The Skulls

skulls by denton

The Skulls were formed in 1977 out of a pre-punk outfit called Stone Crazy, based in North Burnaby, B.C. The core of Stone Crazy was Joe Keithley (guitar), Ken Montgomery (drums), Brian Goble (bass), and Brad Kent (lead guitar). In the summer of 1977, after seeing The Furies in July, followed by The Ramones in August, Stone Crazy decided to dedicate themselves to punk rock. To mark the transition, they renamed themselves The Skulls. They also adopted punk rock nicknames: Joe became Joey Shithead, Ken became Dimwit, and Brian became Labordenass. Joe abandoned his guitar and became lead singer. Simon Werner (whose brother Jonathan was in the Furies) joined on guitar, and Brad Kent left the group.

There weren’t that many opportunities for local punk bands. The Furies split up in September after playing one last concert with the Skulls; the Dishrags had moved back to Victoria to finish high school. The Skulls enjoyed some local press, more out of curiosity than anything else. Still, Joey appeared on the cover of the Georgia Straight; and the Skulls were also featured in Vancouver’s first punk fanzine, SnotRag.

The Skulls decided they would relocate to Toronto. Toronto had venues willing to book punk bands. Next, they would move to London, England, where they could make a career playing their music. They were confident that their musicianship and showmanship would propel them to the forefront of the UK scene. Before they left, they recorded a demo tape of original songs in October 1977. (“Fucked Up Baby” surfaced in 1991 on Zulu Records’ Last Call compilation CD.) In November, they packed up all their belongings in a rented Winnebago and moved to Toronto, with Gerry Hannah acting as roadie. They played several shows in Toronto with the likes of the Viletones, The Ugly and even Martha & The Muffins; but they weren’t there to make friends or network. In February 1978, Simon Werner and Brian Goble flew to London. However, Joey and Dimwit got cold feet, and flew back to Vancouver. Two months later Brian (now renamed Wimpy) flew back to Vancouver after pawning his bass. The Skulls were dead, but from their remains sprouted two bands that would dominate the Vancouver punk scene for the next five years: DOA and the Subhumans.

Les sez: Ah, the optimism and naivete of youth. Callow, beardless lads abroad, finding that in Vancouver at least there was an occasional hot meal to be scrounged.

skulls tree