Words by Lisel Nichols - Published on May 3, 2014
SKATERS are the freshest punk rock straight from the burb’s of NYC. They play insane live sets and have captured that British rock sound to a tee. So much so that Pitchfork were spewing and wrote a pretty harsh review, essentially calling them pissweak copycats. Screw you Pitchfork, we love all things SKATERS, including their zines laced with DMT. We had a chat to Michael Ian Cummings about all this and more:
You’ve all been in other bands before, what do you feel made SKATERS more individual and successful than those?
Good question. I guess a good sense of direction always helps, when we started the band we had a good idea of what kind of band we wanted to become and what music we were into and what sources we were going to draw from. I think that really helped. Often, in other bands, lack of direction is the thing that holds you back.
Did you set out to create a more commercially successful band or more appealing to the general public?
I don’t know about more more commercial successful. We definitely wanted to make fast punk music and that’s what we did.
Do you think signing with Warner Bros helped to achieve this?
Yeh so far its definitely helped us, it hasn’t hurt us that’s for sure.
Would you be a different band if you’d signed to a smaller “more indie” label?
I don’t think the music would be any different to be honest, but yeh I think things would be going different for sure
What was the main advantage being with Waner Bros?
Being with a major label, you can do things you can’t do on smaller label, you can tour more because you get tour support. The reach is a lot bigger, our record comes out in every territory.
I had a look at Rollingstone’s backstage photos- did you actually put DMT in your zines?
Yeh we did. You couldn’t get too high off it but I’m pretty sure we’re not supposed to fly with it, because it’s still drugs.
You picked 11 out of over 25 songs that you’d created based on their relevance to Manhattan, will the others feature on a future record or are you ditching them?
Yeh there were 30. I won’t give up on them, but they won’t be on the next record necessarily unless one of them really fights for it.
You’ve just been announced to be playing Splendour in the Grass here in Australia, had you heard of it before?
Yeh, never been to Australia before though.
Expectations of Australia?
I just want to pat a koala, in a kangaroo pouch.
Yeh I think we’re playing Brisbane, Sydney and I’m not sure where the third one is.
Two months ago, you received a pretty scathing review from Pitchfork; Drowners, who I believe are mates of yours, also received the same criticism, that you’re rehashing something that’s already been done. Re-packaging old albums. How do you feel about that?
Yeh I don’t know, I think it’s totally unfounded. I read the review and I didn’t even think it was that bad necessarily. The number was pretty low. It’s tough to say- I don’t think we’re repackaging anything. I think it’s really easy to put New York bands in a box because they’re from New York. “They just want to be like the Strokes or The Velvet Underground or something”. It’s a lot easier to do that than make music. It’s what that website does, they just tear people down.
Do you take those critiques personally and go ‘fuck off’ or do you try to respond to them and create different music?
I don’t give a fuck what they say, it’s not going to change anything we’re doing.
In the end its just one man’s opinion. In relation to this, do you feel that these guys know what they’re talking about, and that music can be objectively good, or is it completely subjective?
I think it’s completely subjective. He just didn’t like what we’re doing based on some moral standpoint based on stuff that had already been done. I don’t think we’re re-hashing that. I think we draw a lot of influences from a lot of great New York bands. There’s a difference between drawing influences from something and totally ripping them off. I don’t think we’re doing that, so I’m not bothered by it.
That being said, I absolutely loved your album and think you killed it. Especially Miss Teen. Can we expect the sophomore album in 2015 after you’ve done a bit of touring?
Yeh I hope so, I’m writing right now, so hopefully it’ll be done.
Do you think the new album will take a different direction?
I think it’s going to be a little more diverse. Go into other territories.
Pull a reverse Snoop Dog with “Band Breaker” and go into rap
Yeh I think that’s obviously the best move, we’re definitely going into rap.
Any recommendations for bands I should listen to?
Nah, we don’t really listen to bands. I just try to write music.
If you were to curate a festival, where would it be and who would be playing?
I think it would be in Jamaica, and it would be The Misfits, The Beatles and The Clash. Maybe the Beastie Boys too.
If Manhattan could be the soundtrack to any film, what would it be?
Do you have a stand out gig that you’ve played?
Our last show in LA was pretty awesome. It was just a good vibe, we weren’t expecting it to sell out and there were a lot of energetic kids. It was one of the first shows we saw that everyone knew the lyrics.