross of the Pogues, Social D. and the Clash with a dash of Ska. Not bad for a bunch of thirty-something “weekend warriors” with adult jobs (except for Henry Ryan cos he’s to skinny to hold one down). The interview was conducted via email with Henry Ryan(HR) and Tim Ross(TR).

(S’n’O) First can we start with some band history, how did the band get together and who’s in the band?

(HR) Chris Freid: Acoustic guitar, vox; Scott Heath: tin whistle and mandolin; Tim Ross: banjo; Rich Perry: drums; Henry Ryan: bass.

“I met Tim and Chris while following a Jersey band called The Barleycorns. This was back in 1992 and they were the only guys I knew of at that time that did Pogues covers and traditional Irish tunes. They also wrote some great songs of their own. Tim, Chris, and I were in a band called Cocks of the Walk around ’93-94, with the mandolin/accordion/bazouki/tin whistle player from the Barleycorns. Didn’t last too long but we had some good shows. I met Scott through Tim and saw them once as Tramps and Hawkers, but it was St Patrick’s Day and the show was up in the Bronx and I barely remember it. Scott, Chris, Tim and I were hanging out one day at Tim’s old apartment watching the Planet of the Apes marathon when it dawned on us that we each played a different instrument, and decided to start a band. First gig was summer of 1995 in Hoboken. We played without a drummer for a while, and tried out a few different ones. Then we fell in with Rich, with whom I used to play in my first band back in high school (he had the full heavy metal kit back then, and I was playing nothing but Smiths bass lines. It was the 80s.) When I first moved up to Boston in 1997, Eric Van Steenbergh played bass for a while.”

(TR) “The band was basically formed by fans of a band called The Barley Corns. That is where I met Henry and Chris. The three of us along with two other Barleycorn fans and one of the Barleycorns themselves then formed The Cocks of the Walk. We lasted about a year and had some decent shows. After that myself and Freid, along with two of the other Barleycorns, formed a St. Paddy’s Day band called “Tramps and Hawkers”. Originally Mary Rafferty, now of Cherish the Ladies, was also in the lineup. She was busy with other things and we needed someone to carry the melody. I knew Scott from college and he started playing tin whistle. So he also learned how to play mandolin really quick and replaced Mary in the band. T&H played about three shows and after the season called it quits. Then about three months after that Freid, Scott, Henry, & I started jamming together. The Skels were formed in the summer of 95 with that lineup. We tried a couple of drummers in those first few months but none of them worked out. Then Chris knew Rich from one of his college friends and it so happened that Henry played in a band with him in High School. He fit in immediately and the lineup has been the same basically ever since. Henry and I have missed a few shows for various reasons but the band has remained the same.”

(S’n’O) It’s been a couple of years since “Stoney Road”, is there any plans to follow it up?

(HR) “YES! It’s about friggin’ time we did. We have a bunch of new stuff ready to go.”

(TR) “We did record about four songs to begin on a follow up CD but we were not that happy the way they came out. It looks like we are going into the studio to re-record those songs and record a bunch more for a new CD.”

(S’n’O) There was only five hundred copies of the first CD, “The Book of Skels” pressed (??), is there any plans to re-issue it?

(HR) “I hope so. I could really use a copy myself. Do you have an extra one?”

(TR) “I’m not sure about the exact pressing of BOS but it was either 500 or 1000. Once we ran out of copies of Stoney Road I wanted to re-press both of them onto one CD. We just ran out of Stoney Road so we’ll see what happens.”

(S’n’O) The Skels are one of the oldest Celtic-Punk, what do you think of the scene or do you even think there is a scene or just a bunch of bands jumping on the Dropkick Murphys band wagon?

(HR) “I never really thought we were part of any nitch or scene till I started hearing about bands across the country doing the same stuff we do, that there are a lot of people out there (not just NY/Boston) that really like this kind of music. I really think that web zines like yours help bring these bands into contact with each other, creating a kind of a scene. As far as bandwagons, I think you can draw lines from all of these bands back to the Pogues.”

(TR) “Well, I wouldn’t say people are jumping on The Dropkick Murphy’s bandwagon, I would say anyone doing what bands like us are doing would still be jumping on The Pogues bandwagon. I still seems to me that anyone doing this kind of thing got the idea, or at least a lot of inspiration, from The Pogues and the other bands of that era. I don’t know about the influence the DM’s have in Boston but I’d say it’s still The Pogues fault down in the NJ/NY area.”

(S’n’O) What is the long term plans for the Skels (recording, touring)?

(HR) “I heard we just landed a sweet deal with Slim Fast. We’re trying to get a few more shows up in Boston, but otherwise not much else outside of NY/NJ.”

(TR) “I guess I already mentioned that we do have plans to start recording again but as far as touring that is a touchy subject. We all have fulltime jobs and two of us are now married and another with a serious girlfriend. It would be really hard for us, or me at least, to commit to a real tour. I personally like playing around NJ/NY with a few New England dates sprinkled in here and there. I know Chris is thinking of arranging some Mid-West dates for this summer so who knows what might happen.”

(S’n’O) Where did the name the Skels come from?

(HR) “It’s an old New York slang term for lowlife or criminal. I recently found out that we spell it wrong! According to the Dictionary of New York Slang, it’s spelled with 2 “l”s. But I have seen it spelled with one.”

(TR) “We it is basically an old term for a low-life or degenerate criminal type. I think it was Chris or Henry who originally thought of it. The biggest problem we’ve had with it is people spelling it wrong, or at least not the way we do. Most people add an extra “l” to it but I think it’s pretty funny.”

(S’n’O) Is it true that Tim, Chris and Scott are former “Chippendales”?

(HR) “Do you want to know how the band really got together?”

(TR) “Well it is true that we were all in much better shape before this band started. I have never been called a “Chippendale” but I have been called “Beefy” many times.”

(S’n’O) Who’s the sexiest Skel?

(HR) “If by sexy you mean borderline alcoholics who barely keep it together to be able to play a few shows a month, drink up their gig money, piss on their equipment, break their drummer’s hand, incite and then break up fights between pipers and skinheads, embarrass our families, disappoint our friends, and scam bar owners up and down the east coast, then it’s a five way tie.”

(TR) “I guess you’d have to ask the Skels’ wives or girlfriends that one. I personally think we’re all pretty disgusting. ”

(S’n’O) So what did you guys do to Darkbuster to cause them to split?

(HR) “Maybe the stalking.”

(TR) “Darkbuster was upset that they were playing with a band who was more drunken and obnoxious then they were. They couldn’t handle the pressure so the only thing they could do was breakup.”

(S’n’O) Is there anything the band wants to say to the Shite’n’Onions readers?

(HR) “Don’t believe a word you read on Shite’n’Onions! I only wish it were in print instead of online, it would make ideal toilet paper.”

(TR) “The only thing I could add was to keep reading Shite ‘n’ Onions even though it is run by a complete Bastard! Also, support all the bands on the page so maybe a real scene could develop out of this style of music.”

Tommy & The Terrors, Hudson Falcons, The Skels, Darkbuster – The Middle East, Cambridge MA, (July 28, 2001)

There were a lot of reasons to make tonight’s sold out show a great one; a Tommy & the Terrors/Darkbuster split CD release party, a Boston v’s New Jersey showdown and ‘Darkbusters’ last ever show.

Tommy & the Terrors
First up were Tommy & the Terrors (wasn’t there an Irish Punk band called Terry and the Terrors once?); now stripped down to a four piece after the departure of guitarist Kevin. Tommy & the Terrors can be best described as “Yobcore”; a cross between Oi, Street Punk with a good dose of old school Boston hardcore played with the f**k you attitude of a soccer hooligan. A good live set which included a great Bad Brains cover thrown in. If you’re into fast, catchy Street Punk check’em out.

Hudson Falcons
Next up were New Jersey’s Hudson Falcons; a band I really admire. Easily the best of the new Punk band that have arrived on the scene over the last couple of years. Mark Linskey and Co. can easily claim to be the hardest working band in America; two split CD’s a full length CD in the last six months and always f**kin on tour. The Hudson Falcons took control of stage like the road master they are and played a blistering set of Rock’n’Roll influenced Punk. Nice to see “Come out you Black and Tans” back in the set, “The Rat is Dead” ripped some faces off down front and “Alternative Ulster” would have made Jake Burns envious in ’79 let alone 2001.

The Skels
Chants of “Yankee’s Suck”, “Yankee’s Suck”, resonated around the now near full to capacity Middle East as the Jersey flag laden Skels claimed the stage to do battle with the Red Sox nation. The Skels are a bunch of Jersey lad’s playing some of the finest Punk-Folk this side or that side of Hoboken. Anyone who said you can’t mosh to banjos was never at a Skel’s gig.
High points of the set were; the bruising cover of Shane MacGowan’s “Donegal Express”, “Broken Heart in Every Empty Glass” dedicated to Darkbuster, the encore of “South Australia” and Scott Heath keeping his clothes on.
Low points; no “Finest White Girl” (guys I had brought my Ska dancing shoes just for it) and Chris taking his clothes off.

Darkbuster
Let Darkbuster be a warning to you! Don’t ever bring that friend of yours who happens to be a Sawdoctors fan to a punk show. They will jump right into the mosh pit, arms and legs flailing and come out with a busted head so you’ll have to leave with them within five songs. From what I did see of Darkbuster, I just can’t believe it was the first time I’ve ever heard them (and the last). They were excellent, imagine if Blink-182 was any good or Greenday had balls and a fondness for Budweiser only Gang Green in their heyday could match.

Tommy & The Terrors, Hudson Falcons, The Skels, Darkbuster: The Middle East, Cambridge MA (JUly 28, 2001)

There were a lot of reasons to make tonight’s sold out show a great one; a Tommy & the Terrors/Darkbuster split CD release party, a Boston v’s New Jersey showdown and ‘Darkbusters’ last ever show.

Tommy & the Terrors
First up were Tommy & the Terrors (wasn’t there an Irish Punk band called Terry and the Terrors once?); now stripped down to a four piece after the departure of guitarist Kevin. Tommy & the Terrors can be best described as “Yobcore”; a cross between Oi, Street Punk with a good dose of old school Boston hardcore played with the f**k you attitude of a soccer hooligan. A good live set which included a great Bad Brains cover thrown in. If you’re into fast, catchy Street Punk check’em out.

Hudson Falcons
Next up were New Jersey’s Hudson Falcons; a band I really admire. Easily the best of the new Punk band that have arrived on the scene over the last couple of years. Mark Linskey and Co. can easily claim to be the hardest working band in America; two split CD’s a full length CD in the last six months and always f**kin on tour. The Hudson Falcons took control of stage like the road master they are and played a blistering set of Rock’n’Roll influenced Punk. Nice to see “Come out you Black and Tans” back in the set, “The Rat is Dead” ripped some faces off down front and “Alternative Ulster” would have made Jake Burns envious in ’79 let alone 2001.

The Skels
Chants of “Yankee’s Suck”, “Yankee’s Suck”, resonated around the now near full to capacity Middle East as the Jersey flag laden Skels claimed the stage to do battle with the Red Sox nation. The Skels are a bunch of Jersey lad’s playing some of the finest Punk-Folk this side or that side of Hoboken. Anyone who said you can’t mosh to banjos was never at a Skel’s gig.
High points of the set were; the bruising cover of Shane MacGowan’s “Donegal Express”, “Broken Heart in Every Empty Glass” dedicated to Darkbuster, the encore of “South Australia” and Scott Heath keeping his clothes on.
Low points; no “Finest White Girl” (guys I had brought my Ska dancing shoes just for it) and Chris taking his clothes off.

Darkbuster
Let Darkbuster be a warning to you! Don’t ever bring that friend of yours who happens to be a Sawdoctors fan to a punk show. They will jump right into the mosh pit, arms and legs flailing and come out with a busted head so you’ll have to leave with them within five songs. From what I did see of Darkbuster, I just can’t believe it was the first time I’ve ever heard them (and the last). They were excellent, imagine if Blink-182 was any good or Greenday had balls and a fondness for Budweiser only Gang Green in their heyday could match.

The Skels – The Middle East, Cambridge, MA (January 17, 2002)

You can always tell how good a gig was by the size of your hangover and your lack of work productivity the next day and last nights Skels gig sure as hell left me with a splitting head, bad arse (Guinness farts and all) and a distinct lack of work done. This was meant to be a six band bill but the Casualties cancelled which was probably a good thing as the Middle East is a basement club and their fan’s lack of personal hygiene would have made the night unbearably smelly (the Skels playing with the Smels – bad joke).

I missed Tommy & The Terrors, caught the tail end of girlie power pop punks the Decals who seemed real good and the whole set by Random Road Mother who played trashy sleazy punk with a singer who seemed to have a Freddie Mercury thing going on with the microphone and some how I kept thinking of the LA Guns as I watched them.

Next up were everyone’s favorite Drew Carey lookalikes; the Skels who came on stage to chants of “you fat bastards” from the audience (well from me anyway). All dapper looking in the new clothes they got for Christmas; Chris in the Dublin GAA top, Henry in a Rangers jersey (New York not Glasgow) and Tim in that ratty old gray t-shirt he always wears. Scott also managed to keep his shirt on again and not scare any little old ladies who might happen upon the show.

The set was a 45 minute or so blast of energy especially with Scott who played his tin whistle like it was a weapon, I keep thinking the Skels must have been trashers in their youth as they played their songs at almost neck snapping trash metal speed (and they also seemed to have the whole synchronized thing going on ala Judas Priest -how about some head banging guys ?) that got the Punks pogoin’, Skinheads step dancing and some crazy little guy in a shirt and tie just absolutely freaking out.

The set was a good mix of stuff from both Stoney Road and the Book of Skels and some new punkie drinking songs. Highlight’s for me were Swing, set finisher Broken Heart in Every Empty Glass and of course the very brilliantly danceable Finest White Girl. The Skels encored with Darkbuster’s “I hate the Unseen”, played Dropkick Murphys style with half the audience jumping on stage – great stuff.

Punk Rock Fleadh w/The PubCawlers, The Gobshites, The Ruffians, Jackdaw, The Skels – McGanns, Boston, MA (August 15, 2003)

First off thanks to Kristen MadCat for going to the trouble of and taking the risk putting together the Punk Rock Fleadh, the Boston stop was a great success and hopefully the other gigs were similar and fingers crossed more will follow.

First up taking the low stage of McGanns were the New Hampshire/Southern Maine based the Pubcrawlers who played a short, powerful set of traditional standards and original compositions that got the growing crowd warmed up and scared off anyone that shouldn’t have been there. The Skels after some prompting were good enough to join them on stage during Finnegan’ Wake. The Pubcrawlers have always shown big promise on their demos and live they keep that promise. My biggest problem with the demos was always the vocals, yet live vocal man, Kevin hits the nail on the head every time.

The Gobshites followed and staying true to their name they were a bunch of Gobshites. The singer (Pete, I think) is a seriously funny bastard and the music as hoot even with the out of tune fiddle. The set started with the Pogues, “Streams of Whiskey” and ended with “Frigging in the Rigging” and in between we were treated to jokes, silly songs all given the acoustic-Celtic-hardcore treatment, a little rap also given the acoustic-Celtic-hardcore and Andy from the PubCrawlers reading a limerick.

Next up taking the stage were NYC’s The Ruffians who made a grand entrance through the audience marching behind the most colorful bagpiper I’ve ever seen. The set was tight Irish influenced Rock’n’Roll what would be closer in sound to say the Prodigals then the Dropkick Murphys. My biggest complaint was the over-distortion of the guitars during the first couple of songs.

I’m considering suing Jackdaw for terminal damage to my hearing – I’m writing this 3 days later and my ears are still ring – it only took two days for my head to stop pounding- I suing Guinness on that one. These guys just blew me away. I heard both of their CD’s through a friend who was raving about them and neither impressed me particular (I’m going to be checking them out again.) But live they were unbelievable, tight as the proverbial ducks arse or more correctly AC/DC’s rhythm section. Actually someone described them to me after the set as AC/DC with bagpipes though I’m more inclined to go with a Celtic Wall of Sound description. They certainly impressed me and a sizable section of the crowd who whipped up a serious pit – not bad for a band who were completely unknown in Boston before their set. Hopefully they come back soon and if you ever get a chance check’em out. One issue though and that’s the Bagpipers kilt was too short – never wear a Kilt above the knee, people start to ask funny questions about you.

The Skels headlined and I hate to say this but I had to fuck off home after 3 songs – I’m sure the Skels were their usual selves and gave a riot of a show (the new CD is the fucking business but you know that anyway).

The Skels – The Castlebar, Brighton, MA (JULY 17, 2010 )

July 19, 2010

You might have notice on the bottom right hand side of the blog there is now a little widget that tracks site visitors and how they found Shite’n’Onions – well to my surprise I’m getting lots of visitors from Saudi Arabia – now originally I was thinking that my Arab friends were actually searching on Shiite and getting Shite but then I noticed that the key words being searched were, “hairy backed guys” and I realized to my shock and surprise that The Skels have a fan base in the Middle East!

Speaking of HBGs, The Skels were in Boston for the 1st time in a long while, paying their 1st ever gig in bass players Henry Ryan’s home from home – Brighton’s own The Castlebar. The special occasion that merited 3 sets from The Skels and was to celebrate Paddy Keys of The Larkin Bridges impending nuptials (congrats Pat), and The Skels were in rare form – lots of Pogues covers, their own master pieces and synchronized Judas Priest style guitar/banjo poses – in fact there were even a few new tunes and an new CD announced which is schedule for release at the end of the year (though Chris Skel wouldn’t commit to which year). It was also nice to see Benny from Toxic Narcotic join The Skels on his accordion for a few songs.

The Skels are always great to see live and 3 sets in The Castlebar a special treat – I’ve been going to see The Skels for over 10 years and they never fail to impress and hope to see ’em again when they come back from their tour of Iran, Iraq and Yemen.

The Skels: Heading For The Knackers Yard

September 8, 2011

“Give us pints of Whiskey, you hear the bastards shout”

In one lyric, The Skels sum up their entire musical career and philosophy of life. In case you aren’t familiar with The Skels, they are a bunch of Irish whiskey swigging, banjo swinging, football hooligans from North Jersey, let loose in the recording studio (though I’d love to see them let loose on the Jersey Shore house….that would be great TV.)

The delightfully titled, “Heading For The Knackers Yard”, is the bands 4th full-length and first in 4 or 5 years. And I can proudly say that “Heading For The Knackers Yard” is exactly as I expected it to sounds – no chance of The Skels ever pulling a Flogging Molly – we have whisked soaked, rough and tumble, white trash, meth smoking, redneck, sing-a-long New jersey Celtic punk’n’ roll (and I mean that in the most loving and respectful way of course).

Beyond the bucket of blood bars of NJ, NYC and Brighton, MA, The Skels are an somewhat of an unknown quantity despite being the longest running Celtic punk band in the US – 15 plus years and counting – check ’em out before they end up in the knackers themselves.

http://www.theskels.net/