Voodoo Glow Skulls to Light Up The Hood Bar Palm Desert

By | July 17, 2013 at 5:41 pm | No comments | Columns, Feature Stories, Music

This Thursday, July 18th w/ Spankshaft! Doors Open at 8 pm, 21 and over only, $10 at the Door, First Come First Serve

By Lisa Morgan

Picture three brothers, like a Stand by Me movie scene (80’s version), standing around a car listening to their latest song on a cassette tape they recorded in their bedroom on a boom box. This is exactly what the early years looked like for this ska/punk band of brothers and friends, when they began their 25 year rock-venture in their Riverside, California home. Frank, the oldest brother, gave up his bedroom to sleep on the couch so it could be turned into a rehearsal and recording den. The room still remains as it was back in those days, with the boys’ favorite band stickers still in place on the closet doors. It is as much a testament to the room’s musical history as to the incredible support these young artists received from their parents, friends and neighbors. “We’d come home, do our homework and go straight to the rehearsal room. We were making noise every afternoon for three or four years straight. How we got away with it without the police coming over, I really don’t know,” reminisced Frank. “Some people try to find how they’re going to fit in in high school… we opted to pick up instruments. We’d play along with our favorite artists and try to emulate them and learn their songs. I’d been out of high school for a couple of years when the band really got started. I’d come home from my 9-5 job driving a forklift, hearing the same riffs over and over again. I’d jump in and be their singer because they didn’t have one. Me being the big brother with a job, I went and bought myself a little PA system. I was in the band from then on.”
Twenty-five years and 9 albums later Voodoo Glow Skulls have had some serious success. They’ve been signed to hot record labels, performed internationally, and maintain a huge following to this day. All these successes are chronicled on their website Voodooglowskulls.com. “Here we are, still at it and calling our own shots. We are having more fun with it now, than ever,” boasts Frank. Over the years, their music has grown up with them. “The perspective really changes as you get older. You can’t be 40 something and still be writing about chicks and beer. You’re older; you’ve got families, mortgages and bills….the song writing is different, but the music is pretty much the same. We’ve managed to come up with our own distinctive sound and style that sets us apart from others in the genre.”
Their signature style and more mature tune-smithing are reflected on their new album, Break the Spell, released in 2012 on the independent label, Smelvis Records. This is the first album in 20 years not released on Epitaph or Victory. “Smelvis is a fair sized independent, LA based label,” explains Frank. “ It takes things back to the grass roots, do-it-yourself mentality that is reminiscent of how we did things when we first started out. It’s the next best thing to doing it ourselves. It takes over some of the leg work for us so we can just be artists and performers, and maintain the integrity of the band.”
According to Alternative Press’, Jason Schreurs, “What always makes VGS stand out from the rest of the ska-punk scene is their heavier riffing and angrier sound. The only other band to use a horn section this successfully to complement such precise riffs was San Diego’s Rocket from the Crypt, but they were completely devoid of ska. Meanwhile, Voodoo Glow Skulls can bust out a balls-out ska track like ‘Puro Desmadre’ which would instantly blow the minds of neighborhood rude boys. Whether it’s creepy bop of ‘Police Knocking on My Door’ or the blazing political punk/reggae mixture ‘The Resurrection’, Break The Spell kicks ass in both tone and message.”
The band currently consists of the three Casillas brothers: Big bro Frank on vocals, Eddie on guitar, Jorge on bass. Anthony Raya is on drums, Mark Bush is on trumpet, and Dan Albert and Ruben Durazo on trombone. I asked Frank how they’ve managed to keep the music going over the decades. “I think the secret to our longevity is the fact that the three of us are siblings. We grew up poking each other in the eye and poking each other in the gut as kids, sitting in the back seat of our mom and dad’s car. We were always wrestling with each other – just three brothers growing up, living together in a suburban home. We can tolerate each other. Even if there’s a big blow out, which there has been in the past, we’re still brothers. Unfortunately, the other non-family members in the band are subjected to it and have to tolerate it. We can get over things easier than people who aren’t family. If you can’t survive, living with each other on the road, you’re probably not going to make it as a band. You see it a lot in the music industry – a new band comes up through record labels putting them together. A week or two into a tour, you see how people really are. If you get past that, great! Many times, they come back from the tour and you never hear from them again. We have the camaraderie; the music we wrote is not as formulated as a lot of bands. No record label has thrown us together and told us how to write or sound. We’re a grass-roots, home grown entity that started in our bedroom and ended up playing for friends in the neighborhood. I think that has a lot to do with what gives us a little more heart and soul.”
Frank offered this bit of sage advice to our plethora of new, talented, local musicians: “As easy as it is for an artist to produce music and get it out on the internet, the market is flooded right now. Back in the day, it wasn’t as easy. First and foremost, you’ve got to stay true to what you’re doing and believe in yourself. Make sure that what you’re doing is something that you like and what you want to do. Don’t try to put something out that you think is just going to appeal to the masses, because if it’s not real then you’re probably not going to last very long. At some point or another, you’re going to hit road blocks. Someone is going to come in there and try to manipulate what you’re doing to make it appeal to the masses. Even then, it’s not going to be coming from you. It’s going to be coming from some music executive. It happens all the time. After a while it’s just not real. Voodoo Glow Skulls is seriously a product of our environment. We are what we grew up listening to.”
I, Lisa Morgan, give you my personal promise, that if you attend the Voodoo Glow Skulls show at The Hood Bar, with opening band Spankshaft (one of my personal, all-time, local favorites), you can count on leaving every piece of bullshit that is tearing at your soul at the door. You cannot stand in the same room with this music and not be infused with their insanely high, electric energy. That’s just what they do. As Frank says, “We like to think that when you come to a Voodoo glow skull show, you get away from it all. We’re not there to try and change the world with political statements and stuff like that… we want to create that party atmosphere and vibe with in your face, loud music. That’s what we’re known for; that’s why they keep coming back.”
Follow Voodoo Glow Skulls at voodooglowskulls.com or join their 33,000 plus fans on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Voodoo-Glow-Skulls/
You can also check out opening band, Spankshaft, a local ska-punk band also made up of brothers at http://www.spankshaft.com/ and on Facebook as well @ https://www.facebook.com/spankshaftband

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