In Defense of Ska Ep. 6: Brent Lawrence Friedman of We Are The Union

  
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Brent Lawrence Friedman has seen all sides of the music industry. He’s booked tours and done marketing for various ska and punk band (MxPx, Goldfinger, Five Iron Frenzy, Mr. T. Experience). His current gig is “merch fulfillment” for Skatune Network, Kill Lincoln, and other ska groups. He also plays drums in the group We Are The Union. When he’s not doing any of those things, he’s frantically posting about ska on social media, and getting tagged in literally every ska meme—a role he’s come to embrace. His Instagram and Twitter handle is @pleasetagmeinyourskaposts.

I first interviewed Brent (along with Jeremy Andrew Hunter) back in 2018 for my book, In Defense of Ska. We Are The Union were on tour with Reel Big Fish, and so I chatted with them backstage at their Reno show. I wanted to get both of their takes on what it’s like to be entirely identified for liking ska, to have everyone refer to you as a “ska person,” and to feverishly tag you in all online ska content. For Brent, his non-stop online ska talk started as a joke, but he saw that some people were genuinely appreciating his ska persona.

“The ska thing is always a butt end of the joke. After a while it started annoying me to where I started defending ska on social media,” Brent told me. “I started talking about ska a lot. I became an exaggerated version of what these people thought I was. Then ska kids in bands across the country would tell me, ‘Man I love that you defend ska so hard.’ Apparently, this is making some people happy. I’m just going to keep fucking doing it.”

On this episode of In Defense of Ska, Brent tells us the full story of how he went from We Are The Union super-fan to being their drummer. He gives us some insight on the business side of DIY ska including a glimpse behind the scenes of We Are The Union’s Self-Care Kickstarter campaign, and how he came to book the infamous Jesse Michaels/Leftover Crack concert that was eventually covered in Vice. We also talk about how truly awful most ska jokes are when they come from ska-haters. Can’t they at least learn a little bit about the music and subculture first?

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