Local New York punk rock band SKATERS have been making big moves since their formation in 2012. They’ve paid their dues in the local East Village music scene and have risen up to the big leagues- signing with Warner Bros. Records, recording a debut album at Jimi’s Electric Lady Studios, and having a prime afternoon slot in their own backyard at Governors Ball this past weekend.
What has enabled this band to take such big steps forward in such little time? It could be their array of confidence and swagger, which they carry like a shield while going into battle with the music industry machine. It could be their energy, that they brashly displayed during their set at New York City’s biggest music festival, during which they managed to break strings, drum sticks, and their flow when there seemed to be some confusion among members to what song was supposed to be played. With a band like SKATERS however, small blips like those don’t seem to faze them or throw them off course. They’re too focused on the big picture, which is to let their music wreck havoc amongst anyone who’s willing to listen.
After watching their set on Sunday I sat down with the front-man of the group Michael Ian Cummings. It was in our short time together that I inquired about how the band has come so far in so little time. I mean how does one comprehend going from playing Mercury Lounge to Gov Ball?
“In a lot of ways it’s all the same, ya know? You have to get better at adjusting for different circumstances. It’s hard to play outdoors if you’re not used to it, I mean we’re pretty good at it now though.”
They were indeed good enough not to let some technical and equipment difficulties bring down their set earlier that day.
“Haha we broke everything today, but we played well! I mean we broke like five guitar strings and Matt from Drowners had to re-string our guitars for us, but I mean it was a really good show. Technical difficulties are one of those things that can destroy some people’s shows, but if you’re good at working through it you can just laugh it off. It’s nothing to get nervous or embarrassed about.”
The band is also getting used to life as full time touring musicians, living away from home for long periods of time. After a few more shows in the States they’ll be taking their show over to Europe and Australia. Quite the summer vacation if you ask me. It’s an adjustment that Cummings is still getting used to in his own way.
“I’m kinda homeless right now, I moved back here after living in L.A. for a few years. I got a storage unit after getting rid of my place here cause I’m never home. Just kind of bummin’ around man. Nomadic.
With that nomadic lifestyle comes the bond you make with other nomadic folk. I’ve heard from artists who constantly tour how much closer they are with those who share the same lifestyle as them. From the way Michael put it, it seems to be that way.
“You make friends with the people that you’re on the road with. A lot of the same bands play the same festivals throughout the summer. I mean yesterday (Saturday) I probably hung out with every group of friends that I have, and it was all in the backstage and VIP lounge where we all hung out. It’s funny too because you never get to see each other without festival run-ins when we’re all together. You’re constantly traveling, they’re constantly traveling, and it can be rare when you’re all on the same bill.”
So you have a band that’s taking big steps in moving their career forward, but confidently enough, feeling no stress, pressure, or ill feelings other than to have fun, enjoy it, and act like they’ve already been to this party for years as seasoned rock and roll veterans. It’s that calmness and confidence that could move them from the emerging spotlight and into the limelight very soon. Michael closed out that step from a struggling nobody to a true somebody into perspective before being whisked away to another one of the many interviews of the day- “Recording in Electric Lady Studios was amazing. Just being there for a full month, you run into a lot of people doing a lot of different things. Usher was there doing some vocal stuff, we bumped into Yoko Ono, Arcade Fire, and The National. I’ll tell you though, some people I still feel very star struck around. I mean I saw and made eye contact with Andre 3000 yesterday, and I wanted to let the fanboy out but I couldn’t do it (laughs) I was just so stunned. I like to think that when we walked into Electric Lady, you see all the great records on the wall, and that can be intimidating, but you have to remember that at some point those guys had to walk in that same door and make that record right? They did it right there so why the fuck can’t you?”
Interview by: Tom Shackleford