‘In the late eighties, hardcore punk was dying on the vine. Many of the great bands had decided that they’d rather play metal or reggae and so the scene was beginning to wither and crack. But the whole genre was given a shot in the arm by the unlikeliest of bands from the unlikeliest of places.
‘The band was Old Skull and came out of Wisconsin, formed by the Toulon brothers, Jamie and J.P. and their friend Jesse Collins-Davies. The Toulon brothers were nine and ten years old respectively and Jesse was ten. The brother’s father, Vern Toulon, was friends with Robin Davies, a member of respected Wisconsin band Tar Babies and Davies suggested his stepson form a band with the Toulon brothers. Once the deal was sealed, Old Skull came together about 1987. Quickly developing a reputation for their age and the subject matter of the songs, they managed to snag a deal with Restless Records and entered the studio with future Garbage member and producer Steve Marker and their fathers, the trio cranked out a noisy album of pre-adolescent hardcore entitled Get Outta School in 1989.
‘The songs were a blend of speed and pure, youthful punk energy and the band were seen as either a complete joke or the real thing. They got write ups in Rolling Stone, Newsweek and People magazine and were seen on tour with The Flaming Lips and GWAR. But problems started as people began speculating that Vern Toulon had actually written all the songs and was pulling the strings behind the scenes. These questions were never given credible answers and so the mystery still surrounds.
‘After a lineup change which saw Collins-Davies leave the band and a new drummer being brought in, the original version of Old Skull fell apart by late 1990 and the kids went back to school and the name went quiet. That is until 1992 when a new Old Skull album entitled C.I.A. Drug Fest was released. This album was produced by Vern Toulon and saw the inclusion of another set of brothers, Chris and Josh Scott on guitars and vocals. J.P. and Jamie had switched places with J.P. playing drums and Jamie singing. The resulting record is extremely difficult to listen to as a punk record. It seems like a lot of noise masquerading as songs. But it is worth to own just as a novelty.
‘After a little touring in support of the record, the band disbanded for real and the members all began growing up and moved on with their lives. The Scott brothers dropped off the face of the earth entirely while the Toulon family as a whole went underground. During the band’s initial early days, the Toulon’s parents had divorced but the brothers kept going. Then sometime in the ’90’s, their mother was reported killed in a train accident but not much else was known beyond that. By that point, the world had forgotten Old Skull and the Toulon’s began a very rough patch in life.
‘In 2001, it was reported that Vern Toulon had passed away after years of alcoholism, an affliction that had gotten so bad that he was reportedly panhandling on the streets of Madison. The brothers didn’t say anything regarding his passing and nothing further was heard of the Toulon’s until a couple of years later when both of them reemerged in New York, squatting on the streets with what were called ‘crust punks.’ This group of punks were living on the streets of NYC and started making music dealing with their plights. Jamie in particular became a founding member of Star Fucking Hipsters, a side project of one of the more renowned of these bands, Leftover Crack. J.P. formed Planned Collapse and began playing small clubs around New York.
‘In 2005, the brothers reemerged on stage at CBGB as Old Skull playing a show with some friends backing them up. It would be one of the last times the brothers would be seen playing music. About this time, J.P. began dealing with a pretty nasty drug problem, one that would land him in jail and rehab over the years. But by 2010, it looked like J.P. had beaten the habit and had moved in with his son in an effort to keep himself clean. But then on November 13, 2010, it was reported that J.P. Toulon had passed away. No formal cause of death was ever announced but it had been reported that he’d been hospitalized with pancreatitis in the preceding months. In an even sadder twist of fate to all of this was that J.P. died the same day as Jamie’s birthday.
‘The small community of devoted Old Skull fans were devastated and word went out all over the Internet in memory. Jamie Toulon, on the other hand, was struggling with depression and continued living on the streets, just barely getting by. In the summer of 2011, he somehow wound up in Lynchburg, Virginia, which is where this author went to college. Having graduated three years before and moved back home, I never had a chance to run into Jamie but I would like to believe it would’ve been interesting and might have made for a great interview. How he wound up in the same city where I found myself as a writer and as a person is something I’ll always wonder about. Unfortunately, I never got to find this out.
‘In June of 2011, Jamie committed suicide in Lynchburg, tragically bringing an end to Old Skull and the sad history of the Toulon family. It was incredibly heartbreaking for friends and fans of the band to hear the news. What made it even worse was that his suicide came seven months after J.P.’s death. With Jamie’s death, fans made tributes and posted messages but in the mainstream, his death was not reported at all, as opposed to J.P.’s death.
‘While the Toulon brothers met very young and extremely tragic endings, the other founding member of the band has led a very successful life; Jesse Collins-Davies is now a DJ in Wisconsin and has a very successful career going for himself. It has been over twenty years since the first Old Skull record and during that time, there has never been one definitive interview chronicling the band’s career. Now with Collins-Davies the only surviving member of this teenage punk band, he might come out and do an interview and people will be more than ready to hear what he has to say.’ — Pete Crigler, Perfect Sound Forever
JP and Jamie Toulon, early ’90s
My Life with Old Skull (1994 – 2011)
‘When I was about 10 years old, my older brother Ben, who got me into bands like Minor Threat and The Dead Kennedy’s, turned me on to a band called Old Skull. This was around the time they released their 2nd album CIA Drug Fest. At the time their 1st album Get Outta School was released, the members of Old Skull were between the ages of 8 and 10. I was immediately drawn to them. I did not care that they couldn’t play there instruments. I knew that didn’t matter. As a very rebellious child I thought there could be nothing cooler than having a punk band at such an early age.
‘A few years later, my brother made some random decision to move to Madison, Wisconsin. A couple weeks after his big move (he was 16 by the way), I received a call from him, “Hey, I made some cool new friends out here. JP and Jamie Toulon. They’re brothers and they where in Old Skull. After Madison got old, Ben and JP decided to move to NYC and be squatters together. Train hopping was involved as well somewhere within these years. Jamie ended up moving to NYC sometime in the mix as well.
JP Toulon (around the time I met him)
‘JP was 15 when I met him, I was 13 I think. We ended up becoming good pals during the times that Ben would bring him up to visit. Mainly we just watched a lot of television together and would crack jokes. BB guns where a big part of our relationship as well. Jamie and I never got to close. He was a serious loner in most peoples eyes.
‘JP and Jamie’s father had died of a heroin overdose at sometime or another. Their mother, hit by a train. This was probably a big factor in why they fell into deep dark drug addictions. My brother became a big part of that as well. Sometime, somewhere down the road, I had joined them. Ben was not supportive of my decision but at times he was forced to overlook that. There I was, going on dope runs with my childhood heroes. I thought I was bad until I saw JP do things like stick a syringe in his neck because all the veins in his arms had collapsed or shoot 10 bags at once. I am not calling myself a saint. I would constantly go on benders, run out of money, get sick, repeat. it turned into a scheduled agenda. I’ll spare the real gory details.
My brother Ben
‘To make a long story short, my brother, who was doing quite well, had one of his little slips about 3 years back. He was found dead on a bathroom floor. One year later JP died of a speedball overdose (cocaine and heroin mix). One year after that, Jamie hanged himself. But no matter how skeezy JP was, everybody loved him. He was one of the funniest and most charismatic people I have ever known. I haven’t even thought of doing hard drugs ever since my brother died. He left behind a beautiful little girl named Adelaide, she to me is better than any drug ever created. JP left behind a beautiful son named Aiden, who is the same age as my niece. My brother played a huge role in making me the man I am today and I am extremely thankful for that. I always count my blessings and I still think Old Skull is fucking awesome!’ — Andy Animal, Andy’s World
Old Skull @ Wikipedia
Old Skull @ Dead Punk Stars
Old Skull @ Myspace
the adventures of jeff & unkajeff: Old Skull
‘Old Skull are young and half-informed’
‘Is it cruel … ?’
‘“The Gospel According to…” Presents…Old Skull – Get Outta School’
‘old skull: the hardcore punk shaggs’
‘Old Skull Brother J.P. Toulon Found Dead’
‘Jamie Toulon died’
Let’s Go Kill That Man
Hot Dog Hell
Get On the Bus
Kill A Dead Eagle
Skate or Die
p.s. Hey. ** Dominik, Hi!!! Yay, you’re a ZG fan! I hope your busy day is making you happy not to be bored and aimless. Ha ha, did your chewing gum suddenly taste like potatoes at 2:38? Mine didn’t sadly. Love going back in time and making the millions of Aerosmith fans like Old Skull instead, G. ** CAUTIVOS, I’m pretty okay, you? Xmases are so much better over here in Paris where my family is far away and the guilt that used to make me buy them nice gifts is a total non-presence. I haven’t read Jean Philip Toussant in a long time. I can’t remember what I thought. I’m enjoying these days but not for the reasons everyone else does, I think. I hope yours triggers something upbeat. ** jade, Hi. I think he showed up a little down below you, so good job. I think stupid behavior can be very charming, so hopefully they will, although I seriously doubt your behavior will be remotely stupid. I haven’t cued up your playlist yet due to busyness but I think today. Yum. What’s news with youse? ** _Black_Acrylic, It’s a very, very pleasurable read. Mm, not to tempt you, but chocolate doesn’t live a year in an edible condition, so you might risk adding a least a few pounds. ** Tosh Berman, Oh, you simply must read ‘EWYFS’. It’s wunderbar! Good, glad you’re good or at least good enough. Me too. Same report albeit with different entertainment. ** Misanthrope, Hi, George. Really, really read his novel. You’ll be very glad. I miss Zachary. I wonder how he is. He’s grown so quiet. I’m happy the Joe fest went so well, and it seemed to. Yes, you need to get out and about. As do I, although I do get out and about. Just try to make sure I’m across the channel when you traverse it. ** Jamie, Hi. I really highly recommend that novel. In fact, I did ride the Xmas dark ride yesterday with a couple of pals. And it’s both crappy and really good, I swear to god. I didn’t see the ‘I Wished’ play. It was in Strasbourg. It’s being performed in Paris, but I’ll be in LA shooting the film when it is, unfortunately. He showed me photos. They looked very interesting. He’s a very smart. I have a feeling it’s very good. He’s a huge fan of Blanchot like I am, so that speaks very well. He even has a Blanchot tattoo on his hands. My only upcoming plans involve continuing film work. I ate a really good crepe at the Xmas fair that was sweet but not sickly, so you were right. Then I will try pissing with hard-on as soon as possible love, Dennis. ** Nick., Hi, Nick! I’m really happy you came inside here. Thank you so much about my work. That’s so good to hear. I really look forward to getting to know you and what you do and like, so expect a lot of questions from me as well. Favorite color? This is a strange and maybe boring sounding answer, but I think my favorite color is white. I used to prefer black, but then I got this idea that white is an even more wrong/extreme choice or something. Which may make no sense. So, what’s going on? Tell me anything you want about you and yours. ** malcolm, Hi, m. It’s such a good novel. I think you’ll like it. Pretty rich Xmas there, not bad. God, I love banana bread. So, what did your parents think of your screenplay? I’m assuming they’re cool folks. Wow, Darcie Wilder … I think I’ve read her. I can’t remember what though. I’ll go find that book you mentioned. Thanks! We’re January birth sharers, eh? High five. Oh gosh, this particular upcoming birthday is one that I’m really, really not happy about, so I’m going to try to pretend it isn’t happening if I can. When’s yours? Are you going to do it up? ** Steve Erickson, There you go. And best laid plans. Well, at least Morrissey has saved you from a little work. So he’s still good for something. The new Serra, which I still haven’t seen, is the only thing I want to see that’s new and in theaters here. ** T, Hey, T! How’s it, pal? How was your Parisian Xmas? More eventful than mine, I hope. Actually, that version of ‘EWYFS’ is not the final version that’s in the novel. He extended and revised it quite a bit after that. Not that it’s not wonderful even in that version. Everyone, T points out that there’s an early version of ‘Eat When You Feel Sad’ that can be read in total at Bear Parade. The version that ended up in the novel is longer and better, but, if you don’t think you’ll end up getting the novel, reading the Bear Parade version is a good thing to do. And it’s here. Oh, sure, I very often impose technical/grammatical constraints when I write. Sometimes I can’t start without them. But I usually end up breaking them once I’m up to speed. What are you writing? Can you describe it? Let’s meet up and do something. That’d be cool. xoxo. ** Matthew Simmons, Hi, Matthew! It’s so good to see you! And here in my blog space even. Yeah, my mind was boggled to realise ‘EWYFS’ came out twelve years ago. Scary. How are you? What are you working on? Thanks for setting ‘foot’ in here. I’m honored. Big respect to you! ** ShadeoutMapes, Oh, hi! Ah, I liked your name. But I like your new one too. So, no loss. Yes, I would love to read it and mainly to be able to experience your writing. That would be great. You can send it to me by email, if you want: email@example.com. What’s the book you’re working on? Can you describe it? That’s exciting news. Very, very happy birthday to you, and it sounds like you’ve sorted out a perfect way to mark the occasion. I might just copy you when mine comes all too soon. Thanks! ** Okay. Someone recently asked me with great sincerity if I would restore this Old Skull post, and, due to the sincerity of the request and the fact that the post is kind of a charmer at the very least, or I think so, you are looking at it today. See you tomorrow.
Hey! Hope you’re having a most excellent Yule period. Yeah as for Georgia – it’s the first time I’ve lived outside of the UK and the two cultures are so profoundly different that even after a year I find myself richly overstimulated, and so I’m hyper-productive creatively and generally feel like I’m micro-dosing acid every day haha. Working on a double album, a collection of truly disgusting horror stories plus I finished a novel (at last!). Also being in the volatile epicentre of contemporary geopolitics is certainly having an impact. (Georgia was invaded by Russia in 2008 so there’s a brittle rawness to it all). Does that make sense? I never felt at home in England and amongst English people anyway I think. I spent a lot of this year on my own up at the Caucasus mountains near the Russian border where they still observe a pagan pantheon, writing and just being silent. Can you say much yet about the new film? Exciting. Nick xx
Hi Dennis. I didn’t know Old Skull. Anyway, good post in this post-Christmas hangover. You don’t like Michell Houellebecq’s books, but it’s what I’m reading now, on these haggard afternoons. I hope this Christmas passes soon, because I’m spending it with everyone I’d really like. I am not talking about deaths but rather illness or disease of all kinds. There in France I figure that Christmas is being more benign than in the US right now. A hug.
(continues…) I thought that being a French author he was a little better known there, the work of Jean-Philippe Toussaint would be a little better known. Well, what French author has surprised you over there? Jean Echenhoz, Pierre Michon come to mind… I don’t know if you like Sebald, James Ellroy or Offut. I say goodbye for this time on the same day. A warm greeting.
Hi Dennis — Bon post-Xmas! Thanks for EWYFS. I think I wd like for “flat” Subject-Verb-Object sentences and brand names. Bravo, Melville House, who is next year publishing my pal Danny Weizmann’s (you know, Shredder’s) novel The Last Songbird. Thanks as well for Old Skull (not to be confused w Old School), who, if 10 years younger, should have toured with Horror Hospital. I got bookz for Xmas. One was The Marbled Swarm! Currently nearly done with Jason McBride’s KA bio. which is spark-lighting. Hope it’s all good. Looking forward to seeing thou. Things are up and down here but I “write through the pain” … and then eat, and walk on the sunny side of the street. xxoo
Dennis, Yes, if we do a little trip, we’ll be sure you’re there.
Back to work today. Bleh. Funny thing is that I like my job and the people I work with, the pay is good, and I really am thankful and grateful for it. But there are times…ya know. 😀
I did get some personal stuff done. Little stuff, but I’m glad I did it.
Onward and upward.
Such a great memorial to Old Skull and the kids who were in it. Sweet but so tragically sad in the end.
As with most things ❤️
holy shit, this is incredible. they’re like a gender flipped punk rock version of the shaggs. i will 100% be downloading their stuff, this is insane. wow
my parents are pretty supportive of me pursuing film as a career. it’s something i’ve consistently wanted to do since i was about 5 years old so they realize the passion and the drive are there. i’m very lucky to have an aunt who’s made herself a very successful career as a full time musician, so if there’s ever any doubt about whether or not i’ll be able to “make it” i can just point my finger at her and say “well she did it, why can’t i?”
i was worried about my dads reaction to the screenplay since the main character is very obviously based on him but he was actually really enthusiastic about it and told me it’s a great story that he feels needs to be told and that he hopes will help someone out there. so that’s good. we had a whole conversation about it which somehow ended up being an argument about whether or not young men find susan sarandon hot (as a young man, let me tell you – we do)
i will make sure not to wish you a happy birthday. mines january 24th though. growing up i lived in the woods and all my friends were 30 – 45 minutes away, and with the snow and the being too young to drive i never got to celebrate with my friends. now that i’m older that’s all i want, time with friends. last year i spent it in massachusetts with some family of mine but as soon as i got back i had all my friends over to watch welcome to the dollhouse with me. todd solondz is my favourite director. no plans for this year yet but i’ll organize something fun in the next couple of weeks
in the car on my way back to my apartment right now after spending christmas at my parents place. excited to be back home, my parents house doesn’t really feel like home anymore, not after being moved out for 3.5 years. see you tomorrow
I enjoyed this Old Skull Day and even their music quite a bit. Seems to me that the 80s hardcore scene was made up of people who actually cared about each other some of the time.
Hi me Nick again but you already knew that! Thank you for this great post! I love history for one so this post is a window into a topic and sound I don’t know much about actually! And I understand exactly what you mean about white, I don’t see black as an extreme color but a lot of people do, it’s a really calm cool color to me. Do you feel anything special when wearing white? And a bit about me well I like to walk around and think a lot and I really like music and books. I don’t have any siblings and have never much minded being alone. I tend to like boys like the ones you’ve written so well about and I’m also a bit bad at talking about myself for some reason so ask away! another question also what’s your favorite day of the week mine tends to be Monday for some reason. Thanks for welcoming me also it means a lot! And hi all once again!
Thanks for a sad but good post.
Thought you might like:
hey dennis 🤍 this band is freaking adorable omg, i’m honestly melting. it’s sort of wild to me that stuff like this could happen in a real way, or become a whole phenomenon? seems like a huge loss that this kind of energy isn’t really viable anymore. i mean i guess we have greta thurnberg…. hm. oh cool, you met nick! isn’t he great? we just started getting to know each other but he’s probably my best friend on tumblr right now 🥰 and aw thanks, that’s super encouraging! i’m a huge wallflower in most contexts, but i act extra dopey when i’m nervous. you’ve experienced this actually, i mean here obviously but i also came up to you once at a screening of permanent green light in new york and made you sign a copy of closer with my eyeliner lol. is that charming? it feels sort of freak behavior to me but my friends keep telling me i have a bad read on how i come off. omg so cool! if you have any thoughts about the playlist i’m dying to know, you’re basically teddy adorno in my eyes for music stuff. but you don’t have to ofc! no news really? oh, ig the cover for the magazine i’ll have a bit of writing in dropped recently, i geeked out pretty hard over that. feels so official! the only other thing is i spent all morning on this little text piece, i don’t know how to classify it actually, but it was fun and fucked up and i already got some hate for it on my blog. probably means i’m on the right track? hope your evening is going smoothly 🌙 love, etc. — jade
(oh wait also, not to be a bug, but did the z-lib thing work out at all?)
Hey Dennis. Old Skull = big fun + good tunes + new on me. I may try and spring it on my students, being the same age, it’d be good medicine for them! That said, if they knew what’s *really* good for them they wouldn’t be coming to class to listen to dorky old me. I actually went back to the UK for Christmas, just because of boring family expectations/guilt if I’d stayed away thing. It wasn’t so bad, just unsurprising and as expected. Nice to get a change of scene and defiitive highlight was seeing a few very old friends I grew up with. I’m actually typing this to you as the ferry glides out onto the channel. 3 metre waves + gales are apparently lying in wait for us, yikes. Hoping I don’t vomit down myself. The writing I’m working is still the novel I’ve spoken to you about. It seems to be cannabilising every fresh idea I’m getting, which I think is a good sign. Forward progress. I’ve been trying to, ahem, freshen up some of the older stuff, and EWYFS made me think I should try redraft using only one kind of sentence structure, or trying to write without verbs so the thing just becomes like little particles floating around. Big agree for meeting up soon! I’ll look for some cool stuff to go see. Til then, or tomorrow, or next time at least, xo.
Quite the nostalgia trip this week, Dennis. Zach German and the htmlgiant/alt lit days, ahhh. And I remember Old Skull from their heyday. Such a sad story.
Hope your buche consumption was a fine event. I’m doing the family visit thing for a few weeks. Being the holidays, it’s even deader here than usual. But I have a pile of intriguing movies on my laptop to keep me entertained.
hey yes, I can send it sometime later today as its really late rn and im tired lol (idk what time it must be for you right now)
Also, I just realized that the name change might be more convenient for you as you won’t have to be looking for the heart just to type my name lol
The story? uhhhhhhhhh I can try my best for my tired brain to explain it but essentially, I wanted to write a short book with told through short storyies and poems
Its kind of about holding on to this abstract idea I have of simply dissapearing and becoming this omnipotent spirit that influences and changes the life of the people around me so that they are happy enough to completely forget me (it’s not as depressing as it sounds, just poorly explained)
I always thought it would be cool to become this dimensionless time-traveling spirit that goes back in time and pluck people out from their time zone and then placing them in the time zone of another who would be of great company of them (I do this a lot even when I’m not writing it’s just sort of this really interesting thought of what would happen if this went like that) But it’s just sort of this goal I have for getting to next year and that is hopefully completing a book.
My birthday was not bad. I felt quite peaceful not doing anything special which is kind of how I always like it but its admittedly somewhat lonely when you’ve not been in school for 3 weeks. (Hopefully I will hang out with my friend tomorrow because I like being around them)
im going back to bed but i hope that you have a good day night or whatever time it is!!
Hi Dennis – I’m doing well, thanks, working away quite happily on community musical theatre projects about post-industrial areas (explosives’ works and power stations!), collecting oral memories from the people who remember them and shaping ’em into short films. Have NO idea where this all came from but I’m like a pig in shite with it all:) I know it’s not why you wrote it but just wanted to say how much I Wished has stayed with me: it was my “Christmas” read this year (along with John Burnside’s “Glister”). Be well, pal