Hailing from the San Francisco Bay, Skin Like Iron play gritty, raw, and intense hardcore punk. Do you really need to know anything else? Scene Point Blank recently had the opportunity to speak with Skin Like Iron vocalist/guitarist Alex Capasso about the band's upcoming releases as well as some of his other musical and visual projects.
Scene Point Blank: What's your name and role in Skin Like Iron?
Alex Capasso: Alex C. I do vocals and play guitar. If you want to get nit-picky I also write the lyrics and do all of our graphic design.
Scene Point Blank: Can you provide a little insight into the formation of the band? Where does the name come from?
Alex Capasso: Skin Like Iron came about by accident. I was doing The Mourning Dawn with Paul and Blaine in late 2006. After practice one day, we had a bunch of time left in our practice room, so I called up Drew and asked him if he wanted to start a new band. Initially it really was just a way to get our money's worth out of the practice spot. I think we wrote five songs that first night, and it was a lot of fun, so we decided to keep going. After a while it became clear that things were right, so we dedicated ourselves to it.
Scene Point Blank: When the band made its first recording available, the response was so great that you overloaded the bandwidth to your site. How do you respond to a reaction like that?
Alex Capasso: First and foremost, we've always tried to please ourselves, so the positive response is strictly an unexpected and welcome reward. The initial online response to our demo definitely exceeded my expectations. With support like that, I think it pushed us to take ourselves a little more seriously than we had initially planned to, and it's also allowed us to take more risks creatively.
Scene Point Blank: Skin Like Iron has been fairly busy release-wise since its inception; you've got three cassette releases under your belts already. What makes this band so inspired to write material so quickly?
Alex Capasso: Personally, I can't stop writing, so I've always got ideas to take to practice. Paul and Blaine are both really good at coming up with riffs on the spot, and Drew's drums almost always match up with what we all imagined they'd sound like when we were writing the riffs. The process is fairly easy and natural, and it's hard to stop when you're on a roll. I think our official song count is thirty songs in the fourteen months that we've been together. If you counted the songs that we scrapped or never quite finished, you could probably add another six or seven onto that count.
Scene Point Blank: Why cassette releases? What makes this medium so compelling for your releases as opposed to vinyl or CD?
Alex Capasso: Tapes are really affordable for us to produce, and just as affordable to anyone interested in buying them. I've heard people refer to tapes as novelties, which I think is a bit of a cynical viewpoint. Yes, they have a bit of a novelty factor, but I think that's a good thing. CD-Rs are easier to produce, but they're often thrown away or neglected because they're so replaceable. Tapes are treated with more care, and people only tend to buy them if they're interested in them. How many bands give out hundreds of CD-R demos, only to have them tossed in the trash, or on the floor of your car under a bunch of junk? It's unfortunate, but that's just the way it goes. Vinyl and CD releases have their obvious appeal, but we felt it was best to hold off on releasing vinyl until we had better developed material, and a little more support.
Scene Point Blank: Do you have any upcoming releases planned that you can tell us about?
Alex Capasso: April is the month that everything happens for us?
Self-titled 10" (Self-released) Nine songs. Eight songs are new ones, and one is re-recorded from the demo. We recorded it with Roger Tschann at Grizzly Studios and it sounds really good. He's recorded everyone from Life Long Tragedy, Never Healed and Allegiance to Tiger Army. This release features a good mix of the faster stuff we started with, and the more mid-paced sound we've been moving toward.
Grace Alley/Skin Like Iron split 7" (Spiderghost Pressgang) Two new songs from both bands. Grace Alley might be putting a surprise cover on their side as well? but I'm not sure yet. Spiderghost is one of the best labels in hardcore, but don't take my word for it. I'm at bit biased.
Amalgamation II CD (Free Cake Records) The songs on this CD are pulled from our first three tape releases - eighteen songs total. Steve of Free Cake Records/Pellinore is releasing this and we're glad to be working with him.
Scene Point Blank: Skin Like Iron has an East coast tour planned for this Spring. You've been in quite a few bands already, none of which seemed to tour, why the choice to tour with Skin Like Iron? Is this a sign of more touring to come?
Alex Capasso: Up until 2006, I had been working full time and never had the time or ability to hit the road, same with the other members in my bands. In 2006, I started attending school, which gave me a lot more flexibility with my schedule. Plus, for the first time, all us in the band are able to make the time to at least head out for a week at a time every so often. This is simply a matter of seizing the opportunity while we can. We're also going to play Rain Fest in May, so pretty much any opportunity to get out and play for people outside the Bay Area is an opportunity that we're going to take.
Scene Point Blank: What's the current status of These Days? Since the release of your latest EP there hasn't been much activity.
Alex Capasso: These Days is currently just moving very slowly. I'm taking Skin Like Iron pretty seriously, Aaron is killing people with the sweet sounds of Crucified, Alex P is doing his new band At Our Heels, and Mark is working with Modern Eyes right now. When the time is right, you'll hear more from us. Tentatively, we've got some plans for this summer.
Scene Point Blank: How about your work in The Mourning Dawn? There was the "1931-1981" release in 2004 and I recall there being mention of new recordings. Will these ever see the light of day?
Alex Capasso: The Mourning Dawn is something that will never really become anything full-time. It basically only happens when my friends are feeling charitable enough to play a bunch of songs exactly how I tell them to. As you can imagine, that's not exactly fulfilling for most people, so the project never gets any real traction. I was going to record fifteen songs last year, but Skin Like Iron took precedence. No time, no money. It's important to me to record the songs though, so I will definitely get a lineup into the studio at some point. Maybe this summer?
Scene Point Blank: In addition to your musical projects you are involved in quite a number of artistic outlets - graphic design, zine, writing. Where do you draw your inspirations? Was there a particular individual that first led you to discover your artist talents?
Alex Capasso: I don't know. I sort of came into graphic design by accident. I started off making websites, but realized that I sucked at coding, so I just focused on making them look good. Throughout the years, my various experiences with zines, and having to do my own band's cover art lead me to try to develop my talents in those areas. I have been doing freelance design for bands for a few years now, and I've had the chance to work for bands like This is Hell, Life Long Tragedy, Steel Trap, and a bunch more. Artists that I appreciate include Raymond Pettibon, Jake Bannon, and all the anonymous adherents to the classic punk rock/Xerox aesthetic.
Scene Point Blank: You have your own printed zine, but rather than focus on music or writing, it tackles the art of graffiti. Why graffiti? What makes graffiti art? Do you dabble in tagging?
Alex Capasso: I don't write. My role is strictly as a documentarian. I document it because most people would rather paint over graffiti than preserve it. I don't consider graffiti art, although even the grimiest tags require some sort of artistry, I suppose. Graffiti is at its best when it's strictly vandalism. I'd rather see a shitty Frisco one flow on a MUNI bus, or a black and white throwy on a delivery truck than see a full color, meticulously painted piece in a chill spot. Not that I can't appreciate the skill that that sort of thing takes, I just prefer to see the quick and dirty shit in the streets. Information about my zine can be found at http://www.myspace.com/hitdzine
Scene Point Blank: What other projects are the members of Skin Like Iron currently involved in?
Alex Capasso: Spiderghost Pressgang - http://www.spiderghost.net Paul Ehat Photography - http://www.paulehatphotography.com Golgotha Art & Design - blacksummer.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
Scene Point Blank: Do you have any final words you'd like to share?
Alex Capasso: Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the band and for your continued support. Thanks to Sammy Winston and Spiderghost Pressgang, Kim(possible) Yount for booking our tour, Pressure, Never Healed, and Trash Talk. Thank you all for always looking out for us.
- Website: http://www.blacksummer.com/sli/