SKAROUND the World with Josh Coutts # 7
July 10, 2020
In this cartoon-crazy world we live in, there is so much going on that has us entrenched in the daily news and reality of our surroundings. Luckily, music continues to keep us smiling and gives us the ability to handle the regular news cycles that’s dominating our lives worldwide.
Our sonic heroes are stepping it up and putting out new music, doing livestream performances and it’s helping. For those who love music that has an international appeal, the “ska” genre may be a place for you.
When people think “ska,” not that many think of overseas ska bands, or anywhere on the other side of the pond. When I’ve asked others, “Do you know ska?,” they usually respond with Sublime, No Doubt and, if I’m lucky, Reel Big Fish.
Ask anyone in the know and they’ll tell you, ska has always been underground, but with bands blowing up in the States, you have to give credit and love to the international ska bands around the world.
In our continuing series on the ska genre, we explore that if, what and when’s we’re all asking ourselves. So here’s a list of ska bands from the other side of the pond and all places in between that make this planet a little smaller, and a lot happier… what’s up Skaround the world!
From AUSTRALIA | The PORKERS formed in 1987 and released their first album, “Grunt!” in 1994. They rose to stardom in the Aussie indie scene and opened for the icons and who’s who of the ska world. Bands like Fishbone, No Doubt, Goldfinger, The Bosstones, and Rancid. The Porkers horn section even played on Rancid’s “Life Won’t Wait” demos.
The Porkers are Warped Tour Vets and made their first U.S. appearance in 1999. They returned to the U.S. in 2016 when the Bosstones invited them to play their HomeTown ThrowDown, and toured the West Coast with Voodoo Glow Skulls and Buck O’ Nine.
They’ve released four studio albums, one live album, and countless EPs, plus they are currently working on a new album. Porkers’ frontman Pete Cooper – in his dry Aussie accent – says, “We hope to get back to the USA as soon as all this Covid shit is over!”
MELBOURNE SKA ORCHESTRA
Another Aussie band that is well worth a listen is the Melbourne Ska Orchestra! Led by one of the most charismatic leads you’ll ever come across, Nicky Bomba, their collective energy makes this band one of the most entertaining acts you’ll ever see anywhere on the planet.
Formed in 2003, MSO has 34 members, and they have toured everywhere with just about everyone. They’re a true sonic experience.
From ENGLAND | DEATH OF GUITAR POP. Now this band is special; no pun intended.
They call Essex, England home and from the release of their debut album, 69 Candy Street, the duo known as Silky and Top Kat have been entertaining the masses. So-much-so, they teamed-up with former Specials lead, Neville Staple to put out their uber-hit “Suburban Ska Club.”
The guys pride themselves in taking musical influences from all things Two-Tone and Trojan with a touch of Sublime, Blur and Ian Dury and other “good shit” thrown in. This is definitely a band to check out.
From GERMANY | Dr. Ring Ding aka Professor Richie Senior was born in 1970 in Germany to a multicultural and musical household. His introduction to music was singing along with his family and learning the recorder. He found the recorder “deathly boring” to learn, so he switched to the trombone.
In 1987, he played in the horn section for El Bosso & die Ping-Pongs, one of Germany’s most famous ska bands. In 1992 he formed Dr. Ring Ding & The Senior Allstars and over the next ten years, they released five albums. Dr. Ring Ding is incredibly talented.
Besides being a popular live performer, music arranger, and studio musician, he is a producer in different musical genres including swing, rhythm and blues, chanson, hip hop, rumba-soukouss, and punk. He’s touring with various acts now, so hopefully we’ll see him on our shores soon.
TOKYO SKA PARADISE ORCHESTRA
From JAPAN | TOKYO SKA PARADISE ORCHESTRA aka TSPO. They’re definitely a juggernaut on the international stage.
In the late 80s, they were putting on countless live shows on streets and clubs everywhere throughout Tokyo. Their dynamic performances created a very large fanbase. When they released their first 12′ vinyl record “TOKYO SKA PARADISE ORCHESTRA” in 1989 it was on! The following year, gaining more and more fans, they make a major debut by the single “MONSTER ROCK,” and its recorded album “SUKAPARA TOU-JYO.” With the combination of their Two-tone roots and the borderless sound, “TOKYO SKA,” the band gradually developed a reputation as one of the biggest names in live performance.
2020 was set to be another banner year, but looks like it’s going to be 2021 for the boys from Tokyo.
From MEXICO | LOS KUNG FU MONKEYS are a one of a kind band that comes from south of the border. With a backdrop of followers that love them and Voodoo Glow Skulls, they are definitely a U.S. fan favorite.
Los Kung Fu Monkeys are a ska-punk band based out of the U.S Canada and Mexico, although they’re most associated with their Mexican heritage. With the release of Rebuilding the World in 2001, they were brought to the attention of an international audience that it became the precursor and the beginning of what would be the path to endless touring throughout the world, starting their first with Union 13 (Epitaph Records) all over Mexico in 2001 with a sold out concert in Mexico City for more than 2000 people.
Today, they are fan favorites everywhere ska is played. Look for big things from this band in 2021.
From NEW ZEALAND | Night Gaunts from Zealand is a fantastic blend of ska, rap, and fun punk. The band enjoys playing festivals and living rooms, and they’ve played all over the world.
The goal for the band was to keep playing and hang out with their friends and fans as they enjoy touring around the world. Their live show is something to remember, and it will blow your socks off, trust me on that!
From PANAMA | LOS RABANES. This band is a major draw no matter where they play. Often compared as being the Latin-Rancid, this band takes no prisoners with their high-velocity and soulful tunes.
No matter where they play, their fans and newcomers alike are believers. These guys are simply electric on stage, and yet they command that soulful Rasta-themed TwoTone vibe. This band is seriously good and a definite must-see in 2021.
From SPAIN | Spanish ska punk band Ska-P was created in Madrid in 1994. Ska-P is considered an anti-establishment musical group, or even anarcho-communist, but they also put on an amazing live show.
In addition to their fun image, Ska-P has well-rehearsed and tight arrangements, and since 2002, a brass section. Their 2005 break up included a farewell concert in front of 10,000 fans, but after pursuing side projects, the band regrouped in 2008. The band even had a livestream planned for June of 2020, but two members of the band tested positive for COVID-19. Hopefully they will be feeling 100% soon!
Bottom line, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing most of these international bands at some point. The other thing is I’ve followed their careers through their music videos and kick-ass albums. Any way you look at it, they’re all worth checking out! Hopefully in 2021 we’ll be able to see some damn good ska from around the globe!
SID 200701 | TRACI TURNER, EDITOR
SKAROUND The World with Josh Coutts