Musicians Alex Fuller and Jake Yaeger, members of the local band Hit the Skids, pose outside of Hard Times Cafe on Feb. 21. The band is set to release a new album entitled New Horizon and will play in the University's Battle of the Bands.
It began with a love letter two years ago. Now they’ve got an album.
Local band Hit The Skids has found a way to combine various influences, including Neil Young, Green Day and The Replacements, into a punk rock, DIY sound.
It started in jazz combo in high school. Alex Fuller, now a sophomore studying psychology at the University of Minnesota, and Jake Yaeger played together in an ensemble for an event at their school. At the end of the night, a friend told Fuller, “Someone left you a love note on your drum kit.”
A drummer from another high school had watched Fuller and Yaeger’s performance and wrote an open invitation to jam, listing influences such as Hüsker Dü and Soul Asylum.
“I hit him up, and I’m like, ‘I got some new songs that I’m working on, do you want to try and jam?’” said Fuller. “By the end of the first practice, I asked if he wanted to be in our band, and he was just like, ‘Alright cool.’”
Vic Fischer joined the original lineup of Hit The Skids as its drummer. During that year-long period, the band recorded an EP and a full-length album titled “New Horizon,” which is set to be released Feb. 28.
“It took us like a year to get our shit together before we were ready to actually play any shows,” Fuller said.
Even then, Yaeger, the bassist, missed their first gig as a band because of ACL reconstructive surgery.
The general vibe of Hit The Skids is very much along those lines — they tend to let loose and just go with whatever they’re handed. However, their music is pretty tight.
“In the last few months we’ve had a big difference in energy, and we’re starting to take a lot of those punk influences home,” Yaeger said. “It’s weird to go out and listen to our older stuff because it’s sort of a snapshot of our first two years as a band.”
All of the songs in their first EP “Rainy Days” and their upcoming album “New Horizon” were written by Fuller, showcasing oldies folk and a light touch of Green Day.
“I just kind of write stuff whenever it comes to me, and every song is a little bit different,” Fuller said. “A lot of the stuff I wrote on [the new album] started on acoustic guitar, and I transferred it to electric guitar. Then everything gets sped up, and it turns into a rock song.”
During the summer of 2019, Fischer left the band to attend college in Georgia, and Hit the Skids was left drummer-less.
So Yaeger brought his friend Matt Mwangi in, and after two short practices they played a gig together.
“You wouldn’t have been able to tell that he had only been with us for two practices,” Yaeger said. “We sounded just as good as we did before, maybe even a little better in some ways. It took us by surprise.”
Mwangi has stayed with Hit The Skids since, and they’ve begun experimenting with more collaborative songwriting.
“We have a lot of different influences, so I think going forward, we’re all going to be pitching new ideas for songwriting,” Mwangi said. “With all of us having input on these songs for the next album, it’s going to be pretty cool.”
Hit The Skids will be playing a mix of their older and newer material at the University’s Battle of the Bands at the Whole on Feb. 28. They want their set to showcase where they’ve come from and where they’re going as a band.
“We’re going into the recording studio two days later to record some brand-new songs,” Fuller said. “They’re going to seem drastically different compared to the album, but if you’ve seen us recently, it’ll all make sense.”
What: UMN Battle of the Bands
When: 7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 28
Where: The Whole Music Club, 300 Washington Ave. SE, Minneapolis