SKATERS OR DIE: AN INTERVIEW WITH NYC’S (NEXT) ALT HEROES

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New York City’s Skaters came together less than two years ago–but with the help of a wildly popular independent release, the guys were approached by Warner Bros Records. Now they have Manhattan as their major-label debut on February 24th. The album arrives in the wake of over 10,000 downloads of their self-released EP. Expectations are high for the band, and they look set impress both their team and fans of the dying rock genre.

We talked with drummer Noah Rubin about spending the early ’00s on a major label, what went wrong with previous bands, and where the boys like to hang in NYC…

SKATERS isn’t even two years old yet as a band, and you’ve already signed to Warner Brothers. Do you feel that you were extremely lucky–or have you all been around the block enough times with other projects that you think your time was finally due?
Little of both. We just write a lot and have a lot of fun. Just have fun.

Being that the band was so new when first approached by Warner Bros, how did you manage the negotiation with them?  Do you feel you had the necessary clout to request amendments to clauses in your contract?
[Laughs] [Vocalist] Mike [Cummings] studied Criminal Law at Harvard, so I think they were surprised of our assessment of the deal. I can barely read, but I was pretty deadpan and stern-looking in the negotiating room, and I think the label was intimidated–but of course not. We’re idiots! Let the adults figure that stuff out. And then they say, “Things are great” and we say, “Awesome!”

I read in another interview that while working with your producer John Hill, he used colors to describe the feel of different songs and sections.  Was this just a habit, or is John diagnosed with synesthesia?
It’s a bit simpler than synesthesia. It was more like–pink is lame, blue is sad, green is fresh, and black is dark. We shot for green as much as possible.

Whose decision was it to cover Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness”? Has it helped draw more attention to your original works, as well?
Absolutely. That was the idea, pick a song that will get people to listen to our music. So we went big. We also wanted to demonstrate Michael’s vocal chops.

Your debut EP was Schemers, which had over 10,000 downloads as an independent release. Was there a strategy behind this, or was it a happy accident?
Happy accident. We were expecting one or two hundred max. Apparently anyone will download a free ep!

Are you feeling under pressure with sales figures as you’re releasing the major-label debut?
It’s not our concern, it’s out of our hands. Just do what you do–and if people respond, it means they think like you do.

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Did any of you guys ever end up learning how to dance? Why is dancing so hard for white Millennials?
Because white Millennials have no spice. We’re practicing, but not quite ready to show off our new skills. At some point, maybe we’ll make a video with  choreography.

What do you feel you’ve done differently–correctly, rather–with SKATERS that you didn’t do with your previous bands: The Dead Trees, The Paddingtons, and Dirty Pretty Things?
Admitting when something sucks. That’s the thing that makes it better. Can’t get too attached to your turds!

Being that you guys all live around the Lower East Side/Chinatown, what are your top five hangouts or bars in that part of NYC?
Cheekies, 169 bar, Chinatown amusements, Forgetmenot, and Franks Chop Shop.

So does the band have a plans for after the big festival season?
Of course! Open a bar. We talk about it a lot. That would be our dream–to open a bar in the city. Maybe some tapas, too.

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