John Vicki Bill Rick

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What happens when you take a Bangle, a touring Beach Boy, half of Barnes & Barnes and “THE Bass Player” and put them together?  Bippity Boppity Boo. Action Skulls.

They had gathered at a Christmas party for some festive holiday cheer. Yes, they were casual acquaintances, having run into each other at gigs over the years, but until that party, Vicki Peterson, her husband John Cowsill and Bill Mumy had never sung together. But they did that night. Gathered around an upright piano at Angela Cartwright’s home, they sang until the early hours of the morning.  The three of them dug the blend their voices made together and the idea of forming a group was discussed.

It was only a few days later that Bill was at a gig with Rick “the bass player” Rosas, and they talked about making music together.  Rick texted Mumy late that night to follow up on it.  Rick had played with John before and was excited about the concept of recording with Vicki, Bill and John.

Mumy started writing. Like a fiend.  New songs poured out of him almost daily.  The songs were different from his usual solo material, and certainly different than Barnes & Barnes.   He left many of these new songs partially completed so that Vicki and John could add their own creative powers to them.

A recording session was booked.

The four of them gathered at ReadyMix Music, which back in the day was where Jackson Browne and Little Feat worked. ReadyMix has a cool vintage vibe mixed with modern tech. 

They recorded old school. All four of them together in the same room playing at the same time, making eye contact and damn the leakage. 

And it was good. It was real good.  And it was fun.

They planned to record an album’s worth of original material.  But between the busy touring schedules of The Beach Boys, (John has been the drummer in that iconic band for 16 years), Rick’s European tour with Neil Young  and Crazy Horse as well as his working on Meryl Streep’s film “Ricki and the Flash”,  The Bangles heading back out on the road, and Mumy making a film and producing projects,  getting the four of them together to  record became somewhat sporatic and difficult.  But they all made room in their busy schedules to do just that because… they were ACTION SKULLS.

Yes, the name had been decided upon early in a very late night text exchange between John and Bill.  John had suggested naming the group Action Figures. Bill had suggested Peace Skulls. They compromised, much to Vicki’s chagrin and Rick’s delight.

More songs were written. More recording sessions happened.  More good vibes. 

Until the terrible, unexpected sad and tragic loss of Rick.  He died November 6, 2014.

The Action Skulls project was put into suspended animation.

Vicki, John and Bill returned to their other individual commitments and got on with their lives.  But the eight songs that they’d recorded with Rick on bass haunted them.  They’d had a great time creating them and if these were some of the very last recordings Rick Rosas played on, then surely they deserved to be shared with the world.

More songs were written.  More sessions happened.  Mumy played bass on two tracks and John’s son, Will Cowsill, played standup bass on the other.

It felt right.

Now they needed some time to polish it all up, mix it and get the design together.

They had initially come together at Angela Cartwright’s, so it was only fitting that the iconic multi talented artist should photograph the group and design the CD package.  So she did.  And after a bit of, “can you make that more blue?” and “Look! There’s an ORB in these shots!  It’s Rick!”  the final design fell together.

Then, there was a need for a title.  A line from Vicki’s song, “Map of the World” fit perfectly.  “There be angel’s here.”  John wisely tweaked it. 


YES! It’s happening! ACTION SKULLS LIVE!
Full band, plugged in and rocking! Join John Cowsill, Vicki Peterson and Bill Mumy 
McCABE’S in Santa Monica
as they perform their entire album, ANGELS HEAR,
plus other songs with the able support of Robby Scharff on bass and vocals and Harpo Hilfman on keyboards!
Click below to order tickets now.

Thanks for supporting ACTION SKULLS! ✌����


P R E S S...

MusicribeAction Skulls – Angels Hear (self-released)
It’s unfortunate that such highly skilled-in-tunefulness artists as John Cowsill (Cowsills, Beach Boys), Vicki Peterson (Bangles) and Bill Mumy (former childhood star of Lost in Space, half of “Fish Heads” Barnes and Barnes) have to self-release a collaborative album. But we’re fortunate that they went to the trouble. If you crossed Grip Weeds and Global-era Cowsills (the latter another criminally underrated self-released effort), the result might sound a bit like Action Skulls. Wonderful guitar textures, creamiest of harmonies, solid songwriting. It’s all just enough around the edges to offset the inevitable slickness that comes from so much collective studio experience.

Daily Vault
|REVIEW BY: David Bowling

There are supergroups and then there are sort-of supergroups. John Cowsill of the 1960s pop group the Cowsills, Vicki Peterson of the Bangles, and Bill Mumy (producer, singer, and child actor of  Lost In Space) have combined their talents to produce the album Angels Hear by their newly formed group, Action Skulls.

While the music is modern sounding, in many ways, it contains a retro approach that harkens back to the 1970s California and West Coast sound. They basically produce shiny pop music that travels in a number of directions. There is the uptempo toe-tapper “The Luckiest Man Alive,” the maudlin “I’ll See You In Another World,” the acoustic “Map Of The World,” and the bluesy “Feed My Hungry Heart.”

The harmonies are not only well-crafted but interesting. Their voices are very different, but they blend together well. Whether the style is laidback or energetic, the harmonies – which can be subtle or soaring –remain the foundation of their sound.

“Feed My Hungry Heart” is representative of their approach. Each member of the group takes a turn singing lead and they all come together to harmonize on the chorus. 

Angels Hear was about four years in the making. Eight songs had been recorded when original member, bassist Rick Rosas, passed away. That loss and the other members’ own schedules put everything on hold for several years. Whether the Action Skulls ever records another album remains to be seen. But Angels Hear is an excellent disc of well-crafted pop that proves musicians from different backgrounds can create very listenable music together.
That peaceful easy feeling of Southern California permeates Angels Hear, the debut by new super-group Action Skulls. Vicki Peterson of The Bangles (vocals/guitar/mandolin), her husband John Cowsill of The Cowsills and Beach Boys (vocals/drums/percussion/guitar), Bill Mumy of America (vocals/guitar/keyboards/harmonica/percussion) and bassist Ric Rosas (Neil Young/Joe Walsh/Jerry Lee Lewis/Etta James) banded together after a late-night jam around the piano in the Hollywood Hills (Rosas has since died).
Years in the making, the 11 tracks deliciously veer off-course and, in so doing, provide a litany of rock’n’roll sub-genres from balladry, folk-rock, blues-rock and ‘50s-era Bo Diddley rhythms to late ‘60s/early ‘70s country-rock, all tied together with chops to spare, seemingly effortless harmonic arrangements and the kind of compositional angst that only the lonely can truly achieve.


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