Skamper – Thunderbeast

Label: Second Floor Noise
Rating: 3.5 Guns

Buy On:

Masters of styles is the first phrase that comes to mind after hearing Skamper’s new album, “Thunderbeast.” Seemlessly blending aggressive electronica with Killers-style indie rock, this album is an experimental delve into sound.

“Thunderbeast” was almost scrapped by its creator, singer Lawrence Lewis, but luckily a new mix brought the album to life and put it on our desk.

“Afterlife,” the album’s lead track, starts off with heavy synth, and seamlessly rolls into a rock opus. A lot of times bands can’t quite make electronica work with alternative, but this song breaks that mold in a great way.

“Evacuate” is a guitar-infused goth song about an insane person, reminiscent of Placebo and The Cure.

“Garden” reminds me of God Lives Underwater, starting slow and gradually transitioning into a ‘garden’ of distortion.

“It’s Blue” is a slow/cerebral song that bursts into the punk-infused “Ladyfingers.” Definitely a cool pairing.

“Number 9” is a B-52-influenced space-rocker. If I was blasting through the galaxy in a rocketship, this is the song I would be blaring to ward off extra-terrestrials. “Number 9” goes hand-in-hand with the experimental, “Planet Boy.”

What happens when you mix 30 Seconds to Mars with Muse? You end up with “Starbird,” a fluttery song that brings Grunge into the new millennium.

“Thieves” takes what A Perfect Circle did in “Thinking of You,” mixing porn rock with 90s alternative. Definitely worth checking out.

The journey comes to an end with “Two Feet, By Two Feet” and “Whistleblower.” Whistleblower jams slowly as it lands us back on earth, spinning from the journey into space Skamper just took us on.

Skamper – “Whistleblower”

Mixed by Jason Grossman (Flogging Molly, Thrills) Thunderbeast is Skamper’s new release, slouching toward Bethlehem to be born on a bed of sonic chunk and melodic noise. The band was born in 2001, with head maestro, founding member and songwriter Lawrence Lewis as the vortex that draws everything near its center – members and ingredients changing as the stew continues to take on strange new flavors. The one constant, musician and artist Devon Paulson is the perfect musical compliment to Lewis’ idiosyncratic imagination, and Thunderbeast does not fail to deliver a punch of sonic substance and intrigue.

You could describe their sound as glitter-punk-cronk-choas but handles don’t really do it justice. Lawrence has been cooking up these fascinating brews for the last few years in a Silverlake closet, and Phillip Haut (The Centimeters, Listing Ship, Veronica Lipgloss and the Evil Eyes) did the recording honors. But the albums’ mixes were scrapped just before mastering, and Jason Gossman (The Thrills, The Rumble Strips, Sondre Lechre, Flogging Molly) stepped in to lend a new set of ears and a masterful remix.

Some songs feel like beds of keenly constructed noise and feedback, cradles for melodies that sit tightly while they ride the waves. Others feel more like primal noise jelly and will drive you to jump up and rock your spasmodic body into blissful seizures. Internet and indie airwaves, get ready. Those of you hungry for a new aural ear-bang, be ready. This is one beast you’ll definitely want to meet on a dark street.

We ran into Lawrence Lewis, and threw a few questions at him. Enjoy!

CWG: Silverlake is a pretty diverse area. Would you say that living there has had an influence on the diverse sounds of Skamper?

It’s quite possible, but not in a musical way. I don’t feel any connection to the music scene in Silverlake, but I’m sure the city in general has influenced me to some degree. I started the band when I was living in London so it’s quite possible that there are some influences from other places in the world.

Also, I feel that my scattered little brain has fallen in love with so many different genres of music that it’s all come through in what I write. I love dark and ugly, happy and poppy, moody, frenetic… I think it just depends on my mood that day and what or whom I’m writing about.

This album ended up being sort of a reflection of my interpersonal relationships to some extent. You could almost say that each song is about a specific person, or a specific exchange or encounter with someone I know, and since people in general are quite diverse, and our moods as humans are quite diverse and can be a bit twisted or jagged, I think the songs took on those qualities.

CWG: Who are some of your musical influences?

I’m never good at answering this question… I always feel that the things that influences us as people and artists is a bit unknown to us… they operate in the subconscious level rather than in the subjective mind. Or at least they should.

I try to stay away from listening to bands or music I like and steering my songs into those directions. That wouldn’t be an influence, that would just be copying.

But to answer the question without sounding like a jerk, I have always loved the more theatrical forms of rock… glam rock… Bowie, T-Rex, etc.. punk rock and I mean the o.g. punk rock, not Green Day… I mean bands like 45 Grave, Dead Kennedys, The Damned… and the strong female performers have always sent shivers up my spine such as Siouxsie, Lydia Lunch, Debbie Harry, Toni Halliday, Chrissy Amphlett, etc…

CWG: Where’s your favorite place to hang out in L.A.?

My living room. Unless it’s between 4pm and 6pm when the sun is beating through my window, then it’s my backyard with a bottle of wine, friends and my rabbit.

CWG: Tell us more about the “Lost original mixes” of Thunderbeast, we smell a story!

The album was mixed once by someone else and it was a tough process.

Although we were involved throughout the whole process no one was really thrilled with the way it was turning out. Once the album was done we all listened to it as a whole and it just somehow didn’t seem to work. I sat on it for a long time. I was quite depressed really and almost decided to throw it out completely. I felt like I let everyone down so I didn’t speak to anyone in the band for quite sometime after that. We stopped playing shows, we stopped hanging out together.

Eventually I met Tony Hoffer, by some fluke, and sent him a few of my songs. He liked them a lot and was into mixing the album, but his schedule was booked so far in advance that he suggested I use his mix engineer Jason Gossman, who turned out to be incredible.

When we compared the mixes they were like night and day. I didn’t realize I wasn’t hearing the songs sound as good as they could be until that point. It completely re-energized me and got me excited about the album again.

It still took a long time to mix because he was doing it over nights and weekends, and I was out of town a lot, so it was all done through email between us. It was a long but exciting process.

CWG: (Besides Skamper) Who is your current favorite L.A. band?

I never really seem to have any favorite LA bands, but right now I’m really liking No Age. I think it’s the first band from here that I’ve liked in a very long time.

Like this band? You may also like: The Postal Service, The Killers, The Bravery, Muse, Placebo


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