Matt Skiba has spent the last sixteen years as the frontman of alternative punk band Alkaline Trio. Though he has written and performed as a solo artist on the side, Skiba’s new project Matt Skiba and The Sekrets is the creative outlet he’s been waiting for. By bringing in My Chemical Romance drummer Jarrod Alexander and AFI bassist Hunter Burgan as studio musicians, Skiba was able to create a polished and powerful debut album for which he has written completely on his own. We caught up with Matt to discuss the new band, inspiration behind the album’s lyrics and what’s in store for the future of The Sekrets and Alkaline Trio.
OS: You’re known for being the lead singer of Alkaline Trio, but you’ve also had a few other projects over the years. How is the music of Matt Skiba and The Sekrets different from anything else you’ve done?
MS: I’ve always gone in with a partner, and with this, I did it by myself. I wrote the songs, I went in initially and did the rough tracks…it was the first time that I hired musicians to play on the album with me. You can still tell that it’s me, I just wanted to incorporate a full band. I wanted to do something a little more grandiose in terms of what’s happening on stage. So now I get to do it (I have this Souther Death Cult shaman warrior garb that I’m going to be wearing). I’m not playing guitar, but we have two guitar players. It was the first time I went into a studio to make a rock record totally by myself, with a producer.
OS: For this project, you recruited Jarrod Alexander of My Chemical Romance and Hunter Burgan of AFI. What led you to choose them to make this record with. What made you want to work with them?
MS: Their skills as players, primarily. Jarrod and I became friends because of this project. He was playing in a band called Dead Country, which we took on tour…this was after he played drums on Babylon. The producer Cameron Webb recommended Jarrod, he was like, “He’s a great drummer, he’s a great guy.” Our friendship, and we’re really really good friends now, developed from him playing as a session guy on my record. From there, I got a phone call from My Chemical Romance’s attorney, who’s a friend of mine, and she said “I need a drummer for a band, I can’t really tell you
who, but I need him, like, yesterday. Do you know anyone who can come out and play?” And I said, “Well, it’s funny you should say that, I just did this album with this kid Jarrod and he’s a fucking ripping drummer.” She called him up and now you can see him on stage with My Chem. I’m proud to have put My Chem in touch with Jarrod. Hunter and I have been friends for a long time. I think great music and great art comes from working as a team, being friends and loving each other is important. It makes communicating and playing together much easier. I had Hunter in mind the whole time and when it came down to the final hour and I sent him the record. Three days later, we were in the studio recording Hunter on bass. They’re going to be with me on this tour and I hope that everyone would still be available. We’re going to tour the world with this record, over time. As schedules permit, these guys are my A-Team, but I also have a back-up plan, some great friends and heroes that have offered to play, too.
With summer right around the corner, we can’t help but be totally stoked for Warped Tour. In case you haven’t heard, we’ll be sponsoring our own stage for twenty-two dates and bringing twenty-three artists out to perform on it. Twenty-two acts will snag a performance at their local tour stop, and one lucky artist will get to perform on every date (tour bus included). In addition, there are a handful of other OurStage artists already booked to play various dates of the tour. We decided to catch up with them to get the scoop on their summer plans.
Chicago natives I Fight Dragons are favorites in the modern pop rock scene and will be playing every single date of Warped Tour 2012. With fun and fresh songwriting chops, dedicated fans and a kickass live show, we think it’s safe to say that this band is poised to be the next big breakout act. We caught up with IFD frontman Brian Mazzaferri to talk about video games, rock shows and why he’s looking forward to a very Warped summer.
OS: You describe your sound as “Chiptune-Pop-Rock.” Can you explain what that is and how you incorporate chiptune elements into your music?
BM: Sure, well Chiptune is basically this: new music created using “obsolete” video game soundcards. It ends up sounding like it was made on an old Nintendo or Game Boy, because it often was. In our band, we integrate those sounds with a more traditional four-piece rock band (drums, bass, guitar, vocals)…to create an unholy beast of sonic majesty.
OS: You’re from the local scene in Chicago, which is represented in modern rock by bands like Fall Out Boy and The Academy Is… .Were there any local acts that you guys really looked up to growing up?
BM: I’d say Wilco is the favored hometown hero amongst our bandmates. I really enjoy Fall Out Boy as well actually, but I went to high school with Patrick Stump so it’s hard to say I looked up to him growing up, I definitely love his songwriting though.
Let’s face it, sometimes the past should stay dead. But when an awesome artist fades from popularity, fans later wonder, “Where are they now?” You may not know it, but many artists you’ve loved in the past are still hard at work writing new albums or preparing to tour again. Fortunately, you now have “Second Coming” to reintroduce some of your favorite acts of the last few decades and give you the scoop on what you can expect from them in the future.
THEN: We’ve talked about O-Town and Backstreet Boys, but there’s another ’90s pop group that ruled not only our portable CD players, but also our television sets. England’s S Club 7, a group comprised of four chicks (Rachel Stevens, Tina Barrett, Jo O’Meara and Hannah Spearritt) and three dudes (Jon Lee, Paul Cattermole and Bradley McIntosh) made a splash on the pop scene in 1998 with their hit TV series S Club 7 in Miami. In the sitcom, these bright and cheery Brits sang and danced their way around their new city with tunes as sunny as Miami itself. At the end of the century, the group released “Bring It All Back” as their first single, and the track achieved Platinum status. What followed was S Club 7 mania: their own magazine, singing dolls, made-for-TV movies and more. As the years went on, the group became drained by the constant traveling and multiple projects. When Paul Cattermole left S Club in 2002, the band found that they were not able to successfully continue in his absence. In April 2003, the band announced their split on-stage, much to the disappoint of fans worldwide.