For a band that rarely performed live — and suffered from a “near-crippling lack of musical talent” when it did — Skum certainly left a lasting legacy. The ’80s party-punk group made its name in Miami off hype, savvy marketing and parties that frequently ended up being shut down by the cops.
But just as Skum — founded by four bored William & Mary soccer players who after graduation relocated to singer Hart Baur’s hometown of Miami — was about to release its debut album, Lost at the Circus, the master tapes were lost, a devastating setback that spelled the end of the band.
On Thursday night, the Colony Theater in Miami Beach presents the world premiere of Skum Rocks!, Clay Westervelt’s mesmerizing and hilarious documentary that tells the story of the rise and fall — and rise again — of this dubious band. Narrated by the one and only Alice Cooper, the film is like a surreal cross between a Behind the Music spoof and This Is Spinal Tap, using interviews from band members and commentary from a surprisingly deep and diverse array of celebrities (Jon Stewart, Kevin Bacon, Debbie Gibson, Paul Stanley, Traci Lords and dozens more).
So why in the world did the stars line up to appear in a documentary about a band with no musical talent?
“Jon Stewart played soccer with me in college, and he did a clip,” says singer Baur. “Then the guys in Cheap Trick, who we had known from way back when, did a clip. And everybody just started jumping on, and when Traci Lords did it, things got kind of serious. Mike Tyson got cut from this — he was in it, and got cut. There were four or five big celebrities who didn’t make the final version: [Creed lead singer] Scott Stapp got cut, and we were all joking that the reason he went off the edge was that he found out he’d been cut from Skum Rocks!”
Baur says lining up a worthy narrator was tough, with early options including Saturday Night Live alum Colin Quinn (who turned it down), Andrew Dice Clay (who good-naturedly told Baur that if the fee was less than 75 grand, to “go f--- yourself, with all due respect”) and Stewart, who offered his help but was reluctant to shift the film’s main focus from the band to himself.
“So the only person really would be Alice Cooper,” says Baur. “He gets it. His band was like our band — they were all athletes who didn’t know how to play, and they all learned how to play. He told us, ‘The only difference between you guys and us was you guys were smart and quit and got jobs. We got lucky — if we didn’t make it ... I’m 36 years old, penniless, drug addict, alcoholic. I’m not making 40.’ And he was right.”
Adding to the film’s legitimacy is the after party at downtown Miami’s Grand Central, featuring a performance from Skum and superstar rock acts Quiet Riot and headliner Eddie Money.
“I’ll do my best to sound like the records,” says Money, best known for the hits Baby Hold On, Take Me Home Tonight and Two Tickets to Paradise. “But I’ve been smoking cigarettes, and I’ve put on a few pounds, so I’m not as skinny as I once was. You know, I told my wife I loved her, and she said ‘Get off me’ [laughs].”
Money says he’s looking forward to getting back to Miami.
“I was down there in the ’80s,” he says, “and I was trying to stay sober, and cocaine was so f---ing cheap down there, I was like, “F--- it!” and I went out of my mind!”
But he doesn’t seem exactly sure about the purpose of the party.
“Skum Rocks!?— Who are these guys, anyway? I wanna ask you a question: How can you make any money with a name like f---ing Skum? What’s happening here?”
“Skum Rocks!” premieres at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Colony Theater, 1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; www.eventbrite.com; $25; Afterparty and concert kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami; www.grandcentralmiami.com; $50, includes one hour open bar; 100 percent of all proceeds go to the Charlee Foundation of Dade County, charlee.org