Origin: New York City
Official Site: skatersnyc.com
New York City quartet SKATERS’ music, ethos, and attitude are remarkably entrenched in the late nights, eclectic characters, and punk roots of their hometown. That’s why it’s almost criminal that the group’s birth can be traced to a crazy 24 hours in Los Angeles in the summer of 2011, when singer and songwriter Michael Ian Cummings met English guitarist Josh Hubbard at a party at a “really fancy-ass house,” as Cummings recalls.
A few months later, the still band-less Cummings got a call from Hubbard announcing that he’d be arriving in NYC the following day from the U.K. Hubbard landed 24 hours later and crashed drummer Noah Rubin’s birthday party. As Rubin and Hubbard got reacquainted, Rubin suggested Josh come to jam — and Hubbard flipped. “I’d just f**king flown 3,000 miles, I didn’t want to f**king jam,” he explains. He wanted a band. The Englishman threw down the gauntlet: He was in town for a month and a half and wanted the group to play a gig. So they hooked up with local bassist Dan Burke, booked three shows, learned the songs Cummings and Rubin had been tinkering with (and a handful of Pixies covers), and SKATERS arrived with a bang. Little did they realize at the time that all of these stories and more would find their way into the eleven songs that comprise their debut album, MANHATTAN, such a relatively short time later.
While Hubbard was playing in the successful British band the Paddingtons, Cummings and Rubin were grinding away in the States in the Dead Trees, while Burke was lending a hand in a slew of NYC bands. After the Paddingtons dissolved, Hubbard played in Carl Barat’s post-Libertines band, Dirty Pretty Things, then went through a rough patch (“I ended up going to Ibiza for four weeks and actually losing my mind”) before returning to his favorite city to seize the opportunity to work with Cummings and Rubin. A week after he arrived, they wrapped recording on the Schemers EP, which they offered as a free download so people could get a taste of their bold, swaggering rock, which distills elements of the Clash, the Ramones, and the Strokes into their own unique sound. At the same time, they began to launch the full SKATERS project, including handmade ‘zines titled YONKS (future issues forthcoming), which helped unite the disparate artists they’d befriended.
“SKATERS was founded on late ’70s New York punk and there was this community,” Rubin explains. “We moved here excited for New York to be that place, and instead it was a very competitive and fragmented artistic environment.” So they did their best to change it. The first YONKS release party was an epic gig at Manhattan’s Studio at Webster Hall that attracted a massive crowd thanks to word-of-mouth buzz. Warner Bros. Records was in the audience and signed the band based on their tight show and the strength of Schemers. Warner Bros. then released a 7″ single of a track from the EP — “I Wanna Dance (But I Don’t Know How)” backed by “Armed” — which immediately blew up on blogs in the U.K. and New York (New York Times, Interview, Blackbook, Nylon, New York Magazine, to name a few).
When it came time to record their Warner Bros. debut, the band looked directly to its hometown for inspiration. MANHATTAN is more than an album — it’s a statement of purpose and a portrait of life in New York City. “We were all bartenders, so the songs are tales of experiences we had or saw, and other people who were characters in our life during the first year we were in this band,” Cummings says. (And for the record, SKATERS chose their band name because it captures their young and fearless attitude.