banner ad
banner ad
banner ad


| 24 June 2019 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Veteran West Coast metallers SKELATOR have signed with Gates Of Hell Records for the release of their fifth studio album, Cyber Metal. The album was released June 14 in European territories and June 21 in North America. Formed in 1998, SKELATOR has capably flown the flag of never-say-die true metal, harnessing Jason Conde-Houston’s stratospheric vocal range, dueling guitar harmonies and battle-tested rhythms. SKELATOR originally met Cruz Del Sur Music/Gates Of Hell owner Enrico Leccese in 2013, who relayed word that SLOUGH FEG leader Mike Scalzi suggested the label sign the band. Fast-forward six years and the two parties have joined forces for Cyber Metal.” We get vocalist Jason and guitarist Rob to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Rob: Our latest release is Cyber Metal through Gates of Hell Records which is out now in Europe and releases June 21st in North America. We really pushed ourselves with this release in an effort to make the material as great sounding as we could muster production wise. Everyone invested a ton of themselves into their respective parts. I spent a lot of time and energy into my guitar performance and really worked on getting the guitars to be tight, musical, and sound as good as I could get them. It is our first full length album with bassist Darin Wall, and he delivered the goods! Robbie (other guitarist) has mixed all of our albums and he really outdid himself on this release. Gates of Hell Records also assisted a ton with helping us find a great mastering studio (Collin Jordan from The Boiler Room). Gates of Hell helped get us a killer physical layout for the vinyl and CD. As far as things people might not pick up on the first listen, “Erlkonig” is heavily influenced by Franz Schubert’s Lied of the same name as well as drawing inspiration lyrically from the Goethe poem. For hidden nuggets, the melody at the beginning of the first guitar solo in “The Hammer” is a melody I’ve been inserting into one solo per album as sort of a signature or theme. There are other nods musically throughout but what fun would it be to reveal them all and leave nothing for anyone to find themselves?

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Jason: Both sides of my family were very rooted in music. From my Mexican family my grandpa was a songwriter, my grandma was a singer on the radio in the 40’s and all my aunts were singers professionally. On my American side both my father and uncle played guitar and keyboards in a Ray Charles tribute band in the 70’s. In my teenage years I took chorus class and I did musical theater as well. I could feel more and more that every time I sang it gave me so much joy not only because of the physical feeling of hitting the note and hearing it resonate in your head, but also the response from the crowd is addictive. I think the first moment was singing the part of Danny Zuko in Grease and hitting that high note at the end of “Summer Lovin’.”

Rob: I’m from the complete opposite camp, I had zero (and I mean zero) exposure to music when I was growing up. There was no push or even suggestion to take up a music instrument from my family. Oddly enough we didn’t even really listen to music around the house (which sounds alien to me now). For a long time I was jealous of people that had that early exposure since I always felt like I was behind. In my teenage years I started getting more into music through friends, but I specifically remember hearing Metallica’s earlier albums and that being the first time in my life I actually wanted to play guitar, I vividly remember hearing Battery and thinking “I want to do that!”

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Jason: As a kid my mom listened to a lot of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. As a teenager a I listened to the local rock station and got really into Metallica. The first time I heard the song “Blackened” my head exploded. Then my first metal show was Megadeth when I was 16, before Marty Friedman left the band. But the show that changed my life was Iron Maiden in 2000 with Halford and Queensrÿche. The Maiden set was a monument to their legacy. Later I saw Dio, Scorpions and Deep Purple in 2002, Manowar and Immortal in the same year and then last but not least was the Judas Priest reunion in 2004 and finally Heaven and Hell’s first show ever in 2007.

Rob: Iced Earth’s Burnt Offerings sort of drew me into the more underground side of metal after having only really been exposed to more mainstream groups (Metallica, Megadeth, etc.), once they were shown to me I started down the path of hearing more power metal bands and discovering that there were whole other worlds/genres of metal music out there.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Jason: Manowar, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Dio and Domine. But that’s just the core. Inspiration also comes from Black Sabbath, Hawkwind, Saxon, Rainbow, Grave Digger, Gamma Ray… etc. We have also had the honor of playing with a lot of bands that inspired us over the years like Accept, Primal Fear, Helloween, Symphony X, Manilla Road, Grim Reaper, Rhapsody, Jutta Weinholt, Omen, The Rods, Riot V, and Slough Feg.

Rob: These are always really hard to do because I listen to a lot of different music, but if I had to pick five musical influences that influence my playing & writing in Skelator they would be Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Gamma Ray, Grave Digger, and King Diamond.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Jason: Either Ralf Scheepers or Chris Bothedahl. Ralf for some epic wailing and falsetto harmonies with me. Or Chris for some destructive speed metal track where I do the highs and he does the lows.

Rob: Kai Hansen of Gamma Ray. He’s an amazing producer, songwriter, guitarist, and singer. Plus he seems like a really nice person that would be easy to work with but also would help put together a great song.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Jason: My biggest problem is that if you tell people plainly that you are in a “Metal” Band they think you are going to sound like Slipknot. So I have to say “Traditional Heavy Metal, like Judas Priest or Iron Maiden.” But if they don’t know those bands then I say “80’s style Heavy Metal, like back when singers were melodic and the guitar solos were good.” If they are still lost after that I give up.

Rob: My usual go to is heavy metal / hard rock with actual singing, and then I rattle off some mainstream band names like Jason mentioned. Most of the time people’s eyes start to glaze over once you start trying to describe your music so keeping it simple is the way to go. The worst is when someone says we sound like an 80’s glam band… I have no idea what they’re hearing that is provoking that thought and it always is confusing to me.

7. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Jason: I guess Darin and I would trade who cooks or we’d team up. Patrick, Darin and I will crush an 18 pack of Pabst with maybe a little whiskey on the side. And of course Patrick will pick up the acoustic while Rob instigates shenanigans and Robbie tries to explain something profound while finally ending up with a bullshit statement.

Rob: Jason hit the nail on the head! Jason has cooked for us a number of times, Darin is quite the accomplished chef. And yes… Jason calls me the “instigator!”

8. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

Jason: Fabio Leone. When we opened up for Rhapsody I had the pleasure of telling him he was a great inspiration to my voice. But my first starstruck moment was when I was 15 and I met Walter Koieng, “Chekov” from the original Star Trek. He shook my hand and I didn’t know how to react. He said “Are you even going to say something?” I just shook my head.

Rob: Most metal musicians that you actually meet are pretty down to earth and nice people so it is pretty hard to get star struck.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

Jason: Playing live and nailing it in front of an excited crowd. Next to that is doing the perfect take in the studio and everyone in the band freaks out and the engineer says “That was fucking tits bro!” My dream job would be as a successful video game designer. Video games have always been a passion of mine but I was not focused when I went to school, my mind was in other places. I wanted to make sci-fi movies and epic video games instead. So after realizing I couldn’t make it in the digital arts I started a metal band. I have worked as a game tester in the past for both Nintendo and Microsoft. Both jobs were cool and fun but really low pay. I’m now settled as waiter in fine dining. While it can be VERY stressful, the money is great and the hours are low. Plus I get flexibility for touring.

Rob: The best part is noticing actual improvements in your playing / performance, sometimes it feels like you’re putting in a lot of effort and never progressing but when you are actually able to do something you weren’t able to before it is a really rewarding feeling. Also, putting the finishing touches on your parts for a recording and submitting them or playing a really good live set as a band. I think everyone’s dream job is to be independently wealthy so you can have all the time in the world to do things like spend time with family and friends, learn new things, travel, and work on hobbies.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Rob: “What is best in life?” — To crush your enemies, see them driven before you. Questions like “What do you think of <insert popular band or genre of music here>? Is it real interest or just a trend that will fade?” – it just seems like a set of questions that are attempting to provoke either shit talking, genre snobbery/elitism, or a drawn out dialogue that basically amounts to “people should listen to what they like and not care what everyone else thinks.”  It is lazy and just doesn’t result in anything interesting, it is just an attempt to get a pull quote that can be bolded and italicized on a page or at the top of a Blabbermouth news story.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Jason: In 2003 we released our demo version of the album Give Me Metal or Give me Death. While it’s quite an accomplishment for such young men to record such a release with close to nothing it really sounds like shit. Later in 2006 when we were recording the Gore of War split we had a slight inclination to record the drums for Give Me Metal using that lineup. In the end we decided “Nah it’s cool fuck it.” In 2007 after moving to Seattle we decided to re-record said album with the new lineup which might have been the biggest mistake in Skelator history. Both versions of the album took about 18 months to record. If we would have done the 2006 version instead we could have done it all in a couple weeks and the product would have been better. But these are the things you learn over the years.

Rob: We should’ve stuck with a more rigid schedule for the Cyber Metal recording — the whole process was drawn out entirely too long and it should have gone a lot faster. Other than that a whole bunch of small bad decisions made as a whole band — turning down shows that ended up being a packed house and a killer opportunity. That type of thing.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Rob: Rhapsody’s Dawn of Victory. I really want to know if Thunderforce (listed drummer for the album) is a drum machine or an actual person. I personally asked Oliver Holzwarth if it was his brother on drums and he didn’t confirm or deny – though I think he didn’t understand what I was actually asking. That record is super sick, over the top nerdy power metal with ridiculous musicianship. It would be great to be around for the writing process and actual album recording process.

Thanks for the questions and I hope everyone enjoys the album. Check out our bandcamp at




Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

Leave a Reply

Please verify you\'re a real person: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

banner ad
banner ad