Curt gets the chance to catch up with Jason Conde-Houston from the Seattle metal warriors, Skelator. They talk about the band’s history, old-school metal, lyrics and much, much more…
First of all, can you briefly go over the band’s history for those readers unfamiliar with you?
I started the band with my best friend Max when we were teenagers. We listened to a lot of Slayer, Metallica and Megadeth. Once we got Pat on drums it was a green light for us to finally write these songs that we had been writing on our own. Some of it was cool and some of it just sucked but that’s how you learn to write. We later got Robbie on lead guitar and played a bunch of local Punk/Hardcore shows. The band fizzled and we got new members over and over again until we got Jesse and Rah in the band and recorded the “Swords” EP. We were obviously VERY inspired by Manowar, Maiden and Priest by that point.
In 2005 Patrick moved to Seattle, Washington and we finished recording “The Gore of War” split with our buddies GutRot. Robbie moved up 6 months later and I moved up in October of 2006. We started re-recording our old demo “Give Me Metal or Give Me Death” when we got the call to play in Germany. Patrick was not into it anymore since we were not writing new material and went his own way. Zach joined our ranks in 2007 and we got our buddy Josh (from Scorched Earth) to help us out on drums. Our performance at the Swordbrothers Festival got everyone really going. Jowita came to me after our set and said she wanted to sign us to their new label Metal on Metal Records. So we decided to put both our EPs on one CD and call it “Time of the Sword Rulers”.
Back home we went through the same song and dance as before with line up changes up the wazoo. Until we convinced Pat to come back to the band and we got Rob to join us on the second guitar. We geared up to record “Death to All Nations” our first full length album under the Metal on Metal record label. By this point our inspirations were more broad and our song writing was less limited and more of our own. Now we have our new album “Agents of Power” and we are getting a lot of great reviews all over the globe.
Your name brings to mind the Masters of the Universe villain. Was this what the name was based on, or something else?
Skeletor was what we based it on but I misspelled it Skelator and over the years I’ve given him our own mythos as the Champion of Steel, purveyor of True Metal.
The band is very much based on the old-school metal sound. Personally I hear a lot of Queensryche and Maiden, who else are the band’s influences?
Maiden, yes… QR???? NO. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love the first EP, but honestly I find that band really boring. As for other influences the list is pretty big from Accept to ZZ Top and everything in between. Personally my biggest influences are Manowar, Domine, Dio, Saxon, Accept, Tyran Pace, Santa, Angeles del Infierno and Rhapsody.
Why do you think the old-school metal bands like Motorhead, Ozzy, Maiden, Priest etc. are all able to maintain their fanbases and popularity after all of these years? Do you think this style is the “true” metal style?
They have lasted this long because they have the drive and passion to do so. Plus they have years of making a fan base for themselves and over time it multiplies with the next generation getting into what their parents listened to. As for “true” metal style… This is a tough one to answer. I think as long as you make music that comes from the heart it is true whether it be Punk, Black Metal, Indie Rock or even Rap. But I do also believe in the genre of True Metal. Usually it is a mix of Heavy Metal (Traditional), Power Metal and Speed Metal. Bands like Manowar, Wizard, Domine, Helstar and even Skelator are good examples of True Metal as a genre. It doesn’t mean that we are any better or cooler than lets say a Death Metal band, we just have a certain sound that is our own.
What happened with your bassist? Any luck in finding a replacement so far?
He does not have the time to commit to the band any more. I think he got cold feet with all the opportunities coming our way. Being in a band is not easy, it takes a lot of time and money to keep it going and he ran out of both. There are no ill feelings between us and he is still going to play with us on our West Coast tour.
Lyrically is there any sort of concept to “Agents of Power”?
‘Agents of Power’ the song is based on the Eternal Champion Saga by Michael Moorcock. Specifically when Elric meets his other incarnations Corum, Hawkmoon and Erekose. ‘Gates of Thorbardin’ is based on Dragonlance. ‘Dream Dictator’ is our own story about a 1984 type future where your dreams are being controlled by the government. ‘Rhythm of the Chain’ is about walking down the street listening/singing metal in public and not giving a fuck about anything. Lastly ‘Elric: The Dragon Prince, A Tale of Tragic Destiny in 12 Parts’ is an epic that I had been writing since the year 2000. Basically it tells the tale of when Elric finds his sword Stormbringer and returns to his kingdom to reap and destroy his entire race. I held off on writing the music until we had the right lineup and I think it was a good idea.
Do you ever do any shows outside of Seattle? If so, what are your plans for touring for the rest of the year?
We are getting ready to play down the West coast at the end of the month. In San Francisco we will play with Slough Feg and Midnight Chaser, in San Diego we will play with our old friends Ritual Torture (ex-GutRot), in LA we will play with Witchaven and in Portland we will play with Wild Dogs and Spellcaster. I think this will be the funniest and most successful tour yet. Next year we will be playing at the Metal Assault Festival in Germany with Manilla Road and Attacker!!!!! I can’t fucking wait.
Have you started work on a new album yet? If not, when do you think you will be getting back to writing more material?
We don’t have any plans on an album exactly but we are writing songs and seeing what comes out. Maybe a single, an EP, two EPs or a double album, who knows? Either way, we have a new song entitled ‘Stronger than Steel’ which we play live all the time, it’s SUPER Power Metal, Strato-Helloween fans should be happy.
I appreciate you taking your time to answer these questions. Anything else you would like to say?
We are here to play Heavy Metal the way we see fit. The posers will die when they hear our battle cry, GIVE ME METAL OR GIVE ME DEATH!!!!