After 25 years and nine albums, the Voodoo Glow Skulls aren’t phased by changes in the music industry—and are still going strong with thanks in part to their DIY work ethic.
The band will return to the desert to perform at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Thursday, July 18.
The Casillas brothers—Frank (lead vocals), Eddie (guitar) and Jorge (bass)—formed the Riverside punk/ska outfit in 1988.
“Back in those days in Riverside, backyard parties were the only gigs you could get,” said Frank Casillas during a recent phone interview. “Shortly after, we learned how to play our instruments and had enough songs; it led to us playing at the only local club, which was Spanky’s Café.”
At Spanky’s Café, which was a historic venue in Riverside, the band started getting booked to play with headliners like The Dickies, fIREHOSE, and Mighty Mighty Bosstones, just to name a few. The group eventually found themselves with an increasing following throughout Southern California. They signed with Dr. Strange Records in 1993 and released Who Is, This Is?. They then went on to sign with Epitaph Records and released four albums with the label, the first of which was Firme, in 1995.
“We sold a lot of records on Epitaph,” said Frank Casillas. “It just got us to the next level. We were able to go to Europe for the first time. For us, the first time traveling abroad and playing our music to an audience overseas was pretty cool. We were this little band that started playing out of a bedroom in Riverside, and all of a sudden, five or six years later, we’re playing these big festivals in Europe.”
After their contract was up with Epitaph in 2000, they decided signed with Victory Records, which was at the time an exclusive punk/hardcore music label with a controversial reputation. However, that soon began to change.
“We felt Victory Records was becoming the next Epitaph at the time we signed with them. But they were starting to attract the demographic of the emo, post-hardcore crowd. We were on the label when it was cool, but it just seemed they were going through the motion with us. We didn’t fit in with that crowd of bands,” Frank Casillas said.
The band left Victory Records in 2007 for Smelvis Records, and after four years of recording in a home studio, put out Break the Spell in 2012. Alternative Press hailed the album as “kick-ass in both tone and message.”
The band values their creative freedom; they shun the idea of having business managers. They book their own dates, are in control of their own merchandising, and continue to do well financially.
In part because they continue to succeed, Frank Casillas doesn’t believe in the saying “punk rock is dead.”
“I think things are going back to full circle. It’s also going back to the roots of the underground,” he said. “A lot of the older bands are starting to come back and play again. You have two different versions of Black Flag out on tour right now, and a lot of the old British bands are coming back.”
“It’s very similar to Riverside,” said of the Coachella Valley. “It’s not a big city, and it seems that any of the bands that go out there are more appreciated, and the shows are always pretty good. It’s a cool place for us to play.”
Voodoo Glow Skulls play at 8 p.m., Thursday, July 18, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Spankshaft will open. Admission to the 21-and-older show is $10, and there are no presales, so attendees are advised to arrive early. For more information, visit thehoodbar.com.