An Interview with
who recently released the album
that took place on 23rd & 24th June 2016.
Interviewed by Glenn Milligan.
Glenn: Hi Skum, how are you doing? How are things over there right now?
Skum: Not bad, it’s good over here.
Skum: It’s pretty good I’m just constantly busy.
Glenn: I saw your preview for your 'RAHKAHOLIC' show at Skinny’s last night. How was it and did Gerard DiSalvo (Skum Love Guitarist) make it down for the show?
Skum: Yeah it was pretty cool. We had a band called 'A Frame' play that has members of Tantric. Tantric are an old school 90’s band and they are coming back around. They did their set and they did a couple of Tantric songs, then Murashita played which are from Japan. They sound like Kreator on speed. They are very old school.
Glenn: I remember seeing Kreator years ago!
Skum: Very cool! Gerard hung out, watched the bands and watched the Karaoke happen. He’s from the East coast so the hours are different and it’s crazy for him due to his illness. He couldn’t stay as long as he wanted to as he gets wiped out very quickly. But he looked amazing. It was really good to see him. I hadn’t seen him for a long time. He was supposed to come out earlier but had some medical issues he had to deal with. But it was great because when he got here the other day, he signed some CD’s – the new Skum Love CD and he got to meet some of the other guys who played on it like Tony Campose, Dino Cazares and Tommy Victor because they were all here signing the CD’s together.
Glenn: That’s good. I’m glad it all worked out.
Skum: Yeah! He had a good time. I’ve got family around tonight. You know me… I have this thing that we’re all part of the same tribe, we are all human and the person that maybe learns the most or maybe gets the extra helping hand or something turns around and helps the next person up. You’re not supposed to walk over people to get to the top. You’re supposed to get to that next level and help the next people up and keep all going together. That’s my theory of life – ‘We’re supposed to help each other’, ‘We’re supposed to give back to each other’, because one day we are gonna need the help. The many times… I was homeless at one point.
I’m not a rich man at any sense of the word and people help me out a lot so I like to give back and help others whenever I can. I don’t do it for people to put a big sign up above me that say’s ‘Look at this guy and how he helps you’. I don’t care about that part. To me, my job as a human being and in this tribe is to help the next person and hopefully they help the next person. It’s kind of something that happened one time a few years ago. I was in a restaurant, it was IHOP. We’re eating and all of a sudden I say, “Hey, can I see my bill? Can I get the bill?” and they say my bill has been taken care of. I’m like, “By who?” and they said, “The family that was sitting next to you took care of your bill. They said to pay it forward and have a good day”.
Skum: I said, “Okay”, I looked around and saw an old couple and said, “Okay, we’ll take their bill” and it seemed to start a chain reaction. There’s no thank you needed to be involved or anything. Just do it because it’s the right thing to do. With someone like Gerard (Disalvo) from the first time we talked we were busting each others balls and laughing and having a great time and it just seemed right that I know he’s a good guitar player, it seems right to have him on the album and it seems right to further the relationship with him because he’s a good person. That’s my theory on life.
So to have him come out and to come to Skinny’s. All he wanted to do was come here and he came straight from the airport, dropped the stuff at the hotel, came straight to Schecter guitars, saw me and Michael and was out with us half the day. He could go anywhere and do whatever he wanted but he chose to come here to see us and that makes us feel good and in turn we want to make Gerard feel good.
Glenn: I have wondered for a couple of years, how did Anthony Love become known as Skum Love? Where did all originate from?
Skum: (laughs) my father actually. I was a teenager and I had long hair listening to Punk Rock & Metal Music and stuff. I’d go surfing and always smelt like the beach. My Dad who is from Mexico called me ‘Mugretas’ – basically Mugre is dirt, filth, scum in Spanish so when he called ‘Mugretas’ it would be his little scummy- his old dirt bag. So he would always say, “Piche Murgretas, come over here! Come take a shower”. So he was always calling me ‘dirt bag’ or ‘scum bag’. One of my friends said, “What the hell did your dad just call you? Mugretas?” I kind of understood what he meant but I said, “Dad explain it to him”. My dad said, “Scum”. Then my friends started laughing and said, “That fits you so much right there – Scum (now Skum)”.
Before that, I gave myself a nickname and you should never give yourself a nickname – it never is right. I gave my name as ‘Spaz’ because I always had a lot of energy. I was always running around. My friend said, “No, no, no - ‘Spaz’, it wouldn’t work, Skum – that works”. So all my friends started calling me ‘Skum’ or ‘Skummy’. About a year later I was writing for a magazine in Hollywood. They said, “What name do you want to go under?”, and I said, “Skum – Skum Love”. So it stuck and 40 years later or whatever it is – I'm 43, you know? I’ve had that name.
Glenn: It makes a lot of sense that. That’s right because you used to write for ‘Rock City News ’ Magazine didn’t you?
Skum: Yeah! I wrote for them since I was a teen. I got sorted with that because there was Promoter named ‘Redlight District - Henry Spiegel’. He used to throw rock shows and things like that. He would throw ones that were Matinee Sunday in the daytime and they were punk shows and metal shows. I’d always be there. I’d be in the pit. I was always doing back-flips off the stage, going against the biggest guys. He saw me and came up to me one time.
He said, “Hey man, you’re always at every punk and metal concert in the pit. I would love to utilise what you do. It seems that you know all the local bands and you’re at all these shows. Would you like to write for ‘Rock City News and help me book better shows?”. I said, “F*ck Yeah!”. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I was in high school but barely doing any work. I said, “Yeah - Sure” and started writing for ‘Rock City News’. It went from writing a couple of articles of just concert reviews to having my own page called ‘The Pit According To Skum’. Then I got a second page called ‘LA XXX’ like LA Expose.
Basically, I would go to new clubs and new underground clubs and talk about them. It was always in me to be part of the music scene I L.A. and not just as a fan. I didn’t even think about being in a band. I did it and I was horrible at it as a kid. I was like, “Yeah, I suck and singing and I can barely play an instrument”. I thought, ‘I’ll go working in the writing fields’, which I wasn’t very good at either but I seemed to be really good at booking shows. I did that kind of stuff and that’s how I got started with Rock City. From there I did some ‘Screamer’ – it was an old local magazine called ‘Screamer’. I wrote for them, I wrote for ‘Bam Magazine’ a little bit. I couple of things – a bunch of different little magazines.
Glenn: So how did being a singer really come into the picture on a stronger basis since you weren’t good at it as a kid?
Skum: Well I idolised people and I wanted to be a singer. I figured I could growl. I used to sit in a mirror with my music on in my room with my racket pretend I was in Iron Maiden and things like that. I remember my first launch at trying to sing was while listening to albums and I had this little RadioShack microphone. I had a little stereo receiver and I would sing along to it. Then I thought I had it. I was good! The first band was this band called ‘Abraxas’. They asked me to come down because they were looking for a new singer.
They lived down the street from me and I really liked them. They were totally a Thrash Death Metal band. I went down there and I was horrible. I really wanted to song for them but I wasn’t really good. I wasn’t as good as a singer that they were trying to replace. I ended up being more on the promotional side, management side – I helped their manager book shows and I really good at drawing back then. I’d draw their album covers – the demo covers of their cassettes and made their backdrop. I made t-shirt designs for them and things like that.
Again, I wasn’t really good at singing but I really wanted to do it. Every ones in a while I would get up on stage with some punk bands. They had a couple of different little punk bands that I tried to start. I got to like the thrash stuff a lot and I’d sing for another band that I had to take two or three buses to rehearsal – it took me over an hour to get there. I was 15 and I learnt to sing a little better.
I was still a little out of key but I found I could do stuff like Testament, Forbidden for a kind of a higher register (demonstrates the voice used). I was doing ‘Chalice Of Blood’ by Forbidden and ‘Into The Pit’ by Testament – songs like that. I did try to do the band thing. The thing is, I would join these bands that were established. They’d hand me the lyric sheet and say, “I want you to sing this” and, “I want you to do this”. I said, “It’s not really what I want to do”.
Glenn: Being a carbon copy of somebody else?
Skum: Yeah! I learnt that stuff and was doing it for a while. I focussed more on booking shows. I would book shows of bands that I would really like to see play together. I had a knack of putting bands together that worked. It wasn’t just a hodgepodge that doesn’t even compliment each other.
Glenn: Yeah, I’ve seen it done in some other big venues.
Skum: Well these are promoters that don’t care. We did a little bit of that but it was in the beginning where at one point, the Sunset Strip didn’t want you to book punk bands and metal bands. They said, “Oh we’re only gonna do rock!”. Actually grungy or glam rock – it was in that kind of move – early 90’s to mid 90’s thing where the glam rock was going out and the grunge stuff was happening but they didn’t want thrash huge. They didn’t want thrash bands in there. There was this thing they started doing called ‘Banned In LA’ that a friend of mine put together.
Bodycount were supposed to play at Whisky but because of all the flack they got from the ‘Cop Killer’ song, the Whiskey was afraid it was going to turn into a riot or something, so they cancelled the show. Bodycount said, “What? You are going to ban us?”. Then they started this thing called ‘Banned In LA’ and there was a bunch of bands that joined up. They put out an ad with all these band names. At the time it would just be our telephone number because there was no website etc.
Then these bands would get together and do their own shows outside at venues like the Anti Club – these little sh*thole places and I was part of that. I had my thing – it said ‘Skum – Promoter’. They would put me in that ad and I would book the shows. We ended up taking a lot of that to backyard parties. I remember there was this place in Compton. It was 71st Street and Converse – right by the train tracks.
It was this Hispanic house – a big giant back yard. The guys there – they built this small little stage out of wood, had a small PA and they would have parties back there. It was $3 a person. It would be 50 or 75 people for the first couple of parties and it would sound amazing. They’d come to see local death metal bands and thrash bands. It built up to be 300 people in a backyard!
Skum: I think Fear Factory played there once and Morbid Angel. This was when these bands couldn’t get shows on the Strip or any other place so they would do them in a back yard.
Glenn: Is that how you met some of these guys in the first place that play on your new album? Guys like Burton C. Bell and Dino Cazares? Is that from those days because you’ve grown up from that period?
Skum: Yeah! We knew each other back then. Dino worked at a record store called ‘The Rock Shop’ and I would go in there as a kid. He’s a few years older than me. He said, “Hey, check out this new album!” He’d give me ‘Brujeria’; ‘The Mentors’; ‘Dead Horse’ – all these different thrash albums – Electric Hellfire Club’. All kinds of crazy things like that he’d give me. You know, “Check this Out!”. We started talking and he said, “I’ve got this band I’m starting called ‘Fear Factory’” and even before that he had a couple of other bands that he showed me the demos of. He’d say “Here – that’s my new band”. But Fear Factory was the one that really picked up. Yeah, So that’s where I know them.
Glenn: I remember seeing Fear Factory back in 1995, back when Ozzy Osbourne first picked them up and they were on the UK Tour with him. Then they played ‘Donington’ in 1996 and then it just exploded. That was it – boom! The biggest band out!
Glenn: It must be pretty incredible for you to go, “I used to hang with those guys way back”, like with Dino in his record shop and now it’s like you know?
Skum: Yeah. Well for us, it was like he was just one of our friends that started playing and the crazy thing is that Dino was the first person to bring me out on the road. He said, “You’ve got to come out on the road with me and be my tech or something”. I said to him, “I don’t tune guitars up very well”, and he said, “Well you can be the Band Assistant” and he brought me out there to be the ‘Band Assistant’. I did a one week run on the East Coast with Fear Factory and then came back home. I was working at Danzig’s comic book offices in the mail room. He asked me to go out on the road and be his Assistant. So then I started doing all that kind of stuff.
In L.A., I mean, it’s true, there are the Rock Stars and musicians everywhere and for us it’s not exciting and ‘Oh my god! It’s so and so’. Those are just people because we are all musicians. We are all actors. That’s it. One of us will get a break and hopefully, like I was saying earlier, they put out their hand and pull the next person in. There was a lot of that. When Fear Factory got signed, Dino would come to me and say, “Hey, what bands are playing that are bad-ass that maybe we can pull up to get on Roadrunner?” Coal Chamber was one of them, Spineshank was another and for a lot of bands that got signed around the same time. I worked with Korn, Orgy, Spineshank, Coal Chamber and Snot. But they were all bands I used to book.
So I went from doing the Death Metal stuff in the backyards to actually for now booking The Whisky, booking The Roxy. I was one of the first people to bring Punk and Metal back to the Strip.
Glenn: That’s pretty amazing!
Skum: Because like I said, the hodgepodge of different kinds of styles of bands was kind of one of the ways we got in there. Henry Spiegel would say, “Okay, let’s book a show at The Whisky and we’ll get these three rock bands on there but let’s put right in the middle ‘Demolition’ – a total big death metal band from L.A. and we’ll just tell them it’s a rock band. (I laugh). We’d get in trouble and say, “We thought they were a Rock band, we didn’t know, so sorry”.
One of the shows I finally really wanted to do was NOFX. I was doing some street promotion for Epitaph and I said, “Let’s get NOFX to play here”. We had NOFX and Jughead’s Revenge and a band called GlueGun. All these bands did pretty well on their own in small little clubs and NOFX was even big at the time. The ‘Ribbed’ album was just coming out and they had a song on their called ‘El Lay’ and one of the lines in their was, ‘I can get my picture in Rock City News’, so it’s me, I’ve had it since I was young, marketing is my thing.
So I said, “We’ll put them on the cover of ‘Rock City News’ – that’ll give them that virility that they’re supposed to be playing the Strip because they are in ‘Rock City News’. So if you’re in ‘Rock City News’ it must be a big Sunset Strip Rock band. So we put them on there, we went to the Whisky and said, “We want to book this show” and they said, “What kind of music is this?” and we said, “Well it’s Rock – they are called NOFX because they don’t use any effects. (I laugh).
The Whisky said, “Okay you guys can do it”. So we did NOFX there and it was sold out. There was a big pit and they made so much money at the bar and everything else they said, “Okay, okay, you tricked us, but you know what, let’s just keep doing it – just keep booking more show”.
So we started booking more and the whole grunge thing turned into a little more heavier stuff like Korn and Coal Chamber so I started booking those bands at The Roxy. We’d have a free Wednesday night there. It was like free for over 21 and $3 for under. It was amazing. You’d have Korn, Deftones, Coal Chamber and Fear Factory all in one big show or something like that and Snot. That was my thing so I was always part of that scene. I’d help all those people – they were friends of mine.
Glenn: It’s like you are the Grand Daddy silent enigma that started it all off in the first place and people don’t even realise that. It’s like, “Who is this Skum Love?” Then they realise he made this scene happen in the first place. The music they have been listening to for the last 20+ years and they don’t know who this guy is….
Skum: Yeah. That’s the thing. I never wanted the limelight. I never really jumped for it. For me it was, ‘I like this band, this band, this band and this band, I’m going to book them on a show!’. I didn’t make a lot of money doing it and sometimes I made nothing. Sometime I made good money like the ‘NOFX show’ where I went home with a lot of money but you never know. I never did it for that reason, I still don’t.
Glenn: You do it because it’s your passion.
Skum: Yeah. This is what I did. It’s what I do. Some of them are friends such as Dino and Tony and Tommy Victor. I’ve worked with those guys. Especially Dino and Burton, I was part of Fear Factory or definitely part of the family. I was at rehearsal and I was at every recording session for a long time. When Dino and the rest of Fear Factory had a falling out it’s when I started putting together ‘Skum Love’. Dino said, “I could join Skum Love and play with you, do you want to start playing shows?”, “Yeah I do, let’s do it. You wanna play in my sh*t band?” and he said, “Yeah, why not?”. We started gigging and he was in the band for two years.
Glenn: Wow! You can’t make it up can you?
Glenn: It’s just destiny and these things happen.
Skum: Yeah and I didn’t plan it. Dino had a reputation and some of it’s good and some of it’s bad. I take Dino for who he is, I’ve known him for so long and you k now what? As much as people want to say anything about being in a band with him, you know something? I’ve never had a problem. When he was in ‘Skum Love’ he didn’t try to go, “Okay, it’s my band, this is how we are gonna make the music, this is what we are gonna do”, he would just go, “Okay when’s the next show, you can use my rehearsal studio”. He didn’t charge me and we’d go in there and rehearse and I’d say, “We’re playing at San Diego” and he’d say, “Great, I’ll call my family and have them come up to the show it’ll be cool”, “So you need a ride, need me to help bring equipment?”, “Yeah that’d be great”, “Okay great”.
We’d still joke about it and it’s true. He said, “I’ll do any show you want me to do for a six pack of Corona and a burrito”. We’d laugh about that and even recently when he came here to sign the CD’s for the pre-sale stuff, I pulled out and said, “Here you go, I got you a burrito”. I said, “Well – you know the payment!”. With Tony Compose it was the same thing. He was between the Static X album and not doing anything. I said to him, “Tommy I need a bass player, you know a lot of bass players”, he said, “What do you need one for?, I said, “For Skum Love”, and he said, “Well I’ll play”. I said, “What?”, he said, “I ain’t doing nothing!”.
So he played three or four shows with us and were amazing and learned the songs real quick. We did it and it was great. So all those people were all one big family. It’s kind of like back in the day in San Francisco with the Bay Area Thrash Metal bands. Everybody was in Testament, everybody was in Metallica, everybody was in Megadeth and Exodus. All those bands – everybody was in each others bands.
Glenn: Very incestuous.
Skum: Like here. Yeah, exactly! It’s great because it’s back doing it again and people say the scene is dead in L.A. I’m starting to see in the last year a thriving scene. Better quality bands, bands that are very original from each other – they don’t sound all the same and I’m really seeing a resurgence of the scene here again you know?
Glenn: Yeah. I mean I get sent a lot of stuff from L.A. still. Bands I’m never heard of at times and some that might not be my cup of tea but I pass them onto my other reviewer, Dave Attrill and there’s some good bands. It’s great when we are proving the critics wrong so to speak. It’s really good.
Skum: Yeah you know, that’s the thing. You hear part of the press but you can’t always rely on the press to give you the full story. They are going to sensationalise what they think is the cool part of the story. It’s that kind of thing. It’s like ‘Blabbermouth’ are like ‘The Enquirer’ of the Metal Scene. They used to post about me all the time back in the day when Dino was in the band. They were trying to make stories up or try and get me to drop and tell them sh*t about Fear Factory and the whole break-up. Things like that and then now I can’t for the life of me get in there because there’s no drama in my band. We’re all pretty solid people. So they’re not gonna put me in there on their sights because there’s no drama and I’m fine with that.
I do music for me and I book shows here for my enjoyment and I want to hear. Hopefully there are other people that think like me and want to see those bands as well. It’s good to be in the feet that I’m in now to be able to be an Artist Relations guy here at Schecter and help new bands grow and work with big bands and as well help book bands and see the scene from the inside out. I mean, I’m on both sides of it. I’m booking bands and I’m on the outside and I’m promoting.
Glenn: You are the sort of guy that there’s no smoke, there’s no mirrors, there’s no bullsh*t – this is how I work and I’m Skum Love – take it or leave it.
Skum: That’s kind of how I’ve always ran my life. I remember being in relationships when I was a total young dickhead I guess you could say. Women would get mad because they would catch me cheating or being an asshole and they would say, “What the hell?” and they start yelling and I said, “What do you expect, my name is Skum Love – it’s as honest as you can get”. You are dating a guy named ‘Skum’ and that’s who I am – this is me. I have nothing to hide. I love my family, I love my rock ‘n’ roll family, I’m not gonna sell you a bunch of bullsh*t, I don’t wanna be sold a bunch of bullsh*t so why would I even sell some back. You know what I mean?
Glenn: Yeah. When OZZFestAmy first introduced me to you I thought, ‘Skum Love is a totally normal guy’.
Glenn: You know what I mean? You are on the ground.
Glenn: Which is the way to be anyway.
Skum: I try to be. I really try to be. Even with our last or the first show back, all the bands that I book, I booked those bands. I handpicked those bands because I see how hard they work and they deserve to have a really good show and hopefully together we can have a really good show and we did. – we had a great show.
It’s that kind of thing and I was very honest in how I wanted to run the show, with who I wanted to play in what set, no-one argued and everybody agreed that “Yes, this would be the best way for people to see all of us and who’s playing first and who is playing right before me”.
Everybody agreed on it. There was no drama, nobody trying to call me in the middle of the night and say, “Hey man, you know that band that’s playing, maybe you should switch us because we’re better than them”. None of that happened. Everybody was like, “Yes Sir, this is how we are gonna do it, we’re here and we’re all doing it together”.
Glenn: Yeah! It’s how it should be!
Skum: No bullsh*t. You know?
Glenn: Yeah. When it comes to your new album, what would you say have been the most enjoyable creative moments regarding both writing and recording?
Skum: God! There was so many different times. I mean, the album took six years to make. We went through a couple of label changes.
Glenn: I noticed.
Skum: But I mean, writing with Tommy Victor,. Sitting down and giving him, “Okay, this is the demo of the song, what do you think of it?”. He’d listen to it and say, “I like that, you know, I can make this better for you, how about this?”, and then he started playing and I’d say, “That sounds even better. That sounds cool. Maybe if we move it to here and how about this part?” and he said, “No, you know what? You need to do this” or “This would be better if you had a break in here and I did this little riff in here”.
It finally started to dawn on me while he was playing, then he would record in the studio and I thought, ‘I’m sitting here with Tommy Victor of Prong!’. This guy started the whole Nu-Metal Percussional Guitar Rudiment’. Even Fear Factory will tell you it was the really set the pace for to come”. It’s that whole movement of that cha-ca, cha-ca cha cha chach cha-ca, with the drums solid – the riff, instead of just playing a beat and it was Prong that did it. It just dawned on me and I got the goose bumps. ‘F*ck yeah, I’m writing a f*ck*ng song with the guy who started this sh*t! The kind of industrial, metal, percussional guitar thing. This is bad ass!’, and the song turned out great.
Glenn: That’s awesome.
Skum: I remember doing the song ‘Infected’ and I wanted it to be a really melodic chorus, I wanted the vocals and the bridge to be very rough and raw and chaotic but yet very big and ambient kind of chorus’s. I tried to sing it and I couldn’t get it. I told my Producer, Ronan and I said, “F*ck, it would be easier if I just had Burton in here singing this. At the time I hadn’t talked to Burton in years after the whole Fear Factory debacle and we put the song to the side and we worked on some other songs.
Then I started talking to Burton again, he’s now talking with Dino – we are all mended now in our relationship. I said to him, “It’s so funny man, I was recording this song. It started to turn out that the vocals I was trying to do was kind of a melodic vocal like you would do and I just couldn’t do it.” I went in and I told him the story. I told him that we said we should have Burton come in and do and he said, “I’d love to do it!”, I said, “Oh really?”, he said, “Yeah that would be great! I’ll come down and do it, when do you want to do it?”, I said, “Tomorrow”, he said, “Yeah, okay”.
I drove him up to the studio, he listened to the song and said, “I like that, I like that, okay let’s do it!”. We were there about an hour, he only did a few takes and got his rhythm to how he wanted to do it, laid it down and we put the song away until we went back to the mixing part. That sounds great. It didn’t dawn on me that these people are who they are. To me its like, “Yeah, that’s my buddy Burton”. I’m just glad to have him back in my life again and now he’s going to record with me – this is really cool! It didn’t dawn on me until later on when we finally were mixing the song and I heard it back which was a couple of years later.
I thought, ‘Oh sh*t - this is a bad-ass song!’ I forgot how great this is and how Burton sang on it. This is gonna be cool! With Dino, he used to be in the band and I guess we take each other for granted a lot of times because he does. He’ll call me up when he needs something, “Hey Skum, I need your help with something”. We don’t hang out as much as we used to. We’d be inseparable. As soon as he woke up, he’d shower, come to my house, pick me up and we’d go off and we haven’t done that since we were kids when we were in our 20’s. But we still talk but it’s more of a case of, “Skum I need some help on something, can you help me do this?”, “Sure, no problem.” So you take it for granted and a friend of mine, a mutual friend was talking to Dino and said, “Yeah I was talking Skummy and he played some stuff and I guess Burton played on one of track”. He said, “Man, I can’t believe he didn’t ask me!”.
I told my buddy and my buddy told me, so I called Dino up and said, “Hey Bro, I wanted you six years ago playing on it but you were leaving on tour, don’t you remember?” and he said, “I guess so, yeah!”. I still had that one song that I wanted you to play on. You’ll remember it, I wrote it way back when you were in the band. You just never played it”. He said, “Send it to me, send it to me”. Then he said after hearing it, “I remember this one! Oh yeah! We never played this live or anything. Yeah, I like this one.” “Let’s go do it!”, I said, “Okay, well I’ll pick you up tomorrow and we’ll go up.” We drove up to the studio, pulled the song up and he just ripped right through it. Just like Burton does in a couple of hours while we were there, finished the whole song, did a lead on it and that song is ‘Son Of A Gun’.
Skum: I bought him a burrito and dropped him off at home. (We laugh). It’s those kinds of moments….
Glenn: ‘Pinch me’ moments yeah?
Skum: Yeah because you listen to it back – like that’s bad ass! There were a lot of little moments on this album. One of my favourites, in fact I have to say my favourite is the ballad ‘Leaves Scars’. A song that is written about my daughter because she was cutting herself as teens do when they don’t know how to deal with their emotions. Things are so hard when they are a teen because they are trying to figure life out. I had this bass line, I recorded it six years ago and thought it was time to do some drums. It was real flat – very thin sounding. The vocals were okay so we pulled that song up and I said, “Okay, this is the next song we got to do”. I thought, ‘Okay, how van we make this bigger and more bold’.
I said, “We have an artist over here at Schecter called Mark Thwaite – he plays with Peter Murphy, he played in The Mission. I said, “I should ask him” and he was here. I said, “Hey man, can I play you a song?”. “Yeah mate, no problem”. It was an honour to play it for him. He said, “That’s an amazing song”. I could see all these little things. He said, “Would you mind if I go and… I’ll love to try and do something”, I said, “Really?”, He said, “yeah!”, I said, “Okay”. So I sent it to him and about a week later he sent me back some tracks and it sounded huge. The chorus’s sounded huge – the guitars he threw in there. There’s some extra stuff in there.
He did an extra bass line over mine. I went, “Whoa!” Then taking that back, I was so excited to my Producer, Roman. I said, “Roman – listen to this”. He put it on and went, “F*ck! That’s what we need to go with that song! This is going to be the best song on the album! Now we got to re-record your vocals”, I said, “Oh sh*t – why?”, He said, “Because now your vocals have got to be as big as the guitar is.”, “Okay!”, I said. I re-sang the vocal and it just opened up more. It sounded better and it was suddenly bigger.
The icing on the cake was when I said, “The verse is still a little thin”, so I asked Michael Ciravolo who is the President of Schecter. He was also in an old Goth band called ‘The Human Drama’ and Gene Loves Jezebel. He does a lot of really soundscapey type tone on guitar using a lot of effects. So I brought it to him and I said, “Do you think you can do something”, “Yeah” he said, so I took it to his studio. Claude Van had his engineer bring up the song and he started doing these soundscape sound effects and delays over the verses.
There’s a lot of it. He said, “I’ll try this. How about maybe I try this in case you wanted this differently, Here’s a third one and here’s like five or six guitar tracks!, You can use any of these! Whatever you think fits better.” So I took it to my Producer and he put it on and said, “Give me a few days to play with it”. Then later he said, “Now – check it out”. It sounded like this big orchestrated piece and I went. “Wow! – it sounds so different!”.
Glenn: He’d put all the bits together?
Skum: Yeah. I said, “Which guitar tracks did you use?”, and he said “All of ‘em!”.
Glenn: I knew you were going to say that (I laugh).
Skum: Yeah but there are 32 guitar tracks to acknowledge!
Glenn: Wow! Holy Sh*t.
Skum: He said, “It almost crashed my computer, there’s so many tracks in here!” but it sounded so big and so beautiful and it had a hook to it. I think that one is the one and if you listen to it a hundred times. It’s like, we need a solo or lead right in this little part here. It sounds good how it is but it would be really good with a lead and at the time Gerard was talking to me and I played it for him. I said to him, “What do you think of this?” and he called me back and was crying. He said, “That touched me and I’ve never been touched before because the lyrics leave scars where there are marks.
It reminds me of all the surgery and all the stuff I have to go through with my cancer and it’s amazing!” I said, “Well, I’ll tell you what, we need a lead, why don’t you play the lead?”. He said, “What?”, I said, “Yeah! Listen to the song and I’ll tell you where in the song I want you to do a lead. In this little bit it needs an 8-bar lead, so he sat there and got down with a garage band and they opened it up for them and he recorded the lead. He sent it to me and I gave it to my Producer. He fitted it in there and I said, “God that’s the icing on the cake!”
Skum: My thing is, is he’s dealing with the cancer that he’s never going to be cleared of but they are helping him live to have an excellent quality of life.
Glenn: That’s awesome.
Skum: What I told him was that, “I don’t know ho much longer you’ve got – hopefully another 20 years but I thought it was my job to make you live forever and that’s why I put you on this album.
Glenn: Awesome. It’s been an up hill struggle but what you’ve got from this six year period, it’s paid off and you’re really, really happy with it because you say it’s your favourite album and you play it everyday which really is saying something isn’t it?
Skum: Yeah. I still have a bunch. I downloaded the new Filter album, I bough a couple of other new albums and I still find myself listening to it. I got the new Combichrist, which I love and I listen to these albums a couple of times and say, “Yeah this is a great album”. Then I say, “I want to listen to something else and I put ‘Skum Love’ back on (We laugh). It sounds weird and maybe it sounds egotistical but I honestly wrote this album for me.
Glenn: Yeah. It’s a bit like the wording that comes out in one of your videos – ‘Disease’ where it says on the screen ‘Mental Masturbation’. I’m only kidding!
Skum: Yeah it kind of is. I wrote these songs for me. I don’t care if it sells any albums. I don’t care if I’m the only one that likes it because that’s why I wrote it. So far, so good. People do like it. It has a little bit of a part of me all through it where it’s not just like, this album is a full-on thrash album, this is a full-on punk album, this is a full-on grunge album or whatever. It has dynamics in it. It’s definitely a rock album. A lot of guitar in it. It’s kind of what I was going for but there’s some songs that are just in your face Rock/Heavy Rock. Get on a motorcycle and ride. It’s like my mono – dance, f*ck, fight, kill. A song to dance to, a song to f*ck to, a song to fight to and there’s definitely songs to kill to on this album on there at some point. (Laughs)
Glenn: It’s great. It’s very diverse from what I’ve heard of it so far. It’s what struck me straight away. It’s a bit like how Faith No More used to be on ‘The Real Thing’ or an album like that. You don’t know what is going to come next. Every song is different. I think that is what’s missing some times because I think there’s so many bands that just want to play it the same. You hear one song and all the other songs are in the same key or sound exactly the same and that’s just boring to me.
Skum: Yeah. You see that’s what I was going for. Faith No More are one of my favourite bands. That and The Damned. Two of my favourite bands and every Damned album sounds different than the next. They got gothic they got melodics, they got almost prog rock in – things like that. You never knew what you were getting from a Damned album but you knew it was going to be good no matter what. Same thing with The Deftones. You don’t know what you were getting what was to happen. Faith No More – every album is different. When some bands say, “I’m influenced by so and so”, they try and sound like that band – like a really bad cover band. I take that and it’s like Faith No More or The Damned or David Bowie for instance – things like that and I’m influenced by them. But, I don’t want to sound like them. There’s already a David Bowie, why do I want to sound like them There’s already a Faith No More.
Glenn: Why be a parody of something or someone that’s already been. There’s no point. You know?
Skum: Yeah. I want to do my own thing.
Glenn: It must have been pretty incredible for you to go to the Whisky A Go-Go and play these songs live in front of people. How did that make you feel?
Skum: It was amazing because it’s the first time a lot of these songs are played live. Like ‘Disease’, the one that Tommy (Victor) wrote with me and playing ‘Leaves Scars’ – I brought Mark Thwaite and Michael Ciravolo on stage with me to play it and I cried when I was singing that song. You’ll see it in the video. I’m sitting there with tears in my eyes because it was just that moving to me. It really moved people so I must be doing something right.
Glenn: Yeah! Completely!
Skum: It’s really good.
Glenn: OZZFestAmy was impressed when she saw you live. I’ve just seen little snippets on YouTube.
Glenn: You’ve got the Long Beach Zombie Fest coming up. How did that come about being part of that?
Skum: It was funny. I got a phone call from them through another because I DJ a lot. I got a phone call about DJ’ing there and he said, “Actually we’d like to have your band”. I said, “Oh, okay”. We started talking about how much it was going to cost or how can we get this happening and from one Promoter that I DJ’d to another Promoter. It was like, “Yes this guys a good DJ…”, and the next thing you know…
Glenn: The business side.
Skum: Yeah. To us, it’s a fun little thing that we’ve never done before so it should be cool. I think most of the bands playing are cover bands so that’s cool.
Glenn: It’s big kudos for you guys then. That’s awesome. I watched your videos and they are pretty incredible for what I have seen so far. Like ‘Disease’ for instance where you have got the ‘force feeding’ and the ‘Church Burning’ and there are a lot of religious images. All sorts of things put together. How did you go about that? That must have taken some time to pick all these bits. How did you go about picking certain parts and did you have issues for copyright and things like that?
Skum: I basically looked for footage that was free footage on the internet. Most of that is news footage and things you can find. With the way that laws are these days, you can basically take anything that’s been posted on the internet or on YouTube and use it for whatever purposes you need. I took little bits here and there and I wanted to make something that was going to be sensationalised and make people think and go, “Whoa, what the f*ck with burning church?” The song is really about over-indulgence whether it be drugs, power, money and religion. Basically, you can drown by drinking too much water, you know what I mean?
Skum: Too much religion will make you insane. Too much alcohol will kill you, too much drugs will kill you. You have to find that middle point.
Glenn: The happy medium.
Skum: Yeah. You know what I mean?
Glenn: Yeah totally.
Skum: The happy medium – have some faith whether it be a God or in yourself or whatever but it’s that dangerous step where religion comes in and your faith isn’t only faith but a fear. You shouldn’t be afraid of a god. You should adore that person or that thing. I have faith. I have faith in myself. I’m an atheist so I don’t… I don’t even like the word atheist really. That has its own set of rules.
Glenn: You believe in you.
Skum: Yeah, I believe in me. Everything I have up to this point is my hard work and my belief in myself and my strong will to find other people like me to move to the next level. I’ve struggled a lot and everything else so my faith to me. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with somebody praying or having faith in a higher power if that’s what it is. If it’s faith in a church and faith that’s built on fear and you can’t live life now because you’re trying too hard to live life in the afterlife it’s a waste.
Glenn: It’s crazy isn’t it? It’s pointless.
Skum: It’s wasting time. It’s wasting your own life. You’re not living. If you live on your knees you can never see what’s ahead of you or what’s above or down below. With your eyes closed, on your knees, your hands together constantly, you’re never going to see what else is there. You know?
Glenn: Yeah. Stop and smell the roses and see what’s around and you don’t concern yourself about things too much.
Skum: Exactly because if there is a God, he put all these beautiful things here in front of us for us to enjoy. So if that’s there. It’s those kinds of things that… you need to know those things, you need to feel those things. You’re not supposed to live in fear your whole life and then when you die hopefully all this fear you lived will pay off. You don’t know. No-one has ever come back. Like “I was just in heaven, I spent the week there –it’s all true.” You know what I mean?
Glenn: (I laugh) A brilliant concept there. Yeah – spot on. I agree with you.
Skum: Everyone goes, “Oh you know, these guys are whackos, look at them on the side of the street with Bibles and their preaching and they’re crazy. Well what’s more crazy than that than you going and believing in your faith. Everyone wants to be right – you’re all wrong. The truth and the reality is ‘Right Now, Right Here’. You need to enjoy life and enjoy those around you and bring back to those people and give to yourself. It’s like I said in the beginning, ‘We’re all one big tribe’. We help each other out to survive not to cut each other down and say, “You’re wrong and what you believe is wrong, the way you believe is wrong and the way you believe is wrong. So I want to fight you and I want to kill you because of the way you believe”. To me, that’s not God I wouldn’t ever want to be around.
Glenn: Yeah! Exactly! It makes no sense at all.
Skum: Exactly. So that song is that kind of thing. Don’t take yourself so serious and don’t take religion and all these things - power and money. I’m serious about that overindulgence of that is just as dangerous as drugs or alcohol or anything like that and that’s what I was trying to portray through that song.
Glenn: Yeah. It makes a lot of sense. What was ironic because I saw it via YouTube was that there were a couple more of your videos and in-between them was a Troma Movie and I absolutely love Troma Movies and it was a film called ‘Viewer Discretion Advised’. I thought that just nails it that because some of your stuff is supposedly right on the bone and uncensored etc. I noticed that one of your videos ‘New Perversion’ had got banned on YouTube. I watched it and thought ‘What’s the big deal, it’s just like… I’ve seen way worse stuff on YouTube that you can just sign into. ‘Are you 18?’, you say yes and give a date of birth and you can then watch any type of thing on YouTube that’s way more controversial. It’s just a flash of tit and a nun – like so what?
Skum: Yeah, exactly. I don’t know. Maybe they just don’t like me.
Glenn: Yeah (I laugh). Even with the album, ‘Sinister Minister’, you have a black cover over the nakedness of the girls. I thought, ‘It’s like saying the media has got no further on since John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s ‘Two Virgins’ album.
Glenn: It’s funny isn’t it. Nothing has changed.
Skum: It’s crazy how a lot of it happens.
Glenn: Talking about the album, what is it like being signed to Dave Ellefson’s EMP label?
Skum: It’s pretty cool. I don’t talk to him a lot but when we first decided to do the album with him we were talking prior to that. He wanted a copy of it. We were shooting the sh*t at NAMM about the industry. Then I sent him a copy of it and he sent it to the head of his A&R, Tom Hazaert. Tom said to him, “Yeah, I’m already talking to Skummy about it. It was a natural thing where I was talking to Tom and I said, “I know you’re running the label, what do you think I should do with this album?”. He said, “We’ll put it out if you want to, if you don’t want to I hope you find something else but I think you could find a good home here.” It was just a natural thing that Dave heard it and liked it and Tom heard it and liked it. I’m known Tom for 20 years so it was just very natural to go with EMP.
Glenn: You have got the RAHK night. How did that start at Skinny’s lounge, North Hollywood?
Skum: It’s funny. About three years ago, the President of Schecter wanted to throw a birthday party for his wife. I had already played there a few times and knew some of the people there. He asked me, “Where’s a good place that’s close to us where I can hold a birthday party for my wife right after work, invite everybody and not cost an arm and a leg?”, I said, “Let’s go to Skinny’s, they’re always looking for stuff to do”. It was a Wednesday night. We showed up and I was drinking the Coors with everybody, I didn’t feel like going home yet and I was DJ’ing for the night for my boss. I said to the staff, “What do you guys do now?”, because it was over by about 10 o ’clock and I’m there with the birthday party. “So what do you guys do now?” and the y said, “Not a damn thing, we sit here and have a few drinks”. I said, “Do you mind if I keep DJ’ing, I’m a little intoxicated and I don’t want to drive?”. They said, “Sure!”.
So I did some Facebook posts saying “Hey come down to Skinny’s, I’m here DJ’ing just having some drinks”. I had around 20 people show up. They were friends of mine that were in the neighbourhood and came down and started drinking with me. They said, “You did this, this quickly at short notice?”, I said, “Well yeah! I live in the neighbourhood”. They said, “Do you want to book some shows here?”. I said, “I’m not into that kind of thing, if I do anything, I’ll do what I just did, I’ll DJ some rock music – a little place for me and some friends to have some drinks or whatever”.
That turned into a Promoter already there who knew me who said, “Why don’t I book a couple of bands and towards the end of the night you just DJ and that way you’re not doing it the whole night – you can enjoy yourself”. I said, “Oh yes, I can do that”.
He ended up leaving and they came to me and said, “What would you like to do because he’s left for different things but we like what you do?”. I said, “Well I don’t want to book a bunch of bands. I am over that. I’ll get a covers band in here and do some covers and things like that? I’ll talk to a couple of people as I’d like to do a live Karaoke”. They said, “That’d be great, let’s do that.” One thing let to another and the guys from ‘Heaven Below’ stepped in and they can do so many different songs. It went from like 20 songs to 30 to 60 to 100 songs now. It’s been going strong ever since.
Glenn: Yeah, it’s a really, really good night. I always look forward to coming over to the Wednesday night you hold because you always put some interesting bands on and not just run of the mill stuff. It’s pretty across the board and it’s great. A pretty awesome place.
Skum: Yeah. I enjoy it. Patrick Kennison is a really good guitar player. I have them come down and do it. I don’t pay Patrick and John Younger (bassist). They do it for the love of it. The money that is made we ask for tips, we used to charge at the door but now we have a free door and just ask people to tip the band. All the tips go to the band that are on stage at that time, they get all that money. The band comes on and I go round with the tip jar.
Glenn: That’s awesome.
Skum: Basically that goes to out drummer Francesco and another Guitar player, Michael Lobin because they are a little younger, they are hungry, they enjoy doing it but this is their one gig – their paying kind of gig. I know they have their day jobs but John Younger (Bassist) and Patrick have 'Heaven Below' and Patrick does Lita Ford. They’ve got their thing situated. I take that tip money and give it to the other guys. They help set up and break down at the end of the night. Everybody makes a little bit of money and it makes it good for everybody you know?
Glenn: Yeah, it’s absolutely great. You’ve had some major names down there in the last few years haven’t you?
Skum: Yeah on and off. Basically there’s a couple of little jam nights but I don’t want to focus it on huge names and try to do all that. The thing is, ‘Come down and have some drinks with us. If you feel like getting on stage, get on stage’. We have members of Feeder, Fear Factory and Dio. Before the guys from Quiet Riot were doing the Ultimate Jam Night they would come down to my club and hang out once in a while and play. We had the guys from Tantric the other day. We get some good people down. We have the guys from God Forbid coming down but I don’t expect them to get on stage if they in there. I don’t care if you are the guys from Metallica or the guy next door. We’re all musicians and we’re all there to have a good time – there’s no special treatment. I always say, “Everyone’s a VIP with me”.
Glenn: Yeah. Good policy.
Skum: You know. You’ve been there.
Glenn: Oh yeah. I love the place. It’s so good in there. It’s like the whole night flows so quick. It’s like you are there for about 10 minutes or something from opening time and it’s like, “We’ve got to go home now!”. Such a cracking night. You just nail it. You’ve just got it sorted. What I like about it as well is the camaraderie that you do on the microphone. It’s like, “Where’d that one come from?” The shtick you’ve got is tip-top.
Skum: You know we’re all struggling musicians. Some of the biggest musicians I know out there still have day jobs. So at this point there is no Rock Stars. There is no more I’m bigger and better than you. You only have to look at them. If Ozzy was making so much money on his music then what is he doing on reality shows? You know what I mean?
Glenn: Yeah totally.
Skum: We’ve all got day jobs. If you play Rock ‘N’ Roll you’ve got another job. It’s how it is. So to me, that means we are all working class, we all do what we can so we can all support each other. Like I’ve said before, one guy gets higher than the other, he reaches out and helps the next one up to the next level.
Glenn: Yeah it makes an awful lot of sense. Tell us about Schecter Guitars. How did you get involved with them?
Skum: I put an artist here. My guitarist here actually was. He enjoyed the guitars and he bought it in an artist deal. Because I am big on promotion and marketing. I push stuff really well. If you support me, I’ll support you. So we started putting Schecter in our ads and in our flyers. I got them in good with the people here and they were helping them out and they were helping me out. They gave me a guitar with me being the key songwriter in Skum Love, you need to have a good guitar too. So we’re endorsed by them basically.
Now after a few years when my first record deal went South, I came home, I’d just got off tour. I thought, ‘Man, I need a new job’. My place to live and the job. Everything just went south. They said, “Well come here, come on in. You can stuff envelopes, you can put catalogues in and send them out for us”. I said, “Okay, cool”. I did all that and from there they said, “Hey you know how to do this?”, “Yeah I do”, “Do you know how to do this?”, “Yeah!”. I kept taking on more and more jobs – just little things. Then I worked right underneath the Artist Relations guy and underneath the President. As the company started to grow, I started to move up. Almost seven years later I’m the Artist Relations guy here.
Skum: The Vice President Mark has helped me a lot. He’s the Head of A&R. I’m in charge of the bands. I have the relationship with the bands basically because I relate a lot better to them. I know what their needs are and what we can accomplish for them and we both have a mutual respect. It’s a hard thing to find with a lot of bands. That’s how I got in here.
Glenn: Yeah! Hahahahaha – that’s great. What would you say your favourite moments at Schecter been so far?
Skum: I have had a lot of great moments there. Just being able to have a job in the industry with a great guitar company is always great. It’s like every job. It has its ups and downs. Meeting some great bands that are I’ve looked up to like Cheap Trick. Robin Zander was really cool, the guys from The Cure. Porl Thompson came in here to pick his guitars. We talked and he led me down to his studio. It was really cool. Little things like that.
Some of my favourite things and moments at Schecter aren’t really selling equipment as watching a lot of the artists, especially the ones that have showed up here. From my status they were a small band, hard working and I have watched them grow like The Butcher Babies. They were a band that opened up for Skum Love, Skum Love opened up for them and we played the same stages locally. Then, them getting signed, we were already endorsing them and watching them climb up higher. It was like watching the kids go off to college.
So a lot of that kind of thing is really cool to see. Bands that you’ve worked for and you’ve worked with and helped them grow. I try to help out a lot of indie bands. If they need guitars I am giving them a good deal and watching them grow. That’s the best thing of working here.
Glenn: I remember seeing the Butcher Babies with Claudio Pesavento. He took me over to The Viper to seem them in 2010. It was like ‘Wow’, you know?
Glenn: It’s funny you should mention Cheap Trick because a few weeks ago I was watching ‘American Pickers’ and one of the guys pulled out this guitar in Rick Neilson’s storage room and it was one of his guitars. It was a beautiful black and white checked thing and it was a Schecter. I thought, ‘Holy Sh*t, I bet Skum’s had something to do with that one!’.
Skum: Well not much as me as us as a company in general. When we first got Robin Zander under our wing and we did a signature model for him, the other guys were like, ‘Hey, you know we’d like to check out some stuff’. So we made the one that was the checker board, we gave the bass player a bass. Our ultimate goal is to have the whole band playing our stuff. So yeah, I remember when they were making that one. It’s pretty cool. Painted by hand and everything.
Glenn: Do you have much input into the creating of the guitars and designing them or do you leave that to what the bands want? Which ones do you like yourself that you have supplied to bands that have endorsed with you?
Skum: I personally am not involved with the designing of the guitars. The cool thing is, is that everyone here at Schecter is a musician in some way or another or has a band or plays. So we do show them to our other employees, “Hey what do you think of this?”. The set-up crew are downstairs that do all the set up for the guitars. There are some amazing players down there. They come to us and say, “Hey man, check out this new bridge – it’s amazing or these pick-ups sound really cool. You should check them out, and we do we check them out. Things like that or “What would be great would be these wood combinations would be great on the guitar”, “You know what, I never thought of that. That is kind of cool.” So we all have a little bit of play in it.
Personally, my very first guitar here was a Hellraiser Tempest. I love the Tempest shape. I have some that are the Tommy Victor shape – they don’t really make them anymore. It’s called ‘The Devil’. I have three guitars that have the ‘Devil’ shape. Actually devil spines and a special. I have a bass that is the D4 – the Devil 4. I have a Damien Devil Bass. It’s that kind of shape when you look at the Tommy Victor signature model – that’s my favourite shape. All my guitars are double cut-away with really sharp points at each end. I looks killer. I have them. They are at home hanging on my wall.
There’s a lot of different cool guitars that come out, like “Woe – look at that one!”, “Wow that one looks really cool”. But my wife says, “You’ve got enough guitars – you don’t need anymore”. (We laugh)
Glenn: Is it sometimes weird when you are sat watching TV or you see a poster or a music video and it’s like, “Hey it’s that band that’s playing our guitars – it’s great to see that guitar”. Do you get a buzz when you see a Schecter guitar being played.
Skum: Not me personally but if I see a band that I know I just gave a guitar or bass to and I see the new video. I’m like, “Whoa! He was just sitting here a couple of months ago picking that up – that looks cool”. Things like that. That’s always fun. I don’t really get it a lot anymore. After a while you get de-sensitised to it.
But every ones it a while I say, “Oh, look at that”, when you see somebody playing one that you didn’t even know that aren’t one of your artists. You’ll watching something on TV and you said, “Woe – is that a Schecter?”, “Yeah it is! Okay that’s kind of cool! I didn’t even know those guys played them.
Recently the new bass player for Volbeat, Kasper (Boye Larson) hit us up. He said, “Hey I was checking out your basses and I really like them. I’d like to check some out. Maybe we can have a relationship”. We sent him a couple of basses and we sent him some of the Nikki Sixx signatures and he’s already playing them and has posted pictures all over Instagram and things like that so it’s really cool that he’s into it and likes them.
So we’re talking to him about what we are going to do with him and hopefully everything will work out but that’s kind of cool for us. It’s definitely cool to work for a company like this. I’ve always believed in the brand, I’ve always been a cheerleader for the brand. We got a new guitar player. I never put out an ad out in Craig’s List that said, ‘Heavy Industrial Rock Band needs a guitar player – must play Schecter Guitars’.
Glenn: (I laugh) It just happens that way.
Skum: I’ve always been into it.
Glenn: It’s weird because if I see Schecter Guitars or people playing them or in magazines or whatever, I don’t think of Schecter guitars, I think of you guys and I think of Skinny’s and things like that. It is a different thought process on me. It’s really strange like that. I think, ‘My mate Skum – he’s one of the guys behind that company and I think of the NAMM exhibition you always promote at.
Glenn: What is your personal involvement when it comes to NAMM?
Skum: I deal with the artists. I’ll book an indie party on Friday. I’m in charge of that whole party. We all sit around and do the… ‘”I think that band’s going to be good for the big, huge Saturday party or this band here…” I’ll pick a couple of those and help do that.
Glenn: Does it take a long time to get those bills sorted out for the NAMM Show? Is it months in advance or it a case of getting on the phone and saying, “Are you available? Are you on tour?”
Skum: Well yeah. We are working right now at bands for next year because last years show was so huge with Arch Enemy and Zakk Sabbath. It’s going to be hard to top that. We’re already looking now. There are certain bands we are looking at. We don’t announce any of it until closer to NAMM.
Glenn: Tell me about the Bat Cave that you also DJ at. How did that come to be?
Skum: It’s been going on for a long time now. Almost six or seven years. It’s a Goth Industrial club here in L.A. I used to just frequent it with some friends including A&R guys here at Schecter so we’ve been endorsing it a little bit. Once in a while we give a free guitar away and things like that. We get a table and buy drinks. One day the DJ didn’t show up and they said, “The DJ got sick” and I said, “Well I can do it”, so I went and sat in and did it. I’ve been doing it now for three or four years. Maybe even longer (laughs).
Skum: So the guy didn’t show up and they were having problems with the DJ’s out here. A lot of the DJ’s for some reason get really arrogant thinking they are the end all and be all. They get more of a rock star attitude than actual musicians. I DJ and you know what, I don’t have an attitude over it. I push a f*ck*ng button and play songs and seaway them into one another. It’s not that hard of a deal. Anybody that tells you its more than that, unless they are actually creating the beats and creating sounds and using keyboards and drum machines, then they are only playing other people’s songs – it ain’t that hard. The fact of the deal is to read the crowd.
I was big in the Industrial and Goth scene so I just started doing it for them. I played on and off prior to that and I got really into doing it and I enjoy it. I don’t just sit there and look at my computer screen and not move. I’m usually jumping around, right into the dance floor where I have a whole lighting rig I use. The people that run it, Shane ands Scarlet are another one of those people that work really hard. They don’t make a lot of money during the club, they do it because of the love of it.
Fin, he has cancer and still pushes through all the radiology and all that kind of stuff. Sometimes he’s feeling really down but he still shows up to do his club and pushes through it. He’s had operations. He has the chemo but he has to take it really extensive but for what money is made goes to keeping him alive. They do it for that because they are passionate. I usually hook up with people that have that kind of passion. If it’s about money and that’s all you’re into – man, I’m out. Believe it, I can use money, most of us can but I’d rather make my money the right way, in an honest way and in a way that I feel good waking up the next morning than any other way. You know what I mean?
Glenn: Yeah, totally.
Skum: Batcave is those kinds of people and I’m DJ’ing tomorrow for them. I still do it. Lately it’s been every other month but it’s great. We have fun and we have scenes. Some nights it’s a zombie scene, a medial ward scene, this Saturday it’s a Role Players, Mad Max, Apocalyptic scene. So it’s gonna be cool.
Glenn: That’s excellent.
Skum: Yeah, we’re into it and it’s fun.
Glenn: Yeah! You do what you love and that’s awesome. You are also an Ordained Minister which is like ‘Wow!’. What else can’t this guy do?
Skum: Well you know, I honestly did it just to do t. One night I said, “Well why not?”. I got online and ordained myself. I started playing around with it and twiddling with it and people were actually asking what I had to do as they wanted me to marry them. I told them I was already ordained and that I could do it. I just looked at what the guidelines are for California. I’ve done a few weddings and it goes really well with the concept of my music and it also shows what I can do.
People think it’s absurd that I’m an Ordained Minister and for me that’s the best part – the absurdity. It’s kind of my way of showing, ‘See how stupid and retarded religion is’. If you want to worship a god, worship on your own, you don’t need a group of people trying to think the same and do the same. Anybody can be a Minister and I’m legal – I’m a legal Minister. If I wanted to take it to the next step, I could take it to the next step and open up my own church and get a tax write-off.
Glenn: Oh man, can you imagine that, ‘The Church of Skum’. (We laugh)
Skum: So it’s those kind of things that people don’t understand – the absurdity. The absurdity of religion. So you know, it makes me laugh. (laughs).
Glenn: So back to the band, Skum Love, have you got another album in the can you are planning to bring out?
Skum: Yeah. I don’t want to record any new stuff yet. We’ve just finally finished this album and got it out. I do have a lot more songs that I demo’d years ago. My thing is, I can always try to write new songs and keep putting them out. But I wrote so many songs before I put the band together. I have 30 or 40 songs that I demo’d on my own and never shared with anybody. I kept them for me and a little bit at a time I would put them out. There’s stuff that came out on our first demo that I still think are really good songs. I would love to maybe re-record and of course new songs.
The new album, ‘Sinister Minister’ has songs that we never recorded that we just played live a lot. I knew that they did really well live so we decided to record. Some songs we recorded straight for this album and never played live until our first show a couple of weeks ago. I have ideas. Even today in my office, humming and I was tapping my foot and a co-worker said, “What song is that?”. I said, “What?”, “That you’re humming?”, “I don’t know, maybe I could have another song in my head. I just had ideas”. He said, “Well it sounded good whatever you were doing”. So I do have songs. Now I like to focus on now. Let me get through this album, hopefully it turns out really well and we make some headway, sell some albums, make a difference and get it out there. As soon as it’s finally dead and buried then I’ll go and write another song and another album. It might take a couple of months. It might take another six years.
Glenn: Yeah! It’s how it goes isn’t it.
Skum: Yeah! I don’t really put a time slot on it. Whenever’s right and when it’s right, it’s right and when it’s done, it’s done.
Glenn: You’ve got another Whisky show booked haven’t you in August.
Skum: Yeah. August 15th. We’re doing that. As I said earlier, we have ‘Long Beach Zombie Fest’ on October 14th where we are playing and we are starting to book some shows in between those shows and seeing if we can venture out maybe going to Las Vegas, Colorado and up north. It all depends. The thing is and what’s really destroying the music is the business part. I would love to play some of the festivals and I’m talking to some of my endorsements like Monster Energy about getting me on a few festivals. They endorse so many different festivals. Monster Energy has supported me since the beginning and I couldn’t ask for a better endorsement. It’s a bit of a different endorsement. They are friends of mine.
It’s the same thing with Schecter Guitars. They’ve supported me as artist and as an employee and everything else. I can’t ask for more for what they’ve given me as an artist. It’s amazing. It’s good. All the other companies that we work with. Our drummer plays ‘Trick Drums’. We have ‘Xcel Drumsticks and things like that. They give to us and they help us out. Sam Ash here in Hollywood are great supporters of what I do with the band and what I do as a DJ. You don’t get any better than that. I don’t need a hundred companies behind me. I need a couple of really good ones. It’s really cool and it’s really good.
Glenn: I know it’s all about time and money but I’d like to see a band like Fear Factory take the band ‘Skum Love’ out on tour and it’d give you a chance to play the bigger venues all over the USA and in time hitch into coming into the UK and Europe because there are some places over here that would love you.
Skum: Yeah. I would love to. I would definitely love to. It’s about money. I would love to play anywhere but I can’t literally myself afford to go to all these places and play. I wish we got paid. For me, that would allow us to hop into a tour bus and play these places but I’m mid-40 and I don’t want to hop in a van and go across country anymore. You know what I mean?
Skum: I’ve got a family at home.
Glenn: Exactly. That’s what comes first and you can love your music as well. It’s in your blood. That’s the be all and end all as well. Everything else is like extra icing on the cake so to speak.
Skum: Yeah. If I go out and I can’t support my family and then I have to leave Schecter to go out on the road that’s not fair to them either. Some people say, “Dude, you think too much about everyone else, you need to think of yourself”, but in a way I am thinking of myself. If I go out on the road and I don’t make the money that I’m supposed to make and then I come back home and I don’t have a place to live and I don’t have my family with me and I don’t have my job then I’m kind of screwed. I’m destroying myself so I am thinking of myself in that perspective.
The great thing is, in L.A. a lot of people want to get in for free. They want free t-shirts, free music, free everything. Everything they want for free – free, free, free. I’m fortunate enough for people to respect my views and the way I do stuff to buy my stuff and that feels really good. It feels great and I can’t ask for more than that.
Glenn: That’s it because you can’t keep giving things away for free all the time because it costs money to produce things.
Glenn: It’s not a bottomless bank balance is it? People don’t understand that sometimes!
Skum: At rehearsals, you’ve got to pay for rehearsal space and if you are looking at something that’s going to be decent it’s going to be $15-20 an hour. If you are only in there for an hour, it takes 30 minutes to set up and 15 minutes to tear down.
Glenn: Your time’s gone.
Skum: You’ve got a 45 minute set, you’ve got to run through those songs three or four times. You are looking at four or five hours – you are looking at $100 every time you rehearse. You look at the gas because not everybody lives in the same area. So if I’m rehearsing in North Hollywood, my guitar player and I are right there. But my bass player lives in Hollywood, my drummer lives way in the west valley area. They have to come right after work. We all do it. There’s time. I’ve got to tell my wife I won’t be home for dinner, I’m going straight to rehearsal because it’s the best time to get into the room and that’s right after work. It’s a lot to deal with and some people will read this and go “Wow!” and others will go “Wah-wah – Poor Babies” and you know what? “F*ck You”.
I bleed, I sweat, I cry – all of this – blood, sweat and tears for everything that I do. And you know what? We put on one hell of a show! I know we do. That I can’t argue with and I can’t be vague about it. Everybody is so like “I’m a victim, “I’m a victim” or “Hey, It’s Okay..”. No! You want to have confidence in yourself and I’m confident that I throw one hell of a live show. So it takes a lot to throw one hell of a live show. I spent a lot of money on myself (We laugh).
So I don’t want to let everyone in for free. You should be able to pay. I don’t make then $20 or something like that. I make them $10. If you haven’t got $10 to see some really good quality then you know what, stay home, I don’t need you there. I don’t want you there – stay home because even people that worked on my album like Bill Metoyer and people like that such as the models on the album cover said they’d bought tickets. I had people who bought tickets that weren’t even able to go to the show but wanted to support.
Glenn: Wow that’s awesome that! That’s nice!
Skum: Those are the people that next time, I’ll say, “Man, you’re in free”. The person that calls me the night of the show and says, “Hey, can you put me on the list?”, “No f*ck off!”. What did you do to earn that? You see everybody in L.A. thinks they they’re special! Well just being me and having my time, I don’t give a f*ck!
Glenn: Why should you?
Skum: "Back off." If I acted that way, I should be getting my own club for free for all the work I’ve done. “Give me my own club, give me the keys to the place”. But no, I don’t act that way. I worked at the Whisky, I worked at the Roxy, I worked at the Rainbow, I worked at all these different clubs, I helped book all these clubs, but you know what, you can ask the Whisky. I’ll show up if I want to got to a show. I will show up and ask permission. “Hi, I have me and so and so, is it okay that I come in?”.
If they say “No”, I totally understand if I need to buy tickets, I’ll buy a ticket. I don’t assume that if I clean the toilets in that place, painted the walls, did the stage and did lights ion the past that they owe me anything more to what they already are doing. No club owes me that. Even when I go to Skinny’s on a day off like if I want to go and pick up my check or I want to go and see a band that I actually never saw on my own night, I still ask, “Hey man, do you mind if I go in?”. That’s the right thing to do. It’s respect.
Glenn: I agree. I always think I have to earn the right to be there if I happen to be a guest as music journalist. I hate that freeloading thing.
Skum: Just about every one of my artists that I have here at Schecter, I buy their album especially new bands. I just bought the Filter album. They are one of our artists but I bought the album. Feeder – they are friends of mine. I still bought the album. The Fear Factory album – I bought it. The new Prong! Tommy Victor brought me a CD on vinyl. I still went on iTunes and bought it. Same thing with ‘Surgical Mass Machine’, Al Jourgensen’s new album. He gave me a copy. I went to his house and talked. “Oh by the way, let me give you this”.
I had already heard it in advance months in advance. He sat me down and put a pair of headphones on me and said, “Listen to the album!”. I knew what it was and I dug it. When he handed me the album he said, “Here’s a copy, it comes out next week!”. “Next week?” I downloaded it on iTunes and paid for it. I’m one of those people that don’t need to and I still do it. That’s the thing. The people that don’t have to. They are like, “Man, I can get this for free”, “No problem!”. I can get into this concert for free, I can do this for free. It’s amazing. Those are the people that never call me to get in anywhere for free. They just buy tickets or they show up and they do it.
I have a lot of friends that money and have helped me out through the years. I say, “Hey man, do you need to be put on the list?”. “Why I already bought a ticket?”, “What you did?”, “Yeah I’m here to support”. It’s those people that I don’t even talk to are always the one that are, “Hey Man…” I haven’t worked for Danzig in like 10 years and I still get people that say, “Hey can you get me in on the Danzig show!” or “You’re friends with Dino, can you get me tickets for the concert?”
Glenn: Wow you are kidding?
Skum: I’m not even going! You know what I mean? “I’m not even going so why would I even get you tickets?”. They then say, “Well since you are not going, can you get me in on the passes you would go on?” Just the gall of some people! You know?
Glenn: It’s terrible isn’t it. You’ve got me laughing because it’s so unreal and you just can’t make it up.
Skum: I’m going to start saving the text messages and the phone messages of people asking me for free sh*t and start a website and pit it out there. Have a thing like the auto-correct messages that people read as stupid messages. I want to put in a ‘Get me in the show for free dude!” so you can so how absurd and real this sh*t is.
Glenn: Call it something like ‘www.freeloadingb*st*rd.com’?
Skum: Yeah. It is what it is but you keep going, you keep tracking and you keep doing what you got to do. Is there anything else you would like to ask?
Glenn: Well it sounds a bit cheesy but for a final question, What would Skum Love of now tell Skum Love of then when he was first getting into the business?
Skum: Stay in school and eat your vegetables. (We laugh). Seriously, what else could I say. I mean that’s what I would say, ‘Stay in school, learn and eat your vegetables’ (We laugh). Wear condoms that’s what I’d tell him.
Glenn: My dad didn’t (I laugh) I’m kidding.
Skum: Right, right, right exactly, you know.
Glenn: I’ve been sat here thinking, “You’ve got the perfect life in ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll because you’ve got your great family, you’ve got your minister work, Schecter, you’ve got your band, you’ve got RAHK night at Skinny’s Lounge and you’ve got Batcave. You’ve got a perfect tick-box life haven’t you from my perspective?
Skum: Yes but it’s a lot of work. (Laughs)
Glenn: Yeah I can imagine!
Skum: But yeah, I do what I do and I love what I do.
Glenn: Anyway, I’ll let you get off. I really appreciate it Skum. It’s been an absolute pleasure.
Skum: Thank you man. No problem and thanks for all your help.
Glenn: I’ll get you some beers when I come across in January.
Skum: There you go man. We’ll do it man. You take care Brother and I’ll talk to you soon.
Glenn: Will do. Take care mate. See you later.
A Big Thank You to Skum Love for a deep and In-depth Interview!
Live Whisky Concert Photos by Jim Morris & OZZFestAmy
Rahkaholic Skinny's Lounge Photos by Glenn Milligan
Promotion Photos by Loveolution Studio
Archive Skum Love Photos by X 19 Photography & Lun Nguyen/Scutterbug Photography
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