History / Bio
Victor Griffin ~ Guitar / vocals
Pete Campbell ~ Drums
Lee Abney ~ Bass / vocals
Formed in early 2000 by guitarist/singer/songwriter Victor Griffin,bassist Lee Abney, & drummer Tim Tomaselli…Place of Skulls (a biblical reference to Golgotha) carries the torch of prior Griffin & Abney bands such as Death Row and Pentagram in the ever-burgeoning underground scene of doom metal. But as their sound continues to expand beyond those boundaries…they incorporate intricate dynamics in their songs that few bands of the same genre explore...and lyrically reflect upon their spiritual beliefs, faith, God, politics, and the search for peace. Having stepped outside the proverbial box of “doom metal”, Place of Skulls opens the door of accessibility to a whole other cross section of heavy rock enthusiast. But by no means should this be taken lightly. Their sound is as crushing live as any and no less threatening in volume. But it hasn’t been an easy road. Their tumultuous story has had more than it’s fair share of ups and downs.
After a self-released 3-song demo/EP and live album simply entitled “LIVE” got the buzz going…Guy Pinhas (The Obsessed, Acid King) heard the band and quickly made a deal to release their first album on Frank Kozik’s Man’s Ruin Records…a company he worked for at the time. However, when the recording sessions were completed, the album entitled “Nailed” was suddenly put on hold when Man’s Ruin Records closed it's doors. Eventually Guy approached Greg Anderson of Southernlord Recordings who had already gotten wind of the band and a deal was struck. So the album finally found it’s release in mid 2001…and the ride was just beginning.
As the band rolled into '02, they now had a couple of years of self-booked shows and tours, two self-released cd’s, and their first official full length debut album under their belt. But the foundation was shaken again when Lee Abney left the band following a tour with Spirit Caravan for personal reasons.
Before the dust could settle, Victor and Scott “Wino” Weinrich (The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, Hidden Hand, Shrinebuilder) began talks about a possible collaboration. Wino then joined up with Victor & Tim to begin work on a second Place of Skulls album. But a bass player was still needed to replace Lee, enter Ron Holzner (Trouble, Debris Inc., Earthen Grave) of Trouble fame to fill his shoes. It seemed like the logical choice since he was already friends with everyone in the band.
By this time the pedigree of the band had become very impressive and the press was already considering them to be a veritable doom super group. But logistically it wasn’t to be. With Victor and Tim based in Knoxville, Tennessee, Wino in Maryland, and Ron in Chicago…after several rehearsals, it became clear they would need to ease the stress of the traveling requirements of such a diversely located band. So Greg Turley (Pentagram, Countershaft), nephew of Victor, was invited to step in for Ron to record what would become “With Vision”, their second release on Southernlord Recordings.
After “With Vision's” release, it became even more apparent that the locality of the members would be more of a hurdle then they'd anticipated. With Greg and Wino making their respective homes adjacent to the Washington D.C. beltway…subsequently, this particular line-up, considered by many to be a milestone collaboration, never made it out of the gates for touring in support of the new album.
Thriving on the live performance, Victor and Tim were growing anxious and discouraged while searching for another bass player. But their prayers were soon answered in an email from Dennis Cornelius (ex-Revelation/Oversoul). After an impressive audition, Dennis was given the nod on bass and Place of Skulls was back to a working 3-piece unit just as they’d begun. But once again, it was short-lived…suddenly came the surprising departure of Tim due to personal issues just weeks before a European tour. With the tour looming and pressure building, drummer Pete Campbell (The Mighty Nimbus, Buzzard, Sixty Watt Shaman) was quickly worked in. Afterwards, having had time to regroup and reflect on his situation, Tim rejoined the band for another successful string of shows…and what would soon become their most acclaimed recording to date.
Having signed with German label Exile On Mainstream Records, the band once again entered Lakeside Studios inKnoxville to record the dynamically charged “The Black Is Never Far”. Taking their songwriting skills to another level since the first two albums, the new album was filled with some of the most melodic & heavy, yet genre-bending compositions ever. With the enthusiastic and aggressive bass style that Dennis brought to the band…along with his own songwriting talents, the three discovered new Place of Skulls blood was lurking just beneath the surface as they once again embarked on another successful European tour and American shows.
Despite all the adversity, things had progressed with relative success to this point. But the calmness wasn’t to last as Dennis announced plans to return to his hometown of Oklahoma City. Though the line-up of the band was threatened once again, they were still able to come together for another European tour even after Dennis' move. But by this time, Victor had had enough of breaking up and putting it back together…and decided to take a hiatus from the stress and attend to his own declining personal and spiritual health. During this time, having emerged from many of his own personal struggles since leaving the band…Lee rejoined Victor and Tim to slowly and methodically begin to awaken Place of Skulls once again.
In 2010, a new album, 'As A Dog Returns', was released and two European tours followed. By the second European tour in the spring of 2011, Tim Tomaselli was once again replaced by Pete Campbell.
|Scott "Wino" Weinrich||2003|