Oct 2021 11

From blasphemy to philanthropy, this Hollywood industrial/metal band shows us that rock & roll can be fun as well as meaningful as founder and namesake Skum Love speaks with ReGen about his music and fighting through the dark.
 

 

An InterView with Skum Love

By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

In the years since the band’s formation, industrial/metal act Skum Love has undergone something of a transformation from a band bristling with brazen and blasphemous attitude to the hometown heroes of Hollywood, with music of a more thoughtful and emotional range. Since the release of 2016’s Sinister Minister, founder and namesake Skum Love has pushed the band forward with greater strides in production and musical maturity, with this year’s release of “The Dark” single addressing very personal and potent issues of depression and the means by which we – both as individuals and as a society – deal with these harsh realities. Along with remixes by DJ Liz Lethal, Carlton Bost (Stabbing Westward, Orgy), Tom Hatz (Professional Murder Music), and Kevin Kipnis (Kore, Purr Machine), “The Dark” also saw Skum Love working with the You Rock Foundation, devoted to spreading awareness and education about mental health and depression through rock musicians; this association culminated in an August 29 event celebrating Love’s birthday, which featured several other bands and a panel discussion. ReGen Magazine is pleased to have had the opportunity to speak with Love about his musical journey, powering through “The Dark” to see the light on the other side – he speaks about his collaboration with his band mates, with producer Alex Crescioni of Stygian Sound, his work at Schecter Guitars, his perceptions of social media, the current state of music distribution and consumption, and more!

 

Let’s start with your most recent release, ‘The Dark,’ which addressed issues of mental health and depression. Would you first tell us about how this song came about – what sorts of experiences or observations inspired its writing?

Love: I’ve never really dealt with depression until recently and a lot of it was triggered by recent deaths of friends and family – one notably being my guitar player Garrison, who passed a couple years ago; that really started my anxiety that was triggered by grief. Then during the start of the pandemic, I started losing friends to Covid, suicide, and generally more health issues… cancer, heart attacks, etc. But there were so many that happened in a row, I couldn’t breathe fast enough that it started to lead to anxiety and depression. I wasn’t playing music. Facebook won’t let you DJ because it’s copyright infringement. I still have my day job, thankfully, but no artistic outlet.
So lyrically, the song came out of that, and the lyrics came pretty quick; it was very natural. But the music came first and that was just me sitting on the couch strumming my guitar, watching TV, and the basic riff came out. So, I grabbed my laptop, plugged in really quick, and recorded the riff. As I listened to the music on my headphones and in my car for a couple days, the lyrics poured out in minutes. I knew that there was a deeper meaning and other people have to feel like me, and ‘The Dark’ was created.

In what ways do you feel ‘The Dark’ is more indicative of Skum Love’s sound moving forward; is there an album in the works, and will ‘The Dark’ be featured on it?

Love: I don’t know about a full album. I’m really enjoying making just singles with some alternate mixes and remixes, because I can put all my thought and energy into the one song and make it the best song I can. It always feels to me that artists start off with one idea, start moving forward to make an album, and after three or four songs that are tapped out, the rest of the album becomes filler. I want to put all my energy into one song and blast it out the best I can.
Maybe after a handful of songs are released, maybe I’ll put a title on it and combine them together, but really, do we have to do that anymore? Everything is digital these days. The funny thing is as forward as we go, the more backwards we become as in the start of music, even in rock & roll, there were no full albums – it was all singles, 45s, your main song, your B-side, that was put out, and then you toured on the one song and then played a bunch of covers of radio songs.
They would put four, five, or six artists on tour together that each had one or two radio hits and whoever had the bigger head was the headliner until one of the other ones hit bigger and it’s kind of like that now; you need six bands to come together to do one tour or it’s not worth it to anyone.

You said that you’re enjoying singles and remixes and such, and it does feel like many are pursuing smaller releases of this type more than full albums. It makes sense given the state of digital media, although we do also have the resurgence of vinyl and cassettes. What are your thoughts on the album as a format – not just as it pertains to Skum Love, but the whole of music?

Love: I am a vinyl junkie. I had to slow down because I was purchasing a few each month. I still have a couple crates full of cassettes as well in my storage. I just bought a cassette player so I can listen to them again. As for recording an album/ I don’t mind doing it, but I would rather spend more time and effort making an amazing song then a full amazing album as sometimes you get to the point that you’re out of ideas, so you put in ‘filler’ songs.

 

 

For the song, and then also for the August 29 show, you teamed up with the You Rock Foundation. Tell us some more about this cooperation – how did you hook up with them and are there plans to continue working together?
How was the show? Anything in particular that you’d like to share about the other bands, any wild memories made, etc.?

Love: I initially heard about the You Rock Foundation through my friend Tom Hatz from Professional Murder Music. I was trying to find a small mental health foundation on my last album when we were going to release the single for the song ‘Leave Scars.’ I wanted to do a video and let all the proceeds go to a mental health organization, but the label didn’t have it in their budget, and it never surfaced. After I recorded ‘The Dark,’ I reached back out to the You Rock Foundation. Since I was financing everything on my own, I was able to call the shots. I like YRF because they are a smaller organization only run by a few people speaking to the founder of Joseph; I knew his heart was in the right place and this was the right thing to do. They have been a huge inspiration in the song and what I can accomplish to help people in the future.
Meeting up with Dr. Jen from the Foundation was like finding a kindred spirit. So, we decided to do the panel discussion before the show, which I thought turned out very well, even though I was more nervous speaking into the crowd than ever being onstage rocking out. All the bands did great – the new sound The Mendenhall Experiment is doing with their new singer is amazing. It was great to see Francesca De Struct and Fate DeStroyed tear up the stage as I’ve been watching her since the beginning of the creation of this band, and she has grown so much as a front woman and strong vocalist… it made me feel like a proud papa. (Laughter)
Symbolism was amazing and they are very much in the same demographic, if you will, as we are. We are all older seasoned players doing what we want, not paying attention to what is new and hot in the scene; just do what we do.

 

 

You have a strong social media presence, and you’ve been very open and honest about your feelings and experiences. This might seem like a bloated question, but speaking as both an artist and as a human being, what are your thoughts on the power of social media as a whole and its effects on the human experience as a whole?

Love: Social media is a love/hate relationship. I have finally got it down to where I want it. It’s kind of like throwing a barbecue in the backyard and inviting some friends every once in a while; you get that person that invites the annoying guy, but you see past it and smile. And you try not to invite the drunken uncle who all he wants to talk about is God, guns, and government. So, I have cultivated a positive circle of friends, fans, and followers and weeded out the politics and conspirators and negative vampires.
I so love to bump heads and debate. Well, I’ve been in this game a long time, and I don’t need to do that anymore. I know where I stand, I know where I want to go, and I know who I want to take with me.

Tell us about your songwriting process – who is currently in the band and how involved are the other members in the songwriting and production?

Love: I don’t really have a standard songwriting process; every song is different. Sometimes it’s just me and a guitar or bass; sometimes it’s me, keyboards, or just some words or phrases come into my brain and I’ll write a vocal melody. The last album, Sinister Minister, about half of those songs I wrote myself and the other half I tried to collaborate with the members of that current lineup.
My original guitar player Robyn Sin returned a few years ago. We’ve had Cisco on drums for about five years, and just recently, our former bass player ‘Diablo’ recently returned, and his first show back was August 29. It felt good and right, like the missing piece of the puzzle was back.

 

 

You worked with Alex Crescioni on ‘The Dark,’ and I’m aware of his reputation as a musician and producer with Stygian Sound. How did you come to work with him on this song, and in what ways do you feel his particular production style has enhanced your vision for Skum Love’s music?

Love: I first met Alex when he was playing guitar for Society 1, and we’ve remained friends since then. I’ve listened to stuff he’s done in the past in the studio and really enjoyed it, and since this song was taken on a darker side of Skum Love, I wanted to have a producer that understood what I was trying to envision. His production style is pretty straightforward – he likes to make an atmosphere to record so you can get the feeling out into the music. He basically takes what you give him and molds it to what it should be. I’m hoping to work with him in the future on other songs.

What is exciting for you the most in modern music? What do you listen to when you’re not making music in Skum Love?

Love: I go back to old-school stuff like mid ’70s punk rock, ’80s rock, ’90s industrial. I buy stuff that is new; I’ve been going to very different direction listening to newer music, staying out of the metal – it just does nothing for me, new punk does nothing for me, etc. I’ve been listening to new stuff like K.Flay and Bones UK, Halsey, and Holy Wars.
But my love for rock and guitar has me listening to stuff like Fantastic Negrito, Welshly Arms, Ayron Jones, Me and that Man, and Ray Wylie Hubbard.
But I always fall back to my favorites like Killing Joke, Monster Magnet, Thrill Kill Kult, Turbonegro, Gary Numan. There must be the DJ in there – I really listen to a ton of different stuff.

What about outside of music, what excites you the most? What activities, movies, literature, etc. do you find most rewarding?

Love: Outside of music, I love spending time with my family. I also am California president of a Funkshun Family bike club. I have four-to-five low rider bikes and make them for other people.

We all seem to miss live shows, and there is the concern about how we will be able to ‘go back to normal’ with so many venues having to close down, everyone wanting to tour at the same time, getting people excited about going to live shows again, etc. First of all, will you be taking Skum Love on tour in the foreseeable future? Secondly, what sort of difficulties do you anticipate for playing live again on a more regular basis?

Love: We’ve been offered some tours recently, but we just don’t have the financing to do it. We’re looking at doing a run with Combichrist, maybe one with Orgy, and hopefully one with us headlining.
At this point in my career, we’ve done so much and we’re going on 20 years next year as being a band. So, I don’t mind being the hometown hero and just sticking to the West Coast playing shows close to home. The one thing that we’ve been told, and I am completely fine with, is that at this point in the game, you have to be vaccinated. I’m glad we’ve reached that plateau that we don’t have to buy onto tours or do any of the pay-to-play. But whatever has to be done, you do in order to fulfill that love of music.

You work for Schecter Guitars, which has become a leading name in guitars, and is a favored brand for much of the metal and industrial/alternative underground. From your perspective (and at the risk of sounding like a plug or sales pitch), what is it about Schecter that appeals so much to those scenes now?

Love: Well, I think we stand out because we’re not trying to be the coolest company; we’re not trying to prove anything except that we make solid good guitars. I think because of social media, people now know that Schecter Guitars is made by musicians for musicians – everyone, from me to the president of the company, still create music, put out albums, and play live.

Are there any particular experiences related to Schecter that you’d like to share – artists you’ve encountered, shenanigans in the factory, anything like that?

Love: I have a great relationship with a lot of people here at Schecter. The president Michael Ciravolo really takes care of all of us and looks at us as a family, not as just employees. I’ve met some of my favorite people from some of my favorite bands like Nikki Sixx, Michael Anthony, the guys from Morris Day and The Time, Peter Murphy, too many to name really…

You were also recently featured in Matt Zane’s documentary for Dirt Von Karloff, The Altered Noise. Are there any memories or stories about Karloff that you’d like to share that might’ve perhaps not made their way into the documentary?

Love: Well… I was really thrown off guard with the death of Dirt. I spoke with him online a lot after he moved during pandemic. I even printed him some masks for his new band back home. Then when Zane asked me if he could interview me about DV, I was so honored.

 

 

What’s next for Skum Love?

Love: Well, we have a few cover songs that we’ve been wanting to do just for fun; been working on those, which I think will be a big surprise when people hear the songs that we picked. Who knows? Maybe we’ll do a full covers album. At this point, we’re just looking at doing what we want to do in the pace that we want to do it and release it the way we want to release it. We have some older songs from demos in the past that Robyn Sin and I worked on together when we first started the band, and they want to revise them and record them properly. I have about three or four more songs on the backburner, so let’s see where the wind takes us.

Anything else that you’d like to share with us?

Love: I just want everybody to be happy, healthy, and safe.

 

Skum Love
Website, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, YouTube
You Rock Foundation
Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube
Schecter Guitar Research
Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube

 

Photos by Erica Vincent – courtesy of Erica Vincent Photos
Website, Facebook, Twitter

Live video by Alena Lim

 

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