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THE SKABS, New York Punk Legends: 1993 - 2001 R.I.P.
Liberty spikes and studded leather jackets, dreadlocks and ferrets were all the rage in New York City's Punk scene from the late '80s to the early '90s. Some cried, "Where is the Liberty?" It took a band like The Skabs to defy the imposition, by doing something as trivial as adding keyboards to their Punk sound. While English was the accepted norm in vocalization, the foreign sounds of Greek, Polish and Spanish were unusual at the time, mainly because the combination of these languages were never applicative to this kind of musical arrangement. The Skabs didn't see why they should have to limit their artistic expression, or ignore their diverse cultural backgrounds.

In the beginning, The Skabs had more than a few failed attempts at finding the right frontman. MS. HELEN GHASTLY was the concrete choice to cement the band's formation. Her lyrical ruminations are a breathing testament to the encouragement of greater thinking. There is no denying Ghastly's startling vocal prowess is an acquired taste. Male or female, if anyone was a striking central figure with stage presence, it was Helen. Some whispered she was too confrontational for the band's good, but then, Helen didn't mind being the topic of conversation.

The Skabs's most memorable song is the crowd pleasing I Thought Wrong, Helen Ghastly's homage to original Boop-Boop-a-Doop girl, Helen Kane. The simplicity of Remi's opening bass line struck a chord with nearly everyone. It became obvious to The Skabs that most people were hungry for something different. The Skabs embraced their uniqueness without hesitation. The timing was right, the setting was perfect, or so the band thought to itself. None of the members had any formal musical training to work with; it was guitar player and founding father, Edward, who first took notice of a growing problem that would soon hinder the band's musical growth, and alter their course dramatically.

Somehow, The Skabs never found a fifth member that could play the drums properly. It appeared to their audience that the band changed drummers almost as often as a pair of drawers. A machine was the only solution to an ongoing problem. The solution seemed to complement the synthesizer. Ania operated the machine and adopted it as her own. This was to be the new member that would automatically cooperate without the tiresome drama of drummers past. The evolution to a more electronic sound seemed perfectly natural to a band that never played it safe, and stuck to their Punk principles. Of course, their detractors had a field day in attempting to strip The Skabs of their hard-earned Punk credibility.

By this time, The Skabs were blighted in music reviews that were slanted from the start, and the perils of personal politics began to take a psychological toll on all four members. Outside of the East Coast, some people were either too quick to draw their own conclusions, or too reluctant to understand what The Skabs were about. This prejudice may be due to a total ignorance of the band's history which began in Abc No Rio, a Punk haven in the Lower East Side. There, The Skabs played numerous benefit shows, helped run and maintain the place, and participated in events such as Food Not Bombs.

In time, other bands would follow with a combination of contrived male/female and multi-cultural line-ups, employing keyboards or any instrumental oddities to differentiate themselves with, and to ultimately draw a vacant but well-dressed crowd. Suffice it to say that The Skabs, a band ahead of its time, paved the way for much of today's music coming out of New York City and possibly elsewhere. Music connoisseurs can easily forget that one band's struggle is another band's convenience. The influence is evident, if an informed ear gives an attentive listen.

These creative young people came together in a scene that was once a thriving proliferation of what could have become a space for genuine, open-minded artists. Instead, the scene changed hands, and was overtaken by the arbiters of political correctness who promoted a sterile and oppressive environment, where flaky non-New York newcomers took a stab at undermining The Skabs's efforts. So much for the solidarity. Only in New York can a band like The Skabs come into existence, in the time before Mayor Giuliani's transformation of Times Square into Disneyland made folks complacent. Today, the story of The Skabs remains undocumented. Where are THE SKABS now when the world needs them most?



Skabs Content

the Skabs- Content

Years after this recording saw its original release as a hard-to-come by split 12" by a Philadelphia based label, it is finally made available again as a digital release for today's audiences with the audio cleaned up and numerous bonus tracks not found on the original record. Considered by many of the band's fans to include some of their finest recorded moments, Content showcases the Skabs at the time they packed in the crowds at New York clubs like ABC No Rio, Coney Island High, or CBGB's, and a number of Lower East Side squats. A punk anomaly in New York's mid 90's punk scene, the Skabs dared to stray from the glue-n-spikes vision shared by the majority of the punk scene at the time, added a synthesizer that became more prominent as the band progressed, and adopted heavily post-punk inflected songs, as influences like the Poison Girls, Metal Urbain, and polish punk like Post Regiment and Dezerter came to the fore. Truly a multi-cultural band, the mix of which defined the boroughs of New York City, the band sang songs in a English, Polish, Greek, and Spanish. Hungry Eye is proud to make this record available again for the people who unfortunately missed out on this truly unique and original band, whose uncompromising and unrelenting attitude helped influence us to start Hungry Eye.

The Skabs - Content



the Skabs- Aged to Perfection

Years before electroclash, long before anything like a post-punk revival hit, in a time when the Lower East Side could hardly have been imagined as SoHo re-dux, the Skabs routinely held court in that skeleton of a building known as ABC No Rio and became one of the most original punk bands of that era in New York. This CD is their first proper album, coming to fruition almost 8 years after their formation, and comprised of nothing short of their whole repertoire at the time they injected more synth and drum machine sounds into their dark punk sound. Originally released on Mad at the World Records in 2001 (Hungry Eye's pre-existing punk sister label) as an attempt to help out our great friends, Aged to Perfection is a bit rough around the edges, and hardly easy listening, but bears witness to a truly significant and underappreciated band. Unafraid to step painfully outside the mould, and noisily prowl the margins. The Skabs proved too dark for the punk crowd, too rowdy and boisterous for the goth crowd, and much too belligerent for any indie crowd, and ultimately self-destructed, but not before leaving their mark on a number of audiences in New York and throughout the US and recording a few sought after recordings, making them something of a cult-classic.

CD $12 Order here! The Skabs - Aged to Perfection


MP3 Samples


  • Skabs live at the Catbox in Philadelphia, May 2001


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