“We try to keep some of the rock in punk rock,” says guitar player Myke Read of Reno band Infecto Skeletons.
The four-piece band also includes lead vocalist Justin Minyard, bassist Rashidul Kader and drummer Andrew Hockenberry. Read and Kader also contribute backing vocals. The members describe the group’s sound as “thrashing punk rock”: high speed, high energy punk very reminiscent of old-school ’80s-style stuff. It’s not a surprise that one of their most well received gigs was opening for Suicidal Tendencies at Reno’s Knitting Factory.
The tempos are fast, the instruments are loud, and the vocals are snotty, raspy and guttural. But there’s also an accessible melodic core—this is friendly music that doesn’t require a refined ear to enjoy. It’s made for drunken sing-alongs.
The band members acknowledge that they draw heavily from the hardcore and punk rock that they grew up listening to in the ’80s and ’90s.
“It’s driving, and has a good tempo,” says Minyard of that music’s enduring appeal.
“It’s raw,” says Read. “It’s real people playing something. Not just somebody fucking around on a computer. There’s also an innocence in that older music. … They didn’t necessarily know how to play, but they made music from what they had.”
For Read and the other members of Infecto Skeletons, punk rock’s working class roots are important. It’s not music made by highly trained professionals. Instead, it’s music made by average guys, having fun and getting inspired.
“Now they have books on ’how to play punk rock guitar,’ which is just crazy to me,” says Read.
Though older—the members are all of legal drinking age, and Minyard and Read are both in their 30s—the band members also say they like the youthful aspects of the music.
Read’s background is playing in metal bands, which he says was more technically demanding but also less fun to play.
“It’s so contrived and so stuck,” he says. “Everything has to be perfect.”
Infecto Skeletons’ brand of fast-loud-rules punk rock is much looser. It’s more about conveying energy and attitude than technical perfection of performance.
“We’re all over the place,” says Minyard. “We all run around.” He gestures toward Hockenberry. “If he could run around, he would.”
“The next thing I want is a drum set on wheels,” says Hockenberry.
The band name evolved from the word “exoskeletons.” The members wanted something with the word “skeleton” in it—because “everybody likes skeletons.” The “infecto” part, according to Minyard, refers to the band’s aim for their “music to infect your body.”
“I just want to go fast,” says Hockenberry.
Lyrically, Minyard keeps it mostly light and funny, with a few political songs thrown in for good measure. There are many Reno references, including an ode to the Cal Neva casino in downtown. “Rubber Girl” is a song about a sex doll. “Hangman’s Noose” is almost a Johnny Cash-style country murder ballad, with a bit of pirate punk flavor.
“What We Become,” the band’s usual set closer, is also the group’s self-described “theme song,” the chorus of which is “This is why we become/Infecto Skeletons.” Unlike most of the band’s tunes, it features some epic guitar solos—Read flexing the chops he honed playing metal. During live performances, the song builds up to a dramatic pause. The band members then wait for somebody in the crowd to hoot, holler or scream. Then, they kick right back into it.