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Not Trying To Reinvent The Wheel, Just Making A Better One
Sekond Skyn
We just have pure fun and it shows when we play on stage. We have no tricks up our sleeves. No smoke. No mirrors. Just have fun. We all just love to play. - George Pond of Sekond Skyn
by Josh Davidson
Sekond Skyn
Sekond Skyn (Credit: Eric Vogel)

If you're an avid reader of Chorus and Verse like myself (I have to be, I'm the editor), you probably know that SlowDrown was one of my all-time favorite Jersey Shore bands. The band was a perfect cross between the blood-curdling metal that I grew up on and the melodic beauty of some of today's better modern hard rock bands.

So, I was glad to hear that two of the band's former members, George Pond (on bass) and Eddie Heedles (guitar), are still going strong in a new band called Sekond Skyn. Since SlowDrown disbanded, the two teamed up with Jon Follet (vocals), Mark Monjoy (guitar), and Tommy Spano (drums) to form Sekond Skyn.

Though its music is quite different from SlowDrown, I wasn't disappointed with its latest studio offerings.

Sekond Skyn continues to put forth thought-provoking, emotion-evoking music, with an atmospheric two-guitar attack, soul-penetrating rhythm section and unrelenting vocal performances. The band of local music veterans has produced a signature sound of thick, yet scratchy instrumentation that will set it apart from redundant mainstream radio. The band's message is delivered with conviction found both in Follet's voice and its to-the-point instrumentation.

Like SlowDrown, Sekond Skyn's live show is its strongest asset. On stage, the band pounds the skull of its audience (not literally, don't worry) with an energy and stamina that many local and mainstream bands probably can't match. Don't take my word for it. Catch the band live at venues like Chubby's  in Red Bank, NJ or at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, when you can.

To further its efforts towards reaching the masses, the band recently inked a marketing deal with the Attack Media Group/Deevel Marketing, which began in January. Its latest, self-titled six song EP, is available for sale or download on 150 major music web sites. A North American radio campaign is also in the works. Last year, Sekond Skyn signed a distribution deal with SSG China for the band's 2006 release Let The Fire Burn to be distributed for sale in China. The band previously signed a contract with MTV/Viacom for MTV and MTV2 to use that release on episodes of some its shows such as "Cribs" and "My Sweet Sixteen." Oh yeah, and they have a MySpace page!

I recently asked Pond about the creation of Sekond Skyn and the band's evolvement since.

How have the members of Sekond Skyn evolved from their former bands?

Well, I don't think we set out to evolve at all. We always just play what is in our hearts. You learn from the mistakes you have made in the past and, like everyone, we have made plenty. Experience helps you make better choices.

What circumstances led to the band's creation?

The Backhand part of the band was an easy choice. We had not played together in about four years. Eddie, Tommy and I were in another band called Those Left after the demise of both SlowDrown and Tommy's band Downshift. We had a singer and another guitar player. The band only played one show and the singer and guitar player had left. We were at a standstill and really did not know if we wanted to continue.

Tommy had been playing with Mark on the side and suggested we get him down here. So, of course, it was a natural progression from there. We were already comfortable with one another and the chemistry was still there.

The big question was: who was going to sing? Then fate stepped in. Mark and I had went to see Helmet at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park. Jon and Mark were actually standing next to each other in the bathroom - both were taking care of business - when Mark had recognized Jon from playing shows with him in the past when Jon was in the band Bind. Mark asked Jon if he was interested in coming down. Jon was a big fan of Backhand and frequented our shows, so he was extremely interested in coming down to jam with us.

I gotta tell you that it was a perfect fit immediately. We all knew within the first 15 minutes that we would be a good band if we continued.

How does Sekond Skyn differ from its contemporaries?

This is a very good question that I am not sure we have an answer to. I guess this would have to be decided by the critics and music fans. We do not contemplate these sort of things when we write. We just do what we do, play what we like and hopefully everyone else likes it, too.

Which newer band does it draw influence from?

Well, everyone in the band likes different bands. We just play what comes out. We don't set goals to sound like anyone else. So again this is for the critics to decide. Although coincidence may have it, we look up to most of the bands that we shared the stage with on the Family Values Tour, like Korn, Deftones, Hell Yeah, Blood Simple, Five Finger Death Punch, Atreyu. I do believe we share the same sort of style.

How have some of Sekond Skyn's members maintained their presence in bands that have stood at the top of the N.J. scene for a long time?

We all have the same philosophy on this one. We just have pure fun and it shows when we play on stage. We have no tricks up our sleeves. No smoke. No mirrors. Just have fun. We all just love to play. So that's what we do, we play and play and play. We have all just kept ourselves out there on the scene working hard to try and find the right players. We finally have that. If you have the right players that enjoy writing and playing music together, the audience will pick up that vibe and feel it as much as the band does.

How does Sekond Skyn's sound compare and contrast to that of Backhand and Slowdrown?

Backhand was pure heaviness and SlowDrown was heavy, but melodic and somewhat theatrical.

Sekond Skyn is just a catchy type of hard rock that stands the test of time. We are not some new trend that is going around and we're not trying to start one. Our music is not the type that you would listen to and say, 'Wow, this is the new style of music for the next two years and it will fade out.' This is the type that you can listen to for the next 20 years and it will sound good.

We are not trying to reinvent the wheel, just making a better one.

What do you think is the formula for a heavy sound?

One tablespoon of bat wings, one eye of a toad, three witch moles and one upside down cross.

Heavy is something we all feel. We never go into rehearsal with an agenda like 'We are going to write this heavy song.' It just happens. It's what comes out. If you listen to the two CDs we have out now, we have a potpourri of material that is both heavy, yet radio friendly.

How does a band create music that is heavy, but still melodic?

I think this question is a good one, but it probably has the most obvious answer. I would say listen to the radio. If this is what you aspire to be, the answer is in the influences you choose to listen to.

More than that it has to do with the band members you choose. If one guy likes country and one is emo, but one guy is into salsa, most of the time you won't come out with System of a Down.

Last, but not least, the singer or singers are going to be the link between heavy and heavy melodic.

If you listen to some of our songs like "Amenity" or "Dissolution," you will find that Jon and Tommy are the links between heavy and heavy melodic. These songs can go either way. They could be complete balls to the wall or complete melody. It really depends on the direction the vocalist takes the music.

If you want to hear more, go to our Myspace page www.myspace.com/2ndskinnet or wait for the new EP to be released worldwide on Attack/Universal records and Deevel marketing in the early part of 2008.

[ Website: www.myspace.com/2ndskinnet ]

Josh Davidson
Josh Davidson has written music feature articles for Jersey Style and served as the Jersey Shore rock columnist for Steppin' Out Magazine. Other music writing credits include Aquarian Weekly, Jersey Beat, Backstreets and njcoast.com. He has written free-lance for the Asbury Park Press' Community Sports section and has written featured articles for its news section, as well as covering campus news and sports weekly for the Signal, the College of New Jersey's (formerly Trenton State College) student newspaper. He has worked as a staff writer for The Independent, and his work for Greater Media Newspapers has also been published in the News Transcript. He is a former beat reporter for the Ocean County Observer who presently is a news writer for Symbolic Systems Inc. supporting the US Army's Knowledge Center. His music writing covers a vast range of topics, from the current cover band craze, highs and lows of the original scene, to the early days of the Jersey Shore rock scene in Asbury Park. He is also a musician, having written hundreds of songs as a singer/songwriter, and playing them out as a solo/acoustic artist. He has also played with cover bands, including It Doesn't Matter, and several original bands, including as the guitarist for the solo project of singer/songwriter Dave Eric. He continues to work on solo material and is presently the guitar player for Jersey Breeze.
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