In Defense of Ska March 2022 Newsletter
I’m still reeling after watching an amazing show with We Are The Union, Eichlers, and Half Past Two at the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco. All the bands were great, but I was particularly excited to see how confident they all were in their own versions of ska and to see how enthusiastic the audiences were for it. It feels like there is energy for a new generation of ska. And I’m here for it!
We also had an incredible month here at In Defense of Ska. If you are a Patreon subscriber, we’ve released bonus interviews and commentary every week, and we put out a fun bonus episode, a debate as to whether The Police should be considered a ska band. Middagh Goodwin (“This Is Ska” radio show) argued NO, bringing a technical point of view to the discussion. Sean Dolan (Blue Meanies) argued YES, bringing a cultural argument to the debate. It was a great discussion on where exactly the line rests on what is and isn’t ska.
We also had five normal episodes in March. We started things out with a panel discussion about The Skatalites’ trombonist Don Drummond. We brought on author Heather Augustyn, author Adam Reeves, and Skatalities manager/keyboardist Ken Stewart. Together, we told the story of Don’s musical genius and his short, tragic life. Also, we explained how ska developed in Jamaica in the late 50s/early 60s. It was great! We might do more of these educational panel discussions.
Rory Phillips from The Impossibles came on the show and came well prepared. He read my book, and he thought long and hard about the band’s legacy before we spoke. The Impossibles were a unique 90s ska band that mixed Op Ivy style ska-punk with emo and Weezer elements. They also suffered serious ska shame when the music fell out of favor. He addressed all of that, which was cathartic. We also talked about his power-pop band The Stereo, which he started in the late 90s with Animal Chin frontman Jamie Woolford.
One of our deepest episodes followed. Derek Zanetti from The Homeless Gospel Choir chatted with us about his oppressive religious upbringing, and how punk and ska literally saved his life. Derek got very real with us. But there were also a lot of funny moments. We rifled through his ska tape collection and found one by some band called Korn! He also referred to Adam and me by our full names. That Derek Zanetti is a lovely chap.
The last two weeks were a discussion about some of the new elements young artists are bringing to ska. First, we chatted with Eichlers, who Adam and I have known since he was a 17-year punk kid from the San Jose music scene in the early 2010s. Nowadays, Eichlers is mixing ska with emo trap, weirdo electronic music and hyperpop. It’s some of the most exciting new ska music happening at the moment. It’s also quite polarizing. A lot of ska fans hate it. But, as I saw at that Bottom of the Hill show, a bunch of kids were mesmerized by what he was doing.
Two of our favorite new artists are Kmoy and Tape Girl. They have separate projects, but they also work together a lot. They call what they’re doing “Laptop Ska.” It’s a mix of lo-fi bedroom indie pop and ska. Early Bomb The Music Industry is a big influence. On this episode, Kmoy and Tape Girl took over the normally highly structured show. And it was glorious. Listen to it several times in a row. You won’t regret it!
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