Growing up, friends came and went, but music always had my back. From an early age, I’ve always been enamored by how diverse a single artist can be, let alone with entire albums and genres. From Sugar Ray back in grade school to all the weird punk, hardcore, and emo I listen to today, music drives me.
I found my love of writing about 10 years ago at my high school newspaper staff as a photographer. My editor hogged all the cool photo assignments, so I found myself writing more than taking photos. It turned out to be a good move for me, as I eventually became the Entertainment page editor, writing music reviews and covering bands at the time like Explosions In The Sky and The Blood Brothers. I haven’t stopped writing since.
I spent a few years trying to figure out how to tie in both my love for music and writing. Journalism and PR seemed like a good fit. In the meantime, I started a small blog called Skeletal Lightning, which was a tool to bring more attention to the great, relatively unknown bands in the Midwestern DIY community. Little did I know that some 50 or so 200+ word posts would lead to running my own label and working with many of the same bands I covered.
Blogging wasn’t quite my thing, but I still wanted to help out my friends in ways they might not be able to themselves. I began to think, hey, I could release music from these bands and promote them in a physical sense. And that’s what I did.
In October 2012, I started reaching out to bands to team up for a release. Tawny Peaks, Aviator, and Kittyhawk were the first three to agree, and we did fairly successful runs of cassette tapes and even digital releases on iTunes, Spotify and other digital music outlets. All those bands went on to work with bigger labels, and I’m incredibly proud of those releases.
From there, the label roster continued to grow, and my desire to get more involved continued. That’s where Skeletal Lightning Fest comes in. The real excitement for me comes from a band’s live show, so I set out to book some of what I thought were the best bands in our scene. I booked 30+ of my favorite bands and invited people to come watch. Everyone had a blast, so I did it again with 40 more the next year.
Each year, the label has grown tremendously. It’s pretty self-sustaining these days and now features help from my friend Brian Cruz in Austin, Texas, plus my wonderful fiancée. We’ve put out nearly 40 releases to date with bands from all over the world. Each month brings new surprises, both good and bad, but that’s just the nature of the industry, and I love every minute of it. Skeletal Lightning has always been a commitment and priority for me. Music is my passion. I never get sick of it.
Punk has never been the most popular style of music, and it’s been tough to juggle hopes and dreams when they don’t always meet in reality, but even if just one person shows up to a show you book, or one person is able to enjoy a release you put out, it’s worth it in the end because it wouldn’t have happened without the work you put into it. And those reactions give me the fuel to keep doing what I do.
This story is from Issue #2 of Ghost Track’s print edition. Grab a copy below for $3:
“Klevah’s Time” by Sean Neumann
“Year of the Ratboys” by Joe Plukarski
Skeletal Lightning Records
by label founder Sean Hermann
The Normal Years / Nervous Passenger – Split EP
The Please & Thank Yous – Split
Photography by Robert Prochaska