‘Dynamic, eclectic’ shirtless solidarity


The trio band smiles with pride as they share their story. Photo credit: Megan Moran

Matthew Manfredi

Whether it’s a basement, bar or traditional venue, if they don’t show their team colors it is likely they will get harassed by the audience to do so.

You can tell a lot about a band from their name. Team Skins is no exception.

“Yeah, we play shirtless every show,” said Mathew Houghton, guitarist for the band. “I’ll wear a stupid hat. We wanted to make it a requirement to be a gimmick band.”

Although the invention of a gimmick to go along with their stage presence adds to the trio’s original image, there is nothing gimmicky about Team Skins’ instrumental post-rock tunes.

“It’s intricate and melodic,” said Rob Knopp, bassist. “Being an approachable band is another thing we are really trying to go for.”

From influences like Explosions in the Sky, American Football, This Town Needs Guns and early Maps and Atlases, the band’s clashing but balanced use of guitar, bass and drum is an instrumental experience that has seldom been seen in Chico over the past few years. This was one of the goals the band set out for when they started rehearsing together in the summer of 2015.

“I wanted to start a band that nobody else seemed to be doing in town,” Houghton said. “Something different and original.”

The band perform shirtless at every one of their shows. Photo from official Facebook page.

Like the common affair of most bands getting their start in the Chico scene, Team Skins assembled from playing together and practicing a few times before eventually finding something concrete and cohesive. The light melodies of Houghton’s clean Stratocaster paired with Knopp’s driving bass lines formed the foundation that built the band’s beginning.

But after the first few sessions of working out this particular sound, Knopp and Houghton decided they needed to add percussion to complete the foundation of what would eventually become Team Skins.

Michael Nalin, a drummer that both Knopp and Houghton had played with in the past on separate occasions, turned out to be the missing musical link. The two had Nalin in mind before realizing they were thinking about the same drummer.

Nalin’s fast, involved and elaborate percussion technique serves as another factor separating the trio from other instrumental acts around town.

“I’m having a lot of fun playing in this band,” Nalin said. “It’s dynamic and eclectic rock ‘n’ roll.”

Solidarity surrounds Team Skins when talking about creating their niche sound, future goals and gimmicks. Solidarity is also something the trio admires about the Chico music scene — everyone working together to grow something that is already in bloom.

Even on nights when Team Skins has a show, they make an effort to mention other bands playing at the same time at another venue across town.

“I like how you’ll see the same people at a bluegrass show you’ll see at a metal show,” Knopp said. “It’s not a bad thing.”

For more on Team Skins, take a look at their Facebook page.

Matthew Manfredi can be reached at [email protected] or @matthewmanfredi on Twitter.