For fans of Alkaline Trio, Matt Skiba’s new solo project should be a welcome addition to the musical library. The frontman formed Matt Skiba and the Sekrets with AFI bassist Hunter Burgan and My Chemical Romance drummer Jarrod Alexander, they’ll release their album ‘Babylon’ on May 8.
How does this project differ from your work in Alkaline Trio and your previous side project, Heavens?
I was solely responsible for the crafting of the songs. With both Heavens and Alkaline Trio, it’s very much a team. I love writing with people that I love and respect and taking an idea, pulling it to pieces and then rebuilding it to something that breathes. With ‘Babylon,’ I went in commando style.
Soundwise, are you emulating any new influences we haven’t heard before?
To be honest, it’s not that different from Alkaline Trio, which was somewhat intentional. The musicianship is completely different and there is a heavier post-punk influence to the songs. I really like that Brandon Flowers solo record so I was psyched when it sounded a lot like the Killers, but definitely had its own thing. That gave me a little reassurance going into this thinking it may sound a bit like Alkaline Trio but that it’s cool. There are some rock songs on the record for the boys and some dancy ones for the girls.
What inspired the album title, ‘Babylon’?
A book I read about the ancient Babylonian Gnostic sex religions. I saw the sculpture Rosie O’Laskey did in her living room and the name and the image just clicked. I could see the record right in front of me like I’m seeing it now.
Did you go into this project looking to recruit this band, or did it start more organically?
I had the songs written so I did recruit people to play. Jarrod and I have become really good friends because of this project. Before this we had never met. He was recommended to me by a mutual friend/musician. I’ve been friends with Hunter for years and a big fan of his playing so thankfully he came down and did it. I’ve just recruited two guitar players who are really good friends and rippers. We gonna party.
Your foot was crushed by a truck last fall. What happened and are you all healed up?
It did indeed. I was on my motorcycle, stopped at a light. My stance was really wide and I was spacing out as the light changed and the semi to my right didn’t see me and slowly ran over my right foot. I was wearing steel toe Dr Martens thankfully. I broke a bone in my foot and my ankle bone was completely broken free. I healed really fast and back to riding and surfing and playing shows. The doctor told me my boot saved my foot. Thank you, Dr Martens!
What touring plans do you have? Will you be playing only songs from this project?
We are talking late-May in select cities in the U.S. After that, we’ll see …
What’s next for you and Alkaline Trio?
We’re talking about recording a new album in the fall. Dan and I have both been writing songs for it.
I don't think this song sounds too much like Alkaline Trio, at least, not intentionally. I feel like because he is who he is and Alkaline Trio is what he’s known for, it’s easy to associate everything he does with that, and obviously there is a certain sound that I feel is a bit of his signature. But despite that, to me, this sounds a lot cleaner and polished, especially with the harmonies and sound quality in the chorus and lyrically, a bit more cohesive than most of his Trio songs. I mean, I don’t know, I just couldn’t really see this song fitting on a Trio record, not even any of their last 3. I also think people are almost always now expecting another project like Heavens, which was much more of a dramatic departure from his usual style.
I’m also keeping in mind that this is just one song, I have no clue what the rest of this album is going to sound like, but between this and the Voices sample, I think it is a few steps away from Trio so far.