Lizard Skynard

an interview with Erik “Lizardman” Sprague
by Andrew Frey
May 2011

Lizard Skynard frontman Erik “Lizardman” Sprague

Lizard Skynard frontman Erik “Lizardman” Sprague

I totally agree with Erik “Lizardman” Sprague. “The world needs freaks,” he states in our recent e-mail exchange. “We explore the boundaries and show people that most limits are actually false. Freaks challenge society and provide a reflection for growth and exploration.”

The area for our reflection today will be the new band that he is fronting called ‘Lizard Skynard.’ It is sort of an underground supergroup made up of guitarist/songwriter Mossy Vaughn (The Heavils), bassist Russell Gillespie (Mothertrucker), drummer Johnny Baker (Waco Jesus) and Mossy’s brother, Eric Vaughn on keyboards.

Regardless of the others in the band, the focus of the group will always swing back to the renowned freak, comedian, author and vocalist for the band, Lizardman. If you somehow haven’t heard of him, he is easy to spot with his green tattooed scales, his bifurcated (split) tongue(“I have independent control of both tongues and can do some neat little manipulations with it.”), sharply filed teeth, and the teflon ridges implanted sub-dermally above his eyes. Plus he has worked with and been in several sideshow groups, appeared at many” Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” activities and has hosted many events.

After being involved in so many potentially dangerous endeavors I had to wonder if he had ever been permanently injured from a sideshow type performance. He filled me in, “I have some scars but nothing too serious.  One of my nipples is now noticeably different than the other due to a tear while lifting a car battery.

And you will be happy to know he will not disappoint in the band’s live performance either. “I have worked some stunts into our live shows and it’s something that is still developing,” he relates.

Being bearded on the album cover, but beardless on many of the promo photos, I asked him if he will be appearing with or without beard this summer and he clarified, “I am currently going sans beard in order to better match up with the statues being put on display at Ripley’s museums around the world that I will be unveiling over the next few months.”

But Lizardman didn’t always plan on being a vocalist and frontman for a band. A fact he explains, “I didn’t really decide to become a frontman, Mossy simply gave me no other choice.  We had discussed the idea for some time while working together on the Jagermeister tours and he just kept pushing and coming at me with ideas & music until there nothing left for me to do than get onboard. He is the engine driving this thing and I am just trying to keep up with him and the rest of the guys.

Despite what you may be envisioning, Lizard Skynard is not one of the heard of copycat agro metal bands out there. Mossy expounds their sound as being, “Space Metal….. Mastodon meets Pink Floyd…. Henry Rollins meets Janes Addiction with a sprinkling of prog/punk rock….”

Lyrically however Lizardman approaches things from his own angle. “A lot of the stuff that we have done so far has focused on the weird & absurd prose I like to write, basically very short stories with surreal elements / ideas.  There are undertones of questions about religion & normalcy as well as some political stuff.  As we move ahead I think that more of my political rantings will come to the front, I am working on a lot of stuff that comes from my own take on anarchism and the hypocrisy I see as inherent in democracy.”

Being who and how he is, I had to wonder if Lizardman was concerned about being labeled a gimmick band. He commented, “Anything I do always run that risk, I don’t really let it concern me. I’m going to do my thing and hopefully people will find something in it for themselves.  If someone gravitates to us because they see a gimmick I will try to get them to go deeper, if someone writes us off as a gimmick band then it’s their loss.”

But fans will be fans and he never knows what to expect from his audience. He recalled a particularly memorable moment form a former performance. “An excited young woman once ran up to me and exclaimed, “Oh my god, I’m your idol!!”  I knew what she meant but I couldn’t resist being a smartass, so I said, “I didn’t know I had an idol”.  She immediately realized what she had said but was still so amped up that her response was, “No, no, I mean your my biggest fan!”  it was very cute and I was amazed to have such an effect on someone.  Another time I was sitting on the edge of an outdoor stage I was working when a group of teenagers walked by, one of them stopped suddenly and turned back around to point at me and say, “Hey, you’re that motherfucker form TV & shit - ain’t ya?”  I’ve often thought of putting that on my business cards.  And then there was the drunk guy hanging outside of a venue in Cincinatti who just kept screaming “Reptile!” at me.  Even when I went over to talk to him all he would do is randomly shout “Reptile!”

Lizardman is a busy guy though. In addition to working with the band and doing things with Ripley’s he is an author of one book, with two others currently being working on. He relates, “I am focusing as much time as I can to finishing up my tattooing right now along with writing new material with the band & working on books makes for a pretty full schedule.”

Finally, Lizardman has some words of advice to other artists who are thinking about making a permanent commitment to their artistic statements like he has. “I would encourage all artists to make more permanent commitments to their artistic statements & expressions because that would make them do the most important thing that they can - take more time to carefully consider those statements & expressions before making them. Difference is strength; a true freak is not defined by abnormality but rather defines their abnormality.”

You can experience what this freak has to offer when Lizard Skynard appears for your entertainment at The Frequency in Madison, WI 5/27 and at Kryptonite in Rockford on 5/28.

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