Skrape
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Up The Dose
1/13/2004
 
Biography
HOME TOWN: Orlando, Fl
MEMBERS:
Billy Keeton (vocals)
Will Hunt (drums)
Brian Milner (guitars)
Pete Sison (bass)
Randy Melser (guitar)

"If you can't fuck or fight to it, it's no good," proclaims Skrape drummer and band co-founder Will Hunt. "That's the context for us. It's gotta have rhythm and an incredible groove you can shake your ass to." Up the Dose has all that and more. The band's second album for RCA finds the Orlando-based quintet in a different musical headspace from when they released 2001's brutal yet melodic New Killer America--which pummeled active rock radio in the States with the singles "Waste" and "Isolated"-- and rose quickly to become the twelfth best-selling album in Japan. A festival in Japan, a gig in Korea with that country's most famous band, Seo Taiji, and a U.S. tour with Disturbed found Skrape playing for thousands of fanatical converts. Skrape songs also found their way into video games, including Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4 and their album cover even won awards. Skrape also created their own video for "What You Say," performance intercut with Japanamation, subsequent to the clip for first single "Waste." Clearly a motivated bunch of musicians, Skrape also take life lessons to heart, as gleaned in the sentiments expressed on Up The Dose. “Over the last few years there were a lot of highlights…and some lowlights," explains Hunt. "And it all has to do with where we are at right now, which is a great place." A 2001 tour with the Pantera, Slayer and Morbid Angel "gave us a lot of thick skin," Hunt says of the intense, aggro crowds they faced nightly. "We were like, 'if you don't like us, well good, here's another one!’" he laughs of Skrape's uncompromising performances and 'tude. Adds Keeton, “My experiences on tour with Phil Anselmo were life-changing to me as a musician, as a frontman and as a songwriter.” The Pantera tour also weeded out any weak links in the band. So it was with a new guitarist (Randy Melser replacing axeman Mike Lynchard), a new management company and a renewed spirit that Skrape wrote and then recorded their sophomore effort with producer Jimbo Barton (Queensryche, Godsmack) in Miami, Los Angeles and Orlando. "We wanted old school,” said Hunt. “We are big fans of how Jimbo's records sounded; sonically, they hold up." Barton also developed a strong bond with Keeton during the recording process. “He was able to bring my vocal performance up to another level entirely. He and I just clicked. Jimbo created a atmosphere that allowed me to explode vocally.” While the guys in Skrape--as their name indicates--are edgy and rough with every member on his own by age 18, the omnipresent Florida sunshine seeped in (a bit) on the first single "Summer Song." Propulsive drumming, a massive-mid-tempo groove, layered vocals and sometimes-sweet guitar stylings make "Summer Song" a tune that "sounds great at 8 in the morning, or on the way to a concert; it's just an anthemic, all-round rocker that tells a good story," explains Hunt. Hunt, a veteran of the band Stuck Mojo, also tells a good story. The quotable drummer, who toured with idol Tommy Lee between Skrape records, believes in the credo: "That which doesn't kill you only makes you stronger." In Skrape's case, "by the time we came back from the Slayer/Pantera tour we realized we weren't as heavy as we thought," he laughs. "We are and always have been a rock--not metal, not nu metal--band, and with Up The Dose, we used a lot more textures in the guitar area, a lot of inventive, different stylings." From the mystical first moments of the dynamic opener "Bleach," to the dense musicality and irresistible chorus of "The Ocean" to the brute, bare riff-rager "My Life," Up the Dose tells the tale of hard work, change and demons, as well as of times where the group were barely "skraping" by. With no shortage of material to mine (in 2002-2003 40 songs were penned) they whittled them down to 22, then with producer Barton, down to 14, with 11 of those songs comprising Up The Dose. The low-end buzz of the creepy title track is about being helpless to stop the crazy, escalating cycle of drug use coupled with the overwhelming sexual desires of a true street-born band, while "No Respect" concerns how Skrape held their own in front of an obnoxious crowd. Each member of Skrape contributes to the writing, and in their Orlando rehearsal/recording studio (a million figurative miles from Orlando's boy-band and tourist-trap hell), they track every song they write. "When we play them back, we fully, really hear them," explains Hunt. "Without that process, it's like getting ready for the prom without a mirror." With Up the Dose, Skrape had no pressure--only the desire to make the best record they could and exactly how they wanted to. Thus, this go-round, there are no keyboards, just the two-guitar attack the band had in mind when the lineup began in the late '90s. Melser, a long-time member of the Skrape “family," was the obvious choice for the replacement guitarist, and proof positive is that he wrote the soaring "In the End" with Hunt shortly after joining the band. While Keeton cites everything from Sinatra to Ozzy as influences, one reviewer had this to say about the frontman's full voice on New Killer America: "Keeton's clear, soaring voice sits nicely atop the thunder, yet is forceful enough to stay there." Other New Killer America raves include Hit Parader, who rightly noted, "Skrape are one angry bunch of rock and roll animals. Despite their overwhelming musical power, vitriolic lyrics and attitude, don't for one second think Skrape have skimped on the melodies or textures. This stuff has it all." Up The Dose has it all and more. While it was a sometimes painful journey to unearth Skrape's true musical soul, Florida's fighting sons have laid it out bare 'n' brutal with Up The Dose's uncompromising aural attack. "All we've ever set out to be, and all we want to be, is a rock 'n' roll band," Hunt concludes. "And it took us walking around our asshole to get there, but we sure as hell did it this time."