Interview: Michael Cummings of NYC Rock Band SKATERS at Governors Ball 2014

Over the course of the three days of this year’s Governors Ball festival on Randall’s Island, was there to share the festival experience with our readers – the sights, the sounds, and the highlights. We also had the opportunity to chat with a few of the artists after their sets at the festival.

One of those artists was NYC’s own SKATERS, who played early in the afternoon on the final day of Governors Ball. They have released their full length debut album Manhattan in February 2014 on top of their early 2012 Schemers EP. Singer Michael Cummings sat down with ’s Steve Malinski to talk about the festival, Manhattan, and about what’s going on in the SKATERS world.

SKATERS is kicking off a fall tour Labor Day weekend in St. Louis with over 25 stops until they wrap it up mid October in NYC and NJ.

Steve Malinski: We’re joined here at Governors Ball with Michael Cummings from Skaters. How’s it going?

Michael Cummings: Good, how are you?

SM: Really good, thanks. That was an awesome set you guys had on the Honda Stage a little while ago.

MC: Thank You.

Michael Cummings of SKATERS at Governors Ball 2014

SM: What was it like to play a big festival like this in your hometown?

MC: This is the first one we’ve done – the first festival we’ve played in New York. We’ve only done club shows (our own shows), you know, so this was the first time for this kind of experience. It was good because I don’t think we’ve played an all age show before, so we saw a lot of kids out there which was nice to see. I mean, it was a mixed age crowd but in the city you don’t get a lot of all ages shows, you know what I mean?

SM: Yeah definitely. So you guys have your debut album which came out in February. What Can you tell us about that and how the momentum has picked up from there?

MC: Putting a record out is a good way for people to find out about your band in a way because they can finally listen to your music. We hadn’t had a record out for the good first year of our band, maybe a year and a half. We only had an EP out which we put online so when we finally for the record out it was like a culmination of all this time that we had spent forming this band, so finally we had a product we could push publicly. So far so good to keep promoting it. It’s been fun.

SM: Looking back before that first year and a half, what was the beginning of SKATERS like?

MC: We’ve only been a band for two years, meaning from day one. We kind of had a lot of obstacles at the beginning because Josh didn’t live in America when we started. He was coming back and forth so we’d play for three months and he would go back. So we just did a lot of planning, you know? We’d book a bunch of shows in advance and play then Josh would disappear for three weeks then we’d do it all again. Eventually the record deal and everything came later. It was like a homegrown kind of thing for a while.

SM: Now that you’ve got the record deal and an album out, what’s the touring schedule like?

MC: Yeah, we’re touring a lot, doing a bunch of US shows with a US tour coming up in the fall. After this we’re going to Europe and Australia. I really want to go to Japan but that’s not really booked…

SM: You had a European tour earlier this year too, right?

MC: Yeah we did a lot of touring in the UK. That’s kind of where we got our start.

SM: And you played a bit over there with Drowners, another one of the NYC bands here at Governors Ball. What was your experience playing a tour with them?

MC: They’re actually really close friends of ours. Matt, their singer, played guitar in our band –

SM: Really? We spoke with him on Friday.

MC: Yeah. He played guitar with us for about eight or nine months or something like that. So yeah, we’re really tight with them, you know? They’re our friends – he fixed our guitar strings today.

SM: Cool, he mentioned that he would be hanging out for your set today. So have you guys been hanging out at Governors Ball throughout the weekend?

MC:I was here yesterday but didn’t come Friday because we were playing another show. But yesterday we played a show in the morning here in the city on a rooftop and then we came here and caught The Strokes, which was fun.

SKATERS with ‘s Steve Malinski (center) at GovBall 2014.

SM: Any other bands you’re looking forward to seeing?

MC: To be honest, I’m kind of beat so I might not catch too many other bands today. It’s mostly play-press-play-press-get the hell off Randall’s Island somehow. It’s not exactly easy to get here! But yeah, otherwise I’d be catching some of the other bands. I really want to see Interpol, haven’t seen them in a long time. Saw them once in the Middle East which was maybe 2002/2003 when they were first coming up – a really small show which was crazy. We saw them there and at a stadium or small hockey rink but haven’t seen them at a festival.

SM: On one hand you have that garage-punk sound but on the other you also have a post-punk type of sound. What kind of influences to you draw on for that mix?

MC: Mostly like you said, a lot of post-punk bands from the late 70’s/early 80’s. A lot of what was going on in New York and London. So, a lot of Ramones, Modern Lovers, The Clash, Buzzcocks, a lot of the classic punk bands. Stiff Little Fingers,  Mission to Bhurma, bands like that, you know? Talking Heads…

SM: I heard you do a Ramones cover out there too, right?

MC: Yeah, because…New York!

SM: Hah. Hey, here’s a cool idea – do a classic punk cover show or album, something like that.

MC: Full record! That’s not a bad idea – what are we gonna call it?

SM: Hmm. Not sure! We’ll have to think about that one. Last thought for you. If you could collaborate with, sit in on stage with, or record with another artist, who do you think that would be? Time travel is allowed.

MC: I’m trying to think… If we had to make a record with someone I think it would be really cool to make a record with Phil Spector and if it was a musician I would say Probably have Joe Strummer produce the record. I don’t know how that could be bad. That couldn’t be bad, right?

SM: Not at all.

MC: If we could get Phil Spector and Joe Strummer to produce our next record…

SM: That would be pretty sweet. Well, I know you have to get going so thanks a lot for taking a few minutes to chat with us at .

MC: Yeah, thanks for having me.