By Frank Gunderson and Bret Woods
Three years in the making, our film documents the story of Travis Roberts, aka “The Human Skab,” as he reconnects with the music he created as a young child in 1986, accompanied by his siblings, friends, and cousin Frankie (co-director Frank Gunderson). After serving in the military and then returning home, Travis decided to reconstruct the band and continue the message of his music.
Human Skab held their first reunion tour in December 2009, with bassist Matt Love and drummer Bret Woods (co-director of the film). We realized rather quickly that the process of Travis’s musical reunion was a story that needed to be told, so we gathered camera equipment and recorded footage throughout the entirety of our rehearsals and tour. During the tour, it became more apparent that the story was not simply a band ethnography and reunion, but a reclamation and remembrance.
About Human Skab as both a performance group and a concept, Travis noted: “The thing that appealed to me about playing music both when I was young as well as now is that within my music I find a freedom unparalleled within the confines of everyday American life. Since pre-history music has played an integral part in the human experience. Not just listening to music but creating it. Unfortunately, capitalism has stolen this aspect of humanity from most people living behind the bars of consumerist systems. If you want music, just pop in a CD or turn on your IPOD. Let the pros make the tunes. In my house we are taking music back.”
Part punk rockumentary, part band ethnography, part war veteran story, this film portrays the saga of Travis as he and several other characters embark on a reunion tour, reclaiming the musical phenomenon that was so popular in its original inception.
Rife with amazing synchronicities, our film is an eye-opening narrative about a veteran’s post-war experience as well as a band reunion. Travis’s music, both old and new, not only provides a powerful creative vision of American society, but offers a wealth of insight to present politics, “outsider music,” life as a war veteran, and personal healing.