Smile Politely

Sean Hermann talks inaugural Skeletal Lightning Fest

It’s been a long process from conception to realization for Skeletal Lightning Festival. From Skeletal Lightning‘s genesis as a blog just over a year ago, founder Sean Hermann had always wanted to do a festival. On the way there, he’s found time to release a 27-track compilation and start a record label releasing cassettes from numerous midwestern punk bands. As far as cassettes go, Hermann prefers them because they’re a tangible format and relatively inexpensive to produce:

As a label they’re nice because they’re a lot cheaper than vinyl, I can put a release together and still do a majority of the work myself, print the art, hand-number, print the labels, I can do everything for around $150–200. Vinyl, the smaller the run the more expensive. One thing I really like is they’re from the past; they’re a big part of music… I feel like it’s cool to entertwine the two [past and present]. It’s a nod to the past; it’s a cheap format … you have to hold it in your hands. It’s a lot more involved than a digital stream.

It’s all about the listening process too, probably with the vinyl moreso than cassette, but like I said, you have to physically turn the tape. Not everyone has a cassette player, and it’s not as accessible and maybe doesn’t sound as good as a digital stream, but it’s something physical and tangible. You can hold it in your hands and appreciate it.

However, Hermann did mention plans to release at least some vinyl, including a split 7″ in collaboration with Massachusets label Broken World Media.


As for the festival, it will feature headlining sets from around the region, with Native (IN) kicking off Friday, and Into It. Over It. (IL), Protestant (WI), and the Reptilian (MI) Saturday. Further down the bill, don’t miss stellar Chicago acts Brighter Arrows (interviewed this past Wednesday) and Lord Snow (featuring members of Suffix, Raw Nerve, and Lautrec) on Saturday afternoon. The festival will also host performances from locals Hank, a reunion set from Commodity, and Hermann’s debut on bass with Enta:

Originally, I didn’t wanna play in [the festival]; I just wanted to enjoy and experience it. Now we’re playing first on the first night, opening for Native, which is … insane. I can’t believe it. I actually have practice after this interview, we’re working on new songs…

Booking was an apparently smooth process, beginning as soon as he had the Channing-Murray secured as a venue:

I started contacting bands around August. I came up with three different lists. The ones I’d like to have right off the bat, I contacted as soon as I got the venue nailed down. From there, some bands are recording and touring. We had Former Thieves booked, but then they broke up… But what I have right now, I’m pretty happy with it. This is actually the first show I’ve put together too. That’s one of the great things about the midwestern scene: everyone is just really nice; they’re all in it to support each other, do what they love to do, make music and make friends. So, it was really easy to work with most of the bands. Everyone’s really excited.

Hermann is all about co-operation when asked who he’s excited to see play. As he put it:

Sometimes I like to take a step back and look at what I’ve done and ask, ‘Is this something I would be pumped for?’ And I look at the lineup — it’s just like, holy shit, this is awesome. Sometimes you forget why you’re doing it and how cool it is … that you’re bringing it to your hometown. It’s been a really cool process and I’m really excited.

Skeletal Lightning Festival is this Friday and Saturday (April 5 & 6) at the Channing-Murray Foundation and Red Herring, located at 1209 W. Oregon, Urbana. Tickets are $7 Friday and $20 Saturday at the door.

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