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Human Skab

Twenty-three years later, Travis Roberts returns to the stage

Human Skab

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Human Skab’s strange journey started in Olympia in the mid-‘80s. A 10-year-old boy at the time, he gained notoriety through cassette tapes of psychotic-sounding experimental punk that he recorded in his garage. Beating on buckets with spoons; violently strumming the guitar he didn’t know how to play; screaming oddly poetic narratives about nuclear holocaust; throwing rocks at windows, and drinking beers with friends. After the release of two cassette albums, he was written about in Spin. But just as quickly as he arrived, Travis Roberts, AKA Human Skab, quit the music business. Now, 23 years later — a 33-year-old man — after a long service in the military and the forming of a family, Human Skab is returning to the stage.

But where did all of this come from?

“I spend a lot of time thinking about that,” explains Roberts. “[My wife] suggests that I try looking at my life in a non-linear progression. I’ve tried to do that, and the only thing I can think of is that somehow I came into this world with some kind of knowledge about warfare and death already in my head before I even saw combat.”

Fate seems to have played a large role in Roberts’ life.

“A lot of the stuff that I was talking about, then, turned out, now, to be true,” says Roberts.

Specifically, he talks about a song he wrote (“Dead Baby Blues”) about walking through a graveyard and seeing a tombstone for a baby. Years later, his future wife would stumble across his MySpace page and hear that song, realize the tombstone Roberts saw belonged to her sister, and eventually contact him. They fell in love, and now have three children of their own.

“Somewhere, somebody wrote about the young Skab [and said that] as an adult you listen to it and find yourself looking for meaning and finding it everywhere,” says Roberts.
“And now, as an adult, that’s what I do.”

[Northern, Human Skab with Mary Win, Thursday, Dec. 17, 9 p.m., all ages, $5, 321 Fourth Ave., Olympia]

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