In Defense of Ska Ep. 9: Steve Choi of RX Bandits


The late ’90s were a busy time for Steve Choi. While he was playing drums in the punk band The Blockheads—a band that Lookout Records were considering signing—Mike Park invited him to join his new all-Asian ska-punk group The Chinkees. At the same time, he moved to Santa Cruz and filled in on various instruments with Slow Gherkin. Oh and somewhere in there, he played keyboards with The Specials for a tour.

As a child, Steve was given a formal education in music. But ska and punk music allowed him to let go of all the complex training, and feel music on a deep, fundamental level. But eventually, he would learn how to bridge these worlds. That moment came when he joined Southern California ska-punk band RX Bandits in the early 2000s.

As he joined the group, they were moving away from ska, and going into much more musical intricate territory. Steve was able to take his formal training, and apply it to punk. He helped RX Bandits forge a whole new identity, one that initially sparked a backlash amongst some of their ska fans, but would eventually find a fan base that had longevity as the years went on.

On this episode of In Defense of Ska, Steve talks about his early days playing ska and punk. He also describes the philosophy that guided RX Bandits when he joined and talks about his time producing beats, most notably for rapper Lil Peep. We also discuss the physically demanding Plea For Peace bicycle tour he did, his process for creating content for his new podcast, The Musician’s Guild, and how he and Mike Park ended up creating a new Chinkees EP in 2020.

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