Four walls. One window. They were all wearing shoes. Jake Grieco strummed an electric guitar on his bed while Dani Ferrara, in a wheely swivel-chair, passed me the blunt. Together, they formed the art-punk supergroup, Warm Dad. Neither of them seemed to notice the little demons that waddled about the floor, digging in closets, with bat-like wings and pudgy, scaled faces. I had only encountered such beings once before, in the house where I was babysat as a child. They had been invisible to me then. The floor gave a little at my feet, as if there were only clouds beneath it. Welcome to the Skyline House.
JG: I came to Boulder from Cincinnati where there’s a lot of houses like the Skyline House, of people that take wherever they’re living and have shows in it. My first experience was in OU, which is in Athens, Ohio. I walked in and this band called Ghost Stories was playing in a kitchen, and I just knew it was a space that I really felt great in. And so I was like, “I’m gonna do this everywhere.”
One of the demons had climbed up onto Jake’s shoulder and was eyeballing me hard while tugging at his left ear. From my past experience, I knew these monsters to be relatively benign, but they unnerved me nonetheless. Jake brushed his lobe carelessly and went on.
“It’s just about doing what you love wherever you want. And I want there always to be a physical space for that.” – Jake Grieco
JG: So what happened was, we ended up becoming friends with the band Ghost Stories, and they were friends with a Cincinnati band that was also doing shows in Cincinnati called Arm’s Length, and they one time were going to put on a show but they didn’t have a spot; for some reason the place they were going to do it at pulled out. So I was living in this big old house in Cincinnati, so I was just like, “Well let’s do it in our living room.” Since then I’ve just been trying to do that wherever I can.
DF: When we got here we were always complaining about having a hard time finding music—free music and music in a casual setting—that was not just the same Bluegrass. And I was actually talking to people that said that house shows tend to be the thing that ends up happening here.
A small blue demon had snuggled up onto Dani’s lap and fallen asleep. Could they really not see them, or was this all an act for my benefit?! As I eyed the punk anthems that declared themselves to the spare walls, I began to think about Robert Johnson’s legendary crossroads meeting with the Devil. That night, Rock n’ Roll had been born in the dark.
JG: Right now the Skyline House wouldn’t happen without Mammyth at all. They are this amazing band that for some reason is just in Boulder. And you can’t have these without music, in my mind, like there can’t be a Skyline House without bands. There can’t be a Skyline House without your friends’ bands, or without your friends of friends’ bands.
As the blunt deepened, we discussed personal poetic histories and lineages, writing as art vs. writing as work, and what it means to attend an “art school for writing” like Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School. Jake had been a Journalism major in Ohio before coming to Naropa’s Writing MFA, while Dani had studied graphic design at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY before making her journey. From the next room, there was a thundering crash followed by a series of high-pitched yelps and a stampeding of tiny, clawed feet. The faces of Warm Dad didn’t even flinch.
“I’ve always been interested in people’s search for authenticity… Just getting to a place that’s fascinating. I think that surrounding yourself with that stuff is going to keep you fascinated.” – Dani Ferrara
JG: I dropped out of Journalism after I had this shitty internship at a Cincinnati alternative, and they just gave me a bunch of shit all the time. I’d write something and they’d be like, “Oh, you just want to write about drugs and music again. You need to go write about cupcakes!” I just realized that my relationship with writing was like, I can’t have a boss for it, even in journalism. That’s why its hard for me to work as a writer.
DF: I write blogs for a uniform website. And that’s like, “Are you excited for St Patrick’s Day? Here are some ways you can incorporate green into your daily uniform at work! Put it in your hat!”
JG: We had a really dramatic career day, and Serena (Chopra) was saying, you need to think about—how did she phrase this?—the work you do for the community, and not the Naropa community, and not how many times you volunteered at the bake sale or something, but how you impacted the area that you are in while you were here. So I just thought that this (the Skyline House) made a lot of sense.
DF: There’s a really abstract element to even being here right now because this is an unprecedented experience, do you know what I mean? And if you add things that are things that were your interests, it’s like you’re giving yourself an education. If you want to make a job out of it, this is what you do too.
JG: I mean first and foremost the writing has to come. But I’ll deliver pizzas while I do this. It doesn’t really matter, its just about whatever the art can come from. Whatever kind of art we can get to come from it is the most important thing.
By now the demons were filing into the room in all shapes and colors, the airborne floor buckling beneath them. They prodded my calf muscles, nibbled at my pants. I wiped the sweat from my cheeks and struggled desperately to hide my terror! Had they been following me my whole life, or was it the open, accepting, free-play spirit of this space that made them feel so welcome?
DF: I’ve always been interested in people’s search for authenticity, and also pattern-making. Just getting to a place that’s fascinating. I think that surrounding yourself with that stuff is going to keep you fascinated.
JG: We’re trying to do it every month is ideal. You know, because we want it to be a variety. We want it to showcase the trash of Boulder. I dont want to say ‘the trash’ of Boulder, but maybe the unacademic side of Boulder. It’s just about doing what you love wherever you want. And I want there always to be a physical space for that.
The Skyline House is at 790 30th Street. Here’s our review of their “Weep Year Party.” The next show, “Spring Break Underwear Party,” will be tonight at 7pm. There will be readings followed by musical performances, as well as an open mic. Bring your poems. Forget your pants. The demons will just eat them anyways.
Eric Raanan Fischman is a correspondent, contributor, and calendar updater for the Boulder Poetry Tribe and a graduate of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics MFA program. His first collection, “Mordy Gets Enlightened,” is forthcoming.