23 Skidoo Talk


"23 skidoo is an American slang phrase popularized during the early 20th century, first attested before World War I and becoming popular during the 1920s. It generally refers to leaving quickly, being forced to leave quickly by someone else, or taking advantage of a propitious opportunity to leave, that is, "getting [out] while the getting's good." The exact origin of the phrase is uncertain."
Do you know the exact origin of it? How does it relate to the group's music?

In respects to 23 Skidoo the name was chosen by Fritz Catlin, the original drummer. Its from the Illuminatus and also Alistair Crowley from the Book Of Lies. Chapter 23 is called Skidoo. What man is at ease in his innget out. We took it as a reference to perpetual change. We believed/believe very strongly that individuals should evolve constantly rather than stagnate. I have tried to do this all my life, searching for knowledge and technique, whether it be music, martial arts, film making or life. There is s bit of a miss conception with regards to Skidoo and Crowley. We are not occultists or anything like that. Genesis P-Orridge was a big fan but for us it was more about the idea of change which we implemented musically to its fullest and most extreme.

This was very often detrimental to us commercially. We always liked that people would come and tell us what it meant.

23 skidoo has been described as "perhaps the first truly national fad expression and one of the most popular fad expressions to appear in the U.S,"  

The Chemical Bros sampled coup in quite an inventive way, reworking your original into something altogether new and exciting record. What's your position on sampling these days. To me it feels like people are ripping off records wholesale and claiming these samples as their own original record.
Sampling has its place. Personally we were pissed that The Chemical Bothers never credited the source. It went to a musicologist ( who happened to work closely with Virgin records) and it was deemed they had changed the 14th note of the sequence to a major harmonic 7th and therefor there was no claim. Sounds like BS to me but hey, you have to move on. Everyone who counts knows the truth of the matter. Sampling can be creative or plagiaristic like anything else. Its how you use it that counts. What is amusing is how little knowledge people have of the originals. There are many well known records that people will hear the original and think its a copy of the sample.

There's an enduring obsession with 'post-punk' – with me and many others anyway – similar to that engendered with early New york disco, Detroit techno and the Chicago origins of house. What do you think is it about that time and sound that has made it such a long standing fixation.
I think its great. The music that was going on then is something that hasnt been seen since. For the past 25 years weve been in a superficial,commercial bullshit cycle where what sells is seen as good and what doesnt is deemed to be without quality and merit. A crap way of looking at things. Bands such as This Heat, one of the truly greats, are virtually unknown outside a few select individuals. They are pretty much ( alongside Trouble Funk and Joy Divivsion ) the best band I have ever seen. We played a gig with Damo Suzuki recently at Village Underground. Damo wanted to improvise which we did. When was the last time you saw a band do that? Everyone is so concerned about being polished and slick that weve lost much of what made music, especially during this era, interesting.

Fela kuti and the whole Afro beat scene was obviously a huge influence on your sound. What ever made you think it made sense next the more industrial electronic sounds emanating at the time? Don't get me wrong it sounds incredible now, I'm just keen find out how the things came to sound so amazing.
Skidoo always had very eclectic musical taste. Can, Fela, Last poets, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Pere Ubu, Studio One. All in the mix at the same time. The industrial thing was just part of the mix and why we dont fit neatly into that category. We are pretty different from Cabaret Voltaire or Throbbing Gristle. We were and are much more organic which has a lot to do with the live instrumentation.

Richard H kirk produced your first album. How did the uk scene at the time feed each other?  
Wrong! Cabaret Voltaire produced our first 12 single The Gospel Comes to New Guinea/Last Words and that was Richard with Stephen Mallinder and Chris Watson. All 3 of them were very involved but their job was really to harness 23 Skidoo and our sound. We recorded Last Words first then went back after dinner to record The Gospel which was pretty much improvised and was played to an FX backing tape we had made earlier that week. I remember they were blown away by the energy of the paying on the Gospel which was very different from how they were making music. It was the first time wed been away to records and we went to the Western Works in Sheffield and stayed with them for the weekend. This was all organized by Rod Pierce of Fetish Records to whom we all owe a huge debt of thanks. 

The LP Seven Songs was produced by Tony,Terry & David aka Genesisi P-Orridge & Peter Christpherson (Sleazy) from TG/Psychic TV and Ken Thomas, an engineer who we worked with from The Gospel right through to Urban Gamelan. Seven Songs was recorded and mixed in 2 and a half days!
One of the great things about working with Gen was he would always record the initial run through which always turned out to be the best take.

Are there any connections over the pond that were important?
Not really. We never got to play in the US which was a great shame. Ruth Polski from Danceteria wanted to take us but she tragically died in a car accident and it never happened. We do love Tuxedomoon, Pere Ubu and quite a bit of other American experimental music.

What was the music of your teenage rebellion?
Punk. The Clashs first album. 

First and last record bought?

First: Rockin Robin   Michael Jackson & Slade Coz I Love You

Last: Wolf Like Me   TV On The Radio

Why is pop music so shit these days?  

Pop music has always been shite.
Theres just more of it so it seems worse.
The anti-Christs of Cowell and Fuller havent helped. Poisoning the minds of our kids with dreams of short term fame. Famous for what ?

If your sound was a visual thing, what would it look like?
It is. Its live and unscripted. Its organic and fast.

Whats been the funniest moment of your career so far?
We were always pretty serious. Were learning to change!

Has the Internet destroyed the excitement of discovering music with too much choice?
Its just changed things and not just music. Our whole culture has changed. No need for real time research. Just click a button. It has its pros and cons. You can find out about stuff much more easily but it means much less because you havent really had to work for it. Take records for instance. Gone are the days of waiting years to search for and find a record you loved. Now when I listen to some DJs who have obviously downloaded their entire collection, they have the tunes and can play them but have no idea of the position the music has in history and timeline and consequently, they play with no real understanding of the music.

Are you a kick drum, hi hat or a snare? And why?  
I am all 3. I am a drummer. 

What are you obsessed with at the moment?
My family and my film making.

What's your answer to everything?
How much you willing to pay?

What's going on with 23 skidoo in 2013?
Weve had quite a few offers to play abroad but Im hoping we can play some festivals. Were all a bit older and have other stuff going on but I genuinely think our message is still relevant maybe more than ever given the stagnation in progression in music. We will see!