Starting a band is easy: find a few people, get instruments and write songs. The formula, with a little sweat and polish, has worked for people the world over.
But to find that elusive sound in a sea of doppelganger bands is the real challenge. Like any good group of capitalists, Mike Ski and The A.K.A.s looked to the market and found what was missing. Luckily, what was missing was the very music they collectively loved.
"There's a big hole that is left in the music culture that didn't address what we wanted to hear musically or lyrically," Ski says, speaking while wacked out on cold medicine. "We didn't have any new bands we liked anymore, so we decided to start a band that we liked."
Caught among the tough sound of punk rock, Ski's whimsical call-and-response vocals and the high-pitched melodies of '80s-inspired synths, The A.K.A.s are a breath of fresh air in the oft-claustrophobic punk scene. Sure they want to free your mind, but while you're pogo-ing, the band hopes you're thinking.
"We wanted to start a contemporary punk rock band that was free of the vapidity of current music, but wasn't hitting people over the head with issues," Ski says. "We jokingly called ourselves "smart party music.'"
Between sing-along-ready vocals and wildly hummable melodies, The A.K.A.s are making some of the most addictive music in the punk scene, compelling melodically and largely devoid of both teenage-diary lyrics and political manifesto. They sound more party-anthem; imagine the Misfits partying with The B-52s, and you wouldn't be that far off.
With the release of their first album in five years, Everybody Make Some Noise!, The A.K.A.s which also include keyboardist Josie Outlaw, bassist Justin Perry, drummer Chachi Darin and guitarist Vegas Davis seem ready for some time in the sun. But don't call it an overnight success. Even Ski's definition of success harkens back to an old-school approach.
"I feel like music has been a reaction to what's going on in culture or the world, or an art project," Ski says. "In general, today's music is artificial because it's so easy to do and you are so accessible. I'm not a Luddite or anything, but before, it was a lot harder. One of the downfalls of music today is that it's easy to get noticed."
When coming from Mike Ski's mouth, such statements seem not like Punk Rock Star 101 material, but heartfelt and real.
"It's hard to do things that come off as fun and heartfelt but don't come off as snooty," says Ski. "The main reason we've been successful is because we're honest as people, but we don't think that we're awesome."
He quickly reflects upon his little band and its place in this big world.
"Well, we are pretty awesome."