FEBRUARY 28, 2020 by Jimmy Alvarez

For years The OC has supported the likes of Social Distortion, The Offspring, Lit, The Vandals, Young the Giant and Dirty Heads. Sure, there’s been a ton of great bands that’ve come out of the OC, but it was the 90’s that really put the spotlight on us, and what a light that was.

It was the third wave of ska, and it became the golden age for the local music scene. It was as if every band had the Midas touch. These bands fused ska with punk and lit up the airwaves. Bands that were part of that explosion were Reel Big Fish, The Aquabats, Save Ferris and next door neighbors, Sublime.  The music gods specifically smiled upon local favorites, No Doubt! They drew international recognition to the genre and the OC. Ever since, Orange County has been the end-all-be-all and trend setters for all that is good and descent about music.

Just a Girl from No Doubt’s uber-album titled, Tragic Kingdom

Sadly, it’s been a minute or two since The OC and ska specifically was the talk of the music world. For decades, Orange County has had a thriving music community; and now… the OC is poised to take back the power with a band called Bite Me Bambi.

Over the years local ska bands like BMB have been busy. The locals never lost their appetite for ska; they continued to show up at shows wearing their black coats, white shoes, black hats and checkers…. lots and lots of black and white checkers. Forth-wave ska has been percolating for a bit. Now ska is cool to like again thanks to a family from Los Angeles called, The Interrupters. They took off over the last 36 months, and their tunes have been embraced by fans of all genre’s. Online / Stream Radio stations have been supporting bands like the Interrupters, but it wasn’t until big brother radio broadcasters caught on that the global push began.
As for Bite Me Bambi, they fit all the boxes to be the next big thing. They busted out strong with a hit song “Strippers on a Sunday” and never looked back.

Debut Single | Strippers On a Sunday

Shortly after their debut single, lady luck hit them again with their next single “Crazy.” That song hit a chord with the locals as it propelled the band to have more and more followers. Wouldn’t you know it, as the Interrupters were blowing up and paving the way, the same Online / Streaming radio stations caught wind of BMB; and off they went with radio play. As the holidays came along, BMB hit the music Gods trifecta with another hit with a Christmas song titled, “Holiday Cheer.” Not only was this a great sound, but it displayed their humor for all to see.

Crazy | The Single

So the question you have to ask is where did this band come from? Well, that’s a good question, the answer may not be what you expect. This band is not a few friends who got lucky and put out a few cool tunes, nope, this band is special. Truth is, the difference between being good and being great is the effort. Bite Me Bambi at its core is one of the hardest working bands on the planet, band-mate per band-mate. That’s a statement I don’t make lightly.

So who is Bite Me Bambi? The band features Ryan Brown on bass, Ryan comes from Static Fiction, the Maxies, he also plays occasionally with Suburban Legends.  On Sax, there’s Kyle O’Donnell, he comes from Starpool and has performed with artists such as Lorde, Bootsy Collins, and Jack Antonoff of Bleachers. On drums, there’s Dan Evans. Dan first hit the ska scene while playing sax for Anaheim-based band the Pocketeers. After attending college in San Francisco where he acquired a degree in music, he played with Wild Wild Monsters, and Half Past Two. On Keys is Mike Berault aka “Mike B.” He’s a long-time force in the OC music scene. Mike Co-Founded third wave ska band, My Superhero; he also played in LP3 and the Tragedy. He also co-founded and hosts a podcast called Mixtape Mixtape!

As for the icons in the band, there’s Tbone Willy on trombone. Tbone’s ska credentials include having played with Save Ferris and Starpool, he also recorded on Hepcat’s first ever single, and toured with  Dance Hall Crashers. He’s also a crowd favorite for his on-stage antics. As for icon # 2, their lead guitarist is Brian Mashburn. Brian co-Founded fan favorites, Save Ferris and Starpool. He’s beloved by the locals because he Co-Founded the Ska Luau shows with the legendary John Pantle. Then again, he’s personally provided a stage for so many local bands to be seen; and he’s always supporting the local OC music scene…. that’s given him the kind of respect that money just can’t buy. Both Brian and Tbone were also featured in the documentary film: Pick It Up! Ska in the 90’s.

In the end, a band is only as good as their connection with their fans. Their lead singer, Tahlena Chikami, is as good as it gets. She’s been performing since she was nine years-old and it shows. She’s played in other OC favorite bands, Unicorn Injection and Karate in the Garage. Like all great leads, she’s more than a good voice. Although, that is the draw, she simply has great pipes. But there’s more to her than that. She’s an actress, songwriter, and she plays a mean rhythm guitar.

The difference between Tahlena and most leads of any genre, she puts it all together on stage. It’s a sublime experience watching her perform. This soon-to-be Ska Queen can flat out entertain! When she hits the stage she can rock the guitar and connect with the crowd. Like her royal sisters (Gwen Stefani, Pauline Black and Aimee Interrupter) this lead that intangible that only the legends posses. She has a way to entertain while soothing her fans with her infectious smile that can light up any venue. With this band behind her, this band has a dynamic we’ve just never seen before.  

Now, the band has released its next single “Hot Lava.” Directed by industry go-to video Guru Chris Graue; this song is already getting noticed at a higher clip than most bands of the genre. For Bite Me Bambi, this may be a sign of things o come.

Hot Lava | The Single
Needless to say, this band is ska’s next level; their sound and vision is beyond crazy-good. They play a high-energy electric sound reminiscent of all good ska-punk bands with that good ole’ fashion mod-ska underlying rhythmic undertone.

On-stage they’re off the charts entertaining. I know that’s another bold statement to make, but that’s just how electrifying they are. I’ve seen lots of great bands in my day, and I can honestly say this band is the real deal. From top to bottom, they represent the best of OC ska and with Tahlena at the helm, the sky’s the limit for Bite Me Bambi.