We met Skits on a Saturday evening where the band was preparing for a showcase of their debut album BUT NO at Live Fact, the venue in which the album was recorded live. Phang (Keys/Synthesisers), Brendan (Guitar/Sampler), Eric (Bass), and Rashaad (Drums/Percussion) make up Skits, however, by the next time you catch the band, the musician who you’ll see pummelling at the drums will be their newest drummer Khairi, who replaces Rashaad as he’s relocated to Singapore for work. So in a way, the day of the album showcase was also a send-off for their former drummer.
Images Vaness Ching + Cindy Low
With the exception of Rashaad (formerly of the band The Endleaves), the other members of Skits said that they were “outcasts” from their previous bands – Brendan and Eric were attached to Free Deserters for ten years and Phang used to play for Citizens of Ice Cream. Much like how marriages dissolve as a result of the inoffensive term ‘irreconcilable differences’, the politically correct reason for their respective departures were due to creative differences. So two years ago, a call for musicians on Brendan’s Facebook page brought the men together. Khairi, whose approach for contact was also through the aid of the social network, quipped, “Wait, is this a social media band?” The realisation led to an eruption of laughter from the band.
BUT NO was recorded quickly but song ideas were not hard to come by as they still remembered to have fun during the duration of recording. Phang shared a tip for their swift process; have a recorder ready as you could review your materials and have them be easily accessible. The initial loose jamming of ideas eventually attained some semblance of structure and planning as the band grew away from boredom and felt an increasing sense of urgency. “We were in bands that almost achieved something, but some things happened… With this band, we’re back for glory. We’re dead serious. That’s why we did everything efficient, fast, quick,” stated Brendan. The mention of ‘urgency’, on the other hand, brought about exclaims from the more mature members of the band, namely Phang, Eric, and Brendan, who told us a recurring joke he makes about there being three generations in the band. Eric, being the oldest, has had an extensive career in the local music industry as he was the sound engineer for many popular bands such as Gerhana Ska Cinta and The Times. He even played for the third incarnation of OAG before Radhi entered rehab.
The album is an instrumental one; there was no intention to recruit a lead singer as they wanted to utilise Brendan’s extensive library of samples. The initial idea was to feature multiple vocalists a la Massive Attack but due to the singers’ own commitments and such, samples became their next best alternative. They further reasoned that without the inclusion of vocalists, they would not be limited to the range and ability of the vocalists – a scouring through the archives could complement Skits’ versatility and experimentation. A myriad of samples was used for the songs; for instance, there is a reading of Alice in Wonderland on ‘Narrative’, a religious chant for ‘英雄本色’, and an advertisement for Camel cigarettes on ‘Day In, Day Out’.
Musically, the songs on BUT NO are varied and untethered from a specific genre, they diverge from one another as at turns it can indie pop like with ‘Fall From Grace’, then rampantly punk-ish with ‘Barang Sampah’, and there’s a half-diss at the saturation of local math rock bands as well as their own inability to play it with the plainly titled ‘Math Gagal’. Aside from original songs, the album closes with a cover of Butterfingers’ ‘Vio Pipe’. The band is, however, aware about maintaining a level of approachability to their music, as Rashaad explained, “One of the key things was to make each song different, but accessible in a way and it will centre around some kind of melody. I think, at the very least, that’s a conscious decision.”
Ultimately, the members of Skits aim to achieve an album that has longevity, meaning that the songs do not tire listeners and instead would hopefully intrigue people to have continual interest in discovering the intricacies of each song. Even if you’ve exhausted the album, they hope it’ll compel you to take another listen.
Drop a DM on Skits’ Facebook page to purchase the band’s debut album BUT NO for RM35, or opt for the package deal (album + band tee + poster) for RM70.