Voodoo Glow Skulls incorporate a wide range of influences into their unique sound
If you go
What: Voodoo Glow Skulls
When: 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11
Where: Whiskey Dick’s Saloon
Voodoo Glow Skulls lead singer Frank Casillas was preparing for a few upcoming shows surrounded by bikes Monday, Dec. 7. An employee at his Rad Stop Ride Shop was out, and Casillas was helping customers through the Bullhead City, Arizona, store’s offerings.
Casillas opened the shop about four years ago as a kind of back-up plan to his musical career, he said. But bicycles aren’t too far separated from the Voodoo Glow Skulls own constitution. The punk and ska band formed in 1988 in Riverside, California, and the bike and skateboard culture of Southern California in the late 1970s and early 1980s are ingrained in the band’s DNA. The group’s mascot is even a cartoonish, bug-eyed bicyclist with green skin, tattered shorts and a wallet chain.
Voodoo Glow Skulls has weathered the ups and downs of punk and ska popularity by developing a unique sound, playing around 100 high-energy shows a year and cultivating a dedicated following. The band’s late-1990s material is among fans’ favorites, and familiar faces can often be found in the crowd, Casillas said.
“We definitely have more of an underground crowd, a cult following kind of thing,” Casillas said.
Along with the bike and skateboard culture, the group absorbed a world of influences coming of age in Southern California.
Comedians Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor and Cheech and Chong were all among the group’s inspirations, Casillas said. Musically, 1980s punk and heavy metal, as well as ska and new wave are also part of the group’s eclectic style. Metal icon Iron Maiden is one of band members’ favorites, Casillas added.
“We listened to it all, and I think that comes through in our music,” Casillas said.
Wrestling with brothers Jorge and Eddie (who play bass and guitar in the band, respectively) as kids also influenced the band’s aesthetic. Frank Casillas sometimes dons a Mexican wrestler’s mask onstage, and the group will have a stint as the house band during episodes on the upcoming season of professional wrestling show “Lucha Underground.”
After a nearly 30-year career the band, the Voodoo Glow Skulls tends to divide up its touring schedule into smaller stints these days. Most every member has a job with flexible hours or their own business, Casillas said. Some of the less-glamorous aspects of touring, like long drives, can be a pain, but the live show never gets old, Casillas said.
“It’s always a sense of accomplishment,” Casillas said of playing live. “Playing in front of a crowd is always awesome.”
Voodoo Glow Skulls play Friday at Whiskey Dick’s Saloon in South Lake Tahoe.
More information on the show is available at http://www.facebook.com/whiskeydickstahoe.