Note: The following is part two of a three part series that is part of Seaknuckle Week here at Frederick Playlist. All three parts will run in this week’s 72 Hours as one single story, though Frederick Playlist is the only place you can find all the videos to accompany the writing. We will be publishing two videos with each post. Today’s videos feature guitarist Jon Phelps recording a scratch track on one of their songs (above), as well as the band explaining why you should go to their digital EP release party Friday at Cafe Nola. (below). We will also be at Cafe Nola as part of our effort to spread the word about our upcoming Frederick Music Showcase. For now, though, behold part two of our three-part series chronicling a day in the life of Seaknuckle.
It began in late 2013. Phelps and guitarist Joe Jalette have been friends for years, each learning how to play their instrument from the other. Shultzaberger and Dabson eventually found their way to the duo via other local bands that achieved varying levels of success. The former played with such Frederick acts as Silent Old Mtns., Heavy Lights, The Marylanders and Katie Powderly, while the latter describes some of his former projects as the “worst bands ever.”
Their first show was at the MET on New Year’s Eve in 2013. Later in 2014, they released a four-song EP, “Nailed It,” that was cut during a weekend in Baltimore at Mobtown Studios. They’ll mark the digital release of the EP Friday with a show at Cafe Nola.
“It’s our fault,” Jalette admits when asked about the difference between a record-release event and the upcoming event at Nola. “The EP has been out for a while now, so it’s not really a release party. But we wanted to get it on iTunes and Spotify and all that, send it to blogs and contact critics.”
“Yeah,” Phelps interjects, peering through his thick-framed glasses. “We want to make sure they hate it.”
Yet even if “they” hate it, it won’t be for a lack of the band trying. Part of why Vlachos is so valuable to the current Seaknuckle equation is his ability to keep the band organized. So much so that he maps out social media schedules for each member (on this day, Jalette is supposed to tweet something from the band’s account at 1 p.m., while an Instagram video for later is said to be in the works).
Earning a degree from Drexel and currently working as a monitor for the Frederick Community College music lab, Vlachos is picky about who he works with. Ideally, he says he would like to produce only a handful of bands. Having known the Seaknuckle guys for a while, he insists there was something about the group that attracted him almost immediately.
“The most important thing is the songwriting,” he says. “If you don’t have a good songwriter in your band, you’re screwed. The thing about Seaknuckle is that not only do they have one good songwriter, they have two.”
And it’s at this moment, that you can hear one of those two good songwriters — Phelps — yell at one of his band members as pizza-flavored Combos shoot through the air. The trio of Dabson, Phelps and Jalette recently returned from a beer run and the bassist picked up a bag of the pretzel-encrusted snack. He invited everyone to dive in.
They did, and now what started as a Combo war has magically turned into a moment of camaraderie: Everyone wants to see how far away someone can stand while pitching the food into each other’s mouths. Feeling the wind of a Combo rip past him, Vlachos can’t help but laugh.
“We’re trying to be really self-sufficient,” he concludes, as the room erupts in cheer. Mercifully, a Combo landed in a mouth, and if only for a second, it appears as though the true goal of the day has nothing to do with tracking drums.