INTERVIEW: Jonas Cabrera (front man for the Skeletones)
January 9th, 1997
By: Alex Steininger
Jonas: Check, check, testing! Kung Fu shoes take one!
Alex: What are some of your major musical influences?
Jonas: Oh shit man! Fishbone! All kinds of jazz. Charley Parker, you know, Rollin' Alphonzo from Skatalites. Freddy Hubberd, Chet Baker, Dizzy Gilespy, Miles Davis, all those. (Don't quote me on the names, I may have messed up on them when typing them! Please excuse my errors!)
Alex: Is there any modern day music you listen to on the radio, or at shows, that doesn't influence you, but you still like?
Jonas: I like the Smashing Pumpkins, and I like the Chilli Peppers. No Doubts cool, and Goldfingers cool. But there is not a lot of stuff out there that I get into. There's other bands, but I just can't think of them off the top of my head right now.
Alex: Is there any album you have this is your favorite, that no matter how many times you listen to it, you can still go back and listen to it?
Jonas: Um...yeah. Aswad. Aswad is like one of the baddest fucking reggae bands ever. I listen to a lot of Aswad.
Alex: What are your band goals for 1997?
Jonas: Stay Health, to write a lot of new material, and to just tour. Tour and stay as much as we can on the road.
Alex: The road can be pretty harsh. What do you do to have fun on the road.
Jonas: (laughs) To have fun on the road, oh man, make sure to have plenty of rest, that's number one, and then...well, actually I quit drinking a little while ago and I don't smoke. I am one of the straightest guys on the band. Everyone else parties a lot, pretty hard. I just hang out with them, and party with them. Just run around, get crazy at night after shows, whatever, hang out with people, go to parties after the show, just fucking rage all night long!
Alex: Is there a party after the show tonight?
Jonas: I hope so! (laughs) I hope so, because if there is, I'm there.
Alex: What's your favorite city to play?
Alex: You know, Portland!
Jonas: Well, Portlands the bomb dude. La Lunas bad, but I don't know. It's a toss up between Portland and New York. New York is a really fucking awesome place to play.
Alex: Everyone always loves New York.
Jonas: Oh yeah.
Alex: Every heard of a place called the Limelight?
Alex: I have heard a lot about it from a few bands in interviews.
Jonas: No, like CBGB's, the Tramps, and Wetlands. That's like the places we play.
Alex: What's the biggest gig you've played so far, to date?
Jonas: We played in front of 8,500 people at the Greek Amphitheater with Bad Manners and Special Beat. That was a while ago. That is probably the biggest one we've ever played, ever. There's been like 5,000 at the Village Room with Skankin' Pickle, Tool, and some other great bands.
Alex: Skankin' Pickle and Tool?
Jonas: Yeah...that's a crazy bill.
Jonas: And The Skeletones.
Alex: Did the crowds dig it?
Jonas: Yeah...I think they dig it because it's diverse. And like a lot of people out there want to hear a lot of things, they just don't want to hear one thing.
Alex: What goes into good music making for you?
Jonas: Just being real. Writing what you feel. You can't go wrong if you write what you feel inside. And that's the main thing. That's good song writing, keeping it real and writing about what you want to write about.
Alex: There's a lot of good things and bad things in the music business. What do you like and hate?
Jonas: I like playing live, the excitement and support we get from our fans, meeting new people, but the thing I hate the most is the industry and the business end. It can really bring you down sometimes. That's probably the most I hate, dealing with the labels and shit, the money, it can just bring you down sometimes.
Alex: If you could change anything on your CD, would you change anything?
Jonas: No! No, then it wouldn't really be us. There is always going to be something on there you want to change, but that's what makes it a good CD, because it's real.
Alex: Do you have a favorite song you have recorded?
Jonas: Load Come Down. Load Come Down is like one of my favorite songs on the album, it takes about people going to war and fighting wars for other people. Basically bullshit, I am basically writing about bullshit that the government puts people through you know, and that's like one of my favorite songs.
Alex: Are you interested in UFO's?
Alex: Because, I just finished a book on it, and it's nagging at my mind.
Jonas: Oh man...I believe in it. I believe in it. You have to be a fool to believe that were the only people in the universe. I definitely believe in it, and am I'm really interested in it, but I really don't know that much on it.
Alex: You should read a book called "Communion."
Jonas: Communion? OK. Where can I get that? Any book store or library?
Alex: Yeah. Any library or book store, yeah. It's a pretty well known book about aliens and UFO's. I just finished reading it, because I was curious on it.
Jonas: Yeah...what's that shit about area 54?
Alex: Area 51.
Jonas: Yeah...that's real, right?
Alex: Yeah...definitely. The research I have read on it says it's real.
Jonas: Did they actually, were there aliens in the crash?
Alex: The aliens they found dead on the field or whatever, they took them.
Jonas: They put them inside the ship?
Alex: No, they put them in their Area 51 to examine them and stuff.
Jonas: Oh...oh. So their all preserved.
Alex: Yeah. But it's probably more guarded than Fort Knox.
Alex: What are the highest and lowest points of your musical career?
Jonas: The highest point would be being able to play with the people I looked up to and admired as a young laid. Playing with Fishbone, Bad Manners, The Specials, Selector, and all my favorite bands as a youth. The lowest point would be getting all our equipment, all of our equipment stolen. We were high jacked at a gas station in Los Angeles. The stole everything. They took our drums, the keyboard, the guitars, everything! It was like $30,000 worth of equipment gone! We had to go back and get jobs. This was before we were making a lot of money. We had to all go back to work, and make money to buy all our equipment back. So we lost a lot of time.
Alex: Did you go in to buy some beer or something? And then come out and the van was gone?
Jonas: No, no, our drummer, our old drummer at the time, was driving home and stopped to get some gas. Then these guys came around the corner with some guns, and hijacked the car. They said get out of the car, took the car, and left!
Alex: Was the car ever recovered?
Jonas: No, it was never recovered. The car never recovered.
Alex: Good old L.A.
Jonas: Good old L.A. Come on and see us.
Alex: Is there any road experience that stands out from your extensive touring?
Jonas: Oh man...there are so many stories. But, one that probably stands out the most is when we were coming back from a tour, we were gone for like gone for two months, and everyone was anxious to get home, and my trombone player Garth and my keyboard player Paul were arguing and arguing and getting at each others throats. Garth throw some change in my keyboard players, in Pauls' eyes, and he had to go to the hospital. He cut his eyes open and everything. So they were slapping each other, beating each other up, and being stupid. That is like the thing that always sticks out in my mind. Because when you are cutting one of your friends open with change, that's hardcore.
Alex: Good band chemistry.
Jonas: Oh yeah baby. (laughs)
Alex: Did you have a show that night?
Jonas: No, luckily, but the next night we did. He ended up playing with an eye patch over his eye.
Alex: True war veterans.
Jonas: (laughs) We still did the show.
Alex: If you could tour with any band, who would it be?
Jonas: Shit, any band?
Alex: And if you have one that's broken up, give me the broken up one and a current one.
Jonas: Um...Shit man. If there was a band I could tour with it would definitely be Fishbone, which I think we are going on tour with them in February. Man, there are so many great people. Fishbone is the only band that sticks out in my mind. Maybe one of the great Jazz players of old, I would like to go on tour with them. Stevie Wonder or Lenny Kravitz. Anyone of those cool cats.
Alex: That would be a big tour.
Jonas: Hell yeah! Or Sting!
Alex: What made you want to be in the music industry?
Jonas: Just love for music. Music makes the world go round. Whenever I had problems, I would listen to music. Whenever I was happy I would listen to music. Music has always been a major part of my life, so that is why I got in it. I had to get into it. There was nothing else in this world for me to get into in this life, I just had to play music.
Alex: Music is a great place for expression.
Jonas: Definitely, I mean, one of the best places.
Alex: There is a lot of controversy about bands that get a video MTV and are finally getting paid for doing what they love, and then some jerks have to call them a sell-out. What do you have to say about that?
Jonas: God bless any band that can make money doing what their doing! I mean, sellout, what does that mean? I don't know? There's different types of selling out. Your not selling out if your making videos and making lots of money, your being smart is what your being. I applaud any band that can do that, because it's really hard to get signed to a major label and get supported. There are so many more bands than there ever were. In the 1990's there are probably a hundred times more bands than there ever were. In the sixties and the seventies there were only a handful of good bands, now it's like there are hundreds of good bands. It's really hard. So, I don't really believe in that. If anyone says your a sell-out, they don't know what it means. It's about surviving and making money in your career. I mean, because anything in life, you have to eventually make money in your career. If your a skater you have to eventually make money skating. If your a basketball player, you have to go to college, then to the pros. You have to move up in life, and try to make a career about what you love. I don't really believe in that sell-out bullshit. I mean...you have to get what you can get at the time!
Alex: That's like if a white rapper turns into a white punk star their a sell-out, to make money.
Jonas: (Bursts up laughing) Hey man, to each their own.
Alex: How has your tour been going with Reel Big Fish and Goldfinger? Do you enjoy playing with them?
Jonas: Definitely! Definitely! It's good chemistry and good vibes. Goldfinger, we hooked up with them in L.A., a long time ago. They were opening up for us, for awhile. They just blew up. They singed to MOJO, and did some good tracks. They got noticed, and now we are opening up for them. I'm happy though. I'm just happy to be with them, because their good friends of ours. And Reel Big Fish, you know, their an up and coming band. Their great. Really young, talented kids. Their really young, so they have a lot of time to do a lot of things. So I hope everything goes well with them. It's been a fun tour. It's been really, one of the fun ones.
Alex: I had a train of thought, and it just, oh, that's not it! It's crazy! Oh...ok. Are you happy with the label you are on, or are you going to look for a new label, like a major label, in the future for more exposure? To get out there?
Jonas: Well the label we are on now is real fine. Noise Records is doing a pretty good job for us, I mean for what they have. Their not a major and they don't have a lot of money. They got us a van, they got us recording equipment to make our last album, so their helping us out. But at the same time, we are looking for new avenues and people to bring us up to the next level. So I'm happy with them, but I wouldn't mind going to a bigger place.
Alex: Is there anything we haven't covered, that you would like to speak about?
Jonas: Not really man, I would just like to say anybody out there that places music, make sure your doing it for the right reasons, and that you give it all you've got. No matter what you do, if it's music or anything, just stay true to what you believe in. Just peace, love, and unity. One for all, peace and love.
Alex: I wish the best for you guys and hope you have a great tour.