“This show was a lot of fun.” Jack Skuller had read my mind, but it was still cool hearing that the band had enjoyed it as much as the audience clearly had. We had a blast watching The Skullers play Lucky 7’s Rock ‘n Roll BBQ in Jersey City – not only because we dig his classic songwriting, but because the band sounds excellent live and delivered a fiery performance. The fact that it was a short-and-sweet set didn’t at all lessen their impact; in fact, it felt like they poured all the more passion into the handful of songs they chose, each of which had the crowd swaying and bobbing their heads happily. As the sun beat down on Saturday afternoon, the local beer from Brooklyn Brewery tasted extra crisp, and the BBQ options from Bearded One (including pulled pork, brisket grilled cheese, and more) ensured we had ample energy to watch The Skullers rock.
The three talented dudes – including Skuller on vocals, guitar, and harmonica, Luigi Sardi on bass and background vocals, and drummer Brian Fahey – were locked in to each other’s fast motions, visibly having a good time cooking up their blues-steeped sound in true rockabilly fashion. Starting off with a bang, they went all out on “Meet Me in Memphis” from Meet the Skullers, the debut EP they put out two years ago that is begging for an upcoming LP. The audience was already grinning and taking videos, but The Skullers made the mood even brighter with a bit of wit between songs. “We’ve been a band for twenty years,” Sardi deadpanned, triggering giggles. At another point, Skuller observed how the crowd was split between direct sunlight and the shelter of a spacious tent. “You guys are smart over here!” he gestured toward the shady side of the audience. “And you guys are tough!” Skuller acknowledged the sunny side. “We’ve got tough and smart,” he said affectionately, stirring up cheers as they did with every song. It was especially neat watching them dish out “Brooklyn Girls” – the super-catchy new single that we had the honor of premiering on P&W.
When the sweat was still dripping, just after the applause had died down, we were lucky to chat with Skuller himself in that moment – and he revealed some exciting updates while discussing what’s next for the band. “We’re putting out a new EP of brand new original tunes in the fall, and new music videos are coming soon too.” He also noted that The Skullers are playing a Hoboken show at Southwest Park on Sunday, July 28th. “We’re still finishing up in the studio with Don DiLego,” said Skuller, referring to the Americana artist/producer with whom they worked on “Brooklyn Girls” (DiLego even contributed some percussion and background vocals). “He’s great, and he’s a musician first,” Skuller said of DiLego. “He really brings the best out of us. Because he’s a songwriter and performer first, he kind of knows how to elicit that strong performance out of us. Everything was first take. It’s been so easy and smooth with him. He’s a really great producer.”
Having grown up in the area (in Weehawken), he told us a little bit about why he likes playing for New Jersey crowds. “It’s definitely different,” said Skuller, comparing NJ to NY. “You can see everybody grows up differently in different places. But there’s a real appreciation for songwriters in New Jersey. We love playing in Jersey; it’s right at home – really great events and all of the locals just love coming to these things.” Discussing their history, he said admiringly of his bandmates, “Brian and Luigi have known each other longer, because they were in a lot of other bands. And that’s super important with the rhythm section – that they’re locked in – and they totally are. We get to the venue, we look at the stage, and we go, ‘That’s our playground,’ and just go with it. We love each other. Total chemistry. And we all just love this kind of music.”
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley