Practice Makes Perfect; An interview with Alex Baker of Skull Practitioners

Since the ‘60s, the heavy psychedelic rock genre has happily existed outside of the popular music landscape. For Skull Practitioners, the loud, fuzzy vortex of sounds characteristic of the genre once populated by Blue Cheer, Hawkwind and Blue Oyster Cult, and more recently by Comets On Fire and Goat, provides a playful palate by which they color their sound.
The New York, New York, trio deliver an ear-shattering amalgam of post-punk, garage rock and heavy psychedelic rock that is sure to rattle fillings from teeth and bend minds in the most pleasantly destructive ways. Comprised of guitarist Jason Victor (who also plays with Dream Syndicate), bassist Ken Levine and drummer Alex Baker, the band has been generating their joyful noise since March 2013. To date, the band have completed a four-song tape and are currently working on the debut full-length.
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Baker, who grew up in Cincinnati and lived in Dayton briefly, to discuss his roots, the transition for a Midwest scene to New York, and the band’s upcoming jaunt.
Skull Practitioners have ties to Southwestern, Ohio, right?
Yep. I grew up in Cincinnati in the ‘90s, and started cutting my teeth in the local music scene in the early ‘00s. My first job was at a robotics and welding company in Tipp City, so Dayton was my hometown for a few years before I moved to New York.
When did you relocate to New York?  Have you found the transition from the Midwest music scene to New York daunting?
I moved out to Brooklyn in fall of 2008 and pretty soon started jamming with Ken and Jason in a band. It was kind of just the opposite – I struggled for years with the Dayton scene, back then it was all metal and cover bands – so finding like-minded gents who knew how to rock out was very invigorating for me. That said, the music scene in New York is by nature very different from that in the Midwest, and getting people to notice us can seem daunting from time to time.
How would you describe your sound to the uninitiated?
Heavy psych.
Where do you find inspiration for your music?
Playing with these fine musicians naturally inspires me. Also, other drummers.
Have you guys released any of your material?
We have a four-song tape we released a couple years back. The whole thing is up on Bandcamp, but the tape is where it’s at.
Is your stop in Ohio part of a larger run of dates?
We’ve got a couple stops in Ohio this outing – we’re playing Spacebar in Columbus on Saturday (May 7). Before that, we’re in Louisville for a Derby Day celebration, which should be interesting.
How did the lineup for your show at Blind Bob’s come together?
Eli (Alban, guitarist in The 1984 Draft) and I met and played in a band while I was living in Dayton. I mentioned we were going to be in the area on tour, and he got the ball rollin’.
Have you been to Dayton before? What are you looking forward to about your visit to the area?
This is Skull Practitioners first show in Dayton! I’m looking forward to bringing our sound here to friends and family.
What has been your favorite Skull Practitioners show to date?
Tough question, I don’t think I have a particular favorite. My favorite shows have been where we met genuine folks that later became good friends – that’s the real reward of a good show.
How will Skull Practitioners spend the rest of 2016?
Focusing on our debut album, as well as playing shows. We’ve got a lot of recorded material we need to finish up and get out there, and I’m excited to start putting out some releases again.
(Skull Practitioners perform with The 1984 Draft, Big Wooly and Roosevelt on Friday, May 6 at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth Street. The concert is open to audiences over 21 years old. For more information about Skull Practitioners, visit