Skin Tag – Part One: Jimmy Lawrence


Thanks Jimmy for taking the time to talk about your new band Skin Tag!

Sure Andrew, no problem, you were always very supportive of me, ....I appreciate that!!!!


Jimmy, you previously made your debut with a record that took several years to see the light of day, with the excellent melodic rock album The World Is Round, thru MTM Music.

Yeah, every dog has it's day!


Was it frustrating for you to see that album be released and then have further label problems getting a second album recorded?

I don’t know if frustrating is the right word. I am pretty numb from the dysfunction of the music biz.....It's kinda like that drunk uncle you see at the holidays. You don't really look forward to seeing him but you know you have to at some point. You try not to get too upset or pissed when he screws up because after all he's a drunk. That's how I view the music big drunk fucking uncle. You can't begin to try to figure it out. It will only frustrate you and make you crazy. Thankfully, I don't need it to feed my family.


Were you happy at least with the fan feedback?

The cool fans are the only reward, let’s be honest about this. There really is no money in it at this level. You spend every cent you make trying to make a great CD. People gettin' off on your music is the only reward. It's vanity really.


On what grounds did your dealings with MTM come to a close?

Uh, did they come to a close???.......I plan on doing another solo record soon.....can you give 'em a call for me?


You have become a popular contributor to some message boards and the fans in general, do you enjoy the option of interaction that the Internet offers?

Yes and no, I always thought it would be cool to interact but it is becoming increasingly bothersome. I would rather fans email me in the future for a more one on one approach. I love to talk to fans and appreciate the feedback but let's face it, the anonymity of message boards has given root to a lot of pot shots.....I can take it but it has gotten boring...I mean who the hell is  redrover or pimpdaddy anyway???...anonymity makes a lot of weak people very brave…anonymous critics are useless, they have no credentials they have no worth...please, If you're gonna piss on my face at least take your mask off. I mean isn't it hard to have a serious debate with a made up posting name. Maybe that was where I went wrong. I took that stuff as real opinions and it was all make believe. I don't no. I am still trying to figure the whole thing out.


You also ran the recording diary with Now & Then's site - did you enjoy the process of recording? And did you enjoy the process of reporting back your progress?

I enjoy anything that gets people into what I am doing; I remember reading liner notes on the albums I bought. I loved it. I thought the diary was kind of an extension of that.


How far back do the songs on Skin Tag go? I am presuming the songs started off as a follow up to your debut?

Some are older, some were written a couple a weeks before recording, the cool thing is that nobody can tell. If you can figure it out let me know, you could win the all expense trip to Danziland for a game of "knockout 2000"on Playstation…)


Great, I’ll do that! How did your partner in crime Charlie Calv get involved in this project?

Magnus at MTM hooked us up. When we got done with the demos he already knew he was leaving there so he kinda waved us off. We had a couple of offers. Z passed because he said he didn't think the guitars were heavy enough. I told him I didn't think he really listened to the demo. He never wrote back.

I guess that was a I had an interesting offer from another label and it was for more money than Now&Then/Frontiers but it was for one CD only.

I thought it was noble of Now & Then to commit to 2 CD's. Mark was willing to try to build a little bit. That's rare.


I think you guys make excellent partners, the production quality of this album is higher than average....

Charlie worked his ass off. He is a great guy. We cut no corners and we asked for a lot of favors to get this up to speed. I really wasn't sure I was gonna do another record. Charlie made it such a cool experience that I am now happy I did.


And the rest of the guys? How did they come into the picture?

Charlie brought them in. It was his call. I think he has great ears. Any bands out there looking for a producer would be well served to look him up!


What was your intention in writing this new material? To me, it retains a classic AOR base, but is more technical and certainly more adventurous...

Is that a natural thing in your writing, or something you worked harder to achieve?

Both, I knew it had to be different. It wasn't that I was trying to be different. I think subconsciously I knew. It's weird how that works sometimes and hard to explain. Sometimes you're right and sometimes you're wrong. I definitely like people digging what I do but that is not the main reason I do it. I love to sing. Period. I sing all the time. Sometimes it's embarrassing. But I can't help it. Singing is my vice. It's a drug to me. After singing a few songs I literally feel high. It must be an oxygen thing.  If I put on "Double Vision" in my car and sing it top to bottom I get stoned. It's great!

Add that to my desire to create and bam... You gotta a guy that writes songs and will sing even to himself. No rehab required!!!


How do you personally describe the sound and style of Skin Tag and these songs recorded on the debut album?

I can't really describe it. I just write and sing songs. I like the way you describe them though. The people do too. That must be why you have over 4 million visits to MR.C and I don't even have a website. You da man. You're giving the people what they want. Thank god for you.


Thanks Jimmy, too kind of you though! The songs on Skin Tag are catchy as hell, but also musically interesting.

I love the atmosphere of tracks like Rainy Monday and All The Way Home for example. Then there is a track like You Gotta Love It, which differs from the album somewhat.

I point out the end 30 seconds of that track as an example of you guys trying to mix it up a little with some interesting musical twists. Would that be an accurate assumption?

You know that's a great assumption. Charlie just let the guys have fun. We wanted to jam a little bit. I didn't want a record of me just singing songs. I think we accomplished that. There are songs there and more. That's what I love about progressive bands. (not that I think this is anywhere near progressive) But Kansas could play a song and give you a lot more too.....Sure, "Dust in the Wind" is a formula acoustic ballad but "Point of know Return" is a song plus....though I knew we couldn't get that crazy we wanted to add some stuff to make you wanna see the band live. I hope we did and you do.


Jimmy, would you mind going track by Track thru the album and give a few words about each track?


A very cool track, I loved it first time I heard it. Heavy guitars, I just dug the feel. It has a deep purple vibe to me. Cool One


Rainy Monday

Moody, I like the flowing lyric in the verses


You Gotta Love It

One of my Faves, cool rawness. Danceable


All The Way Home

Pop song


Remember The Times

Charlie wanted to do this one.


Under My Skin

Another favorite. The chorus opens up so beautifully. I wish I wrote it.


Forever In My Life

Love song.


Standing In The Rain

Bluesy kinda shuffle thing. Simple Lyric. Good melody


Nothing Left But Time

Favorite, Charlie kicked this ones ass.


On The Run

Rocker, fun live gig song. I changed the lyric at the last minute. That saved it for me.


Where to from here Jimmy? Are there any live dates for the band planned?

Nothing planned. i have been pitching a bunch of my stuff in LA to TV and movie companies. We'll see what happens


I hope to at least see you guys at the Gods 2002?

ME too !!!


Any NY area gigs planned?

Some stuff in  the works. Nothing to talk about yet.


And Skin Tag 2 can be expected when? LOL!!!

We will start it right after I finish my next solo album (hey, could you get me a deal for that?)


You have certainly experienced more than the average artist, so from that perspective, how do you view the current melodic rock scene?

I Think the entire music scene as a whole is moving closer to music I like to write and perform. I like what's going on.


Where do you see it going next?

Arena Rock. I want my arena rock!!


And to put you on the spot - what is right with it and what, if anything, do you see wrong with the scene as it stands?

It's all good. I mean music to me is great, It's like going to a puppy store. 50 different puppies some big some small. Some pure bred some mutts.  I listen to all types of music so I love it all. I am thankful that some of the demo retreads are over from the late 80's. I thought that was kinda bogus. But obviously it wasn't that lucrative.


Is there anything the average fan/reader of my site could do to help musicians and artists such as yourself and the scene in general?

BUY (that's buy not burn lol!) the CD and tell you're friends and neighbors. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool. Request it at radio. Even if you know they won't play it. Make noise.


I know you guys are all Eastcoast based, how are things going in the wake of the Sept. 11 tragedy?

It's hard to drive up the NJ turnpike and not see the twin towers still standing there. I am a person that believes that from all tragedy something positive must come. I believe it in this case too.


I hope everyone you and the band know are safe and accounted for....

Yeah, thanks!!!


Anything you would like to add Jimmy?

Yeah, I wanna thank you for everything you have done and all that you continue to do for music. Without guys like you there could never be guys like me. (So your to blame!!!)


Anytime Jimmy…Thanks again!

Thank you and Keep rockin' bro!!!!



Skin Tag – Part Two: Charlie Calv



G'Day Charlie!

Congratulations on the Skin Tag debut!

Absolutely Fantastic!


Thanks for taking the time to talk about your new band Skin Tag!

My Pleasure.


Charlie, you have been in a couple of bands previously and several

recording projects. What parts of those do you bring to the Skin Tag project?

A little bit of everything.  You learn so much over the years and especially working with different people.  The obvious would be my keyboard ideas and sounds.  It seems no matter what I do you can usually see my influence on it, which I hope isn’t a bad thing.


Congratulations on the production quality of the album. Is that something you enjoy taking control of?

Thanks I appreciate the compliment, but I don’t like the word control, sounds to egotistical.

I’m more like someone who tries to take all these great ideas and personalities and make them all work together.  My production is very old school. 

Selecting the songs, getting the right musicians, selecting the right studios, getting the right arrangements, creating the vibe, doing what’s right for the musicians and the songs.  It’s all about compromise not control. 

Believe me, I have been controlled and it sucks.  It is the most none creative environment to be in and I would hope I never do that to anyone.  Am I going off on a tangent?!  Anyway, yes I did enjoy doing this record very much.


Do you prefer studio work or playing live when you can?

Lately I have been more into working in the studio then playing live, I am actually in right now with a wonderful female artist that I hope you will be hearing more of shortly.  I have not actually toured in quite some time.   I have two small boys that I love to hang out with, can’t do that when you are on the road.  I will do the occasional one off though.


What is your favorite project you have been involved in before this one?

As a whole, definitely Shotgun Symphony.  Great experience and some great times.


Did you enjoy the process of running the recording diary with Now & Then's site?

Yes, it was kind of cool.  I think it was a great idea that Mark came up with.  Kind of gave people an inside look as to what goes on with making a record.


How did you come to hook up with Jimmy?

I was speaking to Magnus over at MTM about another project and he had mentioned that he had this guy Jimmy Lawrence that he wanted to do more of a heavy rock record with.  So I asked him to send me a CD, as I was not familiar with Jimmy’s work.  I listened to it and thought the songs were really good but definitely more pop than rock.  So at first I did not know what to think of the idea, but I thought there was definitely potential to do something really cool. 

As it turned out Jimmy lived only 15 minutes from me and the rest is history (lol).  So to make a long story short, we did some demos, Magnus left MTM and Mark at Now and Then picked it up.


I think you guys make excellent partners, the production quality of this

album is higher than average....

Thanks again, Jimmy and I are definitely and interesting pair.  How did that song go, “He’s a little bit country I’m a little bit Rock N’ Roll (lol)?   Seriously, Jimmy is great to work with.


I said to Jimmy and I will say again to you - the music and the songs on

this album seem a little more musically adventurous than your average

melodic rock. Was that the plan and how do you go about constructing the

sound for this album?

I definitely had that overall vision ahead of time and as you can see we achieved just that.  It was really taking Jimmy’s mainly pop tunes and trying to stretch them out a bit by using some interesting arrangements.  I think at times the guys thought I was completely out of my fucking mind as they probably did not see where I was going with it.  

But, in the end I think everyone was pleased.  I definitely wanted to keep it polished and well produced sonically but also wanted to make it not sterile and predictable.  As I think you said in your review, you have to listen to it a couple of times to really start to get it.


How do you personally describe the sound and style of Skin Tag and these songs recorded on the debut album?

Just melodic rock.


What are your favorite moments on the album?

Personal favorites would have to be “You Gotta Love It” and “Nothing Left But Time”.  “You Gotta Love It” just came out so cool and “Nothing Left But Time” I think is one great piece of music, complete classic.


Where to from here for the band?

Buy everyone new homes with all the cash we made (lol)?  Wait a minute, Dave and I just bought new homes…don’t tell Jimmy he’s been wondering what happened to the money (lol).  On a more serious note I would hope to start working on a new record after the New Year and possibly some live dates as well.


I also asked this of Jimmy, but here are those questions for you!

How do you view the current melodic rock scene?

It depends on what you are talking about.  I think the more modern Melodic Rock scene (ala Train, Vertical Horizon, et…) is thriving as the older Melodic Rock scene (ala Journey, Foreigner, etc…) is starting to fade and becoming more of a nostalgic thing. Please don’t take that the wrong way as I am a huge supporter of those bands but you also have to be realistic.  The 80’s were the 80’s as was the 70’s, 60’s, 50’s, etc…  There will always be melodic rock, just in different forms.


Where do you see it going next?

I think you will see more and more bands going in a melodic direction with more hooks but definitely not the way most AOR fans would hope.  I would say more like Train’s “Drops of Jupiter”, not like Journey (no offense guys). 


And to put you on the spot - what is right with it and what, if anything, do you see wrong with the scene as it stands?

Personally I think in recent years and this might be a bold statement but there has been a lot of crap being released.  Bad songs, bad production, bad bands and a lot of the same things just being reshaped and repackaged. 

On the flip side there has been some promising newer acts.  I think Gary is doing a great job with TEN (probably the direction Shotgun Symphony would of headed if we remained focused) and I loved the Higher Ground record from a little while back, great production and great songs.  I think everyone has to embrace some of the newer acts doing melodic rock in order for it to thrive and not just become a thing of the past.


Is there anything the average fan/reader of my site could do to help Musicians and artists such as yourself and the scene in general?

Buy our records (lol). Seriously, as I said, give newer artists a chance and be open to some change. You might actually like some stuff if you give it a listen with an open mind.  It’s you guys that will make or break an artist and keep this genre of music alive.


Anything you would like to add Charlie?

Just want to thank everyone for letting me continue to make records.


Personally, what other projects have you got lined up for 2002 and what can we look forward to?

I am producing a female artist from Philadelphia named Christina Conti.  Great melodic rocking tunes.  It looked as if Z Records was going to pick it up but it never happened.  So I am in the studio with her right now working on some material.  I was also playing with Where’s Mary w/Russell Arcara and Mike Maino but have recently stopped as it was just to time consuming.

We were being courted around by SONY last year but as you could imagine nothing ever came of it but a lot of working and reworking and nothing to show for.  It was some great pop material, they are continuing on as a four piece.  Going to be doing a solo record with Tracy White and then the new Skin Tag record.  I also have my own company that helps artists with licensing (e.g. Prophet, Good Rats, etc…), publishing (Melodica, House of Shakira, Tour DeForce, Phantom’s Opera, etc…) and production (Skin Tag, Christina Cont, etc...). Check it out:


On a side note - what are your favorite bands/artists/influences over the years?

Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Rush, Van Halen (what is up with that?!!), Yes, Kansas, Saga, Angel, House of Lords, etc….


And what are you listening to these days?

Same stuff.  Actually I love a lot of newer bands like Train, Robbie Williams, Vertical Horizon, Live, Stone Temple Pilots, Foo Fighters, Godsmack, Creed, etc…


Thanks again for answering these questions!