In Defense of Ska Ep. 15: Slapstick


Ska-hating punk rockers will permit a few ska bands in their playlist. Operation Ivy, of course, is fine. Also, Chicago’s Slapstick is a perfectly fine ska band. Like Operation Ivy, they were a short-lived, gritty punk band that also happened to play ska. But in the case of Slapstick, it was in the mid-90s during the ska-boom, and they had a raging horn section.

Photo by Leslie Hampton

Slapstick could have been huge. They were offered a contract with Epitaph, which they turned down. They broke up not long after. Who knows what would have been if they’d released an Epitaph-backed record in 1997. What we do know is that the members went on to form several amazing, and successful bands in the ashes of Slapstick’s demise: Alkaline Trio, Lawrence Arms, Tuesday, The Broadways, and many others.

On this episode of In Defense of Ska, we chat with Slapstick singer Brendan Kelly and drummer Rob Kellenberger. They explain in detail why they refused to sign to Epitaph, and reflect on whether that was a mistake or not. We talk about a few Slapstick shows that were in some of the shittiest venues imaginable and bring up a little nod the band got in the recently released Netflix horror film, Uncle Peckerhead. We also discuss the band’s reunion gig at Asian Man Records 15-year anniversary show and find out which band from the Slapstick family tree both Brendan and Rob think was the best.

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