I’ve known about SKATERS for a while now. When I was living in Brooklyn I don’t think there was a week that they weren’t on the bill at some local venue. They’ve been making moves and are preparing their first release on a major label. I got in touch with their singer Michael Cummings and talked to him about New York, the new album, and getting stage monitors thrown at you out of love.
First I want to thank you for completely ruining the image of Richard Hell. I Googled him after you said something, and the whole vibe of Blank Generation is just gone for me
[Laughs] It’s not my fault really. It’s his decision to put that [goatee] on his face.
I mean respect but dude looks like Danzig taking classes at community college.
[Laughs] It’s a strong look.
If I’m correct, none of you guys were originally from New York?
Nah, I’m mostly from Boston. Most of us are originally from Boston or Boston area. Josh is from Hull up in Northern England
How did you all end up in NY?
We’ve all been in other bands and everything’s pretty New York centric. All my families from New York and I’ve spent a lot of time there. I was in LA for two years. Josh and I had known each other for a while, but we actually ended up connecting in LA. We had one of those ‘let’s start a band’ conversations. You know the ones that usually turn into nothing. I told him I was moving back to New York and he said ‘oh cool I’ll come in November’. I didn’t really think about it or put to much weight into it, but sure enough October 31st I got a call from him telling me he’d be in the next day at 4.
How has the switch been to WB?
Warner Bros. has been really good to us. They’ve given us the ability to make this record. We didn’t mean to end up on a major label it just sort of happened.
I remember sixth months you were just playing local shows around places like Shea Stadium.
We still are.
That’s right you played with the So So Glos. How was that? Those guys are real chill and at this point pretty much the definition of Brooklyn punk.
Those dudes are the fucking best. I was actually just watching their video yesterday. It’s crazy how long they’ve known each other. Not just the brothers, like all of them have been playing music together since they were babies. They’re the real deal, that’s why when ever they ask us to play at Shea Stadium we say yes.
That spots great too.
Yeah, It’s amazing that it exists, like a little piece of old New York you know? Like a house party kind of spot.
Speaking of New York what are some of your favorite bands in the city?
All of our friend’s bands, we all kind of hang out in the same bars and stuff. The Drowners, Caveman, just like the New York bands. TV Baby, The So So Glos, basically the bands you see us play with are the ones we support.
Do you have any favorite venues in the city?
I just want to play Bowery Ballroom this summer. We’ve played it a bunch, but I want to headline it [and] just see what happens
You’ve have been touring out a lot more since WB, How’s that been?
We went over to the UK in December for a week, and that shit went so well that we were like Fuck. The love we’ve been getting is just so good that we just have to keep playing every show. I mean we have to do that shit for the album anyway so we figured let’s just do it now.
Any interesting tour stories?
Someone threw a stage monitor at us in Boston. That was interesting. The kid was awesome and he was doing it out of pure excitement. It was potentially dangerous (laughs).
I missed you guys at Kung Fu Necktie in Philly. I used to live two blocks from that spot. How the show turn out?
It’s weird. The promoter didn’t do anything for it. We’d played like two shows, and they were totally packed and then we got to Kung Fu Necktie and there was a band’s worth of dudes in the crowd.
Yeah we had a less then great turnout at that place with some really good bands.
It’s just weird to me. I don’t know how you get people out in Philly. Like usually the scene’s better than that.
I’ve heard nothing but love for Johnny Brenda’s. It’s a good spot to check out when you come back through.
That’s like my favorite spot; it’s definitely where we’re trying to play.
The Armed video is really unique and not something that I can relate to any other video in recent memory. How did you guys throw it together? How long did it take to put it all down?
It was actually shot really quickly, a day and a half pretty much. It was really sick. We didn’t have to do anything. We just went down to Coney Island and shot it there with [Young] Dope. The environment pretty much did all the work for us. Except for the whole throwing money thing.
I leave that [Video] stuff for people better suited for that kind of thing. I don’t know how that shit works; I just leave that to the people who know what they’re doing. Then I’m like ‘oh I have a cameo. Let’s do it.
The “I Wanna To Dance” video was really cinematic as well, is there a real push from you guys to be that way or possibly some heavy influences?
We just hooked up with this guy Danilo [Parra] and he’s just an amazing director and he does like this sick cinematography. It just comes out awesome and we don’t have to worry about it, we know it’s going to look good. They just make these unique videos. Danilo just fucking kills it. God knows I don’t know how to do any of that stuff.
How did you guys and Young Dope end up shooting together? Were you friends prior to?
Danilo knew Dope from a video they had shot. He hooked us up and we just became friendly with him. Now he’s like our dude. We didn’t know him at all. Danilo put the whole thing together. Just a bunch of concepts that just worked out.
Heard you ran into Yoko Ono and Arcade Fire at the studio.
[Laughs] Yeah that studio is amazing. Most days we didn’t run into people, but sometimes Usher was in the room next to us. There was like a full two days where everyone in the band was afraid to take a shit, because Usher was doing vocal warm ups. It was like the most distracting thing ever. We’d have like blast beats and punk music playing and in the hallway you could hear [Mike does his best to imitate Usher]. It was very disconcerting.
How does the new record compare to the older stuff like the single you just put out?
The production qualities going to be a lot better because I recorded those songs in my house. The songs themselves show a lot of diversity: a lot of like darker songs sad songs, it’s pretty crazy. It’s going to be cool; I promise you that. Every song is super different, but there is continuity. It feels like the same band throughout.
What can we expect from you guys in the next 6 months. You have the full length coming out this summer right? The 7-inch, the Armed Video, and the tour kind of all happened in one moment. Are you going to keep going with that schedule?
That’s the idea after the records done were going to work with an EP with Dev Hines. We’re trying to make that happen, just constant content.
That guy put out one of my favorite records of the past couple years.
Blood Orange, yeah. He’s such a talented dude and a good buddy. That’s the stuff we want to do, just have Warner Bros. help us do what we want to do.
They seem to be really supportive of you guys, that don’t look like they’re pulling on any reins.
It’s pretty hands off. They trust that what we’ve done so far has gotten us where we are and they’re letting us do our thing, which is cool.
You guys get compared to pretty much every musical genre and band. I think NY went with Suicide and the Ramones and then others saying hip-hop influence. What are a couple bands that you’ve been listening to lately?
I been listening to this band Holograms lately, and the first Ice Age record was pretty sick. The Savages record sounds crazy. I’ve just been to like really aggressive punk shit and John Phillips records.
Check out the video for “Armed” while you wait for the new album, I like to think of it as the song that Noel Gallagher was trying to make but couldn’t.