Thunder Hips & Saddle Bags (2009)

thsb_coverThunder Hips & Saddle Bags is a 1986 cassette recorded by Skab, neighborhood pals, and siblings. It was injected into the underground network of tape traders, zine scribes, college DJs, and freak seekers, who were universally bowled over by its bewildering and utterly poignant snapshot of the mid-1980s. Skab’s music–a battery including empty buckets, a garden rake, a $10 Martin guitar with three strings, a poorly-tuned upright piano, broken bottles, and a “Snake Mountain” microphone–is a response to He-Man cartoons, Twisted Sister, Ronald Reagan, the coolness of dinosaurs, the uncoolness of John Wayne, and commie-phobia. Preview tracks below.

Thunder Hips and Saddle Bags not only surpasses the expectations one would have as it pertains to a child’s musical creations, it reminds us just how much has changed in 25 years. The world Travis Roberts captures is not only one that is quickly being forgotten thanks to a log jam of text messages and countless cable options, it is the one of our own youth. Many can relate to the day-to-day observations Roberts so eloquently describes without the bat of an eyelash or a thought of consequences.

Stay Thirsty (2009)

staythirsty_tnStay Thirsty the LP, from Family Vineyard RecordsStay Thirsty is one of a half-dozen or so cassettes recorded by Travis Roberts (the Human Skab) and family during the mid-late 1980s and injected into the DIY and cassette underground, given radio play in the Pacific Northwest, and developed a regional following in its day. In a way, this is Skab’s response to He-Man, the smoldering cold war, living near the abandoned Satsop Nuclear Plant, and heavy metal (the title seems to be in direct response to Twisted Sister’s classic Stay Hungry LP). Preview tracks below.

Human Skab opened for David Thomas at the Capitol Theatre in Olympia, Washington before focusing on baseball card collecting and growin out his mohawk. As Bruce Pavitt wrote in the 1986 Sub Pop zine: the Skab zips around the living room shooting toy guns. He hits the family piano with his fists. He tries real hard to play guitar. He makes up songs about terrorism and radiation and throwing rocks at windows. Cool!

Now, 23 years later this is the first time any of the Skab’s rare recordings have been reissued or even made available outside of dusty, personal collections. You can’t find this stuff on blogs. Family Vineyard followed this ultra-limited 105 edition LP with a full-length CD reissue of the stunning and epic Thunder Hips and Saddle Bags, expanded with a bonus radio interview from the time, in February 2010. C’mon, baby mohawk!

Human Skab Reunion Tour (December 2009)

RT_coverThe Human Skab Reunion, December 2009In December 2009, Cousin Franky and Travis reunited in Elma, WA, along with Matt Love, of Canada, formerly of the WIMPS in Olympia, WA, and drummer/programmer Bret Woods of the Mohawk Valley, currently living in Tallahassee, FL. The four musicians first embarked on a journey of reconstructing the old music in new ways, exchanging segments over the internet and rehearsing each on their own, until the week of the tour. Along with Austin Roberts, Tom, Rob Woolsey, Heather Rea, Ethan and Olivia Cooperider, Wil Tobey, and an Everyobody’s Shopping Cart, the Skabs hit the mean streets with a cacophonous slam. What resulted was a fresh take on underground punk rock, a rich blend of today’s genre soundscapes stirred in a cup and served with a heaping teaspoon of truth. Preview tracks below.

This was the first time Human Skab toured in 23 years, a monument to Travis’s life. After the early days of Human Skab, Travis joined the U.S. Army and then became a private military contractor in Kosovo and Afghanistan, black market entrepreneur, pimp, and substance abuser with PTSD. It took a bit of time, but Travis got his music and his life back on track. But with the Obama administration’s continued military pursuit of – well, whatever – in Afghanistan and Pakistan, his story deserves a hearing, and his unique experiences have given him an informed perspective. “Somewhere along the way I had lost track of my values,” Travis said during the tour. “But now I’m back, and I’m happy to be here, to be a punk rocker again, and to tell you my story.”

Human Skab Continuation Tour (February-March 2010)

CT_coverThe Human Skab Continuation Tour, February-March 2010With the momentum from the December tour underway, the Skab mania continued with gigs once again from Olympia to Seattle. Travis and another original Skab, Rob Woolsey, assembled Tom Hackett, Lyra Pendragon, and Nick Miranda to continue making music for the WA state crowd. A highlight of their tour was the tribute concert event, “Indie Rockers for Haiti,” with which they and other local favorites–The Hive Dwellers, Pet Products, Al Larsen, Mary Win, Redbird Fever, Volume 3, The Wimps, Big Idea–and a guest artist, Lulina of Brazil, donated concert proceeds to the Haiti Emergency Relief fund. Preview tracks unavailable at this time.

  • “Dead Baby Blues”
  • “Death of the Dinosaurs”
  • “Throwing Rocks at Windows”
  • “Brain Suck Out”

Still Thirsty (The Unreleased Album)

stillthirsty_tnStill Thirsty is an unreleased recording compiled by Travis, Bret, Frank, and friends in July 2010. The recordings were mostly made in piecemeal bits and then compiled and edited by Bret throughout August 2010. The recordings also comprise music that was created and recorded in the moment by Travis and Bret over the course of one week. The result is a post-apocalyptic brand of punkfunk awesome that only Skab can provide. Create your own music that resonates in the Skab multiverse, and receive many of these remastered recordings as a bonus. #ThisIsHumanSkab. Preview tracks below.