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The best kept secret in music


"Skintones Release Rockin' New Album"

With a label name like Crustacean do ya think the band might be a little rough around the edges? Uh, I do think it’s a fit. The band that has a more cosmetic name, the Skintones, are everything but cosmetic. They are rough and tumble, straight forward minus the bullshit, cocky, and above all, they have the talent to back it all up.

Tony Leskinen (drums, vocals), Pete Ross (guitar, vocals) and Darwin Sampson (bass, vocals) are a ballsy trio that has the time of their lives on a rockin’ new album. They are funny, in your face, and a fun listen. I heard a very interesting and entertaining blend of rock, punk and alternative that borders on crossing over into progressive at times. The band likes to call their sound munkal (a combination of metal and punk). This is a band of advanced musicians, there is no question about it, even though they do not take themselves too seriously as indicated by the credits in the CD, they introduce the band lineup as the self-absorbed pricks. I really do not believe that these guys are like this, they are just making light of themselves just as they do every other subject matter on the album.

The first tracks digs right in, shouting at all the overpaid fat cats on Capitol Hill with lines like-The United States/ is a basket case/it’s a fucked up place/time and energy has gone to waste/it’s the United States today. While this is true, I will take living in the U.S. on a bad day over many countries on a good day. On “Million $ Itch” you have to love the wide-eyed window shopping fool and the line-You got a million dollar itch/With a twenty dollar scratch. This is a tough dose of reality for a person with expensive taste and no money to fill the hole and insecurities that go with it.

There were many outstanding albums this year to enjoy and I think this is one of the most different rock albums. It takes guts and plenty of confidence to sing about what you really feel, its takes even more to pull it off with some impact, the Skintones do it all in spades on this CD.


"Smother Reviews the Skintones"

I could have sworn that was the late Charles Bronson on the actual CD’s disc. Anyways, The Skintones present their kerosene punk with its socially and politically charged lyrics. Formed in the cheese state, Wisconsin, the Skintones have no issue with saying what’s on their mind overtop of their pseudo AC/DC backdrop. If you need a great punk rock band to fuel an all-night bender, hire the Skintones.

- J-Sin -

"Ricks Cafe CD Review - Rock Scene Problem"

THE SKINTONES Rock Scene Problem • (2002 Crustacean) • Style: Hard Rock/Punk
Titles: H-Bomb (2:42) Showbiz (3:35) Cuckoo (2:52) Road Jack (3:20) Hogspray (3:54) Control of Your Life (3:43) Scrips (3:20) Crosswalk (3:03) Checka (2:24) Sub Patrol (3:42) Camera Kills (3:10) We Cool (2:30) Fast Car (1:54) All Hail Poseidon (3:00 Hidden Track:Sub Patrol

Muscianship "Three and 1/2 stars" •
Composition "Three and 1/2 stars" • Lyrics/Interpretation "Three and 1/2 stars" •
Production "Four stars" • Packaging "Three and 1/2 stars" • Total 18 stars

Crustacean Records continues its fine roster of releases with this new one by The Skintones, released the last day of 2002. Maybe it's because I'm more than a little pissed off right now, but I am really into this record. Recorded by Travis Kasperbauer at Madison Media Institute, "Rock Scene Problem" is a marvel of a production achievement. Who says rock music that's raw and politically charged can't also be well crafted? The Skintones don't just bring a wall-of-sound, they bring a fucking Great Wall of China wall-of-sound. And I've seen this power trio live (see Live Shows, this issue) so this success is in no way chalked up to studio techniques.
I read a review of this CD elsewhere and whoever said that this is a punk band singing songs about nothing simply wasn't listening. Sure, there's some humor in their approach, demented humor, but nearly every song bristles with a bold statement of political, social or sexual import. This is a well-thought-out batch of songs from riff to lyric and hey, whad'ya know, music that makes you think. And it rocks - hard.
The Skintones like to use gutterals to augment the songs: "Booms!" in political send-up and album opener "H-Bomb"; "Blahs!" And "Ughs!" in the anti-showbiz "Showbiz"; Puking at the opening of "Scrips"; and baby-like "Waahs!" in "Crosswalk." The phasing swirl of Peter Ress' guitar in "Control of Your Life" lends the song a dizzying effect and the soundbite at the end had me laughing out loud. Perhaps my favorite on the disc is "Hogspray," an anti-meat gross-out that ends with the disgustedly-sung refrain, "Who's the pig? You's the pig!" The truth is, I liked all the songs; I'm playing them over and over as I write this. Loud. The musicianship is great too and the drumming is outstanding.
So are the Skintones a political band? Who's to say what is political and what is not? Ultimately everything can be reduced to political terms. The Skintones tackle subjects such as the "H-Bomb," the 1917 Russian Counter-Revolutionary death squad "Checka," impending war on "Sub Patrol," nuclear fallout in "Crosswalk," drug abuse on "Control of Your Life" and "Scrips," and hometown put-down in "Road Jack," giving each of these their own political spin. And then there's "All Hail Poseidon" with the lines: "The modern gods are boring/The ancient ones are fun/The drinking and the whoring/I can't choose which one." It's extremely varied topically but strong and cohesive throughout.
Guitarist/lead vocalist Ress, bassist/vocalist Darwin Sampson and drummer/vocalist Tony Leskinen have really made a great record - check it out for yourself.

- Rick's Cafe

"Live show review, 2003"


Regent St. Retreat • Saturday, March 22, 2003

...The highlight of the evening for me was The Skintones, another band with which I was not too familiar. I'd heard their new release on Crustacean Records, "Rock Scene Problem" (see CD Reviews, this issue) and liked what I heard, but that did not prepare me for the live performance they unleashed. Their sound was also the best of the night; the drums were clean-sounding and all three contributed vocals. I would describe this band as rock, leaning to punk, with a demented sense of humor. Good stage presence, excellent dynamic builds, impassioned vocals, and mock-sarcasm. Guitarist Pete Ress is a strong player, with great tone and lead-playing. In a power trio like The Skintones, the burden will often fall to the guitarist and he more than adequately carries the mantle. Bassist Darwin Sampson was equally enjoyable to watch, a kind of sickly grin on his face during the whole proceedings. All three were dripping with sweat a fraction of the way through their set. Thoroughly enjoyable....

- Rick's Cafe

"Skintones tell it like it is."

If you ask The Skintones about their previous bands, they will eventually give up listing. After years on the Madison rock scene all three members; Pete Ress, Tony Leskinen and Darwin Sampson have seen various degrees of success and failure. "Maybe we were doing things for the wrong reasons," says Leskinen . "If you have to trick yourself into getting together every week and playing, it becomes a chore." When The Skintones formed in '98, the main goal was simply to get together and have a good time. "It's been a hell of a progression. We got way over the hump when Darwin [Sampson] joined," says Ress. All three members have fronted bands, but in this case, that doesn't mean ego conflicts, but rather that everyone brings something substantial to the table. Especially vocals, they make sure that everyone adds into the music. "One of the main goals when the band got together was that everyone was going to carry their weight with the vocals," says Leskinen. The Wisconsin natives also make a point of avoiding cohabitation. "We don't really hang out outside of the band. So you avoid the sort of "familiarity breeds contempt thing…It's fun to see someone when you haven't seen them for a few days," says Ress.

What holds them together if they spend so much time apart? "Being over 30, having respect, and keeping it light," says Sampson. That lightness not only runs though the band's communication with each other, but also through their influences. From Zappa to Queens of the Stone Age, it's there. Levity is the glue that holds their creative minds together. The Skintones bring enough of their own creative energies to bear on the music that it's not easy to categorize. Their "eclectically pleasing" sound has elated positive crowd response in and out of Madison. They make sure that every show is fresh, and often tailor the playlist to the crowd. Sometimes people don't immediately catch on however. "I think that when people don't recognize something immediately they don't know if it's innovative or if it sucks…there's not a frame of reference," says Leskinen . Beyond the heavy and eclectic sound, there's usually someone in the crowd who takes the message a bit too seriously.

"People will take a song or a lyric and say 'is that how you guys really feel, are you a political band?' We're like 'god no!'" Leskinen says, recalling a punk kid walking up to him and saying, "I don't agree with all of that devil stuff."

Devil stuff included, The Skintones released their new album, Rock Scene Problem, on March 9th.
Why should you buy their new album? Leskinen says "it's orange and white like a dreamsicle." Ress says "it's as funny as it is filled with good music." Sampson, however, makes the best argument. "If you listen to the entire album and don't smile at least once, whether you like it or not, you're dead."
The Skintones head out to the east coast in mid-April and return to Wisconsin for a show at the Anchor Inn on April 24th with Watershed Year, Volante, Hill Of The Dead and Voodoo Love Mint . - Maximum Ink


1999 - Devil Rock (self-released)
2002 - Rock Scene Problem (Crustacean Records)
2004 - Never Get Better (Crustacean Records)
2004 - Crustacean Records Summer Sampler
2004 - Four on the Floor Records Sampler
2005 - Crustacean Records SXSW Sampler
2005 - "We Will Bury You" Killdozer tribute CD (release date tbd)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Skintones hail from Madison, Wisconsin. They've been tooling around in one form or another for nearly 10 years.

When the 'Tones original bassist Chris Backus left the band for greener pastures Darwin Sampson hopped on board and the band hasn't looked back since.

The mission statement is simple - Skintones have no mission statement! Call it a philosophy of zero philosophical importance. While there may be little grains of insight buried in the lyrics and music, the music and art of Skintones is to be merely enjoyed and not overanalyzed.

The band is currently recording their 3rd full length in the last 3 years. Prolific beyond explanation, the music comes quicker than even the band knows what to do with it. Plans for a Spring '06 West Coast tour are in the works, as well as a continued blanketing of the upper Midwestern's finest venues and cities.

What do Skintones sound like? It's a tough question to answer, yet bits and pieces of the answer to this query are easily recognizable. When asked, the band points out the expansive list of bands they've been told they sound like; Primus, Ween, Queens of the Stone Age, Metallica, Presidents of the USA, PJ Harvey, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Killdozer, the list goes on and on. So many different comparisons have been made that the band is sometimes confused.

The underlying theme with everyone is "HOW DO 3 GUYS MAKE THAT MUCH NOISE!@#$?"

Skintones trudge on, creating music that captivates, entertains, annoys, irritates, and tickles your tummy with a wit and sarcasm that truly must be experienced to appreciate!