Why the hell have I never heard of Skank Attack? Perhaps, because I spent the first half of the eighties in a womb, well nine months of it at least, and the last half destroying my parents’ cassette tapes with my teeth.
But with a name that sounds like the Saturday night scene in Palmy, you’d think some one would have mentioned this band to me, knowing how much I hate the Saturday night scene in Palmy.
Thankfully the album is thoughtful, emotive and hard-hitting, nothing like the weekend skank attack at the nightclubs. The album sways between some cleaner, more refined version of punk rock and a less atmospheric and gloomy Joy Division. At times it feels almost as though you’re listening to a 1980s incarnation of Tool. Or an old record from the Cure. Less doom and gloom. More social commentary.
The songs are powerful, driven. The drums are upbeat, the guitar blows past like wind through a wind tunnel. The bass player actually knows how to play bass. There is a certain confidence in the music, but never cockiness.
For an 80s album it’s aged better than the skanks at the nightclubs, who weren’t even born when these tracks were born, ever will. Though the vocals have the familiar 80s rock accent, typical of some of the early Flying Nun bands, and the guitars are higher on treble and less distorted than they would be nowdays, this album could easily pass off as something released this decade. Roughan did a good job.
Skank Attack were a Wellington three piece who were highly active in the mid to late 1980′s. They became well known for their energetic and visually strong live performances, a collaborative attitude and a series of great posters designs.
Like so many bands of the era, Skank Attack gained huge inspiration from the ‘make your own fun’ ethos of the post punk era and embraced the philosophy with relentless enthusiasm, while consciously avoiding some of the limiting clichés of the times.
The group toured regularly and struck up a camaraderie with bands in other cities, particularly Auckland groups like Fish for Life, The Warners and Cicada. Auckland’s BFM were particularly supportive in airing their demos whenever they arrived in town.