Running for life like a runaway train with your hair on fire, that’s what being a ska fan was like in the ’90s. Before there was Sublime, No Doubt and Reel Big Fish, the world of ska wasn’t focused on the OC, it was focused in Los Angeles. All because a band from Silverlake broke the mold. That band is still known as America’s first ska band, that band is The Untouchables (aka the UTs)!
Truth is, as the guard was changing in the world of music, new wave and a few sub-genres were making places like KROQ in Los Angeles World Famous with a new sound. The band was one of several regional ska bands, but they are the one ska band that made it, and they made it big. They did it with rotation songs on radio, later on places like MTV, VH-1 and Request Video here in SoCal. The result gave them fans from all across the country, and mad respect from across the pond.
THE ROQ OF THE ’80s
The ’80s were a time of incredible peaks in the world of music. KROQ and MTV were breaking bands like The Cure, Depeche Mode, X, English Beat, The Smiths, Talking Heads, Social Distortion, Boingo and yes… The Untouchables were part of that madness.
Back in the day you couldn’t go to a club without hearing songs like “Free Yourself,” “I Spy for the F.B.I.,” “Hey UTs,” “Wild Child,” and “What’s Gone Wrong.” With the incredible vocals of Jerry Miller,” the toasting backing vocals and high stepping dance moves of Chuck Askermeese, The Untouchables were destined for greatness. Like all great bands it is the music that binds us and their collective sonic vision came to life through the infectious grooves of guitarist Clyde Grimes.
Sadly, we lost Grimes in 2016, but the energy and unmistakable sound remains intact through the current band. The band remains on the forefront of the touring scene. Today’s UTs feature the incomparable Jerry Miller behind the mic, Askermeese joins the band as travel schedule permits. Dave Cassel electrifies on guitar, Tony Rugolo slaps the bass, Bubba Sanchez is on keys, and Doug Sanborne pounds the drum kit. The horn section features Jack Sneddon on trombone, Nick Ramos on trumpet and Will Overholtzer on sax.
It’s interesting when you speak with musicians, especially ska musicians, we often talk about bands that influenced us all. Somehow certain bands always come up in the conversation like Madness and The Specials.
On this side of the pond, sure there are the Bosstones and Voodoo, but in the end… mad respect always goes out to the UTs.
Fast forward to 2023 and the UTs are still killing it. They put out a single recently for a compilation album. It wasn’t meant to be anything more than a single. But we are talking about royalty here. The world of ska loved their take on the B.J. Thomas classic, “Hooked on a Feeling,” and the hardcore fans fell in love with it making it an instant classic.
Luckily 2023 is in full effect and some of our favorite bands are out and about. The UTs are part of the gift that keeps giving. You can catch them on February 19th at the Mamba Sports Bar & Grill in Huntington Beach for a night of two-tone soul reviving ska!
Joining the band will be openers Natural Supernatural, Vinson Lui and maybe a few more surprises.
No doubt The UTs are living legends. There is a saying, some bands are part of music history; but there are a select few like The UTs that are music history.
Before they play the Supernova International Ska Festival, dust of your creepers, Docs, your checkered whatever and get ready to skank to the sights and sounds of The Untouchables at Mamba Sports Bar & Grill in Huntington Beach.