By Sarah Mac
This past summer, the news coming from the camp of legendary ska-core band The Voodoo Glow Skulls was hard to swallow.
But first, some context. Hailing from Riverside, California and formed by brothers Frank, Eddie and Jorge Casillas in ‘88, The Voodoo Glow Skulls combine the elements of ska with traditional punk and hardcore style, and douse it with Mexican flare and rhythm; they’ve released nine full-length albums, around a half-dozen EPs and have contributed to well over 30 different compilations. The Glow Skulls’ rowdy and rambunctious feel, alongside blazing horns and bi-lingual lyrics, have hooked a legion of fans and given them a distinctive sound that couldn’t be matched.
Recently though, the Glow Skulls have fallen on hard times. This past June, lead singer and eldest brother Frank unexpectedly announced that he was leaving the band, leaving the remaining Glow Skulls shocked and shaken.
Heartbroken, we chatted with Eddie to discuss the future.
“In hindsight, we might have seen it coming over the course of a few years, but it wasn’t so clear or evident. Really, this has a lot to do with personal family business rather than the band not getting along, there’s a lot more to it that I won’t get into. But, he [Frank] moved away, to Arizona, about 15 years or so ago and that was the beginning of him distancing himself from the band. It took a while for things to really change, but apparently, they did. So, it’s still shocking.”
Pausing for a moment, he resumes.
“And now, we’re about to do a full tour without our older brother and lead singer of the band. So, it’s an uphill battle and it’s hard. When you’re used to one guy being the front man and he’s not there and worse, he’s not coming – it’s weird. So, we’re in a weird place, but we’re working our way through it and we’re still thinking positive. So, we just want to play well and make it a rad show; hopefully people will respect that.”
There’s a deep appreciation for the members of the Glow Skulls who are continuing this tour for their fans. Efrem Martinez Shulz of Manic Hispanic and Death By Stereo fame has stepped up to front the Glow Skulls for their upcoming tour.
“He’s a hardcore singer in a great band of his own. So, we’re just glad he can tour, he can help us save face and not cancel on our fans, which is the most important thing. And also, not cancel on us. But, he isn’t a permeant member of the band.”
Solemnly, Casillas continues, “we’ve had a career for 29 years now and we’re not sure if we want to stop, but we want the option. But, to be fair with you, we’re really close to not doing this again and we might just stop. It’s hard, but we’re trying not to bum anyone out and fulfill these commitments to our fans.”
He pauses, and continues.
“The fact that I still get to go on stage and perform these songs I wrote over the last almost 30 years, that’s a big deal and I wouldn’t take it for granted. Because it’s all about the band and all about the music, we’re gonna be at these shows with a band that’s still functioning 100 per cent. And we’re not taking it lightly. We’re practicing more than ever, which makes us tighter than ever.”
So, come ‘on Canada, let’s do Voodoo (hopefully not) one last time.
Celebrate 29 years of music with the Voodoo Glow Skulls September 20 at the Windsor Tavern (Winnipeg), September 21 at the Exchange (Regina), September 22 at Dicken’s Pub (Calgary), September 23 at the Needle Vinyl Tavern (Edmonton), September 24 at the International Beer Haus (Red Deer) and September 30 at the Rickshaw Theatre (Vancouver).Dickens Pub, Exchange, International Beer Haus, Street Music, The Needle Vinyl Tavern, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Windsor Tavern