Hardcore punk's answer to the Shaggs (or maybe Jordy), Old Skull were a novelty coup in their original incarnation: a trio of nine-year-old boys who played their own instruments (more or less), and screamed out profanities and social protests with bratty aplomb. If their musicianship wasn't exactly precocious, some of their lyrical topics were, leading to rumors that producer Vern Toulon -- also the father of two Old Skull members -- had ghostwritten much, if not all, of their material. Thanks largely to their novelty appeal, Old Skull managed to score a deal with a prominent indie label in Restless Records, and survived for two albums -- one at age nine, another at age 12 with a revamped lineup.
Old Skull were formed in Madison, WI, by brothers J.P. and Jamie Toulon, with encouragement from their father Vern. Vern Toulon was a longtime punk scenester and a native of Madison who'd spent time in New York City, where he was briefly associated with industrial noisemakers Missing Foundation. Initially, Old Skull were a trio featuring J.P. on guitar and vocals, Jamie on keyboards, and fellow nine-year-old Jesse Collins-Davies on drums. Coming from a similar pedigree, Collins-Davies was the son of Robin Davies, a member of the Madison-based punk-funk combo the Tar Babies (who recorded for SST in the late '80s). The boys came to the attention of Restless Records, who issued their debut album, Get Outta School, in 1989. Get Outta School balanced childlike takes on unchildlike social concerns ("AIDS," the anti-Reagan "Homeless") with bratty rants ("Kill a Dead Eagle," "Kick Ass," "Let's Go Kill That Man"). Critical opinions ranged from "hilarious" to "unlistenable," though most agreed that, for nine-year-olds, it wasn't bad.
Old Skull reconvened in 1992 with a new lineup. J.P. Toulon switched to drums, while brother Jamie changed his name to Spike and handled bass and some lead vocals. This time out, the Toulons were joined by the Scott brothers, Chris (vocals) and Josh (guitar). This quartet lineup cut C.I.A. Drug Fest, which was again produced by Vern Toulon. In addition to remakes of "Kick Ass" and "Homeless," C.I.A. Drug Fest also found the band threatening to kill the "Pizza Man," asking "D'Yall Know Where the Herb Is," and delivering an R-rated version of "Mary Had a Little Lamb." The band actually mounted a short tour of Japan, and even got a little airplay on MTV. However, that proved to be the extent of their musical career. Vern went on to appear in the Madison documentary film Streets Without Cars; sadly, he passed away on May 31, 2001, at the age of 46.
Get Outta School (1989)
C.I.A. Drug Fest (1992)