Local band SKITN opens for Long Beach Shortbus

By Cassie Tomlin
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, January 19, 2006

SKITN embrace once being dubbed "California beach-reggae punk stranded in Arizona," but they don't resent their locale - they say it's the only thing keeping them unique.

"The California scene's got lots of beach-surf rock," said Earl Rosales, SKITN vocalist and a San Diego native. "I think we might go over better there, but the fact that we're in Tucson makes us stand out."

A five-member band comprising two UA graduates and three UA students, SKITN players bring their own influences to the band. Rosales, who also plays guitar, names Journey "the best band ever;" drummer Kelley Velasquez says he brings the heavy metal, jazz and techno roots; Jimmy Scallon, "the hippy," brings the conga drums; keyboardist Fernando Hinojosa cites the Beatles as his main inspiration, and bass guitarist Scott Hilkemeyer worships Sublime.

Hilkemeyer, like the rest of the band, is ecstatic about opening Friday for Long Beach Shortbus, which includes members of Long Beach Dub Allstars and Sublime.

SKITN have played concerts and benefits in Marana and Yuma and have thrice been invited to play at San Diego State University. They've played with Slightly Stoopid and often play shows at Tucson bars and venues, performing bi-weekly at O'Malley's on North Fourth Avenue.

They don't make much money from gigs, just enough to pay rent on their Pennington Street practice space and afford the occasional 18-pack of Bud Light.

"We just go for a laidback, chill show," Scallon said.

"If people are dancing during our set, we're happy," Hilkemeyer added.

"All our shows need to be like spring break," Rosales said.

On Tuesday evening, the members congregated in the dingy 15-by-15 practice spot they've had for four years, since shortly after the band formed (they've been through about four members since then.)

Rosales described their evolution since they started: "We don't play power chords anymore." Everyone laughed.

"This is our friends," Rosales said of the band members. "We're looking for the perfect sound, and I think this is it right here," he said, gesturing to his band members. "I don't want to make any more changes."

Rosales said this is the ultimate year for SKITN.

"I want to say this year we'll go as far as we can," Rosales said. "Four years and no one (from record companies) has ever heard our stuff, but we're recording our first album in February."

As for what binds them together, they all agreed it's their goal to have fun and "keep it SKITN," which is probably exclusively understood by those five.

SKITN opens tomorrow for Long Beach Shortbus at City Limits, 6350 E. Tanque Verde Road. The show is all-ages and tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door. Doors open at 8 p.m.