On a recent evening in a quiet Tempe neighborhood, the guys in Smoky Mountain Skullbusters are in a small padded room at guitarist Dylan Underkofler's house, practicing for the upcoming release party for the punk outfit's sophomore record, Yin Through the Yang Door. As drummer/vocalist Rob Davis, bassist/vocalist Mike Roberts, lead guitarist Matt "Honeybear" Haselow, and Underkofler plow through their Southern-tinted, sludgy punk rock, it seems odd that it doesn't take more energy to make this loud a noise. Though the songs are new, they're signature Skullbuster compositions, with cascading riffs, metronomic timing changes, and breakdowns that are better described as meltdowns. Sans earplugs, it's hard to hear a word after they've finished practicing, but they sat down on Underkofler's front porch for a rambling chat.
New Times: Did you guys' parents think you were gay when they found out you were in an emo band?
(Uncomfortable laughter, and strange looks from the band.)
Smoky Mountain Skullbusters
Hollywood Alley in Mesa
Scheduled to perform on Friday, December 2. Admission, $8, includes a copy of the new CD.
Mike Roberts: Emo band?
Matt Haselow: Well, my parents always thought I was gay.
NT: Sorry, wrong notes. Tell me about the new record.
Dylan Underkofler: It's got half as many songs, but it's just as long as the first one [Viva La Hell], so we're playing longer songs with more words. It's better. It better be better. It's higher quality.
Roberts: On the new one, everybody sings their own lyrics.
Underkofler: We're kind of like the Beatles like that. I like to compare us to the Beatles.
NT: Yeah, I hear that a lot about you guys.
Underkofler: Rob's got his Ringo songs and Matt's got his George Harrison songs, Mike's kind of like John Lennon, except John Lennon doesn't play bass. So we are different from the Beatles in a couple ways, but other than that . . . pretty much really close. We'll probably get shot.
NT: Do you know any good drummer jokes?
Rob Davis: How many drummers does it take to screw in a light bulb? None, they've got machines that do that now, too.
NT: What's the biggest secret people don't know about the Skullbusters?
Haselow: We all have code names. Dylan is Dilly-buttons, Mike is Crazy Buffalo Head, I'm Honeybear, and Rob is Shaky Valentine.
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Roberts: In Chinese, Shaky Valentine translates to "Unstable Lover."
Davis: I want to be Smoky Davis.
Underkofler: If these are code names and they're printed in the paper, how are they code names anymore? You just told the biggest paper in town our secret names.