Interview Tar Tar: Skull and Bone Band

Interview tar tar is a raw and tasty look at the tbt local profile interview before edits.

Skull and Bone Band are Troy Youngblood, vocals and guitar; Chris Brown, bass; Jeramy Martin, lead guitar; and Mike Schuman, drums. Their sound is rock that stands on its own and meanders – as if the Skull and Bone Band were the Allman Brothers’ hell-raisin’ nephews who aren’t related to them.

Their CD: The Devil Smells Like Bourbon, released in 2007.

Skull and Bone Band are Troy Youngblood, vocals and guitar; Chris Brown, bass; Jeramy Martin, lead guitar; and Mike Schuman, drums

What would you say was the “force” that got you guys together? (I don’t mean to sound like Star Wars here! Just trying to get at something beyond the typical Craigslist backstory!)

CB- Actually, we got hooked up through the old singer from Griz. He called me and said that Troy and Jeramy needed a bass player. Three drummer’s later we found ol’ Mikey Schman and the rest, as they say, is history.

TY- Panty hose. They are flexible and playful and usually they are found on a woman’s legs. We love panty hose, panty hose and music. What else is there? Oh, and I’d also like to add that we’re four hairy men that drink a lot.

JM- Troy and I got together back in ’96 and we got the train rolling, picking up the hairiest, dirtiest pirates, that we could find.

MS- The first time I heard the Skull and Bone Band I knew that I was experiencing something great. I remember meeting Troy and saying to him, “I think you guys sound great and I can totally see you taken off. I would love to be a part of something like that”. Little did I know that a few months later, S&B would lose their drummer. Since I had been playing drums off and on for 10 years on my own; I felt like this was a great opportunity for me to play in a band.

Your line-up changed recently? How did that change the sound and personality of the band?

CB- We really just let Mike in the band because he had long hair and a beard, come to find out he’s actually the right guy for the job musically and personally.You might be the nicest guy in the world but if you can’t play, you ain’t gonna cut the mustard. We’re pretty secure all around on this one.

TY- We used to cry all the time. We wanted to call ourselves “the teardrops.” But when Mikey Schuman (aka the mountain) came along, we had to change. He was too happy. The guy never stopped smiling. We didn’t know it then, but he had something called the Laughing Disease. And we caught it, all of us, we caught the laughing bug. From then on, we stopped crying and started smiling.
JM- When we added Mountain (a.k.a. Mike Schuman) the band definitely got hairier. It turns out he’s a great addition to the band, and just like us, he’s a whiskey drinkin’, beer chuggin’, belly dancin’, music lovin’ pirate. As far as the sound goes, we tightened up the loose ends and started to relax and enjoy the music. In other words, we have a damn good time jammin’.

MS- When I joined, I really feel like the four of us really clicked together. We have an energy that the band hadn’t experienced quite yet. I think this is because I am just as crazy as the rest of the guys and when we get together to play music, we just really have a great time. We approach music in a way that may be weeding its way out of mainstream music…WE DO IT BECAUSE WE LOVE IT. This is very reflective in our live shows because everyone that comes to see us has fun. You can’t go to a Skull and Bone show without having a good time…it’s just not possible.

Musical backgrounds — self-taught? Where does all that technical razzmatazz come from?

CB- I wouldn’t really say our “razzmatazz” is that technical, at the root of it all it’s just four guys walking a razor’s edge between the sublime and the utterly ludicrous. We usually spill over into the utterly ludicrous.

TY- If it wasn’t for Crash Mitchell, I wouldn’t even be here.

JM- I am a self-teaching musician. I am always trying to learn something new. The “razmatazz” comes from laying our souls out to the music. We have no gimmiks, just a bare, raw, dirty sound.

MS- I am a self-taught drummer. All I can say is, I love music and music is in me. I listen to a lot of it and absorb it like a sponge. I like to try and project those things that I have learned along the way when I play music. That’s why I really like the “Jam” part of S&B, because we get to explore our instruments every time we play

You guys add tradtional blues, rockabilly, jam-band and folk elements to your rock, but I wouldn’t classify you in any one genre. What is it that makes you stand out? Do you run into problems booking your band because you don’t fall neatly into one category?

CB- A lot of times as a joke I’ll tell people that we sound like a cross between Insane Clown Posse and Strawberry Alarm Clock. But we’ve made up some terms to help describe it Troy calls it Freight Train Music, I call it Deth Jamn (correct spelling).

TY- We don’t expect to be perfect. Our imperfections help make us what we are, and I think that kind of approach separates us from bands who tend to take things too seriously. As far as booking, our lack of an easily defined sound initially created problems because we had trouble delivering a satisfactory answer to questions like, “what kind of music is it?” and “what does it sound like.”

JM- We enjoy what we do, and that really shows when we’re performing. We get on stage and have a good time, and the crowd picks up on that energy which creates a great vibe. Our musical diversity actually opens doors to more venues. We can play a dive bar, a blues bar, a folk festival, a punk show, hell, we could even play a country bar. Having a lot of diversity really lets us adapt our set to fit a wide varieties of venues.

MS- We stand out because of our sincerity…we are not afraid to get up their and rock your ass off. We have an infectious stage presence that is undeniable! Like I said before, it is impossible not to have a great time at a Skull and Bone show. The only problem I have encountered with our category is that most people think that we are a hardcore band because of our name. Once they hear us or come see us they realize that we are nothing like.

What do you do outside the band — work, school, girlfriends, wives, kids, pets? Pick one and tell me about it.

CB- Three words: Naked equestrian skydiving.
TY- That usually involves a bottle of wild turkey, a blow torch, cotton candy, and a giant octopus.
JM- I usually sail the high seas, drinking Jack Daniels on a pirate ship that I constructed out of empty beer cans, keg shells and palm fronds. Oh, and there is a tiki bar on the pirate ship that I built out of coconuts and tortoise shells.

MS- I graduated from USF and I work for the Department of Environmental Protection in my off-band time. I work in water quality. I collect water samples and conduct biological assessments on streams and lakes. I also love to go mountain biking, canoeing, and hiking…anything outdoors.

Who wrote the clever bios on your MySpace page? What brought all that on?

CB- They always were and will forever be.

TY- I wrote the bios, and it’s all true, every last diabolical word of it. If you don’t believe me, just come out to a show and see the naked truth (as perverted and hairy as it is) for yourself

JM- Troy wrote the bios based on actual events.

MS- Troy wrote those to my knowledge. Once you see me at meet me you will understand why he wrote what he did about me.

How do you divvy up the duties — songwriting, promotions, spiritual leader?

CB- Troy pretty much does all the lyrics and chords then the rest of us come in and add to it, sometimes it’ll be like “mabey we should change this to that” or “let’s try it with a minor instead of a major”. It’s all pretty easy going and diplomatic. Most of the covers we’ve done have a few changes here or there, just to make them our own.

TY- We just pass the bottle around

JM- I don’t know. We get drunk and can’t remember who or how we did what we did; but at least it gets done, that’s the key.

MS- I feel like we all come to the table with something to offer. Troy is our song writer. But when we all come together we each add our own personalities to the music and it becomes a Skull and Bone song. Jeramy takes care of a lot of the business aspects and keeps us on track with happenings. Chris is an awesome resource when it comes to meeting other musicians. I am just the looks in the band…haha.

How do you guys regard the darker, deviant and alcoholic references that slide into your lyrics? Do you have fun with the boozy cliches or do you think all that night-time debauchery stuff is just a necessary part of rock ‘n’ roll?

CB- It doesn’t just go on at night sister.

TY- Well… we actually like alcohol. Most pirates do. Debauchery is a strong word, but yea, we like debauchery too. We just call it underwear lovin’. And you know, I don’t think we have a lot of hang-ups about alcohol. Sometimes you just have to accept your fate in this world, and the darkness is a valuable part of the light. When I’m composing lyrics, I take from all that I can hear and see and feel, even dream. My goal is to make what’s in my soul tangible. I’m not concerned with morality. The way I see it, both the night and the day coexist. There is no reason to deny one or the other its natural place in the universe. And beauty is all around us, it’s not the alcohol that makes things ugly, it’s people.

JM- You got to live it to have fun with it, and have fun we do.

MS- I feel like we sing about real life and that’s why people can relate to our music. Is booze part of rock ‘n’ roll? YES! I can also think of two other things

If you were to pick a celebrity to wear a Skull and Bones shirt in a movie, who would it be?

CB- The ghost of John Belushi.

TY- Probably that marshmallow guy in Ghostbusters.

JM- Definitely Blackbeard. Aarrgggghhhhhh.

MS- Will Ferrell for sure. He is the epitome of fun times in movies and that is what we bring to the stage. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll probably want to get naked. Whatever it is that you are feeling … you’ll be having a blast.

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