“It’s all about how you want to take it,” says vocalist and creative maestro Michael Laster. “I like confusion, like movies that you have to watch more than once to try and understand.”
The dynamic Skeetzo N’ Krysis front man is describing his onstage appearance, as he sips on his Pabst Blue Ribbon tall boy. He and I sat down to discuss his band’s important upcoming gig, opening for the legendary Misfits on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at Gilligan’s (527 W. Main St.).
In digging up the roots of Laster’s musical contributions to society, the 28-year-old Rutherford County native recalls his former band Skullkin, which had a run from 2001-2007. Anybody into the local metal scene during those years ought to know the name.
“It was fun, but falling into the metal scene had its downside too,” he admits. “Sometimes you’d have to wait through a number of bands to play and everything sounded pretty much the same. I got tired of playing constant heavy music (or “Southern sludge,” as he puts it). I wanted to diversify musically and appeal to more people.”
More focus on stage theatrics is another direction Laster discusses, which he claims did not necessarily coincide with the interest of his other band members.
Since the formation of Skeetzo N’ Krysis, he has, onstage, typically donned an outfit giving the appearance of a half-and-half sort of creature-person. You could say he’s a guy with an alter-ego, which itself consists of two alter-egos. If you do the math, that’s one better than Two-Face/Harvey Dent in the Batman comic series.
On one side of his outfit, he reminds me of a long, gray, scraggly-haired backwoods briar wearing a flannel. On the flip, he’s wearing a faux tuxedo shirt and suit jacket, sporting blackened teeth and one Willie Nelson braided pigtail. Hence the name, Skeetzo, right? And Laster assures he wouldn’t mind if people referred to him as Skeetzo instead of his birth name.
Laster (as I’ll continue to refer to him in this article) enlightened me with a back-story on his stage character. “A couple of aliens got booted off of their planet Felionikan for busting off stink bombs during a big presentation event. They were sent to planet Earth as punishment and were to await further instruction. Their spaceship had a malfunction and it crash-landed into a big vat of moonshine. I took a drink of the shine and swallowed them, and they went crazy inside of me.”
This whole upfront ensemble of freakishness is backed by a full band including Jon from Craigslist on guitar, bassist Ian Garret and drummer Josh Cope. Laster relishes in his delight for writing songs about subjects that people are familiar with but they’d rather not talk about. You might agree after listening to such tracks as “Foster Brooks” and “Abortion,” which can be found at reverbnation.com/skeetzonkrysis.
In addition to its original works, Skeetzo N’ Krysis covers material from Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs to Pink Floyd, from Hank Williams Jr. to Tom Waits, from the Doors to L7, and back to Skullkin. And of course, plenty of Misfits songs.
“I think it’d be lame to cover The Misfits on the night we’re opening for them,” Laster says with a grin. He admits this opportunity is a dream come true and goes on to reveal he’s a longtime fan of The Misfits, including its early NYC punk rock sound from the late 1970s on into the “horror punk”-themed music of the early eighties. In fact, he appreciates much of the band’s work even after vocalist Glenn Danzig’s departure and, later, the departure of bassist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein, leaving guitarist and current vocalist Jerry Only as the one remaining member from the band’s most notorious lineup.
Laster caught on in his youth and has seen the Misfits three times in his life. “In 2003, I was at their show in Chattanooga,” he recalls. “I got to hang out on the Misfits’ bus and I played Jerry Only a Skullkin CD. He only listened to, like, one song, but he said it reminded him of Type O Negative. It blew my mind!” Laster insists his story is absolutely true and continues, “I told him, ‘One day my band’s gonna open for you.’ He probably hears that a lot, but I was serious, and it’s happening!” If you’ve been to see Skeetzo N’ Krysis or Skullkin before, Laster informs that you can expect some festive favorites, like the piñata with condoms inside.
It’s going to be an energetic night full of theatrical entertainment. The Misfits are touring in promotion of the band’s new album, Devil’s Rain. Admission is 18 and up and tickets are $20. Also performing are Juicehead and Goon.
On a separate note, if you’d like a sneak peak of Skeetzo N’ Krysis before the big show and at a much cheaper cover charge ($5), the band is playing a Saturday show on Oct. 8 at The MT Bottle, on S. Church St., just three miles from I-24, heading toward Christiana/Shelbyville. This will be the band’s first show with new drummer John D. Miller. Cope will be returning on drums for The Misfits opener one final time before departing indefinitely.
Also on the books is a Nov. 19 show at The Boro Bar & Grill (1211 Greenland Dr.) to benefit those in need. Bring two or more canned or other non-perishable food items along, and you’re in.