New York based band SKATERS has been working and travelling nonstop ever since they signed with Warner Brothers Records in early 2013.  Now they’re about to release their very first LP, Manhattan, and we had the chance to talk with lead vocalist Michael Cummings.  We discussed the new album, influences, touring, and pizza (of course).

Note: For those of you who haven’t listened to SKATERS yet, they’re basically the new Strokes, which is awesome. Trust us. We know these things.

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ANON: 

Almost right after you all signed with your label you headed off to South By Southwest. How do you feel about the week-long chaos of that festival?

MC: 

We were making the record right up until we left for SXSW, then we went straight to LA to finish recording, and then mixed on the road, and its just been touring from there on out.

 

ANON:

SXSW is really unavoidable for almost any musician. It seems like it’s a lot less fun for the artists than it is for people attending the shows.

MC: 

I think SXSW is the worst. I hate everything about it, actually. To be honest, it just seems like an excuse for the music industry to go on a vacation for a week and a half, and it’s just kind of disgusting, like the exploitation of its own city. Like Austin exploits that whole, “We’re the weird oasis place, and we’re going to keep Austin weird, but we’re going to make some money doing it.”  Its gotten progressively dumber looking, like the Doritos stage. We were playing in a bag of chips.

 

ANON:

So what is your favorite kind of show to play?

MC:

I like club shows. I think festivals will be a lot more fun once our record is out. Playing festivals was cool, and we won a lot of fans, and you have a captive audience, but it’s hard to tell because you don’t get the same kind of energy you do at your own club show when you know people are there specifically to see you.  So I think it’ll be a lot more fun with the record out.

 

ANON:

How has the response from fans been since you’ve started playing new material? And how are the shows different for you all as a band since adding new songs to your set-list?

MC:

Its been pretty awesome. We’ve been playing them all year. We haven’t been holding back because it’s kind of the only music we have right now. But yeah, its just been nice.

 

ANON:

What are some of the new influences for this album? It seems like the city of New York and the island of Manhattan is the common thread between the music on this album.

MC:

There are countless inspirations. You name it. That’s the idea, right?  You try and build a mental catalog of ideas and then try to apply them in any way you can.  It’s very subtle though, you know? It’s the little things.  If you listen to Rock ‘n’ Roll High School and think, “Oh, that sounds good.” It sounds like a bouncing ball, and you try and get something from that.  You don’t want to get caught up in trying to make other people’s shit. You can borrow from the good quality production and then do what you want to and call it a day.

 

ANON:

Like you said, you all have been travelling and touring literally all year, and you’re heading out to the UK pretty much immediately after the album is released, so where has been your favorite stop?

MC:

Well, one is in the UK. Its become like a second home to us. We’re there so much and made so many trips in the past year. It’s great, every time we play London its been so enthusiastic, and they’re so awesome. And I obviously love playing New York, but as far as travels its got to be London.  We played Rock en Seine in Paris, which was really cool. It’s right in the center of the city. That was a really fun festival to play.

 

ANON:

It seems like a lot of bands venture to the UK to build their audience and make a name for themselves before they do in the U.S.

MC:

Historically, its been kind of a great stepping stone for the rest of the world because people are really receptive there. Music spreads really fast geographically, and they have BBC, which is unbelievable. They’re ravenous.

 

ANON:

A lot of bands seem to have one member who is the creative center for the band, who writes the music, and makes the decisions for the band. Is that true for you all?

MC:

I write all the songs, so it has some of those elements, but honestly everything is delegated to everyone’s strength.  Josh is a really visual person, so some of the visual things we’ll take use from him and trust in him.  Being in a band is so much stuff to do all the time that you have to trust each other that you’re going to all be on the same page and make the right decisions and go the same route that the other guys would want to go.  As long as you feel like you know them well enough, and you think every one trusts everyone, it makes everything go quicker.  Like you can’t be a dictator or something. It just doesn’t work.  People who have such a death grip on their, “vision.” It just doesn’t work, and more often than not it slows things down, and nothing gets done. That’s why it took Axel Rose 20 plus years to get Chinese Democracy done.

 

ANON:

So the album will drop and then you’re headed to the UK for shows and then are you planning on touring in the U.S.?

MC:

After we get back from the UK we’re going to go to SXSW, and then we’re going to go on tour.  You can’t avoid SXSW. You really can’t. It’s out of control.

 

ANON:

At some point all of the members of SKATERS have been bartenders in New York. What is your favorite and least favorite drink?

MC:

Well, generally, my least favorite drink is anything with campari in it.  It grosses me out when people order campari sodas. It’s just disgusting to me.  My favorite is actually just tequila on the rocks with three limes.  I think I started drinking tequila a lot about four years ago because it was like whiskey in the winter and tequila in the summer kind of thing, and it just kind of peps you up and wakes you up as opposed to feeling drunk and angry.

 

Note: I had to look up what campari is, and for those of you who, like me, have never heard of it, it is a bitter drink that contains fruits and herbs and is a dark red color. It sounds disgusting, and I’ll take Michael’s word on it being gross, but I also might try it just out of curiosity.

 

ANON:

From booze to food. I have to ask because you’re from New York what your favorite style of pizza is and what toppings you get.

MC:

Oh, only pepperoni. You don’t fuck around with that other stuff.  Chicago style pizza is not pizza. It’s a pie. Like it is pizza, but you need like a fork and stuff.  The test is a pepperoni slice because like pepperoni is an equalizer. If someone has shitty pepperoni you can just tell immediately that it’s a bad pizza.

 

ANON:

Lastly, is there any music right now or a specific song that you just cannot stop listening to?

MC:

There’s this like really good song called, “Echelon” off of Angel Haze’s new record, and that song… I just can’t stop listening to it.  I think I like it because it’s funny. It’s about Fashion Week, which being from New York, its pretty funny to me.  The streets are flooded with these vapid models. There are models walking all over looking lost.

 

ANON:

Fashion Week is to New York what SXSW is to Austin.

MC:

Yes! That’s a really good one, but Fashion Week is funnier because it’s models who look lost and are wandering, and you can still do whatever you want to do. You just have this entertaining quality. You’re like, “Ha ha look at this model.” They’re not causing traffic jams like SXSW.

 

SKATERS’ new album Manhattan will be released on February 25th.  Their tour will kick off with a record release show at the Bowery Ballroom in Brooklyn on February 24th before they head off to the UK for the first leg of their tour.  Check out their latest video for the single, “Miss Teen Massachusetts,” and be sure to pick up a copy of Manhattan upon its release.

http://anonmagazine.com/skaters-presents-miss-teen-massachusetts/ 

SKATERS:

Michael Ian Cummings- Lead Vocals

Josh Hubbard- Guitar

Noah Rubin- Drums

Dan Burke