Skull Practitioners - Negative Stars
Proving once again that “power trio” isn’t just a descriptive handle from the distant past, but a louder-than-God 21st Century reality, New York’s Skull Practitioners have released their first full-length album, Negative Stars, for In the Red Records. The album is the second release for Los Angeles-based In the Red by the trio — guitarist Jason Victor, bassist Kenneth Levine, and drummer Alex Baker, following the band’s acclaimed EP, Death Buy, issued in 2019.
Previously, Victor had established himself as the dazzling co-lead guitarist for Steve Wynn and the Miracle Three – when Wynn revived his ‘80s L.A. Paisley Underground consortium The Dream Syndicate in 2017, Victor took the guitar chair previously occupied by Karl Precoda and Paul Cutler. Levine was playing in DBCR, a three-piece unit. “We wanted to go to a five-piece, and needed a drummer and another guitar player,” he says. “We put an ad out on Craigslist and met Jason and Alex that way. Alex was just two weeks into living in New York. We played together for a while, and then it just sort of dissolved. Jason, Alex, and I actually had more of a shared, common musical perspective, and the three of us decided, ‘Let’s stick together with just us three.’”
Skull Practitioners recorded a limited cassette-only debut, st1, which they self-released in 2014. The four-song collection, on which Baker was the lone band member to take a vocal, marked the start of a long hunt for the right voice. “We kept looking for a new singer, and that person never came,” says Victor. “None of us wanted to sing at all. After a while, we had been together as a three-piece for so long that we had our thing, and it became difficult for someone to fit into it. So we pulled a Genesis! The best thing about it is that now all three of us will sing, and that takes the pressure off just one of us.” Levine adds, “Whoever writes, sings. It’s their expression, so they should say what they have to say.”
You can hear a multitude of influences coming off each other in Skull Practitioners’ music, ranging from the Gun Club to Sonic Youth to Joy Division, Black Flag, and beyond. Each player brings something uniquely his own to the mix.
With their album finally complete and the pandemic lifting, Skull Practitioners have begun to take to the stage more regularly: they have opened shows for Lydia Lunch, Hammered Hulls, Live Skull, and In the Red label mates the Wolfmanhattan Project (Kid Congo Powers, Mick Collins, and Bob Bert). They plan to get on the road in the near future. (continue reading full bio on DISCO)