Interview with Skerik of Garage A Trois: Musical Madness

Garage A Trois’ instrumental compositions are like a psychedelic musical trip to Wonderland. In Power Patriot, the quartet’s latest release, the madness begins with “Rescue Spreaders” as static noise swirls about a paranoid synthesizer. Moments later, gasping drum beats steadily grow into hard knocks, as if there were some sort of menacing source trying to break free from inside the snare. Anxious saxophone notes round out the beautiful confusion—a distorted mess of truly creative and original music. And that’s just the first song.

The jam band—featuring Stanton Moore on drums, Skerik on saxophones, Marco Benevento on keyboards and Mike Dillion on vibraphone/percussion—has released four albums since its inception in 1998: Mysteryfunk, Emphasizer, Outre Mer, and Power Patriot. The quartet plays a sampling of music—everything from rock to funk to jazz—and utilizes an “instruments only” approach to create complex arrangements for innovative symphonic songwriting.

“We treat improvising as a road to composing,” said the band’s saxophonist, Skerik.

Perhaps even rarer than Garage A Trois’ original sound is their sparse touring schedule, with the band playing only a scattering of club shows each year.

“Everyone is really busy, so it’s a band that doesn’t play very often. We probably won’t be back in New York for another year, so I really hope that people come to see us on Dec. 19,” said Skerik in reference to Garage A Trois’ upcoming appearance at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City.

Skerik kept The Aquarian Weekly trippin’ during a recent interview with talk of the negative effects of vocals in music, bad business with record labels, and the future of the industry in a technological world.

The first thing I’d like to ask is what’s the story behind your band’s name?

Each one of the letters represents this different pagan entity. When we put them together through this whole weird mathematic formula—it’s kind of Persian, pagan folklore and science put together—those are the closest words that come from each of those symbols, each one of those letters. We were in the van or the hotel or both, I can’t remember. It took a couple of weeks. We were doing calculations each on our own, doing research on different subjects and we put all that data together and kind of came up with that. It was kind of an odd way to name the band but it seemed to work out okay.

The band is currently on tour to promote the new album which was released on Oct. 27. Is there anything that sets it apart from the previous material you’ve released?

Every record is different for us because not only is there different personnel, but there’s different concepts involved. Earlier, there was a lot of improvising on the record, or in the studio a lot of improvising, where as it’s mostly songs and worked out parts. Although, there are some really great solos that Mike and Marco take. I only take one or two at the most, just very short statements. They do some more. It’s just more song oriented. More like a rock record. I think that’s the really fun part of it. It’s just more. It’s just different.