Voodoo Glow Skulls, The Toasters

Voodoo Glow Skulls

In their sixteen years of existence, the Voodoo Glow Skulls have an impressive list of achievements. Seven albums, one million records sold, appearances in exotic locations like Brazil and Japan as well as the creation of a record store, record label, recording studio and a music venue attests to the remarkable creativity and energy of the band. Formed in 1988, Voodoo Glow Skulls meshed hardcore punk, traditional ska, tough guitar riffs and the Mexican music of their roots to create the prototype for the West Coast ska-core sound, influencing a wide range of bands from Sublime to No Doubt. Unflinchingly honest, their songs often used humor to comment on harsh political realities – from racial inequity to unrest overseas. Singing in both Spanish and English, Voodoo Glow Skulls' bilingual musical tradition has been a hallmark of the band since they began.
Titled Adicción, Tradición, y Revolución, the new album is self produced and recorded (in their Dog Run Studios), and contains some of their most rocking, candid music ever. "Adicción refers to our feelings about music, we have hardcore fans who consider our music to be both unique and addicting," Frank explains. "Tradición signifies the fact that we've been together as a musical family for this long, and have not really changed. Also, we have always tried to include our Latin roots in our music, either by writing songs in Spanish or incorporating musical ideas that we grew up with. Latinos have a very strong sense of tradition, and we are very aware of it. Finally, Revolución because we have always tried to steer clear of trends – we are somewhat of a musical revolution in that our music is unique, even hard to copy."
The core of the band since the beginning has been the three Casillas brothers, Frank, Eddie and Jorge, joined by drummer Jerry O'Neill and Brodie Johnson on trombone. The current line-up boasts a three horn section for the first time in six years. The lyrics are a collaboration between, "Eddie, a notepad and a pen, and myself," Frank jokes, and they run the gamut, from the hilarious send up of Jerry's girlfriend on "Dee Dee Don't Like Ska" to the political commentary in "We Represent". "Touring in some of the out-of-the-way places we have been, in some cases we are the first Americans they have dealt with directly. The negative feedback on the U.S. government is pretty universal, and disturbing." said Frank. "Smile Now, Cry Later" is their take on a rock steady song, with a killer groove. "Ghetto Blaster" indicts the corporate music industry and the force feeding of the masses. Every Voodoo Glow Skulls album contains one cover – their latest is a traditional ska version of the Guns N' Roses classic "Used To Love Her"!
With a list of accomplishments that might make some bands ready to slow their pace, the band shows no signs of slowing down. A full West Coast tour will be followed by a trip to Brazil to headlining the Punk Rock Show festival on Halloween, and another U.S. tour immediately follows. Voodoo Glow Skulls legendary live shows are full of searing horns, grinding guitars and throaty growls – and no one plays super tight ska faster than these veterans. Adicción, Tradición, y Revolución rocks harder than ever – Voodoo Glow Skulls dubbed their sound "California street music" – a perfect description of their high octane mix of rock, punk, ska and hardcore.

FRANK CASILLAS-VOCALS
EDDIE CASILLAS-GUITAR
JORGE CASILLAS-BASS
EL DUCE-DRUMS
ERIC FAZZINI-SAX
RUBEN DURAZO-TROMBONE

Thirty years ago a bunch of upstarts ignited a spark on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. A spark that fired the imagination of the American music scene, causing a global conflagration. That music was Ska and the band was THE TOASTERS. The 2-Tone sound re-created in their own image by this unruly group of ruffians synthesized the classic 70's British sound with east side Punk and rock and is now regarded as being the precursor to the Third Wave of Ska. The embers of the legacy bequeathed by The Specials, The Selecter, The Beat and Madness were rekindled and the Toasters hit the road. Hard.

Five-thousand some gigs later the sparks are still flying and the band is ready to pick up the cudgels once again for their 2011 30th Anniversary tour. Some of the faces may be different but, of course, the song remains the same. The distinctive Toasters sound has recently been hallmarked as one of CBGB's 20 core bands (Clear Channel Radio) and nothing could make the band prouder than being ranked up there with personal heroes The Ramones.

To mark the occasion of the grand 30th, there will be a special brew Toasters 30th IPA flowing from the vats of SKA BREWING COMPANY in Boulder, Colorado. Following this up with a shot of Jaegermeister they will be ready to roll the Bandwagon across the USA from coast to coast

There has been much acclaim from Billboard, the New York Times, Alternative Press, MTV and many others but the band is more interested in playing for the fans. To that end the group has undertaken missions across the globe, playing from Siberia to Istanbul and back, laying down the tracks for others to follow. According to lead singer Bucket, nothing can eclipse the vibes of a sweaty packed-out club with the audience in your face and the bit between the teeth.

It's important not to forget where you came from. Lots of bands do that but not the Toasters!

The exuberant yet repentant punk anthem that launches Left Alone's 2006 sophomore Hellcat offering is the kind of no bullshit, honest proclamation that fans of last year's highly-praised Lonely Starts and Broken Hearts have come to expect. That lead-off number, dubbed "The Sinner", is the sort of joyous chant along that has earned the devotion of punk purists throughout the globe. But as Dead American Radio unfolds, it reveals itself to be a far more adventurous, diverse and rewarding song cycle than its predecessor.

Simply put, Left Alone has concocted a stone cold classic album that artfully takes aim at corporate radio, suck ass emo bands and everything in between while incorporating elements of ska, cowpunk, pop contagiousness and old school punk. Yet according to Left Alone's guitarist, songwriter and mouthpiece Elvis Cortez, that variety which counts the efforts of saxophonist Noe, and the inclusion of Hammond organ and pedal steel wasn't necessarily a goal for the new disc.

"We were just picking up on different kinds of music and grooving on different elements," Cortez says. "My only goal was to do a record I'd be 100% happy with. Lonely Stars was recorded in like four days or some shit. This time we had a lot of time. Plus we had been on tour forever and had a lot of songs. Everything just worked out. Much like our band, it's just a bunch of weird shit that just all kind of goes together.

From a pensive heartbreaker like "Waiting For You" to the charged punk firecracker "Drunk Again", the flow of the record is somehow seamless thanks to the musical aptitude of Cortez, Noe and their rhythmic commando Ramrod (drums). With "La Pregunta," recent tourmate Patricia Day (of HorrorPops fame) joins Elvis on the quirky ska-inspired, Spanish-sung duet, while Rancid's own Tim Armstrong joins forces with the band for the upbeat, rock & roll road tale "City To City".

"I brought some songs over for Tim to check out and he really liked "City To City," so I asked him if he wanted to sing on it," Elvis says of his hit-worthy collaboration with Hellcat's founder. And he said, Yeah. So he wrote the verse he sings and he helped me arrange the song. He's so good at that kind of stuff. The guy is amazing in so many ways. It was a trip working with him.

If "City To City" is an instant classic that deserves to be an airwave favorite, Cortez recognizes that the likelihood that it and the other winners like on Dead American Radio like the reflective, energetic "Every Night" and the terrestrial (a.k.a. testicle) radio critiquing title track will be heard by the masses is slim. People think that bands get popular out of being good, and it's just not true, Elvis proclaims. I've always known it to be pretty much a money thing. It's like the rich gets richer and radio is the worst example of that. For a band it sucks because there's so much good stuff that should be on the radio but it never gets the chance because maybe their label can't afford it or just chooses not to buy into it. I've always felt that if a song is good enough, it shouldn't matter what label it's on, but that's not the way it works.

If corporate radio still sucks, Left Alone's frustrations with the medium haven't kept the quartet from excelling on Dead American Radio. It's funny because somehow these songs wound up being some of the catchiest I've ever written, Cortez marvels. And some of the songs ended up sounding like they could be at home on the radio. But I didn't sit down with that in mind. We just jam and then put the ideas together, it's never a plotted out thing with our music.

It's amazing then, to consider that this big, bombastic sounding record was produced on a modest budget before mastering. A testament to Cortez's skills as a producer, he says the band just took our time and did what we always wanted to do. We did the drums on reel to reel analogue and dumped them into Pro Tools. I borrowed a Gretsch and a bunch of Les Pauls and different amps and cabinets. And Ramrod got a new, high end drum set and all of this equipment and we focused on the sound as much as the songs and it really worked out well.

Of taking Left Alones music to a new level, Elvis acknowledges, We could do the whole hardcore thing, and I started with it, but I'm more about melody and textures. That's everything for me. We feel really good about this record. The whole band is excited. I can finally say that from start to finish, I feel so complete with this thing. It feels like we hit it out of the park. When I listen to the record we made, I'm like, Fuck yeah!

If defying convention seems to be protocol for Left Alone, Cortez confirms this notion when he speaks of a recent House of Blues gig in L.A. with Hellcat labelmates Tiger Army. We both had pedal steel guys! the frontman laughs. It's like totally out of context for punkers with Mohawks. The soundman was like, You have a saxophonist, a pedal steel player and an organist and you're a punk band with Mohawks? What are you guys doing?

But despite the group's willingness to try new things, the men of Left Alone are still ardent punk purists a disdain for a certain popular rock subgenre. Hence the delightful, revivalist kick in the ass known as I Hate Emo.

On the 2004 Warped Tour it started for us,Elvis confesses. It was like attack of the clones. Emo bands they look the same, they play the same, they talk the same. So the song started as a punk rock song called Fuck Emo. And the chorus was like, Yeah, I said it. I said it. And then we did the Warped Tour Barbecue and all these emo bands would look at me like I was an asshole. And maybe I was.

I guess with me, I don't give a fuck what music looks like or how it's packaged,Elvis says, in spite of his band's own eye-catching Boombox-centric album cover. As long as its good and genuine, it will shine through and people will catch on. If you play your shit with balls, and truly have some balls, it will shine through.

Summing it all up, Elvis Cortez decrees, We're no Hot Topic band. That's for sure.

$12.00 - $15.00

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Voodoo Glow Skulls, The Toasters with Left Alone

Saturday, October 19 · 7:00 PM at The Korova