On Fame, Teenagers, and Pie
BD: What's happening with "Skinner" -- the band?
Sk: First of all, I should correct you, because this is a band that's been around for quite some time. We're just beginning to…perform. [plays guitar then pauses for analysis]
I think you'll find that if you look at our musicianship, it helps create a syncopated…disorder, which forms an…independent style…of bullshit, in our fragmented, crappy…...form.
BD: Skinner, Last New Years', Westword published a series of top ten songs from local bands, and one of yours, from your debut “Now Bring That Here” was at number one, whereas a song by DeVotchka was at number eight. How do you explain the almost immediate recognition, on par with more established acts, who may actually own their own amp, et cetera…?
Sk: I'll admit that DeVotchka has got great talent. And yes, they're classically trained -- definitely talented, but I think they lack a certain…raw talent. I can't explain it. It would help them to have Skinner write some songs for them. Then they'd have a hit. I don't want them to take this the wrong way: DeVotchka, if you're hearing me: Need advice? Ask Skinner.
BD: You recorded the “Now Bring That Here” album with the venerable Soapy Argyle at Sparky the Dog Studios. What was it like working with him?
Sk: At times frustrating. But overall, frustrating.
BD: Do you consider yourself having influences? Who?
Sk: Tommy Steele. That's all you need to know. [editor's note: Tommy Steele was a charismatic British teen rocknroll idol in the 1950s].
BD: Who do you think your audience is?
BD: And what's your message?
Sk: There's no better love than Skinner love. Make a change right now, for the better.
BD: Speaking of your scorpionic sexual appetite, the subject matter in your songs is far from gender neutral. For instance in your new song, “Poontang,” you have a line, “I thought that you were wet / but you said you weren't there quite yet.”
What's up with you and the ‘tang, Hilary?
Sk: I know about it. I'm skilled at it. That's what I write about.
BD: I'm assuming your music's gotten you laid? How much? Can I ask?
Sk: [Tallies] Twice. Hey, is this the funnest [sic] interview you've ever been in?
BD: Yes. Absolutely. I'd say interviewing Matt Shupe was “engaging." The one I did with Maux I'd describe as "intimate." But this is “fun”. This is “fucking sic [sic]”!
Sk: It's hard to tabulate how much tang I've gotten from my music, because it could be because I'm cute, too. [laughs] I got really drunk after work one night, talking with the bartender and some friends, and I went back the next day to apologize if I had said anything, you know, insulting or inappropriate, and the bartender reminded me that for about a half an hour, I kept saying how cute I was. At every turn of the conversation, I would interject who cute I was. My friend Jeff would say something like, "The current administration is severely underpaying benefits to veterans." and I would reply, "That's very interesting, but did you consider how cute I am?" [laughs]
BD: Were they annoyed?
Sk: No. They seemed to think it was funny. [pauses] I want to tell you, as a music journalist, I'm sure you can help me. I'm a very caring person. I love women in all shapes and sizes, and they can contact me at 720-XXX-XXXX. But not if they're over 130 pounds. And if they're over 35, they have no chance. Or have children.
BD: You recorded a song that you left off your first album because you thought it might be misunderstood. In the lyric, both Jesus Christ and Princess Di, apparently, “didn't like your pie.” What were you saying with that?
Sk: Jesus and Princess Di, they're both seen as these figures of authority, but I don't see them like that, because I know they wouldn't be down with Skinner's pie.
BD: While watching you rehearse with your bandmate Ryanne I was surprised you didn't know what an ‘A' chord was. I considered your album and your other songs, and I realized that you use only the diatonic chords in the key of C, but you often use an E major chord sometimes, too, which implies the harmonic minor…
Sk: [Yawning] Is there a question in there?
BD: I just thought it was remarkable what you've accomplished with song writing, just by ear. All your songs are in one key, but you use the key to its uttermost. It's like someone painting a masterpiece, and then you find out they did it all with just two tubes of paint.
Sk: Whatever. Don't put that in, OK? I don't want all those teenagers to know I know only one key. Now I have to use a capo. Great. Thanks a lot.
BD: What's your plan, now, musically? The band? A new album?
Sk: Well, I am a full-time student, and I work, and the rest of it, you know, [taking another drink from bottle] you gotta give a girl time to drink her booze. [non-sequitorially] I like the phrase “peaches and cream.” I, however, have yet to experience a good peach.
BD: How do you define success?
Sk: [Considers] Happiness. It's not about ‘tang. It's not about the ladies. It's nice to get response from the ladies – and yeah, I'd like to get some ‘tang out of it. But where was I? Happiness is…waking up in a hammock full of poontang and money.
BD: Are you drunk?
Sk: Yes. For real: success for me would be having someone bring me coffee in bed every morning. That's it. That's happiness. But R------ did it for me once. My dad used to bring me orange juice when I was a kid. But see, you're not going to put that nice soft stuff in the interview. You're only after the shit because you're an asshole journalist.
-Brett Duesing, January, 2005