by Dawn Casey Perreault
Skinwalker L-R: Marcos (Guitars), Travis (Bass), Taran (Vocaks), Gus (Guitars), Hugo (drums)
“You and I are gonna have a word” growls Taran de Pablos of Skinwalker . Im listening to the song “Swine” as I write, having had several words with Taran, completely amicable of course. I was curious about the name, Skinwalker.
Taran: It’s a figure of Native American Folklore. In some tribes the term is used for the Shaman that wears the bear skin in ceremonies but it is mostly used to name the figure of the evil shapeshifter. Plus, it just sounds cool”
Indeed, Navajo skinwalkers use mind control to obtain their victims. Do I see a correlation here? These guys present a pretty imposing presence. The music mesmerizes. I’m pulled in by the aggressive vocals, powerful use of dynamics and the hooks of the songs. These guys have a special chemistry. I wondered how all these great songs came together.
Taran: It’s normally Gus and Marcos that come with riffs they’ve developed and then Hugo adds the rhythm, then I take the music home and work on melody and arrangement of parts and such. Lyrics and solos are always last. We have a new guy on bass now (Travis Jurs) and he should bring something new to the table also once we start writing for the new album. He actually sent me a song idea just today over email. The song “Broken inside” is kind of special to me as it’s the first song I ever wrote on guitar for a band. Its not typical, I just picked up the guitar a couple of years ago.
Skinwalker came together late 2007. Now in its fifth year, the current line up consists of Taran de Pablos on vocals, Gus Pappadimas and Marcos Higareda on guitars, Travis Jurs on Bass guitar, and Hugo Ayala on drums. After all these years I wondered what the most memorable gig had been.
Taran: We had a few really cool ones, like when we opened for Mushroomhead, but our CD release at Double Door was quite memorable. The place was packed and we brought it specially hard that night. It was also our first gig at Double Door. We’ve played their two more times since and will be back there again on March 15, 2012.
I find with a lot of heavy, metal style bands, that the songs will stick to a formula, driving guitars, aggressive singing. Yet included in Skinwalkers music you will find songs like Replaced by silence and Captain Nice’s Alter Ego. I was impressed with the versatility and expression in Taran’s vocals.
Rock in Chicago: Taran, what is your favorite song to perform?
Taran: They’re all my babies. I love them all but the slower ones leave me more room for expressing the vocals as I do less jumping around. We barely play them live, though. We want the live show to be as full throttle as possible.
RIC: I see, I found the vocals on the slower songs were very haunting and passionate
Taran: One of my favorite singers ever is Ian Gillan (Deep Purple) and, although he doesn’t have the prettiest voice, I was always intrigued by his interpretation, even before I learned English I could tell he was “meaning something”. My sons name is Ian..Guess why?
RIC: Describe your style to someone who has never heard the band
Taran: If you put Motley Crue, Anthrax, STP and Slayer in a blender, that would be a Skinwalker Shake. People should expect to get their faces melted at a live show. Bring lotion…for the face that is!
A Skinwalker shake. These guys are making me hungry…for more.
Skinwalker is on the September 2012 Podcast