Interview with Skinnerbox: Paul (bass), Django (vocals, lyrics), Michael (Drums).
Moon Ska Records
By: Alex Steininger
Alex: What are some of your musical influences?
Paul: Just about everything. I love a lot of the old R & B, and the Ska. You know the old ska and the Rocksteady. The punk rock, I love the punk rock. All kinds of music, as a band everyday we listen to all kinds of stuff. We wake up, hung over in the middle of nowhere, and it's time to drive for like six hours. We put some Lester Flat and Earl Strugs on. Some banjo picking, YEEHA, to wake us up!
Django: We got six guys, six different influences.
Alex: What are your band goal for 1997 and looking into 98?
Django: Conquer the world.
Paul: We're going to record a new album in January and just tour our little asses off.
Django: Or our big asses, as the case may be.
Paul: We just do this everyday, we play a different show everyday. We put out material, and nobody can say anything. And nobody can say anything about it. They gotta put up or shut up. We just have to go out and do what we want.
Django: They gotta be up in our faces!
Alex: Do you ever get tired of touring?
Michael: Your not going to become a band unless you tour. It's the only way to break.
Paul: I get tired of staying home. It's so nice to have...I mean in the band there is rough times, but it's cool to wake up in a different place each night. A lot of people hate that, they can't handle it. But I kinda enjoy it. It gives you a whole new perspective on things. Just see the whole country and all that.
Django: You get to see the whole world.
Paul: Yeah, basically that.
Alex: What do you do for fun on tour?
Django: Drive! We like to play practical jokes on each other.
Michael: We get out the squirt guns! And we watch a lot of T.V., and put a lot of beer cans in each others nap sacks.
Django: I didn't know who did that until now!
Paul: I knew that was you!
Alex: What cities do you enjoy?
Django: There is only one city in the world and that would be New York City. The rest are just villages. But, Chicago is a nice village. Baltimore is a nice village. What are the good villages on this tour? Fresno was a good village, Sacramento was a nice village.
Paul: Portland seems to be cool so far.
Django: Albuquerque was cool.
Paul: I'm kinda pissed I didn't get to go down to Burnside. I had enough time, but I had to go out to dinner with some old friends. So, by the time it was dark it was dark, but I couldn't. Underneath there is insane.
Django: Miami, Fort Lauderdale was cool. That's always cool there.
Alex: What do you enjoy and hate about the music business?
Django: It's the business part we hate. But what I enjoy is not having a boss. That's really the best part, it's pretty free. Just ride around and live. You don't have to be up at any time or go to any office and wear a suit. You can be anything you want, wear anything you want, and say anything you want!
Django: ...and Clitoris. And you just get to meet people, and traveling and seeing different things and hanging out your friends. All those things.
Paul: We've got some time off tomorrow so we're going to visit the Rainbow Festival and pick on some hippies. I just want to go to see some people shit in holes.
Django: Yeah! Oh yeah...you have to shit in a ditch, I forgot about that part. The bad part is the business part, you have to think of all this crap. Dollars and cents, managers, and all that stuff.
Michael: I'll tell you the best part about the music business...THE SPICE GIRLS! Let it be known that Skinnerbox wants to lay the Spice Girls.
Django: And there's just enough of us!
Alex: If you could change anything in your musical career, would you?
Paul: I'd make a little bit more money. I'd make some money. When I say a little bit more, I mean some money.
Django: Like $15 dollars a week!
Paul: Like I said...I'd make some money. It wouldn't hurt if people paid us more often.
Alex: Do you get ripped off by promoters a lot?
Paul: Um...well...you always have that happen. Every band does. There is always some shady people doing it. But, there is enough shady people doing it often enough that you play the averages and usually get paid. In the music industry in general there are people just associated with the business side, and it's necessary. It's cool, you know. Some of them do it because they like the bands and the music, and come to the show and are like "Yeah I dug it." But then you run into the guys who want to turn a quick bucks on bands, not necessarily to us because we'll find you and kick your ass (laughter.)
Alex: Have you had to chase someone down recently?
Paul: Not recently, but it's happened.(laughter.)
Alex: What are your bands high and low points?
Django: Low points, Springfield, Missouri. Our friends got arrested on the sidewalk for pedestrian interference.
Paul: Yo, that happened again last night. But that was the guy from Otis Reem. Their keyboard player got arrested for standing on the street in front of the club.
Django: He didn't get arrested, he was told to get inside before he was arrested.
Paul: Last night we played a party, a Ska-b-que, and...
Django: We didn't know it was going to be a backyard thing...
Paul: Yeah, well we don't know anything. We have...the next day is the name of a place and phone number. When you get there you see what it is.
Alex: So is this one of the larger bills you've played so far?
Django: This is one of the largest halls. We'll see what happens when we get out there.
Paul: The Roseland is a nice place. Every time I come here it gets nicer and nicer!
Alex: If you could tour with anyone, who would you tour with?
Django: No way. The Bosstones or the Skatalites would be cool. The Slackers.
Alex: There is probably a lot, but is there one road experience that comes to mind right away?
Django: Yeah. A college gig. With the Slackers.
Paul: There was no authority there! Two girls from the radio station set it up. There was a guy setting up the sound system who knew kind of what he was doing. We set up our amps and everything, and we played for like six or seven hours. We were just fucking around.
Django: Before the show!
Paul: Yeah, before the show! At the end we had like three drummers going. It was basically our NYC ska mob! The New York City Ska Mob. Basically, if you pick any two or three ska bands out of New York, you'll have some cross overs. It's pretty cool.
Alex: Which ska scene do you think is hotter? New York or California?
Django: NEW YORK! California is a bullshit. We've been there.
Paul: California is cool...
Django: No it's not. It's bullshit!
Paul: Now why would you go and say that?
Django: Because everyone is dressed up and none of them can play.
Paul: But you see, I like that though. I used to wear suits for a long ass time. You look out and see all these kids in suits dancing and having a great time...
Django: Wait a minute Pablo. Did you look out and see any kids in suits dancing? NO! All the kids that wore a suit were posing. And the kids in the bands wearing suits couldn't play. I would rather see a bunch of kids in sneakers and t-shirts that can play. Ah yeah! No, to me it seems the bands in California we've seen all sound the same, and the musicianship was pretty low level, and in some cases terribly low level. And there seemed to be a great emphasize on form and style and no substance what so ever. That's my commentary. But that doesn't represent the opinion of everyone in the band. That's my opinion.
Alex: What made each of you want to go into music?
Paul: I started when I was little. Different instruments. I've always wanted to play. I've desired to be the one making the music.
Django: It's just cooler to be the one making the music.
Alex: What inspires you to write songs.
Django: Pain, sorrow, misery, loneliness, dispair, anguish.
Michael: Basically, next question.
Alex: What do you want your listener to get out of the music?
Michael: Same as the above, next question.
***lots of laughter!***
Paul: The Skinnerbox lyrics are pretty conscious. We all fully back the message...this shit's fucked up. We're not the only ones out there saying what's whack about life out there. There's a lot of bands that don't want to touch, they stay clear of the issues.
Django: Yeah, we want to write songs that people can dance too and have a good time, but we also want to make them think. I don't know, I personally a lot of people stagger through life unconsciously. I want to wake them up. I don't know, that would be cool.
Alex: How do you guys feel about the new album?
Django: I think it comes closest to what the band was supposed to be, of all the stuff we have out so far. But I don't think it will come as close as the next one will. I think it's really good, and I'm really proud of it. It's the best Skinnerbox album so far.
Alex: Do you have a favorite song on it?
Django: I can't...I wrote them all...and they are all...they're so personal. I don't listen to my own music. If I thought about it, there might be one I was really proud of when I wrote it. But different ones would by my favorite for different reasons you know? Some of them I probably think suck. I haven't thought of it that much.
Alex: Explain the reasoning and thoughts that went into the cover of the new album.
Django: It was a fairly random appearance. The drummer that was in the band at the time had the idea to have the cover with a poodle in her lap. Originally it was to be a kneeling pose. But you know, I took about seventy pictures and that one looked the best.
Michael: I'd like to know where the other sixty-nine pictures are!
Django: They're stuck together.
Alex: How are people reacting to the cover so far?
Django: We heard one store had stickers over the titties.
Paul: I think it was Denver. Some kids, they were 12 or 13, went to a show with their dad. He gave them the money to buy the album. He went over with them and bought the record and stuff. Fifteen minutes later the dad made them return the album for another one, but fifteen minutes later the dad came up and got the poster for himself. So we were like "wow! What's the message here?"
Alex: What are your guys thoughts and reactions to the current attention ska is receiving through the media?
Django: They could spend a little more time getting it right. That's all I have to say. They keep saying stupid things...like MTV Skaturday. It's a bunch of false information.
Paul: It's cool. It gets a lot of people into ska that would otherwise not be into it. From my point of view, most of my friends are in the ska scene. All our friends are in ska bands, we all do this. After all this attention, it would be nice to help us out a bit!
Django: Yeah, instead of all those rock bands parading around as ska bands.
Django: I hear they're putting out a record called "METALLISKA!" Pearl Jam is going ska!
Paul: So while were here were going to drive up to Seattle and get them back! Turn grunge!
Django: Yeah right.
Alex: Talking about another album in January...
Alex: Wanna talk about that a bit?
Django: We haven't written it yet.
Paul: It's our in our heads though.
Alex: Will it be on Stubborn Records or Moon?
Django: Probably Moon. Moon's really cool. They've been pretty good to us.
Alex: I've read an interview with Django awhile back about something Siren Six! said about you guys?
Paul: Fuck the Siren Six!
Django: I tried too...
Paul: I don't even know who they are! I've never seen them or heard them! They don't exist. Every time we bring their name up it validates their existence, which I won't do.
Django: The Siren Six! tried to seduce me, but they weren't cute enough. That's what happened. We were in...where were we? Minneapolis? No, Saint Paul. They asked, "what do you think about having sex with us," and I said, "not cute enough." That's what happened. That's all I know.
Alex: Anything I left out that you would like to cover?
Alex: Thanks for your time!