Do you remember Ex Best Friends? Stagger Lee? Cobra High? If you'd stumbled through Seattle in the early part of the last decade, picked up a copy of The Stranger or another such publication, and believed what you read, you'd have thought those bands were poised for stardom. Around that same time, you'd find nary a mention of Seattle crust punks Skarp, who spent a sizable chunk of the last decade slinging their vicious breed of hardcore across the States.
Fast-forward a few years, and those bands that racked up accolades by playing to music writers are largely forgotten. But even after a three-year hiatus, press-repellent Skarp are still a beloved fixture in the Northwest punk scene. Granted, Skarp's rapid-fire tempos, primordial metal riffage, and caustic female vocals were a tough sell to folks who didn't have any Amebix or Antischism records in their collection. Skarp were more likely to play a basement or warehouse than a proper venue, and consequently more likely to get mentioned in globe-spanning zines like Profane Existence than local alt-weeklies. Yet during their life span, from 2000 to 2008, they became a crucial force in Seattle's hardcore landscape. While we trumpeted hometown heroes like IQU, the Vogue, and Aveo, Skarp operated along the fringes, touring the country incessantly and garnering the kinds of audiences that make cops nervous. After eight years, the band went on hiatus. "We had been touring nonstop since 2000. And after our last 12-week tour, we hit the brakes," says drummer Joe Axler. Band members pursued other projects, and singer Renee Betts became a mother. But after three years, the band found time to celebrate its 10-year anniversary. "Actually, 11 years, but 10 seemed like a better number to promote," says Axler.