In Defense of Ska Ep. 17: Kamala Lyn Parks


In 1989, east bay punk musician and booker Kamala Lyn Parks was getting a ton of calls from bands asking if she’d book a tour for them. She didn’t even know most of them! She was so fed up with the unsolicited calls, she vented about it to Maximum RocknRoll founder Tim Yohannan: “I want to tell these bands to go book their own fucking tour.” Tim, amused by her outburst, suggested she write an article telling these bands just how to book their own tours.

This article was so popular, it would ultimately inspire the Maximum Rocknroll standalone magazine “Book Your Own Fucking Life,” which single-handedly got thousands of ska and punk bands on the road in the 90s and enabled them to string together amazing DIY shows in basements, backyards and rented halls across the country. Kamala had plenty of experience booking tours.

By the time she’d written the article in the late 80s, she’d been booking DIY tours for nearly 4 years. It was a no-mans-land back then. And she built her tour connections from scratch. But, because she assembled these connections with a lot of care, love, and patience, she was able to help create a DIY touring network.

Kamala, our guest on this episode of “In Defense of Ska,” talks about the many amazing bands she booked in the 80s and 90s, including Operation Ivy—their one and only US tour. We also talk about Book Your Own Fucking Life, and of course 924 Gilman. It was her and Victor Hayden who spotted the building and convinced Tim Yohannan to use it for an all-ages DIY venue. We also talk about her numerous bands, and we dig into one infamous night at Gilman when all the punk rockers banded together and beat the shit out of a group of Nazis that had been harassing people at Gilman for some time. Spoiler alert: They never returned after they got their asses kicked.

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