When Frank from Voodoo Glow Skulls phone me up he tells me that he is 15-20 minutes back of the schedule and that can I understand because this man can talk. Itīs two years since the last CD and they have been working all the time since the last one. And this time they decided to have a little more time to write this album.- Tos it down and relax a bit and think about the songs a bit, says Frank and continue. The result is the new record Symbolic. Itīs definately a Voodoo Glow Skulls record if youīre familiar to the band. But in the same time it have been a lot of changes before this album. We have tried to make the album a little more refreshing. Thereīs a lot of more influences like hiphop and heavymetalstuff and in the same time thereīs the same type of Voodoo Glow Skulls style. Fast energetic punskahybrid.I think itīs justa natural progression for the band. Itīs very similar to the other ones when itīs about production and songwriting but in a bigger level.
Two years ago they were a seven piece band and they had three person in the hornsection, trumpet, saxophone and trombone.The trumpetplayer decided to leave the band some years ago. Right after the release after the release before Symbolic. This is the first record they record without a threepiecesection of horns. They like the sound a whole lot better, the combination trombone and sax sound more evil, thinks Frank. They enjoy the heavyness and thickness. I wonder if it isnīt hard to be so many in a band. -Itīs definetely hard, when you try to do this professional and you travel around the world with twice as much peeople than other bands. yeah it can be difficult but we have done it for twelve years, but now e know how to travel lightly and know how to do it.
VGS was one of the first band which came up with the idea of mixing punk and ska and I wonder how they came up with the idea. Back in 88 it was not so many bands which were doing the things they were doing It was Fishbone and of course the Clash. But in the USA on the westcoast it was no other bands which was playing the similar music. Mighty Mighty Bosstones was on the eastcoast. -We started to play punkrock because nobody else scene had accepted us. It was no big skascene and the punkrockscene was bigger. The punkbands were really openminded to us and we developed in this band of doing this. You hear skainfluences in our music but itīs more on the heavier side. Weīre coming from the punkbackground.
They havenīt been in any other groups before VGS and they havenīt any groups on the side of VGS. They grow up together and Frank and his two younger brothers is in the band and the drummer Jerry is like a fourth brother. He grow up in the same neighbourhood and he was a childhood friend to the brothers. -We started colloberating in the garage and this is our first band. I am 33 years old now and my brothers is 27 and 29. Iīm married and I got two kids. Me and couple of other guys in the band are married but Iīm the only one with kids in the band. Itīs amazing how people grow up....I have a 6 year old son and a 21month old son. Itīs extremly difficult to be on the road and I have a different lifestyle. My wife is a strong person and she is believe in the things I do excactly as I do. She has been very supporting to me even before we were married. She know that this is the thing I want to do in the rest of my life and she know what come along with it. Itīs a mutual agreement. When Iī, home Iīm a dad like everyone else. When Iīm gone Iīm supporting my family and Iīm follwoing my dream of what I want to do. Not so many people get the chance to do that. To take it from me is to depraving me and I can still survive without it but music is my lifestyle and so is my family.
Right now Frank is in Riverside, California in a office. theyīre going out on tour for two months after this interview(the beginning of september 2000). Theyīre out on the road for 6-8 months a year. And the only free time they have is on the holdiays. But now theyīre going to slow down a bit. Theyīre still going on tour but theyīre older now and they have families so they must consider that also. A good gig with VGS is when they show up to the club and the kids are excited to see them. - We want to have the audience right in the front of us and itīs precisly like a hardcore/punkband. Stagediving and kids singin along. Slampit and we love energy from the crowd. If people shows us that they like us theyīre getting a good show.
The average fan to VGS is wearing baggy pants, an oversied t-hirts and they probably have a skateboard in one hand and they can have a beer or an alternative substance in the other hand. A big chainwallet also. They draw the same kids like the other bands draw, kids which is liking energetic music. The ages varies between 12-22. Frank think they are one of the only bands which is taking the time to respond to their fanmail. -Iīm always online and Iīm online rightnow when we speak. We answer email and we have a big website with many details. Especially when we play gigs we always take the time to go out to the crowd after a gig. And even before a show during the other bands show you can see band members in the audience checking out the show like everybody else. We always communicate with our fans.
The website www.voodooglowskulls.com is designed by a musicfan, a fan of VGS which is living in Chicago and he is a webdesigner. One day he contacted us and said that he has put on a website for the band. And in that time they havenīt got any website they even didnīt know what a website was. This guy was showing the site for the band and they said wow. - He had all the information on the band , more information that we had about our band, very detailed, so we connected with him and said Hey we want you to do this for us in the future. We made it to the official website for the band and he is still working for us. And he is still involved with the band. He travels with us once in a while, he is a part of our team and the website is very important and definitely a way to have good contact with your fans. He was a fan who thought he never gonna meet us and ne involved us. And now he has met us and he īs earning money to do this website. We have had several hits a day, 1000 a day or something.
They did one of their CDīs in the spanish language and why you can ask. They did a translation into spanish and Epitaph thought it was a cool thing to be involved to. They thought it was a great idea. FRanks says that he is very proud of Epitaph who was releasing it. Itīs good Frank thinks that a label can give you the chance to be creative. It was the same songs which was translated in to spanish. Itīs still a CD that many people donīt know about. -The lot of the kids like to hear our songs in spanish, everywhere. We can be in Sweden , in Denmark, in France , anywhere and we always gets kids which request some of the spanish songs.
VGS was on Dr Strange Records before thay came to Epitaph. One day Brett Gurewitz was calling up Frank one day and said that he have heard the Doctor Strange CD and he told them that some of his employers was fans of the band and they always came to see us play live. Tim from Rancid likes the band and he told Brett to listen to the band. And it was partly because that the guys from Rancid talk about their music with Brett we came to Epitaph. The colleberation with Rancid and that some of the emplyers was fans did let them get a contract with Epitaph. Frank thinks that Epitaph is a very good label for every clever band who wants to do things independetly itīs a great label. - They do everything in a independent level but they can do things in a commercial level as well. And for a band like us which is busy all the time itīs very good to have. Itīs a very positive to have a label which give us support worldwide.
Frank thinks itīs many bands on Epitaph which is talented and he like Rancid, NOFX, Pennywise and he thinks that that bands always come out with good records. Epitaph have sign a lot of new bands and to be honest he hadnīt hear every new band. They put different stuff and Frank thinks itīs cool to be involved with that type of things. He donīt like the same stuff over and over again. He liek changes and people who is different. - You know Tom Waits, and all the Fat Possum stuff theyīre putting out. You know Merle Haggard, theyīve signed him to. Itīs gonna be interesting. It shows that theyīre music fans and they sign bands because they like them. Not because that theyīre thinking that they can make a million dollars out of it.
In USA theyīre many good bands lnow thinks and he says that he can listen to commercial bands and think theīre great too. Deftones is one of the bands he like. Family Dog is band he like and they used to be called DFL before. Their new record is soon out. He like Swingin Utters and he thinks it is coming much good music from his neighbourhood. How is it to live in USA right now then? -This is where I have been born and raised and itīs my lifestyle. In America it seems like many things start right here. In California ,especielly the music we do the colloberation between punk and ska, sport and skateboad itīs all started here. We live in California and we are always aware of whatīs going on. And it was here itīs all started. Itīs a plus to live here. I enjoy it. Itīs surely many other nice places to live but for us itīs a great place.
The punkscene is always going to be the way it is, underground. Some bands come up through the punkrock like Offspring, Blink 182, itīs cool if itīs what you wanna do. But Iīm think that itīs always gonna be a underground scene in punkrock. Frank tell me that the punkscene is stronger than ever in USA. VGS sell a lot of records and every record have sold 100.000 records. He thinks itīs very much for a punkrecord and I really think him. They donīt have high expectations from anybody and they sell a lot of records and can live comfortably out of it. Frank donīt know much about Sweden but they have been here some times and played and he enjoyed it. -Itīs a good market for us. I know that we played Hultsfredfestival some years ago and it was very good. We have a good time and it was the first time we played 1one a clock in the morning. And we played for 10.000 people, it was amazing. For us it was a big thing, it was a nice country and nice people. Many good bands come from Sweden right now. Iīm think that Sweden is the next upcoming place for good music. You have good rock n roll coming out. I think that Millencollin is one of the more crdible bnand, they have managed to go worldwide and be from Sweden, I think that it speak for itself. Itīs must be diffiuclt for a band from Sweden managed to go worldwide. Itīs cool because these guys made it. Voice of A generation , Hives and refused is and was cool bands. International Noise Conspiracy is a good band. I think theyīre all great and upcoming bands. Correct me if Iīm wrong but arenīt the Hellacopters from Sweden. Another great bands which is making a lot of great impact in USA right now.
Frank is buying much record to himself and he has just bought the new Iron Maiden record Brave New World. He is an Iron Maiden fan. He enjoy to go to the store and buy music. Heīs not buying punkrock or skamusic because he is hearing that all the time. He buys music he can enjoy on his spare time. He like a lot of 50īs ,root oriented rockmusic. The most expensive record he ever bought was a Iron Maiden Classic set which include outtakes and live and a Eddiehead. It costed about 100 dollars. He scares his kids with the Eddiemask. FRank and the other guys in the band colleberates when they do songs. He write the most of the lyrics and his Brother(guitar) write the most of the guitarstuff and the main riffs and he is also involved with the lyrics. But everybody in the bands is fully capable of doing their own music. To take their own elements to a song. - We donīt argue about our music we put out music instead which we want people to enjoy. It works out, and if we like it we hope that our fans like it.
When they got a review they always have been compared to Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Frank got pissed off when he read it but after all these years he donīt care. They have been on tourwith them and theyīre two seperate bands. Theyīre on a major label and that isnīt VGS. Itīs two different worlds. Frank donīt think they can turn back and go back to their independent roots. - Once you got commercial you canīt go back, you either sink or swim. The reviews itīs one persons opinion but unfortunately many people relaying on that peopleīs opinion. Itīs important to get good reviews. For example if you after this interview get the new CD and you donīt like it. And all the people who listens to you read this are going to take your advice. People trust your judgement. We have to say that reviews itīs very big part of our lives.
Frank is very aware of reviews and they have changed things after a bad review. Many people have critised his singingstyle through the years. They think that he sings to fast and that you canīt understand what he sings. As he said thatīs one persons opinion and many people loves the way he sing. Frank takes it under consideration. The futureplans for the band is going on tour and to tour places they never have been to. And theyīre going back to places they are big. They want to sell more records.- Hopefully we stay healthy and we hope that our audience still is coming to our shows. And my own futureplans is to run my recordlabel El Pocho Loco. We have sign a lot of friendsband. We have an office where we do everything which is involved with music. www.elpocholoco.com . We have Mp3īs that people can listen to.
Frank wants to thanks the fans for reading this interview and please go to their website and see what they have to show you there.