Off The Skids: A Chat With S.C.O.T.S.

By Tim Roberts

After their sound check on the evening of their performance at Headliners, the members of Southern Culture on the Skids - guitarist Rick Miller, bassist Mary Huff and drummer David Hartman - obliged us with few minutes to answer a few questions. We were in the dressing room at Headliners, a small, enclosed area between stage left and the side exit door. Plastic grocery bags of goodies the band requires for a performance (bottled water, bananas, salty snacks and a six pack of Miller High Life in bottles) were scattered about. "You can tell it's the dressing room," guitarist Rick Miller said, "because there's a mirror on one side of the room and a six pack of beer on the other."

Photo of Rick Miller
Photo By Laura Roberts
Rick Miller

They still had more than three hours before they were to take the stage in their Trailer Park Archetype costumes, so they were still dressed in their traveling clothes when we talked.

LMN: So is this a privilege? I've never seen you guys out of your costumes. Is this like seeing Kiss without their makeup?

Miller: What costumes?

LMN: Are you characters while on stage?

Miller: I'd say a little bit of both. One thing that we try to do is entertain people while we play. So it's a little bit of character, a little bit not. Most of the songs we write are about people or places I've known or things I've done. The song "Banana Puddin'"? That's about one of my favorite things.

LMN: Pigeonhole yourselves. How would you describe the SCOTS experience?

Miller: I always call it "toe-suckin' geek rock.

HUFF: Surrealism.

Miller: [laughs] You know that genre, don't you? Hillbilly surf music is what we used to call it. I still like "toe-suckin' geek rock" because it still gives `em nothing to go on.

LMN: How long have you been coming to Louisville?

Miller: A long time. I think we started playing at the Butchertown Pub.

HUFF: Even before that. It was Uncle Pleasants.

Miller: Butchertown Pub always had that smell over there on that side of town, man. We thought Louisville's got kind of a funny smell. Then they'd tell us why.

LMN: So how southern is Louisville, compared to other places you go?

Miller: Pretty southern, it seems to me. Can you get sweet tea here?

HUFF: Oh, yeah. Southern is based on a "funky" factor and Louisville's got it.

HARTMAN: For awhile, Louisville was actually kind of cursed for us. We had a van that blew an engine here. We got a new engine here that go us to Montana, then it blew and we were stuck there for 10 days.

LMN: What do you guys do differently from any other band from the south?

Miller: I think we have more reverb. I don't think any other band from the south has our perspective on things. We're a lot different from the bands in Chapel Hill, because that is the Indie Rock Mecca. We're from Chapel Hill, but we're not a Chapel Hill band.

HUFF: We don't take ourselves as seriously.

Miller: Which is probably the reason we're still around.