Skaters: From the ashes of Dead Trees comes a sound that glides forward
Skaters are built from the remnants of the Boston band Dead Trees. But there’s a bit of map-hopping to their story. After leaving Boston for Oregon and then to L.A., losing members along the way, singer Michael Cummings and drummer Noah Rubin finally settled in New York to regroup — sonically, mentally and literally.
Forming a new band with a sound to capture the excitement of their new surroundings, they acquired Josh Hubbard (ex-Paddingtons, Dirty Pretty Things) and Dan Burke (Viva Viva), and began making demos for a free EP that began a whirlwind of good fortune.
“When we got to New York all the stuff I was writing was a totally different style,” says Cummings. “We took that and formed Skaters around a few choice songs. This is the first band where I’ve gone into it knowing exactly what sound I wanted to get out of it. With the Dead Trees there was always a confusion because I liked some many styles of music. I wrote songs because of how I was feeling. There’s more of an identity to Skaters. I think that the name, the vibe, the time, the guys — it all kind of dictates what kind of music we’ll be playing.”
Over the years, Cummings’ songs have evolved from quiet ballads to high-energy, melodic punk, but the songs have never skimped on lyrical content. After listening to their EP and upcoming single, you get glimpses of The Clash’s “Sandinista!” mixed with the feeling you had when you first heard the Strokes’ debut. These are exciting, guitar-driven songs that make you move and make you think. Their bombastic energy segues into brief emotional comedowns before jacking the songs back into danceable, head-bobbing anthems.
“They’re all New York-based songs,” says Cummings. “There’s a vibe that we want to capture. We’re a guitar-based band, but there are definitely a lot of loops and beats and electronic elements to take it out of superfamiliar territory.”
From DIY to WB
Metro learned about Skaters when the band was just a DIY dream with a motivated vision and no expectations. Cummings was gracious enough to give us their first-ever interview after their intimate Boston debut in 2011, as well as allowing this writer into the crowded confines of Electric Lady Studio last month while they were recording.
In between the two interviews, a lot has changed. Their unsuspecting beginnings, satisfied with self-release or possible indie interest, led to a mystique that had major labels intrigued, with several offers on the table before the band signed to Warner Brothers. With nothing more than their free EP and fervor for their future, the band was soon selling out shows in the UK, being played on BBC, and in the studio recording their debut with John Hill at the controls.
While Hill has gained notoriety producing music for Rihanna, Santigold and MIA, Cummings says he was the perfect fit because “deep down he’s a rocker at heart.”
The record, slated for mid-summer, will be preceded by a campaign of 7”s, a promotional endeavor that Warner hasn’t attempted in some time. The first will be released on Tuesday.