Mudkiss is now an archived site, there will be no more updates. Mudkiss operated from 2008 till 2013.


We are the Voodoo Glow Skulls from Riverside, California. Travelling all around
the world and bringing our sound of West Coast ska-core since 1988. We play fast. We play hard. We play the voodoo sound like no other.”

The Voodoo Glow Skulls are brothers Frank, Eddie and Jorge Casillas on vocals, guitar and bass respectively, joined by Jerry O’Neill on drums, Eric Fazzini on sax and Ruben Durazo on trombone. Having caught up with the guys in my hometown of Camden and not being able to find anywhere quiet to tape an interview (that’s Camden for you) I happily set off for their final UK date in Brighton before they loaded the van and literally sped off for the airport.

Lorraine:  How’s the tour going so far?

Eddie:  Oh it’s been going great! This is actually the last day and it’s been going amazing. We’ve had a great time. We’ve been here for twelve days in the U.K. We came, basically, because we had been offered the Rebellion Festival and had been offered a show in London, so we built a tour around it and decided to do about two weeks in England and we had also been offered a couple of festivals in Europe, so we did just a little bit less than a week in Europe, to just pop in and out to make it worth our while, to not just be out here for twelve days or whatever, but it’s been one of the most consistent tours we’ve done in a few years. As a headliner, we’ve had pretty good crowds every night.

Lorraine: So England’s been good to you? I have to ask about Jerry's’ foot, what happened there?

Eddie:  Jerrys’ foot….well it’s a long story, well not that long of a story. We played at a place called The Maize in Nottingham and a long story short, there were three drunk guys hanging out after the show and one of them hit my brother with a drumstick, like just hit him in the side.

Lorraine: Jorge?

Eddie:  Yeah, hit Jorge, hit him pretty hard, I mean hard enough to be “Hey motherfucker, what’s that all about, you’re a stranger?!”, so he kind of pushed the guy and his friend punched my brother in the face and then a big fight, a big pub brawl, so to speak, ensued and Jerry ended up with a broken foot, but he didn’t get hit by anything he didn’t think. I think it’s because he jumped off the stage, to like jump in and see what was going on. That’s our theory anyway as we don’t really know how he broke his foot, but he broke the back, a small bone in the back.

(Photo by Lorraine)

Lorraine: You’ve been playing your own brand of Ska Punk for over twenty years, how does the UK compare to the American scene and what changes have you seen?

Eddie:  We’ve always been lumped in with the underground scene, we’ve always done our own thing, so what I’ve seen is it get kind of trendy for a while. It got pretty big in the States mid to late 90’s, that whole period, say ’96 to 2001. It got pretty trendy and pretty popular because of like.. No Doubt, Reel Big Fish and the Bosstones, all those bands had major radio play, they all had big, huge songs so that contributed to it getting huge really, really quick and kind of being flavour of the year,  flavour of the month kind of thing, but I mean, we know a few of those bands and they’re quite good and really successful, but that’s basically what’s gone on. It’s actually changed now though, it’s kind of back to where it was, we’re sort of back into the underground again. I mean, some of those bands that had a lot of success are still around and still doing well, but it seems like the Ska Punk scene kind of died because of that, because it got so trendy to have horns and play Ska, now it seems like it’s coming back. Things haven’t changed so much for us though because we’ve never been like a pop band, like a song with a single, so we’ve never had any real commercial success I guess, it’s always been kind of underground and in the punk scene, so things haven’t changed all that much for us. We saw a little bit of the benefits of the trend getting big for a while, like some of the crowds got a little bigger because they’d heard about us and were kind of curious about us, but we’ve always maintained  the same scene and the same type of shows, so things haven’t changed all that much for us, but in the States I would say it got trendy for a while and now it’s back to where it’s underground and people really care, to really go back to what they care about and stick with their scene and people that weren’t really into it in the first place kind of fucked off and got into some other trend. That’s my opinion. Seems like that might have happened here too, I’m thinking? It kind of seems that way but it was a little later. I noticed that bands that had their songs on the radio in the States, it took them about three to five years to get popular here and then when we were coming here it was like “That’s so passé” , not to make it sound like it’s behind the times because I mean, the UK is very hip

Lorraine: Do you think that?

Eddie: The UK, and the Two-Tone movement in the 80s, and the Heavy Metal scene in the 80s things like Iron Maiden - those are our biggest influences as an American band.

Lorraine: I was going to ask about that later...

Eddie: My whole point is that it's very hip here and a lot of us guys consider it pretty much ‘ahead’ as far as music goes. But, as a way to see it, the whole Ska trend was delayed here by three to five years. But that makes sense. It takes a lot of time for those bands to start coming to do tours here. I mean, we'd already been here a few times. But when the bands that were on the radio came ahead, like real singles, it was obvious.

(Photos below by Christian Bendel)

Lorraine: Three brothers in the band: has been an asset? Did you fight? Did you fall out? Do you think that's the ingredient that makes you successful?

Eddie: I think it's definitely something that helps us stay together as a band. It's three brothers and we've had MANY fights. Big ordeals on the road. Just between the family of course.

Lorraine: Did the three of you fight as kids?

Eddie: Yes… yes, not crazy, but we fought enough, and we had our moments, for sure.

Lorraine: I want to know, as well, who's the boss?

Eddie: It depends on what you're looking at. Frank the singer is like the business manager, the manager so he in a lot of senses is the boss and takes a lot of responsibility on his shoulders that the rest of us wouldn't take on. So, to his credit, he's pretty much the boss. I would say that I might be more the boss of the music, at least myself and the bass player Jorge, we take over those aspects of it.

Lorraine: You all seem pretty quiet

Eddie: I think we're all fairly quiet. We're all pretty similar. Yes, that seems to be the roles. He (Frank) seems to be the boss in charge of the management, he's more the voice, he's the email guy, I'm more the song writing guy, constantly trying to come up with new song ideas.

Lorraine: But what about outside the band? Outside of music, do you hang out together, and get on well together?

Eddie: We get along pretty good. Frank lives away. Him and his family moved to Arizona.

Lorraine: He's the only one who’s married?

Eddie: Both Jorge and Frank are both married.  Frank lives four hours away. We get along fine but we don’t see him so often, we just see him on the road or for, like, family events. Jorge and his family live pretty close to me, and we live pretty close to my parents in my home town of Riverside, California. We’re a pretty tight family for guys that go on the road, and there just being three brothers… there are no sisters so it’s not very sugar-coated.

Lorraine: You don’t have any sisters?

Eddie: No, it’s just three dudes. It’s a little weird because we’re on the road together all the time, and our parents are at home. Yeah. We seem to get along ok.

Lorraine: What about other members who join the band? Do you think they find it difficult because you’re obviously close-knit, you’re a family – so do they find it hard to integrate into the band?

Eddie: It’s been fairly good. It’s a little hit-or-miss too. It depends on the person. We expect people to come and go, here and there. I don’t want to put it this way, but it’s like a family business now. To get somebody to fit in hasn’t been so difficult, it’s just keeping people around. Once they figure out how hard it is to go on the road, and how hard it is to get paid well, and all these other factors, people start to figure out whether it’s for them, or not. And that’s how you gauge it, I guess. But being on the road is a good test of character. But I think they can deal with it for the most part. But they’ll see some arguments we get involved in, some brother-to-brother spats that they shouldn’t be involved in. It is what it is. You have to deal with it.

Lorraine: The brass section particularly has changed quite a lot over recent years. Has that been a problem?

Eddie: After we set out to change the line-up with the horns we’ve never had a solid line up. The guys have been in the band for around eight or nine years, but they kind-of came and went too so we’re kind of used to it now, changing horn players. Right now we thought we had the best ones. It’s a pretty obvious thing to say but this is the best horn line-up we’ve had in a long time. We’re really happy with it, we’re really happy with the two guys, with Eric on sax, and Ruben on trombone. We’re pretty happy with them. They’re good dudes, they get along with us, They’re just quiet enough and they’re not so outspoken, and we kind-of like that. It’s not like you can’t have an opinion, but it’s good when dudes just lay in the cut and just are a part of the band, and don’t get in the way.

Lorraine: You have your own unique style but who were your early influences? Who, when you started up, did you look to and think, “I want to do that”?

Eddie: Frank is a little older than us, Frank’s 42, and I’m 38,

Lorraine: No, that’s not old! I’m 46

Eddie: Oh, you look great! I thought you were my age! I’m 38, Frank is 42, Jorge is 36, so Frank is four years older than us, and was bringing home the first AC/DC records, the first Van Halen records, the first Iron Maiden records, a lot of stand-up comedy like Richard Pryor, a lot of that kind of stuff, and then the whole Two-Tone movement from the UK was a big influence. Those are our first influences. Before we even picked up instruments, we were into the British heavy metal stuff (of course, AC/DC is from Australia) but stuff like that, The Scorpions, the Two-Tone movement, and then the early Eighties punk rock scene in southern California, like The Descendants and all that stuff.

Lorraine: You’ve played with a lot of big bands, The Descendents, NoFX, Leftover Crack…was there any rivalry? Have there been big egos or has it all been pretty cool for everybody?

Eddie: You come across your characters. It seems that you come across the bands who don’t want to socialise and who’ll be just on their own terms, and there are the bands who make an effort to say “Hi” and hang out, We’ve gotten a little bit of both types of band that you’ve mentioned.  Some of them, we’ve met and thought we could become friends with these guys; and some of them, while I won’t say they don’t want anything to do with you, they’ll just do their own thing.

Lorraine: They just keep themselves to themselves…

Eddie: Exactly. It’s a little bit of both. Sometimes you’ll see the obvious people that talk shit, and are pretty competitive; and then sometimes there are the people who are real nice, real friendly, and they get along with you great.

Lorraine: If there was anyone you could perform with in the world, who would it be?

Eddie: Oh boy! Anybody? It may sound lame, but we’ve already performed with Fishbone, who were a big influence. Fishbone was a big band when I was 15 or 16, a big band from Los Angeles, they’re one of them. And even though they’re not the same as they used to be, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, to be honest with you. They were always a big deal for us, when I was 15 or 16, that was the Hollywood band, the punk rock, funk band, they were like the punk groups back then… that’s one of them, for sure. I would love to do that. That would be a dream-come-true to play with those guys at a festival or their own show. We have a lot of respect for those guys. You’ve got to respect the longevity, the career of that band.

Lorraine: Your first tour was DIY and you’ve gone on to… you’ve not got your own venue now, but you have your own recording studio, your own record label, California Street Music, what are the benefits of that to you? What next?

Eddie: We’ve already been on the road a few times, at least, most places a band like us could go. We’ve been around the world a few times, and gotten to go to South America, and Mexico, and that was cool, Japan, we’re about to go to Japan in a week-and-a-half. Right now, what better time to have your own record label, to put out your own music, with downloads being the way to go nowadays. It’s great to have a recording studio because we’ll not have to pay for studio time ever again if we don’t want to. It’s pretty professional. I’ve some real gear in there, and I record my band, I record a bunch of friends’ bands, local bands, and some known bands here and there. It’s great! You can write a song, and go straight into the studio, and not have to book time, not have to deal with some engineers who’ll maybe rip you off, or rush you, or not do the job right. It’s all in our hands now. So that’s a good thing. We don’t have to look for a label if we don’t want to, I mean, it’s great to be on a label that has money for promotion and other expenses, but at the same time it’s good to know that you can do it yourself no matter what.

Lorraine: Regardless of all that you’ve achieved you really do have your feet on the ground. What do you attribute that to? You don’t appear to have big egos, Jorge was hanging out with us in Camden, you’re very much ‘real people’.

Eddie: Probably because we’ve been through some “real people” shit! We’ve done a little bit of everything. We know what it’s like to have our hits on the radio, like in Los Angeles, we’ll have the biggest influential station in the world. We know what it’s like to be in the ring, we’ve had big management, we’ve been on huge tours, we’ve been on little, shitty small tours (we still do small tours). Not that we’ve not had hard times: but we’ve been pretty lucky because we still get to do this, we still make a living from it, we still get to put out records. To a lot of people, that’s success, I guess. We’re not rich, but we get to live, and we get to go everywhere. I would say, if it’s anything, it’s because we’re real about this. We’re pretty realistic. We know people in famous bands that have been one-hit wonders, and no-one gives a shit about their bands any more. At least, it seems that way, so we like to keep people into it, so we’re into it to prove that we still care about this, and viable, and we still care about the music first and foremost.

Lorraine: Your tunes are infectious and up-beat, they make you happy, but your lyrics contain serious social commentary, have you ever run into any trouble where ‘councils’ have not wanted you to play, or they’ve not liked what you’re saying in your lyrics?

Eddie: I don’t think we’ve had any bad luck with that. We’ve never been banned. We thought we would have been banned because of the name by religious groups! I mean, the name, “Voodoo…”! People get scared away by names like that and think, “Ooh! It’s taboo!” But, to be honest with you, there’s nothing coming to mind: we’ve been pretty lucky as far as that goes. People have been pretty open-minded. The worst stuff we’ve had with that kind of stuff is in our home town. They did an annual street festival, the “Orange Blossom Festival”. The part of California that we’re from used to be known for orange groves, it’s on the way to Palm Springs, a desert resort for rich people. The festival doesn’t exist any more: it was going on for twelve years straight. And a few years back, they wouldn’t let us play it. People wanted us to, and the local city people were into it, but the city council was scared of punk rock, and slam dancing, and said, “it’s going to get too crazy when those guys are playing!” And then, strangely enough, we just did it this year, and it wasn’t called the same name any more. We did a free show in our home town in April, and it went off without a hitch. Five or six thousand people showed up in the streets of our home town, and it was amazing.  And it ended up going well.

Lorraine: I know you’re part-Mexican, and you record songs in Spanish as well. Do they go mad when you play at home?

Eddie: It’s not just Mexican kids, it’s southern California, you get all kinds of people. It’s like playing London or something. It went off – it was a crazy show, it went nuts. But the Spanish songs don’t make that much of a difference there. But if you play certain parts of Los Angeles, or if you go to Mexico, it’s extra crazy. But a good show is a good show.

Lorraine: You must see the influence you’ve had on other bands. Over twenty years in the business, with over a million records sold world wide, do you feel proud when you see the influence you’ve had?

Eddie: Sure, we hear it all the time. It’s just weird to deal with, sometimes.

Lorraine: Like I said, you’re quite rounded people…

Eddie: We’re famous in some respects for sure, but we don’t see it that way. It’s still weird to have people freak out, to have people be that into it. But that happens. It’s been happening for over ten years, bands are like, “We were influenced by you guys first.” We played with a band last night, as a matter of fact, and we were in Holland, we played a show in Den Haag. The band was called “Drunk Pink”, they were the opener, and that’s one of our song names, and they told us, “we stole the name from one of your songs.” And they didn’t even sound like us! They were totally the opposite style, but it was very flattering.

Lorraine: You do a Specials cover, this is unfair: who does Ska best? UK or USA?

Eddie: Oh, the UK! The UK for sure. The UK invented Ska if you ask me. Sure, you can go back to the roots in Jamaica, but when I think of Ska, first I think of The Specials, Madness, The Selector, Bad Manners, The Beat, The Bodysnatchers, I think of the Two-Tone label, that’s the first I think of when I think of Ska.

Lorraine: We’ve just had a dip, but you probably know The Specials have done a tour this year. Do you think that this is bringing it (Ska) back up?

Eddie: I would hope so. I think if it came to the States it would be crazy too. Maybe not as big as here, but it might be as big. It would definitely help. People are definitely interested in those bands. I think when Madness came over, they were pretty huge. They did an amphitheatre, five or six thousand people, a big show. And that makes sense: they had huge singles in the States too. I think “One Step Beyond” and “Our House” were huge, huge songs. I remember them all over MTV.

Lorraine: My final question is, do you think you’ll get bored?

Eddie: I don’t think we’ll get bored.

Lorraine: Do you think, even with your recording studio and record label, you three brothers will get bored and give it up, or will you be still out here, gigging?

Eddie: That’s a hard call. We’ve come close to saying, “Oh, shall we not do this any more?” But I’m not sure. Now, it’s not an option for us. We can’t go there now. It would have to be a while down the line, for many reasons. We have to do this, just because we love doing it. And we have to stay in there, doing it, for financial reasons too. I can’t lie: this is what we do. For better or for worse, this band has to stay on the road, and we have to keep this going. And if we hated it, we’d obviously stop.

Lorraine: Obviously, it’s a labour of love

Eddie: That’s the best way of putting it. We don’t see it stopping any day soon. We just recorded ten or fifteen new songs, that are just about done, and we’ve done most of the tracks already. Fifteen new songs and we’re working on about ten to fifteen more. So we’re going to have about twenty-five to thirty new tracks by the end of the year. Most likely, they’ll all be finished being recorded by then. After that, who knows? We’re going to put out a split record in Japan, which is coming out next week: two new songs, with another band from Japan, and that’s going to be the first two singles to test the waters, and then we’re just going to try to develop, go back to the drawing-board. We have eight records, and we’re not in a rush. We could play old songs, we could tour, we could afford to fuck around with it. So that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to start over, and see where we’re at as a band, see where we want the sound to go. You can’t really change too much. You can’t divert too much, otherwise you’ll lose your audience. It’s got to be an improvement, unless you’re one of those few lucky bands who re-invent the wheel. But I don’t see us straying from the Ska-Punk formula. We just try to write songs that we think will work for us. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But it still has our stamp on it.

Lorraine: Thank you!

Eddie: Thank you very much for your time. So what was the name of this? Mud…? M-U-D-Kiss? Oh, wow, that’s a good one. Does that mean I get one?


Interview by Lorraine - 18/08/09

Photo credit to Christian Bendel

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