The Sketties
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The Sketties

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
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This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Oct
16
The Sketties @ Manhattan Pizza and Pub

Burlington, Vermont, USA

Burlington, Vermont, USA

Oct
15
The Sketties @ Tramontane Cafe

Utica, New York, USA

Utica, New York, USA

Oct
14
The Sketties @ Kimball's Pub

Williamsport, Pennsylvania, USA

Williamsport, Pennsylvania, USA

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos

Music

Press


Feb 08

A Sketties song is like a razorblade lollipop – it’s all fun and delicious and sour apple-y on the outside, but at its core is something sinister guaranteed to send you to the aural emergency room.This is pop music from the planet Tralfamadore, a Vonnegutian assemblage of chords that is wry, smart, dark, strangely alluring and, above all, weird.
“I think it might be a combination of intending to be weird and embracing and exposing our natural weirdness,” explains guitarist and vocalist Jonnie Wechter. “This band, for us, is kind of the beginning of a lifelong search for new and experimental ways of making music. We’re not trying to sound like anyone but ourselves.”
Mission accomplished: The Sketties honestly don’t sound like any one band I can think of. There are certainly elements of other bands that you can put your finger on – the fierce innovation of The Mars Volta, the druggy drive of Queens of the Stone Age, the roots-driven peyote-drenched free-for-all of freak-folker Devendra Banhart – but otherwise, their roots are as untraceable as iocane powder. The wonder of it all is that the entire musical carnival takes place inside a pop-song big top, resulting in something akin to the Talking Heads and Oingo Boingo swimming laps together in a pool of acid.
“Pop music tends to be more upbeat and sunshiny to us. We prefer to live in caves, so to speak, leaning towards a darker, more chaotic howling-at-the-moon type of thing,” Wechter says.
The Sketties’ collective influences – at least the ones they admit to – range from Pedro the Lion to Queen to Sigur Rós to, strangely enough, Michael W. Smith. Fortunately for everyone involved, the music isn’t an attempt to reconcile these disparate influences. Instead, the Sketties seem content to file these artists away in the darkest depths of their subconscious and plow ahead with wild abandon, resulting in a sonic tug-of-war between ear candy and nails on a chalkboard. The nails usually win.
“We’re big into creepy sounds and Halloween music,” Wechter says matter-of-factly. “Our biggest influence is the observation of human behavior and how weird that can be.
“Our music might be more of an acquired taste,” he adds, contemplatively.
The Sketties are a band that, depending on which way the wind blows tomorrow, could be the darlings of bloggers everywhere. Also in their favor is the fact
that they haven’t even hit the one-year mark yet. The quintet – based in Lancaster by way of California, Oregon and Colorado – first assembled in March of last year, and within two weeks was playing its first show at
a now-defunct venue in Ephrata. The following 11 months were an intense period of learning on the fly, from
songwriting to recording to performing. The fruit of that labor is the band’s new EP, The Decisive Sufficeit, a curious little collection that shows the band’s penchant for catchiness (thanks, Michael W. Smith!) lurking beneath an ocean of eeriness.
The question is, what do you do with music like this while you’re waiting around for the bloggers to catch on? Let’s be honest, bar owners in Central PA aren’t exactly falling all over themselves to book bands that make Pavement sound like Matchbox Twenty.
Well, in The Sketties’ minds, what you do is keep your head down, make music for you and you alone and be sure to enjoy every impoverished moment of it.
“We would consider it a tremendous success to earn a sustainable, modest living playing and recording our own music,” Wechter says. “We try to take a small step forward every day in some aspect pertaining to the band. There’s only so much you can do without letting it take over your life entirely. But we’ll keep plugging away, and maybe one day the rhythm gods will smile upon us.” - Jeff Royer - Fly Magazine


Dec 08

As each layer of The Sketties’ story and sound is peeled back, this theme repeats itself again and again. Porter, the drummer, is from Colorado. The rest of the band members hail from Lancaster, but three of them had moved to Portland, Oregon to have a go at music there. Porter moved to Lancaster and happened to respond to a Craigslist post for a drummer, issued by the Lancaster transplants, who were still on the West Coast.
“As soon as everybody was in the same state, we got together at a barn up in Brunerville,” Porter explains. “Two weeks later, we played our first show.”

Every aspect of The Sketties is an experiment in fusion: Just smash the atoms together and a remarkable explosion of energy occurs. Or maybe it’s more like throwing paint at a fan and having it hit the wall looking like a Van Gogh.

When asked about The Sketties’ songwriting process, Porter pauses and then admits, “It’s kind of weird.” He then explains that four of the five members are active writers, and each of them brings snippets of melody on guitar or piano to the table. Then something organic seems to happen. This prevents the songs from succumbing to formula or overly intentional cohesion. Instead, the result is once again a kind of controlled chaos.
It comes as no surprise when Porter describes the band’s collective influences: “Well, [they’re] very diverse. Everything from Neil Young to the Deftones.”

When I ask Porter to describe the band’s sound, the answer is as skittish as the tempos in a Sketties song. After explaining that it is “different and it feels fresh,” Porter describes it more specifically as “a little dark, but hopeful throughout.” He also says that the unexpected changes and shifts can “kind of sneak up on you sometimes.”

Porter muses about how other musicians might interpret Sketties songs. “I think it would sound really cool one day if people did the string quartet thing, just to see a different interpretation of the notes. Because there’s a lot of counterpoint. … There’s seldom one melody that everyone is playing the whole time,” he says. “It’s very surrounding, I guess, if that makes any sense.”

Finally, Porter describes the band’s attitude towards the music by saying, “Nothing is taken too seriously, except that we’re just trying to go where the music is taking us.”

When asked if the darkness, or the “crazy-ass funeral” side, of The Sketties’ music is any reflection on current events, he admits that it is, but in a reflective and non-specific way. He says the band’s songs have “kind of the feel of growing up and having all of these things – America, promises, future – and then to see that changing, to not really see a clear future … [It’s] kind of uncertainty mixed with anticipation, I guess? Post-apocalyptic? … It’s definitely a response to what’s happened.”

It takes little work to tie The Sketties’ anxious and emotionally anchorless sound to the wild ride that modern life, politically and otherwise, has become. It somehow seems a fitting soundtrack or, given that our conversation took place a day before Obama was elected, a prologue to stories of seismic change and an attempt at hope in dark times. Maybe this is why bass player Mo Morris interjects with a two-word description, calling The Sketties’ sound “lightheartedly dark.”

As we move on to discuss the band’s new album, I begin to imagine fractals – you know, those colorful, mathematically generated designs that seem to go on forever with some kind of precise order that is far too complex to take in, but somehow you know it’s not just random. The process of recording Up?!?! Yes!!! started at a studio in Smoketown, halted halfway through, then started over when The Sketties took matters into their own hands and recorded almost everything in a 10-foot-by-10-foot rehearsal space in the Mulberry Art Studios (a few things were recorded in the hallway). Porter makes no attempt to dress it up as anything more, telling me that there was “nothing professional about it at all. [We used] what we had and what our friend [whom] we recorded with had.”

Porter describes The Sketties’ live experience as a more “streamlined and emotional” take on the songs. However, with five members, the sacrifices are minimal. In fact, in order to nail their sound as effectively as possible, Porter says, “Occasionally, we’ll switch. Ben will play drums and I’ll play guitar or piano, or Mo will play guitar or piano.” There is always so much going on in the songs that you are never quite sure what to focus on when listening, but that complexity just makes you want to listen again, a little more closely.

For this reason, The Sketties have a realistic grasp on where they stand with the general bar-hopping, Clear Channel-swallowing crowd. They know they’re not likely to be those listeners’ cup of tea. Porter admits, “I think you would really have to love music beyond the surface level to get into The Sketties. I mean, we are kind of weird and a little different.” But the goal is not to be some elitist, avant-garde group of artists. The Sketties simply aspire to bring something completely new to the table – “to contribute something,” says Porter.

The Sketties’ goals for the future are modest and realistic, but not by any means cynical. The band knows that while the economy at large just went nuts recently, the economy in the music business has been falling victim to a host of crippling factors for years now. This doesn’t seem to bother Porter in the slightest. He simply points out that he and his band aim to “play out and play in front of people and to give them something different … and if we could recoup costs, that would be awesome.” He adds that, while “everything is a personal investment at this point,” this is no hardship.
“We’re very happy with it,” he says. “It’s very special to us, so we’re just going to continue it. Wherever it leads would just be great. I don’t think there’s any unearthly expectations.”

This is all sounding strangely familiar and timely. Post election, most of us are cautiously celebrating what we hope is a funeral for a “crazy-assed” era, moving forward with the audacity of earthly expectations amidst a flying circus that is inevitably here to stay. So here come The Sketties, a group of musicians who haphazardly found each other in a Lancaster County barn after crisscrossing the country in other bands, who make music that probably shouldn’t work, but somehow does. Applying a realistic career approach, motivated by hope, aspiring to bring something different to the music world – you might almost call them … agents of change. - Keith Wilson - Fly Magazine


"We here at Bohemio Radio would like to give special mention to The Sketties .
Their track “Upstream” is a clever composition of sounds and has given a new meaning to counterpoint. While managing to complete a melodic and catchy
progression, they seem to amaze us with the use of their instruments.
We are happy to have such original music on our station."

Erik Wilhelm Sturm – Founder/Director
Bohemio Radio
- Bohemio Radio


"The Sketties music is like taking two pieces of jellied toast and smashing them into each other to have a gooey mess of rock and roll goodness to get your grandma shakin in her pajamas."

Jonny

Zradio - Zradio


Discography

The Decisive Sufficeit EP - Dec 2007
UP!?! YES!!! March 2009

Photos

Bio

It's been three years. According to our research, if we were, collectively, a three-year-old child, we'd be entering our peak period for imagination and pretending. It's been pretty much nonstop for those three years. We've put out an EP, "The Decisive Sufficeit" and a full length album, "Up?!? Yes!!!" and we've played over 130 shows in 11 states--as far south as Asheville, NC and as far north as Portland, ME. Our 1986 Chevy Diesel van totally rules. One day we'll drive it across the ocean. Maybe we'll even drive it into space. We recorded a 5 song EP at 7th Wave Studios in Harrisburg, PA in May, which will be coming out on vinyl this fall. We're also in the process of an ongoing and open ended recording of a ridiculous amount of material on our own. We've got so many new songs to put out, and we can't wait for you to hear them. Now we're preparing to peacefully tour the state of Virginia from Aug. 28-Sept. 4. Check back for dates. Be well!
You can find them at
www.facebook.com/thesketties
www.myspace.com/thesketties
or contact them at
thesketties@yahoo.com