Ska Oddity: Tales From an Old Ska Kid

Posted on October 24th, 2007 by JJ Loy

I ran across a fun blog post while looking around the SkaSpot social network, specifically at the page of one, Dan Cowan. I was immediately drawn to his page because of his profile picture which showed him to be a few years older than your average Ska Kid. I’ve found, in my several years of chatting people up at shows, that the older fans have the real scoop on the scene’s history.

And Dan Cowan didn’t disappoint. In his post, Whot? U never ‘eard of the Villains? Cowan describes his involvement with the early ’80′s Canadian band, The Villains. The early ’80′s was a strange time, to be a Ska band, and here you get a sense of the Ska climate of that period:

At the time there were only 1 or 2 other ska bands playing in Canada. The Specials opened for the Police on a Canadian Tour and there was a very good local Vancouver ska band called the B-Sides and that was about it for Ska and Canadian Music Scene until the Villains arrived………

I love it when I hear about stuff like this. Much like NYC’s, The Terrorists, of the 70′s, The Villains were a band without a scene. Cowan describes The Villains as Ska troubadours, blazing their own path and cultivating a following through heavy touring and wild live shows…

Picture a skinhead band in full ska gear marching thru the local paper’s newsroom looking to introduce themselves to the local music critic… The Villains were a high energy, non stop action on stage dance band known for their wacky, unpredictable stage shows… At one point in the middle of a sold out show at the Commodore Ballroom, we gaffer taped our sax player to a highchair and shaved his head for an encore. Another time we put the 6 ft 6in tall guitarist on stilts making him well over 8 1/2 ft tall.

I’ve had The Villains Ep in my collection, for some time, and their cover of Wooly Bully has been included in many of my friends mixtapes. However, I’ve never quite gotten the scoop on who these guys were. They’ve always remind me a lot of the NY Citizens in sound, which makes sense. Think: post-Two Tone circus Ska.

Cowan metions a few places to find The Villains, nowadays:
-He sites ebay as the best place to find The Villains 4 song Ep. Link

-I’ve found new and used copies of their one and only full length, Go Crazy (re-issued import) at Amazon. Link

-And you can check out SkaBoom, Villain’s songwriter, Dave Neal’s new outfit. Link

Thanks to Dan Cowan for shedding some light on a band I knew nearly nothing about. I encourage you readers to check out his original post. Link

Comments (0) Oct 24 2007