40 episodes

Aaron Carnes (author of "In Defense of Ska") and Adam Davis (Link 80, Omingone) chat with people in and outside of the ska scene and defend ska to their last dying breath.

aaroncarnes.substack.com

In Defense of Ska Aaron Carnes

    • Music

Aaron Carnes (author of "In Defense of Ska") and Adam Davis (Link 80, Omingone) chat with people in and outside of the ska scene and defend ska to their last dying breath.

aaroncarnes.substack.com

    In Defense of Ska Ep 40: David McWane

    In Defense of Ska Ep 40: David McWane

    By now, most of us know that ska wasn’t dead in the 2000s. But it was uncool. Really uncool. Bands were fleeing from the scene, and describing their sound as “Rock with horns”—anything other than “ska.” But the scene continued, fueled by the passion of dedicated fans. During this weird time, one group that did quite well was Boston’s Big D and The Kids Table, who even managed to chart on the Billboard Top Heatseekers with their excellent 2007 album Strictly Rude.

    Big D formed in ’96 but didn’t release their first album, Good Luck, until 1999, which was right when ska was freefalling from mainstream culture. The group persevered during the ska-wasteland era and remains popular to this day. They are releasing their latest record, Do Your Art, on October 22nd on Side One Dummy Records. It’s their first collection of original tunes in years. We brought lead singer David McWane on to the show to talk about the album and their legacy as a not-quite-90s ska band going on two decades now.

    We covered a lot of ground, including two of their best-known cover tunes: The Specials’ “Little B***h” and Propagandhi’s “Ska Sucks.” We discuss how the group drove across the country to play a show for Mike Park, in hopes that he’d sign them to Asian Man Records. (Which he did!) And we spend a fair amount of time dissecting their Strictly Rude record. We even find out about the group’s unlikely relationship with Japanese noise rock band Melt Banana. Dave also tells us a very compelling story about surviving cancer. Fortunately for him, he caught it early and is doing great.

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    • 1 hr 28 min
    In Defense of Ska Ep 39: Max Collins of Eve 6

    In Defense of Ska Ep 39: Max Collins of Eve 6

    Up until last year, alt-rock group Eve 6 was best known for their hit 1998 single, “Inside Out,” or as some people refer to it, “the heart in a blender song.” But times have changed. Now Eve 6, specifically lead singer Max Collins, is best known for taking over Twitter. It started last December when he tweeted that he was a virgin when he wrote “Inside Out.” Since then, he hasn’t stopped tweeting a chaotic mix of weird jokes, hot takes, embarrassing rock n roll stories, and leftist political rants. It’s everything a band’s Twitter account shouldn’t be. But it’s also the very thing that makes Twitter a little bit more tolerable in 2021.

    And in Max’s Eve 6 tweetstorms, oftentimes ska pops up. But it has been unclear to what extent he was a fan of the genre. That is until October 7th, when he and ska band We Are The Union surprise-released a collaborative cover of Operation Ivy’s “Sound System.” It’s a brilliant version of the ska-punk classic that doesn’t veer from the joyous spirit of the original. In fact, it highlights just how good the song is. And clearly, everyone is having a lot of fun playing the song.

    We were fortunate enough to get an exclusive interview with Max a few months before the song was released. We asked him to predict how the song will be received. We also learned about his very real ska roots, what he thinks about #SkaTwitter, which Gorilla Biscuits song he plans to cover at Fest this year, and he dug pretty deep into his perspective on life, including a recent proclamation that he is a Christian Anarchist. And at the end of the interview, Max told us that we have been his favorite podcast he’s ever done. Take that other podcasts!

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    • 1 hr 23 min
    In Defense of Ska Ep 38: Augusta Koch

    In Defense of Ska Ep 38: Augusta Koch

    Augusta Koch’s first band was called The Blue Bananas, a ska band. They had a few originals and performed a Choking Victim song. They didn’t last long. She’s since gone on to play in some incredible non-ska bands like Cayetana and Gladie. And she even sang vocals for the fictitious group DUH in the horror-comedy film Uncle Peckerhead. But ska has remained important to her. During the pandemic, she found comfort in revisiting some of her favorite bands from when she was younger. RX Bandits have been a particular favorite for her.

    Augusta talks with us, not just about her ska roots, but also what it’s been like for her the past couple of years, creatively and personally. We discuss a blog post she wrote about starting smoking again during the pandemic and she also tells us about Jeff Rosenstock asking her to contribute to SKA DREAM by screaming on a few tracks. We discuss the Sparks cover she made with Mike Park, and we also get into a discussion about what her favorite Mountain Goats record is. And most importantly, we try to understand why the ska scene just feels so much better to be a part of than other “cooler” scenes. We come up with a few theories.

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    • 1 hr 5 min
    In Defense of Ska Ep 37: Homer Flynn

    In Defense of Ska Ep 37: Homer Flynn

    Avant-garde band The Residents have spent the last five decades anonymously creating music that is at times unsettling, goofy, bizarre, and always pushes the boundaries of music. Even the very idea that The Residents are a band is up for debate. They are more of an art collective that pretends to be a band. And though they prolifically create music, they are perhaps best known for the imagery they’ve put out into the world, specifically the photo of the four band members with eyeball-heads, who are wearing fancy top hats.

    But it makes sense for The Residents, who are pioneers in the realm of multimedia entertainment. The visuals are a critical element of their music. They are even music video innovators. And have always explored art in a way that challenges and often confuses their audience.

    Since the identities of The Residents are unknown, we couldn’t bring them on the show. Instead, we spoke with Homer Flynn, the president of the Cryptic Corporation, and public relations for The Residents. We asked him all of our many Residents questions, like how they recorded their bizarre Eskimo album and who exactly were the offbeat individuals in their music videos? He did his best to answer them. We even threw the big question at him: Do The Residents like ska? In all the years that Homer has been speaking on behalf of The Residents, I’m pretty sure this is the first time anyone has ever asked Homer this question.

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    • 1 hr 21 min
    In Defense of Ska Ep 36: Mike Park

    In Defense of Ska Ep 36: Mike Park

    Asian Man Records will be remembered as one of the best outlets for ska-punk in the 90s, with bands like Slapstick, MU330, Slow Gherkin, Less Than Jake, and other bands that still hold up decades later. The label is the brainchild of former Skankin Pickle singer/saxophonist Mike Park. Initially, Skankin Pickle started Dill Records, as a means to release their own music, and eventually, put out the music of other great bands. It was Mike’s idea for Dill to be a serious venture, and he did much of the legwork. So when he went out on his own, of course, Asian Man Records (1996), was a big indie success.

    Mike has a long, influential career as a musician and label owner, and remains active and highly respected. On today’s episode with Mike, we discuss his days with Skankin Pickle, the early releases of Dill and Asian Man, and we hear all kinds of great stories from various times in his career. Mike tells us about discovering Less Than Jake, meeting Jeff Rosenstock, and all about the time he suggested Skankin Pickle reject an offer from Restless Records in 1991! Thanks to watching a documentary of MC Hammer and getting really into Fugazi, he figured that he could do it himself much better. And he was probably right.

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    • 1 hr 23 min
    In Defense of Ska Ep 35: Kenneth Partridge

    In Defense of Ska Ep 35: Kenneth Partridge

    The 90s was a weird time for mainstream music. After Nirvana and the “Grunge” scene blew up, major labels were on the prowl for the next big thing. A lot of unlikely bands and music genres had their 15 minutes of fame. Ska, of course, was one of those trends, as was the “swing revival.” We could debate whether it was good or bad that a handful of ska bands got launched into the mainstream for a few years, but regardless, the very fact that ska and swing were flavors of the month is a bizarre phenomenon worth exploring.

    Kenneth Partridge, this week’s guest, has spent considerable time analyzing bands from this moment in time, like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Reel Big Fish, No Doubt, Royal Crown Revue, Squirrel Nut Zippers, and Sublime. His new book, Hell of a Hat: The Rise of 90s Ska and Swing takes an analytical approach to study why these groups blew up in the US at the time they did. Kenneth also tries to understand what the defining characteristics were of mainstream 90s ska in the US and to explain what value they hold that is unique to their time and place in culture.

    It is a great read and we talk about his book at length. But before that, we ask Kenneth to defend swing, and then he offers to defend “Skaturday” (The 2-hour ska special on MTV in 1997, hosted by Carson Daly) and we also discuss some of the lesser-known bands that Kenneth grew up listening to like Thumper, Spring Heel Jack and Johnny Too Bad and the Strikeouts. And you might notice a subtle noise in the background during the interview. At the very end, we explain exactly what that sound was. So stay tuned for the entire interview!

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    • 1 hr 7 min

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