Name: Skull Tape
Personnel: Brad Breeck (from The Mae Shi, vocals, guitar, keys), Kyle Mabson (of XBXRX, drums) pictured above. Plus: Daniel Deblanke (of Robotanists, guitar), Vice Cooler (XBXRX/Hawnay Troof, guitar), Dalton Blanco (Robin Williams On Fire, drums), and Jon Gray (Signals, synths).
Group debuts: This Monday night, December 27, 2010, at Pehrspace.
Why Skull Tape and why now?
I’ve been busy with work for the past couple years and have been waiting to have time to make a record. I finally had a break and Skull Tape is what emerged. It’s kind of picking up where Mae Shi left off for me.
How did you come up with the name?
Ugh, I dunno. I made a huge lists, most of the names I liked were taken, this was one that wasn’t take and I hated the least. I wanted it to appeal to 15-year-old kids who like thrash music.
How would you describe your overall musical aesthetic?
I don’t know if I have an overall recognizable style. I kind of jump around a lot. If i do have a style, I don’t know what it is. I guess I like to write annoying melodies that stay with you. Skull Tape is supposed to be fun caveman power pop tunes. Stuff that you can sing along to on the first listen… I hope. It’s a seriously all-star line up, I’m super stoked each of these dudes is involved.
Why did you choose each particular player?
Apart from the fact that they are all rad musicians, each of these dudes is super fun to hang out with and they all totally get what I was trying to do with the band.
Is Skull Tape a real band? Do you guys collaborate, or is it just you telling them what to do?
The album was basically a solo project. I brought in Daniel DeBlanke to replace my shitty guitar playing and to add some of his awesomeness, Jordan Richardson (incredible drummer!) played drums, and my friend Danny Kalb co-produced, engineered the guitar and drum recordings and mixed, but the rest of it is me. I have no idea where it will go though.
What about lyrics for the music—who writes and sings those?
I wrote the lyrics and sing all the stuff on this record. It’s all my fault! I generally hate writing lyrics. Lyrics are the last thing I hear when I listen to music and the last thing I do when I write songs. I would prefer to just sing nonsensical sounds instead of putting words into music, unfortunately that doesn’t work for me.
What do you listen to?
I mostly only care about top 40 pop music these days. My dream in life is to be a pop producer, so I’m mostly obsessing over that stuff. You could put me on a desert Island with a Britney Spears greatest hits and I’d be good to go.
Besides that stuff… I listen to Robyn a lot lately for pop inspiration. Been really inspired by Exuma recently. This composer Laurie Spiegel, who my friend just turned me onto is blowing my mind presently. Been on a big Ike Turner kick for a while. Sparks always get me inspired. I’ve been listening to a lot of film scores lately— trying to beef up my orchestral scoring chops
What were your biggest musical influences when you first got into music?
Like shitty Christian heavy metal bands and Fugazi.
What band have you seen live the most times in your life?
Probably some awesome Christian hardcore band I was into in high school.
How did you originally meet and become part of Mae Shi?
I met Ezra Buchla at CalArts, where we were both students. He introduced me to Tim and Jeff, we jammed out, and they asked me to play drums in the band.
What do you think of Physical Forms and the other Mae Shi family of bands?
I love Physical Forms. Very excited about that project and looking forward to hearing a record from them. I love Jon and Bill’s band Signals as well. I helped them record their album actually. Love those dudes. I could be wrong, but I feel like all of us are kind of making what our idea of the next Mae Shi record would have been.
Do you think Mae Shi fans will be surprised by Skull Tape?
Probably not. On the whole, Skull Tape is a bit more accessible than Mae Shi, but it’s not far off from what we were doing on HLLLYH. I see it as kind of picking up where we left off with HLLLYH. I wrote a couple of these songs with the intention of putting them on the next Mae Shi record actually.
Did the MacBook Air commercial make you rich?
No, not rich from the Apple commercial at all. Haha! You don’t really get rich from doing music for a commercial unless you’re like Linkin Park or Vampire Weekend or something and you can charge a shit-load of cash for people to use your tunes. Actually, I bet Mark Mothersbaugh made rich man money from his Apple ads, but that’s because they used the same music on a million different commercials and they played all the fucking time. I saw Mark Mothersbaugh at In-N-Out recently by the way. I was stoked.
How does making music for clients differ from being in a band or is it all the same?
It’s different for me. Every project is different. Making music for hire can be great because you have kind of strict parameters and direction and limitations are fun and helpful. Writing for hire is also fun when it forces you to write in styles you’re not necessarily fluent in. Like I would probably never write a reggae tune or a Barry White style funk jam or an afro caribbean big band number if I wasn’t commissioned to do it for some commercial or whatever. Being in a band by yourself can be frustrating because the possibilities are endless and limitations kind of nonexistent in a way. There are limitations, but they come from yourself. Writing music in a band with other people presents a different set of limitations. I’m not a great collaborator, so I find being in a band with other people the most frustrating— I prefer to dictate my little musical world.
Do you write and record music everyday?
Pretty much. I do the music for a show on Nickelodeon (Fanboy and Chum Chum)—it’s a full time job and forces me to churn out lots of music every day to meet my deadlines. If I’m not doing that, I’m usually trying to write a dumb pop song or making music for some ad or something. I kind of have to make music or play with sound every day or I get antsy.
What are your goals with Skull Tape?
I guess I’d like as many people as possible to hear it. I mostly want to get like high school skater kids into it. I think our target demographic is like 13-15 year old dudes who like Green Day. I’d love it if one of our songs was on KROQ or something. It’s supposed to be stadium rock, so I’d love it if we got to play in a stadium Bon Jovi style. If we got on the Warped tour or something dumb like that, I’d be STOKED…. not sure how I’d have time to do that though.
What’s gonna be cool in 2011?
Mostly just getting ready for the 2012 apocalypse. Stockpiling water, propane, hand grenades, and Pop Tarts.
Don’t miss Skull Tape this Monday
Starts 9:30pm / $5 / all-ages Pehrspace—325 Glendale Blvd., in Historic Filipinotown