By Francisco H. Ciriza
Riverside ska/punk outfit Voodoo Glow Skulls’ last album was titled “Adicción, Tradición, y Revolución” (Victory 2004). Self-produced and recorded in the group’s own Dog Run Studios, the album contains some of the band’s most rocking, candid music ever.
“Adicción refers to our feelings about music. Our music is unique. We have a cult following. We’re an addiction to certain people,” lead singer Frank Casillas explained. “Tradición signifies the fact that we’ve been together as a musical family for this long, and have not really changed. Finally, Revolución because we have always tried to steer clear of trends.”
Avoiding trends is what punk rock was all about and VGS is a direct product of that 80’s punk rock’s do-it-yourself legacy. Much of today’s independent music explosion can be traced to those same roots. In 1981, the Los Angeles based punk band Black Flag took its MCA- rejected ‘Damaged’ album and released it on its own SST label. After that, the floodgates for aspiring artists opened. With the same vigor and enthusiasm that motivated garage psyche bands of the sixties, young punk rockers all over the world took control of their own careers by recording and releasing cassettes and vinyl at will.
For Casillas, his brothers Eddie and Jorge, and the rest of VGS, that D.I.Y. philosophy has become a mantra for the band. VGS not only controls the writing and recording of all its music and lyrics, but also manages and promotes its own tours.
“Every band has its own vision of success. VGS has always done its own thing. We learned a lot from our experiences and have always had the last say and complete creative control. We might not be selling places out, but we’re consistent.” said Casillas as he spoke to La Prensa San Diego from his home in Bullhead, AZ.
The band, together since 1990, is rightfully considered a pioneer of the now renowned West Coast ska-core sound which mixes hardcore punk tempos and ska horns and upbeat accents. The band is a veteran of a Southern California scene that also gave birth to Gwen Stefani and No Doubt and Long Beach legends Sublime. Along with a high energy delivery, VGS, also often sings its songs in Spanish.
“We have always tried to include our Latin roots in our music, either by writing songs in Spanish or incorporating musical ideas that we grew up with. Latinos have a very strong sense of tradition, and we are very aware of it,” Said Casillas.
Next up for Casillas and VGS is the band’s next CD. Fans have been waiting for quite some time for new material from the band.
“What’s next is right now. This is the longest we’ve taken in between albums. Usually we release a CD every 2 years, but this time we thought, ‘let’s take our time.’” said Casillas. “We’re starting to prepare for the next one, though. In winter we’ll record and early next year, probably in spring, we’ll release the next CD,” Casillas added. “We’ve got ideas, about 8 to10 riffs and some songs already on demo.”
Voodoo Glow Skulls appear July 12th downtown at House of Blues San Diego with Catch 22, Big D and the Kids Table, Suburban Legends and Westbound Train.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and tickets are $13. For more information, call (619) 220-TIXS or (619) 299-2583.