FIRST ISSUE - JAM PACKED WITH FEATURES!
SKA CRAZY AND PROUD
Tomas Kalnoky Interview Profile of a Record Label: Household Name Records
Know Your Skalphabet
Classic albums song by song, plus reviews, gig guide and more...
LPHABET SKA CRAZY AND PROUD
Hello ska fans!
Welcome to the first issue of Skalpabet, the latest and greatest in skaformation. Wether you’re a thirdwave ska-punk rocker, or a mellow traditional fan, Skalphabet has something for you. With features on the hottest ska bands, latest albums and a ska gig guide, you can’t fail to know what’s going on. Enjoy the interview with Tomas Kalnoky. Read it carefully, he’s a very difficult man to track down.
CONTENTS 3. Editorial and Contents 4. Know Your Skalphabet 6. Tomas Kalnoky Interview 9.Album Review: 2Tone Lizard Kings - Bombs Away 10. Classic Album: Turn The Radio Off 12.In Profile: Household Name Records 14. National Gig Guide
Plus features on classic ska albums, great record labels and more... Dave Evans, editor. 29 April 2010
Know Your Skalphabet! Classic, contemporary and just plain cool ska songs to download this month
It’s immensely difficult choosing bands for a list like this, not only beacuse there are so many, but choosing songs from the bands is even harder. So look out for E - Evil, The Forces Of - Fight this section again next month. Any suggestions can Ok, a bit of a cheat on the lettering, but who cares? This three-minute diamond from The Forces of Evil be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org decries the state of the ska scene in modern days. Listen, understand, go start a ska band.
A -Adequate Seven - Across The Bridge
F - Fandangle - Oliver Twist A fantastic ska funk song about playing live and A great song from these British skanksters, full of having fun, listen to the drummer beat that kit as the brass and skankable rifs. Check out the Lightyearsong takes off. esque breakdown. B - Babyboom - Sister
Taken from their self-titled EP, this is musically and lyrically beautiful. A song about being far away and feeling useless. Anyone who has had a late night phone call from a friend wil relate to this.
G - Goldfinger - Superman
C - Capdown - Cousin Cleotis
One that almost everybody will know. Yes, that’s right, it’s the one from the Tony Hawk game. Superman has one of those brass lines that gets everybody smiling and dancing. Buy this album (Hang-Ups), download Stomping Ground, avoid the rest.
D - Dispatch - Whaddya Wanna Be?
More deeply angry ska from the album Beat Heart, Beat. Enjoy rocking out to this.
Best. Saxophone. Riff. Ever. More fast-paced skapunk from the Capdown boys.
H - Howard’s Alias - Wrong Note
From the album Four Day Trials comes this ska- I - Ian Clayton - Reggae Man influenced piece, but the live version from the Mr. Clayton’s epic work, virtuoso guitar intro, turning Zimbabwe show has a full brass section. Well into madrigal rock. A genre-crossing song. Listen to worth checking out, and a look into Dispatch’s back the bass as the song takes off. catalogue will uncover more gems like this.
J - Jeffries Fan Club - Nothing To Prove
amusing sentiment regarding your mother.
Jake, these guys blend the two perfectly.
U - Uptones, The - Get Out Of My Way
M - Mad Caddies - Rockupation
V - Voodoo Glow Skulls - The Drop In
Y - Yum!Yum!ORANGE - Sunny Sunday
Simple third-wave ska. The kind of song that T - Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra reminds of times when ska was king. Wasn’t 1998 Pride Of Lions the best? More ska from Japan. Sung in English lyrics this time, but some of their repertoire is in the native Japanese. K - Kemuri - Ato Ichinen Japanese ska-punk, sung in Japanese. The fact that A lovely song, reminiscent of Mustard Plug, played non-japanese speakers can’t understand the lyrics by eleven of the best musicians in Japan. Possibly the does not detract from the song at all. Heavily only ska band who could get away with a jazz piano influenced by early Reel Big Fish and Less Than outro. Heavily influenced by the British TwoTone movement, as well as the punk rock from that era, The Uptones Scott Farcas Takes It On The Chin A personal favourite, listen to the way the song were, to all intents and purposes, the very first builds up and breaks down. Brilliantly written third-wave ska band. Years ahead of their time, but music, from a time when Less Than Jake had a absolutely amazing. You may recognise this song, as full brass section, and they used it to great effect Rancid covered it on their first album. Listen to The Uptones. here.
L - Less Than Jake -
With their own very individual brass style, VGS present fast ska-punk with clever lyrics. Listen and N - No Comply - Your Life (Is Your enjoy. Direction) Female fronted skacore. Heavy, brassy and ballsy, W - Westbound Train - Check Your Time Harking back to the days of the Specials and the The what else needs to be said? Selecter, Westbound Train pulled this slow, melodic O - One Cool Guy - From Downtown song straight from the late 70s. Lynval Golding of Tomas Kalnoky’s band pre-Catch22. Not brilliantly The Specials has called them ‘the next big thing in produced, but a catchy song nonetheless. A lot of ska’. If you enjoyed Hepcat, these guys are well worth late-90s ska bands owe their style to OCG, not looking into. 5 least beacuase of their incredibly energetic live shows. One can begin to see the development of X - Anyone got any suggestions? Prizes for the Kalnoky’s style here, in the earliest of his recorded best answer. How to hate your record company 101.
- Planet Smashers - Missionary’s Downfall A call and repsonse song, lyrics and brass fighting for prominence. A summery song that will make you wish you were on a beach with a brightly coloured beverage.
Exactly what it says on the tin. Listen to it on a sunny sunday, and it can’t fail to put you in a good mood.
- Zen Baseballbat - Brown Cows Of Elocution Delightfully mental, from their debut album I Am The Champion Concrete Mixer, a wonderfully weird song Q - Anybody know of a ska band that starts about nothing in particular, but it invokes smiles. Nothing complex, just good old British wackiness. with a Q? Answers on a postcard please.
- Reel Big Fish - Sell Out Well, for the first one, it had to be a classic. Rock ‘n’ Roll verses, reggae-esque chorus, bouncing brass lines and a few great riffs make this a staple in any ska playlist.
S - Suburban Legends - High Fives
For a chance to win all the music featured in this months Skalphabet, answer the following question: Name the Reel Big Fish song that contains the lyric “Maybe she’s got better things to do.”
Before they went all disco disco, Suburban Legends were a ska band. Taken from their debut album Answers can be emailed to: Rump Shaker, this feisty little number serves up email@example.com a combo of danceable beats, catchy horns,and an
Tom Tomas Kalnoky is the lead sin he was involved in Catch 22 f bands, including Gimp and Ba between a hectic tour and stu hear mistakes in my work, and this was a great opportunity to rerecord ‘They Provide The Paint’ and do it right. I did try to explain why i picked the songs i picked in the CD inlay. Whatever, it’s not meant to be pretentious or anything, I just wanted to rerecord that song with Streetlight.
Skalphabet: So, 99 Songs Of Revolution just came out, tell us about the project. Tomas Kalnoky: It’s still a big secret; the usual Streetlight style. The first few records; one of the first few records will be from Streetlight, one by a mystery band and one by Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution. Ska: The idea is for each band to do two records, right? TK: We’re gonna have two, BOTAR is gonna have two, and two each from the other mystery groups. The other two bands that are gonna be involved are musicians within the Streetlight/BOTAR catalogue
Ska: Is that why you rerecorded Keasbey Nights? TK: Look, the main motivation for that was that I always thought that album sonically, sounded crappy. I listen to Keasby Nights and it makes me cringe. On the other hand, we can’t take back or be ashamed of what we did because it’s a part of your history, so I view Catch 22 like high so it’s just gonna be us, but in a school band type stuff, and different form. Streetlight is a lot more complicated, a lot more musicianship, Ska: And all the songs for the the actual skills, hopefully not project are covers? less energy, I mean, the Catch TK: Yes, but I imagine that 22 stuff was a lot simpler, but some of the artists we’ve covwe were also 17, 18 years old, ered are so obscure that peoand now I’m more interested in ple won’t recognise the songs. challenging myself musically. (Laughing) Actually, after we’ve mangled them, they’re pretty Ska: Ok, so whats the deal much unrecognisable anyway! with you and Catch 22 now? TK: I used to try and make an Ska: So what about the BOTAR effort, but then they talked shit song that’s on Vol. 1? That’s in an interview, so I stopped your song, can that count as a trying. I actually haven’t liscover? tened to their music after I left, TK: I know I wrote it, but it was apart from a couple on the rarecorded with a different band, dio, but not like a whole album and I’m a perfectionist. I always or anything. I left Catch 22 to
as Kalnoky ger and guitarist of seminal ska band Streetlight Manifesto. As well as this, or their debut album Keasbey Nights, and has since recorded with a number of ndits Of The Acoustic Revolution. Skalphabet managed to get him on the phone, in dio time. Here’s what the man himself had to say. go to college, and there were so many things I wanted to do, and the committment to the band would have stopped that. But to be fair, we’ve talked since then and nobody wants any bad feelings. Ska: So what about the veiled attacks on Catch 22 on Everything Goes Numb? TK: One line in one song, I was angry. Why is that all anyone can talk about? Kevin (Gunther) from Catch 22 does Streetlight’s tour booking. Seriously, there’s no rivalry, we patched up our differences. Ska: Moving on, can you give us an insight into your songwriting process? TK: Ok, I start with my acoustic guitar, play around with some chords and test out melodies, just humming, and those melodies either become the basic idea for the horns, or the
vocal melody. So then I demo the songs, just record them on my laptop, programmed fake drums, electric guitar and generally me singing gibberish. I write the lyrics way after I write the melody. So everybody in the band gets these demos, and when we get to the studio, or to a practice, everyone just adds their own flair into the basic idea. It’s all about layers, it’s a very organic process. Ska: So what about your musical influences? What makes Streetlight Manifesto sound like Streetlight Manifesto? TK: I love music, all kinds of music, so theres a lot in there, it depends on what I’ve been listening to lately. Most of the guys in the band didn’t really grow up Punk or Ska. Everyone has a different story. I grew up on punk rock mostly, heard Nirvana and it changed my life. The honesty in the songs was amazing to me. The ska thing is almost like a byproduct. I wasn’t a ska kid. Some of the guys never listened to any ska or punk, some of the guys are just straight jazz guys. And also, I try to listen to as much world music, folk music and just music from all different kinds of cultures,
different kinds of instrumentation. So were not coming from strictly a punk rock or punk/Ska background and you know, continue to create similar kinds of music. There’s no point in having one flavour, you know? It just gets boring. And then theres no progression. Ska: Speaking of progression, what’s next for you? TK: Well, aside from Streetlight’s hefty touring schedule, theres the rest of the revolution project, and I’m looking forward to putting together the mystery band. I’m not saying anything more though, it’s more fun if it’s all a secret. Ska: Well, thanks for your time. Any final words? TK: Not really. Thanks to everyone who’s listend to and enjoyed my music, I guess.
99 Songs Of Revolution Vol. 1 by Streetlight Manifesto is out now on Victory Records, available from all good music stockists. For more information on Tomas Kalnoky, visit http://kalnokysbands. webs.com/ Images courtesy of Victory Records.
ALBUM REVIEW: 2Tone Lizard Kings Bombs Away The 2-Tone Lizard Kings have get creative with your lyrical horn line and good arrangement. been on tour recently and have impressed with their live performance. Many times with regional acts, you get young kids, still in high school, still trying to master their instruments and learn how to write a song; play on a real stage, etc. It can be more like watching people play “Rock Band” than watching an actual band. These guys are different, however. They have performance chops and stage presence, and if they were to take the act on the road, the result would either be that they’d break up because they would start hating each other, or they would hone their skills even more and become a credible national act. To back-track just a little, whenever a band with a name that includes the word “ska” or something like “2 Tone” crops up, it’s wise to be a little skeptical. Do the artists honestly feel that they are doing the ska music world a favor by rehashing the same tired themes that were laid out by pioneers of the traditional and TwoTone era? With “Bombs Away,” the main criticism is that too-often the songs fall into this trap. For instance, on “Useless,” the chorus refrains “It’s useless, ’cause I just wanna skank.” Let the music say this for you, and the audience will get up and dance. Another song, “Sally Brown,” is a nice traditionalstyle ska song, but the fact that is uses the familiar namesake popularized in the old Laurel Aitkin tune of the same name is a little cringe-worthy. C’mon guys, dig deep and
content, and you can help push ska music forward. No one is expecting a ska band to reinvent the wheel, but many of the tracks on this album are just spinning the wheels. I
Its placement in the middle of the album helps break things up nicely. The album ends with a respectable cover of The Pogues’ “Streams of Whiskey.”
understand that ska appeals to many fans because of the sameness of it: checkersboard patterns, pork-pie hats, suits, etc.; and that’s all fine, but it has to be done with a sense of originality and style, otherwise it becomes immediately redundant. On the positive side, the musicianship on this album is solid, and songs such as the title-track “Bombs Away” – an up-tempo rockin’ number with great guitar and a catchy, anthemic chorus – are strong. Another standout track, “New Man,” has a flangy reggae guitar flowing through it, and is accentuated by a nice punchy
It’s always risky to cover a song by an iconic band such as The Pogues, The Clash or The Specials, so props to these guys for pulling it off. Overall “Bombs Away” is a decent first-effort for a ska band that exists during a time when ska music seems to be neither on the decline or the rise. If the 2 Tone Lizard Kings continue to grow musically and lyrically, they will surely appeal to a broad audience. In the meantime, core ska scenesters should find plenty to enjoy, especially if you’re in the mood for a few drinks and a few laughs. 6/10.
Reel Big Fish -
1996 saw some great music in the ska world, but none has stood the test of time quite like Turn the Radio Off. As we approach its fifteenth birthday, here’s a small reminder of why this album should be in every ska fans record collection. 1 - Sellout
One of the most recognizable intros to any ska song. Very catchy song about quitting your day job and signing to a major label and the possible hazards of selling out by playing what the company wants the listeners want to hear.
girls and the futility of being in a band because all of what he wants to achieve has already been done. Switching between punk and reggae, this is a very danceable 2 - Trendy This song is about the strive of song. the general public to be cool, in this case “trendy” and the 4 She Has a songs subject hate of people Girlfriend Now not as trendy as him and his Monique Powell from Save quest to prove to others how Ferris add vocals to this song trendy he really is. The bass about a guy’s ex becoming lines really shine on this song a lesbian and the guys futile consisting of slaps, pops and attempts to win her back. walking runs. Possibly the best trombone solo ever.
3 - Join the Club
About 30 seconds into this song a heavy reggae feel is established, and Aaron sings about being in a band for the
transitions with the horns, guitar and bass to a rock/ punk feel about not wanting fame. this transition is very well done considering how young the band was at the time. Ends with a sax solo, courtesy of Ezrin Santen from Hepcat. 6 - Beer A fan favourite, and we all know that guitar lick. A brilliant song about drinking to escape.
7 - 241 An instrumental, save for the 5- Snoop Dogg, Baby shouts of 241! Good writing Reggae/ska feel on this one, and arranging, one of the the focus is on a relationship better instrumentals from that has gone sour, and then RBF.
Song By Song
- Turn The Radio Off 8 - Everything Sucks Another big song and a fan favorite. Aaron sings about failing at life and complains about a local ska band that everyone loves. Like Sellout, and ska fan has heard this song in some form. Very bouncy and catchy, an instant favourite. 9 - S.R. Mellow song about the breakup of a band and the singer’s lament about them not getting back together. Well written, just disappointingly short.
11 - All I Want is More A large departure from Skatanic, RBF go back too their more traditional ska feel, with an almost innocent intro. The song is about a guy leaving a girl because she didn’t give him everything he wanted. The verse goes into a faster punk feel, very well written.
Very funny, major theme of RBF, silly, then funny, then silly. 14 - I’ll Never Be The ballad of the album, but starts with a ska feel and a sax solo. Aaron laments about never attaining fame and fortune. In the chorus it gets a little too ballad-like, but with a great driving beat.
15 Alternative, Baby Another fan favourite, it switches perspectives from a kid at a show, to a band member trying to get a girl in 13 - Say “Ten” the audience. High energy, 10 - Skatanic A silly song about anti- very danceable number. Beautifully heavy, sounds veganism, sung in a reggae almost like the devil’s jazz. style, transitioning to a punk Overall, probably the best Excellent song about stalking feel. Save a plant! Eat a cow! album of the late 90’s. a girl. I want meat, I want it now! 10/10 12 - Nothin’ Very fast, very angry skapunk. Brilliant song about not caring any more.
Profile Of A Record Label Household Name Records. To a UK ska fan, that name brings back memories. The days gone by when you could pop down to your local record store (thinking about it, what happened to those?) and see a selection of ska from Household Name, all for under a tenner. Those were the days. Started in 1996, Household Name Records was set up to promote unknown UK bands. The founders, Lil and Kafren, initially put out a punk/ska compilation CD, which sold out within six weeks, only being sold at show and at local record stores. Since then Household Name Records has released over 70 records.
by the label, they played nearly 250 shows, gathering a huge following. Civil Disobedients was voted into the NME’s top 100 albums of the decade in December 2009.
Bands like Big D and The Kids Table, The Slackers and Planet Smashers were introduced to the UK market by this completely independent record label. Unfortunately, it was around this time that bands began to split After the huge success of up, change labels and in some Capdown, in 2001 Lightyear cases (Captain Everything!, were signed, along with punk anyone?) move countries. The band Five Knuckle, and also label could not give the support thrash-popsters Captain to the bands that they needed. Everything!. The first half of the decade was a great time for the Lightyear famously thanked label, and for the British ska the label during the notoriously scene, by 2003, Howard’s Alias long outro of 200 Kebab Shops, had joined the roster, along with which was the closing track Adequate Seven. on their 2003 release Chris’ Gentleman’s Hairdresser It was around this time that and Railway Bookshop. It is Household Name Records unfortunate that Lightyear hit a began distributing records for glass ceiling, and without a big American labels, promoting label with lots of money their bands in the UK, giving to support them, they were them tours and selling their allegedly living on three pounds records through the website. a day.
Looking back at the roster, in the early days, it was mostly London-based punk bands, people that Lil and Kafren knew. As the hype around the label grew, they decided in 1999, to ‘go pro’ and start offering record deals as well as distribution deals. Their first major ska band to sign was Capdown, in 2000. In that year Capdown’s debut album Civil Disobedients was released to critical acclaim, and thanks to clever promotion
In 2005, Adequate Seven left the label, in order to release their second full length album on a different label. Tom Pinder, the trumpet player and arragner for the band, said that they decided not to release Here On Earth on HHN because they needed a label that could spend the time and money necessary to make good records, and without the prospect of any real income for the band, it was time to move on. While HHN is an excellent independent label, they don’t have the resources to work on a scale to make bands any bigger than the national circuits, possibly a short tour of Europe. After that, Howard’s Alias split up, and the labels roster of ska bands was limited to Leftover Crack (who were dropped in 2005, because the singer made racist comments while on stage at the HHN summer show in London) and the American bands that they were distributing. It was a dark time for ska music in Britain.
Radio 1’s B-list, which meant at least four plays a day, and the band were swiftly tempted by more money, and in 2007 signed to Field Recordings, and Island Records affiliate.
buy. Not download, purchase, with actual money. Or, if you do download, and you like the music, go see the band live, give them a little support, and there will be more music to enjoy.
Since then, HHN has had no Excitement flared in 2006, when new ska bands, and support for Under The Fog was released. the bands on their roster has The King Blues were a new dropped. This is an excellent acoustic ska band, heavily independent label, with great influenced by The Clash and people running it, people who The Specials. The release of know what they’re doing and Under The Fog coincided with who are dialled into the music increased promotion from the thats important right now. label and a huge national tour. So, how does a label regain Mr. Music Man, the lead single its former glory? People need from the album made it onto to buy records. That’s right,
What happened to Household Name Records? Nothing. It’s still there, being independent and supportive, they just need a little help from us, the fans.
Written by Dave Evans. Above: Lightyear performing at the El Ray. Photo courtesy of Dave Evans. Left: Capdown, courtesty of Household Name Records. Top graphic courtesy of Household Name Records.
TO GO SEE MONTH
England and Wales
1 May The Beat
The Boilerroom, Guildford
The Maze, Nottingham
The King Blues
Rock City, Nottingham
The Tackeroo, Hednesford
Blue Rooms, Hereford
3 May Harijan
Sound House, Bolton
Jazz Cafe, London
Voodoo Glow Skulls Soundhouse, Bolton
O2 Academy 2, Liverpool
02 Academy, Birmingham
The King Blues
Voodoo Glow Skulls Sub 89, Reading
The Forum, London Jazz Cafe, London
The King Blues
Wedgewood Rooms, Hants
The Limelight, Crewe
O2 Academy, Oxford
Arts Centre, Salisbury
The Limelight, Crewe
Sonic Boom Six
Electric Ballroom, London
9 May The Slackers
02 Academy Islington, London Do you know about any cool ska gigs
The Regal, Oxford
11 May The Slackers
coming up? Do you promote ska talent in your area? Send your listings to
Scotland 1 May Voodoo Glow Skulls Bannermans, Edinburgh Bombskare
Wemyss Hotel, Port Seton
2 May Big Hand / Red2Red Pivo Pivo, Glasgow 8 May Red2Red
PLU Festival, Lieth Links
14 May Esperanza
Pivo Pivo, Glasgow
15 May Mungoâ€™s Hi Fi
Art School, Glasgow
One Step Beyond
Spiders Web, Edinburgh
18 May Wailing Souls
Bongo Club, Edinburgh
19 May Wailing Souls
02 ABC, Glasgow
29 May Red2Red
Corn Exchange, Haddington
5 Jun Bombskare
Cafe Drummonds, Aberdeen
11 Jun Esperanza
19 Jun One Step Beyond
Spiders Web, Edinburgh
25 Jun Bombskare
26 Jun The Hostiles
The Borough, Edinburgh
99 Songs Of Revolution
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