Tuesday, June 05, 2007

It Must Be Nice to Be So Unexplained

S.K.A.W. - Without You
S.K.A.W. - Are Yer Chickens Laying Eggs?

I don't know about you, but I'm one of those people who needs to know about the music I'm listening to. I like a bit of a story - the history of how the band came together, the group dynamics, what makes them tick, their influences - whatever. I lap it all up like a thirsty dog. I don't know why it matters so much to me, but it does. I guess that's evident from the sheer amount of words I type on here sometimes. I find it very hard to just write something brief - I love to spin a yarn myself, whether it is telling the story of the song or band, putting the music in context or imparting my opinion and the significance the music has to me.

So that is why I find it frustrating that I know absolutely sod all about S.K.A.W. All I have to verify their existence is a 12" single, featuring three tracks, two of which you can listen to above. There is absolutely no information about the band anywhere on the record, and even an extensive trawl of the Internet has turned up nothing. Actually, that's not strictly true - there is a reference at discogs.com that lists the band members as Andrew Frank and Damian O'Malley. Frank resurfaced a few years later as the front man for skag-rockers Pusherman, who were signed to Oasis manager Marcus Russell's Ignition label in the mid-90s. When I first heard Pusherman, I thought I recognised the singer's voice, but it took me a few years to put two and two together and link Frank back to S.K.A.W. The band (S.K.A.W.) are also mentioned on listings for the label, Vinyl Japan, but only in name. There’s fuck all else, anywhere.

I've made a few assumptions myself. The 12" was released in 1990, and probably intended to take a ride on the good ship baggy. The beat for 'Without You' is lifted straight from Paul Oakenfold's 'Think About the Future' remix of Happy Monday's 'W.F.L.'. Andy Frank has a wonderfully gravely and powerful voice, that sounds better suited to proper rawk (think Led Zep - OK, maybe Reef!) than indie dance. I also love his inability to pronounce the word ‘You’, preferring, ‘Yow’ or ‘Yar’ or even the piratey ‘Yo-Ho-Ho’. There's a soaring chorus, a funky bassline and an epic guitar solo, all over a brilliantly frazzled fade-out. There was also a Beat Junkies mix that did pretty much the same thing for a few minutes longer. I reckon it would have blessed the dance floor of most indie discos during the early 90s. The b-side was always my favourite track on the 12". 'Are Yer Chickens Laying Eggs?' is an instrumental number, opening with atmospheric guitar licks, before a bluesy harmonica, a funky (sampled from Soul II Soul?) beat and a groovy bassline that again, appears to be lifted from the Mondays, kick off. The guitars crash, the harmonica wails and we all we all lollop around Bez. I can remember being at the summit of a mountain in Austria, my mind thoroughly rearranged by psychedelics, sharing an earphone each with my best mate as we freaked out listening to this on a Walkman. Fond memories, which is a maybe why I long for some solid information on the band...

...which is where I'm hoping you lot will come in. Surely somebody out there remembers something - perhaps you saw them live. Maybe you own the record too and recall reading an interview or a review at the time. Or are you a member of the band who can't believe that somebody out there cares enough about the music you made to write something about you? If so, please leave a comment or get in touch via the e-mail over there on the right hand side. I guess it doesn't really matter, or as Frank sings in 'Without You', "It must be nice to be so unexplained" - I know he wasn't talking about the band themselves, but it fits pretty nicely. I've lasted for the past 17 years, and could definitely go to my grave untroubled if I never found out anything further about them, but if you do know something – please share. I'd especially like to know what S.K.A.W. is an acronym for, or if indeed it is. Cheers!

Buy the 12" of 'Without You' from eBay
Vinyl Japan at TweeNet