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In silver van, rock band Black Skies rolls toward Iowa City

BY ERIC ANDERSEN | JUNE 19, 2009 7:21 AM

Day one of North Carolina band Black Skies’ 18-show national tour launched with a scenic drive in Pittsburgh — kicking off the group’s largest musical expedition in its nearly four-year history.

“We’re in a silver machine,” Clark said. “It’s a 2008 Ford Econoline van with just enough room. Right now, we’re at this huge gorge in Appalachia, and it’s gorgeous.”

Black Skies will arrive in Iowa City to play its brand of self-proclaimed doom/stoner rock with Russian Circles and Coliseum today at 9 p.m. at the Picador, 330 E. Washington St. Admission is $10.

Black Skies’ vocalist/guitarist Kevin Clark, bassist/vocalist Michelle Temple, and drummer Cameron Weeks are touring in support of the band’s latest six-song EP, Hexagon, which was recently re-released on vinyl after its initial début in 2008. On the album, Black Skies said it plays rock tunes in the vein of Black Sabbath and the Melvins. The tracks are filled with low-end guitar and heavily distorted vocals.

“We just put a lot of energy into it,” Clark said. “For three people it’s been said we make quite a bit of sound. The sheer sonic pummeling can be therapeutic, I guess.”

While Clark enjoys spending time on the road, he is the first to admit that it has its downside.

Traveling long distances can be taxing on the body and mind, he said.

“We get to see things, and that’s cool, but we really spend most of our time in a van in front of a venue,” Clark said. “So we don’t get to see a whole lot of towns too much, and there aren’t a lot of days off.”

The Black Skies’ members typically spend numerous hours each day on tour traveling in a cramped van. Usually, they are able to find a place to crash overnight at the towns they play in, but occasionally they make enough cash to afford the comfort of a hotel room. Sometimes, the places they stay aren’t quite so luxurious.

“Last year, we played this crazy show in Oshkosh, Wis.,” Clark said. “We were pretty torn up, and this guy decided to put us up for the night, but he neglected to tell us he ran a reptile rescue. Everything you opened in there, it was like some kind of snake or lizard.”

Reptiles were not the only strange thing to lurk in the shadows of the household. In fact, they were the least of the band’s worries.

“The owner talked about there being some kind of ghost in the house, and we didn’t believe it,” Clark said. “Sure enough, [Cameron] fell asleep with a box of cookies in his hand, and when he woke up, it was gone and a bunch of stuff was moved around the house. It was some old woman ghost that steals cookies apparently.”

Hopefully, Black Skies won’t find any ghosts in Iowa City, but the members do plan on performing loud rock for whoever is willing to listen.

“It’s always good to get out there and play in front of people,” Clark said. “We had a wonderful time the last time we were in Iowa City, and that’s a huge reason we’re coming back. As long as that continues to happen, we will continue to play there.”


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