Skeleton Key (band)

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Skeleton Key
OriginNew York City, New York, United States
GenresAlternative rock, industrial rock, experimental rock
Years active1994?–present
LabelsMotel Records, Capitol, Ipecac, Do Tell Records, Arctic Rodeo Recordings
Associated actsSleepytime Gorilla Museum, Enon
MembersErik Sanko
Craig LeBlang
Benjamin Clapp
Bob Vaccarelli
Past membersSean Sankey
Matthias Bossi
Tim Keiper
Chris Maxwell
Rick Lee
Steve Calhoon

Skeleton Key is a rock band based in New York City. The band was conceived by bassist and singer Erik Sanko, the only constant member of the band. His intent was to create a sound "luxurious, yet affordable,"[1] using antique microphones, primitive guitars, and unconventional percussion.


Forming in 1995 after a chance meeting in New York City club The Knitting Factory, the band’s first release was the Human Pin Cushion single with Dedicated Records.[2] In 1996 the band released an eponymous EP on Motel Records that Rolling Stone said "shows how pop culture and high culture can bring everyone to the same place."[3] Soon after, they signed a deal with Capitol Records and put out the critically acclaimed Fantastic Spikes Through Balloon in 1997. The album received a Grammy nomination for Best Recording Package: The artwork by Stefan Sagmeister featured a booklet with holes punched through it in a grid pattern. The band then toured the US and Europe with an assortment of acts including the Melvins, Girls Against Boys, Cibo Matto, The Jesus Lizard, They Might Be Giants, Morphine, Brainiac, and Primus before headlining their own US tour. After two years on the road and a half-finished album recorded, original members Chris Maxwell and Rick Lee departed, leaving the future of Skeleton Key uncertain.

The band, reduced to Sanko alone, signed with Mike Patton's Ipecac Recordings to release Obtainium in 2002. The band hit the road again with an updated lineup including drummer Matthias Bossi and percussionist Tim Keiper. They played several successful tours with bands such as Tomahawk, The Melvins, Alien Ant Farm, Cessation Bustle and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. After touring in support of Obtanium, Bossi left the group to join Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and Keiper departed as well. Sanko and LeBlang recruited members Benjamin Clapp and Sean Sankey and the band released a five song EP, titled The Lyons Quintette on Do Tell Records. In fall 2007, Skeleton Key had yet another member change and premiered new drummer Bob Vaccarelli on tour in support of U.S.S.A. and Chemlab.

In early 2011 the band successfully raised over $9,000 on the online crowdfunding website Kickstarter,[4] used to finish production of their next album. Later that year, they signed with Arctic Rodeo Recordings[5] and announced an upcoming release. On March 7, 2012, a promotional video of the band in the studio was released via Visions Magazin,[6] and Gravity is the Enemy was released on March 23, 2012.

Band members[edit]

Current members[edit]

Former members[edit]

  • Chris Maxwell – Guitar
  • Rick Lee – "Junk" percussion
  • Matthias Bossi – Drum kit
  • Sean Sankey – Drum kit
  • Nic Brown - Drums
  • Tim Keiper – "Junk" percussion
  • Steve Calhoon - Drum kit/Junk percussion



Independent Music Awards 2013: Gravity is the Enemy - Best Eclectic Album[7]

External links[edit]