Huntington Beach Hillbillies
Photo by Jeanne RiceHuntington Beach's Skatanic Rednecks are probably the only group of Orange County musicians who have no problem admitting their act has more to do with style—cow-skull necklaces, 1970s-era truck-driver hats and sunglasses, sleeveless dress shirts, and cowboy boots, to be exact—than substance. Lead singer Hank Reulr says the band's music is a combination of "skate rock, punk rock, blues, country, rockabilly, metal—especially the country stuff." But the Skatanic Rednecks—Reulr, the Skatanic Mechanic, the Bloodsucker Trucker, Jesus Diablo, the Fishin' Musician and Dogboy Sasquatch—don't want their music to distract the public from their business agenda. That agenda? To create a cult following—not to mention an action-sports base—for their peculiar brand of redneck-meets-thrasher style.
OC Weekly: What kind of music do you play?
Hank Reulr: We call it country death metal, poolside power-slop with a little bit of Western slam. We're influenced by old-style country, like Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. We happen to be skaters, and we happen to be rednecks. I grew up in Texas as a skateboarder and punk rocker. My whole family was into country. I kind of hated it because I was punk rock, but then there were some songs that were so good that even if I hated them, when I heard them, I'd get into those songs because the stories were so great.
What do you like to wear?
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Reulr: I'm sort of like an old-style cowboy. I've got a gun belt, and a Western shirt, and a hat that's been burned and thrashed. When I skate, I usually wear a pair of Hurley stretch denims and a T-shirt. Hurley also makes some really cool Western shirts with pearl buttons and embroidered roses. I wear a Fender trucker hat and a United States logo T-shirt by Hurley. Usually when I skate, I don't wear my whole redneck get-up unless we're playing a show. Then I wear one boot and an Osirus skate shoe.
Jesus Diablo: I wear boots with my shorts.
Reulr: The Skatanic Mechanic is a real-life mechanic, and he's got two black eyes and two missing front teeth.
Dogboy Sasquatch: My wardrobe is inspired by the craziest, darkest times of my life. I have a mullet, but sometimes I wear a big bullhorn helmet, Viking-style. I wear tight plaid pants with a Texas belt buckle and cowboy boots. I have a sleeveless Western shirt with scorpions on it; the key to the shirt is to get something that starts out a little distressed and then don't wash it for a few months. I have a mini cow skull that I wear around my neck on a leather cord. People think it's a rat skull with horns glued to it. The question people ask is: "That's not real, is it?"
Reulr [pointing at Dogboy Sasquatch]: We're brothers. He was born inbred, corn-fed and belongs in the shed.
How do you reconcile your redneck sensibilities with the demands of your professional skateboard career?
Reulr: I love listening to Suicidal Tendencies and Dead Kennedys when I skate. But I also love listening to Johnny Cash or Hank Williams. It just puts you in a different mindset. You can either be really amped and just go crazy or you can kick back, relax, and just have fun and enjoy it. So skateboarding and country music actually combine in a pretty good way. Being a skateboarder kind of opens your eyes to a lot of different things because you're always searching out that next spot you're gonna skate.
You just starred in the skateboarding documentaryChlorine, which profiles the suburban phenomenon of skating in unused backyard swimming pools. How do you find new places to skate?
Reulr: Basically, it's networking with your friends and driving around searching the neighborhoods that are really run-down, and you look for houses where nobody lives or that are under construction, and you just go check it out. They'll bury the pool; we'll dig it out. They fill it with water; we empty it. They bulldoze it; we'll rebuild it. We cannot be stopped.
What else do you do for fun?
Reulr: There's a show in Ohio on a 100-acre ranch called Skatopia. You can buy a car for $100 and blow it up. You drive it around the ranch until you crash it enough times, and then you put bottle rockets in the gas tank and let the gas leak and shoot a bottle rocket into it and blow it up. Then we ram it with other cars and have, like, smash-up derbies. But besides all that, there's a bunch of skate bowls inside the warehouse, and our band played right there by the skate bowls. So we were skating and partying with, like, 500 or so people over five days.
You guys have a song called "Bin Laden Must Die." Are you guys really rednecks or just poseurs?
Reulr: That's kind of the irony. We're really patriotic and really proud to be American, but we're also very open to other cultures. We're completely the opposite of people who are racist or people who are snobby. We're not anti-anything, and we're not jumping on the bandwagon of anything. We're just having fun with all the different combinations of heritage, music, lifestyles and attitudes.
So you're not really rednecks…
Reulr: We're all rednecks at heart. We like huntin' and fishin' and NASCAR.
There's nothing more redneck than NASCAR. What's your favorite beer?
Reulr: Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Skatanic Rednecks perform at Gallagher's Pub & Grill, 300 Pacific Coast Hwy., Ste. 113, Huntington Beach, (714) 536-2422. Mon. Call for time, cover and age restriction.
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