Reinventing the Sounds of the 60s: the Skeptics
Young musicians spend countless hours strumming out chords and humming tunes, dreaming of record pressings and long tours. Their bedroom walls serve as their sole audience as they create and destroy beautiful melodies while fantasizing over their musical futures. For Bart De Vraantijk, his bedroom solo sessions were more than just a pipe dream. Seven years ago, alone in his room, De Vraantijk, started recording songs for what would become the French Garage Rock band, the Skeptics. Over the course of two-years De Vraantijk recorded 20 songs and created a four track seven-inch on his own.
In 2010 the fully formed Skeptics hit the ground running—De Vraantijk moved to Brussels and struck up a band. The band started playing shows around Brussels in 2011, before moving back to De Vraantijk’s home in La Rochelle. After the band’s base shifted back to France the Skeptics carried on with a different string of drummers.
Highly influenced by the sounds of the 1960s, De Vraantijk’s band took nods from the tunes of the Seeds, the Troggs, the Pebbles, the Back from the Grave compilation, Psychedelic Unknown, Acid Visions and the 1980s Garage Rock revival.
“The first idea with Skeptics was to do a fake 60s band, have people think it was some kind of lost recordings from an obscure 60s Garage band,” said De Vraantijk. “Which kind of worked for the first seven-inch!”
After the Skeptics became a tangible band they abandoned the idea of creating a 60s revival in favour of developing new songs with varied influences. The Skeptics have done well to avoid limiting themselves and their sound. In 2013 they organised a gig for Vancouver Garage Rock band, Dead Ghosts. The show went so well that the bands decided to produce a split album together. The two bands can be found together on stage this August in Rennes, France.
“They had just recorded their cover of the Back From The Grave classic, the Kegg’s ‘Girl’,” said De Vraantijk. “And we were working on new recordings for the upcoming record on Frantic City and had this cover of Nederbeat supremos, Groep 1850, so we went for a 60s cover split. We asked Robin, our first drummer, to draw the cover and that was it!”
The Skeptics have evolved continuously, shifting from the solo bedroom recordings of their first LP to a professionally recorded three-piece band for the second, bringing them to their current form as a full four-piece band. Following a successful mini-tour in the U.K. in February 2015, the Skeptics are preparing their third release.
“All four gigs we did [London, Manchester, Bristol and Reading] went down very fine,” said De Vraantijk. “We had a very nice time, met cool people and played with great bands, so that’s all good. But I think what we liked most was the beer, of course. English beer is quite unique and got some taste. We got used to drinking our few litres of IPA every night and missed it afterwards!”
The band’s upcoming seven track ten-inch is currently at the pressing plant. Fans can expect to see it on Frantic City Records very soon.
For fans looking to find a little more music to wet their whistle, they can find an endless supply from the members of the Skeptics. The whole band is actively involved in the music scene. Mentionable projects include Regal, Mean Things, Sixty Second Swingers, Charles Howl, Double Cheese and many more.
“I’ve been playing in quite a few punk and garage bands over the years, such as Pneumonias, Janitors, Mean Things, Wild Zeros, White Fangs and more,” said De Vraantijk. “Some are dead now, some are still running. The Pneumonias are going to Spain for a four gig tour in June, for example!”
Heatwave Magazine presented the Skeptics on the London leg of their U.K. tour. During their set, the Heatwave crew was able to snag some fabulous footage of the band in its natural element. The footage features the band playing the title track for their awaited third album.
“The idea is quite simple, try to stop being a fool,” said De Vraantijk. “Leave the shit behind and move on. Nothing new, but I think the ‘Open Sea’ phrase is quite visual! This track will be available on the upcoming ten-inch, which will be called ‘Open Sea,’ actually!”
Check out De Vraantijk’s recommended band list: