In my most recent episode with Babylon Party Machine’s Matt Wixson, he said that Ska-Punk was “loosing ground” in the mid-west and predicted that the style of music was not long for this world. Mark from The Green Room Rockers made a similar sentiment in the episode before it, and you’ll be hearing a little more criticism form The Impaler’s Lars Nylander in next weeks episode.
All of this Punk-Ska nay-saying didn’t sit right with my new listener, Steve. He wrote:
I’m not sure Punk-ska is going away any time soon. I’m a bit confused as to why traditional ska fans dislike punk ska. I liked (didn’t love) Bid D’s last album, and don’t see them going away.
I can’t answer for all of you, but I formed a few thoughts on the matter and sent it off to Steve in the hopes of enlivening a debate. I responded:
I appreciate you listening and especially commenting. I really don’t hear enough from my subscribers.
I’m not going to tell you that you are wrong. Tone can be misinterpreted in emails, so I don’t want to sound argumentative- I just want to state my point and ask a few more questions.
I was brought up on Ska-Punk. MU 330 and The Urge are big 3rd Wave style Ska bands from my city, St. Louis. I still love Skankin Pickle, The Bosstones… too many to mention. However, I realized around ’98 that there was a huge deficit between Ska-influenced and traditional style ska. As the Ska-Punk bands stopped touring around the same time, I started looking back on older recordings. Discovering what was special about two-tone (no pun intended) also made me appreciate the distinctions between Ska and Ska-influenced. This older music spoke to me on a much deeper level than any ironic “ska” cover that Big D will ever crank out.
It wasn’t just the older ska that stuck with me after the third wave; bands like The Slackers and other bands playing in the traditional style were giving me something new to enjoy while staying authentic. I noticed that most of the newer bands were playing this True Revivalist Ska, Jump Ups catalog started filling up with neo-Trad artists, The Aggrolites hit the scene- I wanted to start a website with a focus on Trad, and I new that there would be an audience for it. I was correct.
I’m not trying to be divisive, but I am critical. I don’t want to run a site that simply loves all things ska, I want a site that recommends good music- that has interviews with great artists. I’m not going to listen to another Big D record- I’m not going to interview a guy from Less Than Jake- because I don’t like it. And I’ve found that there are a few hundred people in the world that seem to agree with me.
There are TONS of Ska sites that love everything Ska. Checkerboard this, and Rude Boy that, and Ska-Punk all over the place. Check out Silly Gillman, Ska Skank Radio or Just Add Ska for people doing cool things with a broader focus.
But tell me your story. You’ve made the move to defend this music, and I’d love to give you an opportunity. What’s good about Ska-Punk now? Am I wrong, and there are some Trad respecting Punks playing still? If you didn’t exactly love the new Big D album- are there any other new releases that you do love?
Write back. Tell me I’m wrong. Write me a new asshole if you want- I’ll publish our correspondence on SBB and see what people think.
“The Shit is Goin’ to the Dogs” –The Supaflies
I appreciate your e-mail back. I was under the assumption that your blog/site encompassed all aspects of ska, but it seems like in your response that your site is more towards trad ska. Which is fine, I personally like both types, or all types for that matter..
I have been a ska fan for years. It is all I listen too (aside from some hardcore), and all I will listen to. I vividly remember the first time I heard “ska”. I made a painting about it. It affected me that much. (I’ve attached the pic.)
This was my senior year of high school, so we are talking ’89. Bloomington Illinois (not too far away from st. louis) I was hanging out with some “punk rockers”, although how punk rock can someone from the Midwest be? Someone put Operation Ivy on the turn table and the rest is history. I now live in Evanston with a wife and two kids, but I’ve never let go of ska.
My experience is not “special”, there are thousands of little suburbanites who listen to Op Ivy. But the hectic tempo effected me like heroin, and I’ve tried to match that hectic beat since. Some bands have it, most do not.
For me, ska is about the beat. Either trad ska or punk ska, I’ve tried to gather music that makes you jump. It can be heard on “Do the Dog”, “Too Much Too Young” but I’ve found that the punk ska captured closer to the initial feeling. Bands like MU330, Slapstick, and Suicide Machines come close.
This is just my opinion, but a lot of the trad ska right now is too groove oriented. It doesn’t sound like a beat you can dance to. It sounds like reggae. In my opinion, ska should be danced to. Now, it’s hard to dance to punk ska, but a lot of it makes me jump.
I don’t want to go on too long, but there is a lot of trad ska that I love. Recent stuff that makes me dance include “reggae hit la” and “lucky Streak”. But a lot of it is instrumental, which makes me want to slit my wrist. “Strictly Rude” was uneven, but for some reason the beat on “Shining on” makes me jump more than any of Dr. Ring Ding’s latest.
It’s all about the beat.
I could go on and on. But It’s just my opinion.
What do you guys think? Are you a fan of both styles? Do you love one and not the other? Does Neo-Trad need to overpower Ska-Punk to be successful or can they both exist in harmony? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.
Thanks again, Steve, for sharing your thoughts and art with all of us- I hope you find your dancin’ groove in some of the music here on Ska Blah Blah.
Jun 05 2008