Interview for Vice Magazine with free/folk/out/noise botherers Skeletons & The Kings Of All Cities (formerly Skeletons & The Girl Faced Boys).
Skeletons And The Kings Of All Cities rob and run.
Skeletons and the Kings of All Cities aren’t quite a band. They are more a loose unit of musicians, artists and strays who can number anything between two and twenty depending on time and place. The whole shebang spins around the vortex of filmmaker, artist and photographer Matt Mehlan, founder of the Shinkoyo DIY art collective and ParisLondonWestNile and Silent Barn performance spaces in New York.
When they get to playing Skeletons come on like a bunch of psychedelic grave robbers plundering the bones of western pop, eastern ragas and African tropicalia before proceeding to dance on their tombs playing a reconstituted patchwork of the lot until way past dawn.
The band successfully reinvision centuries of sonic history, coat it in a glaze of melody and play it for all it’s worth. While the outfit has been gestating and regurgitating weird sounds since 2003 it is in this years Lucas full length that all the crazy sound thievery finally comes together. You should go check it out.
VICE: Your music sounds deliciously out of step with pretty much anything. Which era of history would you say it belongs to?
Jason McMahon (guitars, vocals, synths): The past is always changing, and that’s good for it’s survival. If history never changed, it would cease to mean anything; it would sort of shrivel and die like Grandpa Lincoln. Sometimes you hear people say that something is ahead of its time, but later it turns out it was actually just right on time. Except if you’re talking about something that was just a bad idea to begin with, which belongs to no era at all.
Matt Mehlan (guitars, vocals, synths): I just read the Wikipedia entry about the fall of the Roman Empire. One theory is that instead of the aqueducts, which purified the Romans' water they began using lead pipes. It's similar to the Glass Armonica, an instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin. Everyone thought the eerie tone of the instrument caused insanity, but really it was the lead in the glass bowls.
Remind me to steer clear of those. There seems to be a sense of the primitive about your music. Is that something you are going for or do you just not know how to play your instruments?
Jason: Music is only primitive in the sense that the performers are masters of their instruments in ways that don’t make sense. Music is always trying to talk about right now, whether it’s trying to understand what the past means to us, or what we think the future can be like. I think that “right now” influences us the most because it’s the closest. I don’t believe in astrology because those planets are just too far away.
Who are your favourite Kings of all time?
Matt: Martin Luther, BB, Carol, Freddie, Tubby, of Queens, the movie Kingpin, Crimson, Tut, Larry, Stephen, Kong, Jesus, Burger, Rodney, Rat, The Lion, Cobra, of the Hill, of Leon, Lear, Lizard, Sofa, NoSmo, NoPar. There are a lot of good kings.
Lucas is out now on Ghostly International.