XS ROCK: Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows, or announcements?
Skunk: Yes, we’re finishing up a new album entitled Systematic Paralysis that we plan to release in early 2022. The first two songs, “Face Value” and the title track “Systematic Paralysis”, was released as a combined single in November along with a music video for “Face Value”. YouTube deemed the video age-restricted because, well, we don’t know exactly. We’re also finishing up another video for the title track “Systematic Paralysis” that will be coming out soon. Like the seamless segue between the two tracks on the album, we’ve linked the music videos together as well. There’s a demented witch doctor jabbing me with a giant needle in the new video so we’re fully expecting it to be age-restricted as well. What can we say, A Good Rogering is rated R.
XS ROCK: How long has the band been together?
Skunk: The band started four POTUS ago when my brother, myself, and our original bassist, Blaine Matte, began writing in 2007. Within a year we recruited drummer Mike Molina and recorded our first demo which we called The Living Room Debacle. We played our first show in late 2008 and our first album Long Overdue was released in January 2010. A lot’s changed since then, but those are the origins.
XS ROCK: What was your main motivation for starting or being in a band?
Skunk: As far as being in a band, the motivation was from my love of playing guitar and a desire to be on stage performing in front of an audience. I started A Good Rogering because my brother and I were sitting on a mountain of musical ideas and needed an outlet to get them out into the world. As it turned out we just kept writing new stuff, but there’s still a lot of ideas on the shelf I’d like to record and release under the AGR moniker.
XS ROCK: What is your music background?
Skunk: I remember listening to a handful of seven-inch vinyl records that my parents gave to me, along with a portable record player, when I was like seven or eight. “Too Many Teardrops” was one of the records and I must’ve played it a thousand times, just listening to it over and over again in my room. I don’t remember what other songs were in that stack of records, but for whatever reason, that one just really made an impression in my mind. My dad was pretty into music when I was a kid, and I can remember listening to cassette tapes of The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Doors, The Beach Boys, CCR, Beethoven, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky for hours on end during long road trips in the family minivan. Later, right before high school, my brother’s friend brought over Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite For Destruction which blew my mind and opened the door to the world of hard rock and metal, along with a desire to play guitar. Within a year I was taking guitar and piano lessons, and the rest is history.
XS ROCK: What image do you think your music conveys?
Skunk: I think it’s probably somewhere in between a pearly gates utopia and a nightmarish dystopian hellscape. The image of cats wearing funny hats is also a probability.
XS ROCK: What are your immediate music career goals? (Next 1 to 3 years.)
Skunk: Top the Billboard charts and tour the world. It may be more practical to just make another album though.
XS ROCK: What are your long-term career goals?
Skunk: I’d like to be the most famous person of all time. Or maybe just be comfortable, healthy, and continue to grow as a musician making honest music with genuine people. That’s probably less douchey.
XS ROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?
Skunk: They’re both my favorite things. It feels good when the creative juices get flowing and a good song falls in your lap. That doesn’t always happen, but I feel like I’ve been at this long enough to know when it does. And playing live is just a great high. Nothing beats the energy of a good crowd. A lot of things behind the scenes are meticulous, monotonous, and move like molasses, but being on stage is in the moment and fun.
XS ROCK: What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)
Skunk: The new album has a bit of a dystopian or Orwellian theme. For the rest of our catalog, I think it’s safe to say that AGR is basically just the opposite of modern country music.
XS ROCK: Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road? If so, please fill us in.
Skunk: A guy wore a skin-looking mask and drank bleach while “singing” and beating his acoustic guitar at a pizza joint hosting a metal jam. It was so insane that even our drummer Rom had a beer. We couldn’t top that but did have pizza that night. From a different place.
XS ROCK: What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?
Skunk: I wouldn’t say it’s strange, but a unique request from one of our longest-running fans was for me to compose a clarinet and piano duet. Ironically, the clarinet was my first instrument in middle school, but I was horrible at it and squawked my way through failing out of band. Nonetheless, I should write that someday.
XS ROCK: Were your parents supportive of your aspirations to play in a rock band?
Skunk: My dad has always been pretty eccentric and self-consumed and never really took much interest in what my brother and I were doing, but he didn’t say no to us when it came to music or bands either. My mom, on the other hand, did find the time to drive me to guitar and piano lessons and encouraged us to pursue our passions. Ultimately the stars aligned, or crashed, to get me here today and I have both of my parents to thank for it.
XS ROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?
Skunk: The Snail, Under the Gun, Out of Reach, Lifeblood, Caveman Angry, and This is Death Metal are all fan favorites, and I enjoy playing them all as well. I think most of the new songs from the upcoming album are going to be a lot of fun to play live, and I’m looking forward to breaking them in with the band.
XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?
Skunk: As I said, when I first heard Appetite for Destruction it was life-changing and I knew what I wanted to do. Funny enough when I first heard it, I literally said “is that heavy metal?” I grew up having that “heavy metal is Satanic” nonsense thrown at me. Kids don’t know any better so I thought a bunch of bands like Black Sabbath, ACDC, and Motley Crue were Satanists. It’s hilarious to me now of course, and most of that music is now dubbed classic “rock”. Anyway, once I started listening to Appetite I was hooked. I used to just ride my bike around listening to it over and over. I’d sing along to everything at home and even figured out the post-chorus guitar melody to Sweet Child O’ Mine on a toy guitar we had. It didn’t take long before I was buying all the “Satanic” albums, playing a real guitar, and coming up with my own fantasy band names like Diseased Disciples of the Metal Church and Raging Anger. Some of my biggest guitar influences were, and still are, Slash, Randy Rhoads, Zakk Wylde, Marty Friedman, James Hetfield, Joe Satriani, and David Gilmour.
XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?
Skunk: Dweezil Zappa, Mike Patton from any one of his dozen projects, Alice In Chains, Dwight Yoakam, and John Williams.
XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
Skunk: The upcoming album.
XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?
Skunk: Comedian, actor, or game show host.
XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?
Skunk: Tregan and Godin electric guitars, Seagull acoustics, Ernie Ball Strings and picks, a Blackstar HT 100 Stage head, Mogmai, Tsunami and Rockboard cables with a Framus/Warwick Rockboard pedalboard, a Vox or Crybaby wah, and an assortment of Boss, Line 6, and Dunlop pedals. I’ve also played Fender and Rivera amps at many shows.
XS ROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?
Skunk: I think it’s been on an upward trajectory since “Achy Breaky Heart” won a Grammy in ’93. In all seriousness though, there’s always a steady stream of great new music, artists, and bands coming out. Unfortunately, it just pales in comparison to the giant river of mainstream dung we are likely to encounter whenever we climb into an Uber. It’d be nice to see a meaningful cultural movement come via music again. We seem desperately in need of something.
XS ROCK: For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?
Skunk: I’m actually not all smiles and hugs all the time.
XS ROCK: If someone had never heard you before, how would you describe your sound?
Skunk: Eclectic heavy rock. Or, AGR fuses the heavy-hitting rock of bands like Megadeth, Black Label Society, and Mastadon with the dynamic prowess and eclecticism of those such as Faith No More, Type O Negative and Clutch. Something like that.
XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?
Skunk: I’d like to say a sincere thank you to each and every fan who has supported and believed in AGR throughout our journey. You make what we do worthwhile and we cannot wait for you to hear the new record and to see you on tour!
A GOOD ROGERING is:
Skunk Manhattan: Vocals & Guitar
Tim Driscoll: Guitar & Backing Vocals
Sammiard Alvarado: Bass
John Takanikos: Keys & Backing Vocals
Rom Gov: Drums