Necessity is the mother of invention, so when finding that charismatic front person never materialised, Skits was forced to go down the instrumental route … with no regrets today.
The four-piece, whose members arose from the smouldering ashes of indie movers and shakers Free Deserters and Citizens Of Ice-Cream, have made a statement in its debut, But No, a 10-song effort that draws listeners in like a sonic whirlwind and takes them on an aural adventure.
Guitarist Brendan Teh leads the line, a six-string man weaned on the ubiquitous Kapok guitar, while Eric Wong doubles up by keeping those dirty belows thumping on the bass and wearing the engineer’s hat. The band is rounded off by Phang on synth/keys and Khairi on drums (replacing journeyman skinsman Rashaad Ali who played on the album).
Like most 30-somethings playing the guitar, Teh shuffled between cassettes of Slayer, Nirvana and Green Day, and cut his teeth on music decidedly 90s, though Primal Scream, Massive Attack, Jesus And Mary Chain and Depeche Mode have crept into his list of references. Wong’s unending date with The Beatles, John Coltrane and Bob Marley, and the punk pedigree of Phang and Khairi, provide Skits a highly eclectic sound.
Given the lack of a vocalist, the band aspires to one day work with singers, rappers and spoken word artistes, but for now, its tuneful terror comes in the shape and form of ATM music. Contrary to its negative disposition, But No hits all the right buttons in a musical experience which offers grating and crunching guitars, loopy synths and crushing drums … and trippy narration and dialogue samples.
This debut was knocked out in lightning quick time – three days. The fruits of its labour have taken the band to Taiwan for a mini tour, secured a distribution deal with Payola Records and earned Skits the distinction of reaching No 5 on Teenage Head Records’ Top 10 list of local releases.
What is the story behind the band’s name?
Phang came up with the name. We just wanted something simple, concise and not pretentious. And also, the way our previous bands split up was quite dramatic, so, it’s like an homage … like a family skit gone wrong.
How have people taken to the band’s music?
So far, the reception has been great. We’ve sold quite a substantial portion of our first batch and the first print of our white bunny band T-shirt has sold out. We are probably riding the post/math rock wave that’s cresting at the moment. But we don’t like to be lumped into that category. We just went instrumental because we couldn’t find a suitable vocalist. That’s how sampling came in.
Ultimately, what do you want to achieve and where do you realistically see it going? Can a career be made out of this?
As long as we don’t kill each other, it should work. Working in a group takes a lot of effort, because people tend to romanticise things. But I don’t blame them. I read and watch a lot of rock ‘n’ roll documentaries, too. We love music, but at the same time, we are aware that in this day and age, you need a stable income to support yourself and that lifestyle.
A career can definitely be made out of this; it just comes down to how far and how long you are willing to dive through those rings of fire to come unscathed on the other side. Luck, of course, plays a part, too. After all, Yuna did it. And Wormrot is playing Glastonbury. If you want it badly enough, nothing can stand in your way.
Where is Skits’ place in the music scene, and would you rather be somewhere else?
We are outsiders to the scene. We’ve never been part of the “cool circle” but are always within view … get the drift? We are insular in that sense … into the studio and off to our own devices.
Given the chance, which artiste would the band most like to work with and why?
It would be a dream come true to have Imogen Heap’s or FKA Twigs’ vocals on our tracks. But for now, any singers who are keen will do because we like collaborating.