In 1998, the ska boom was happening in the United States and SideOneDummy Records put together a compilation album named “Steady Sounds from the Underground.” The disc featured several of the premiere driving the ska revival including Less Than Jake, Dance Hall Crashers, Hepcat, and Pilfers. The compilation contained rare and unreleased gems that ska fans may not have even known existed, and one of those gems is Fishbone’s “I’m a Weed Plant.”
This Fishbone track was released on the compilation, but later appeared on Fishbone’s 2000 album (“Familyhood Nextperience Presents The Psychotic Friends Nuttwerx”) as “Where’d You Get Those Pants?” Why did this pseudo “weed anthem” get changed? OC Music News spoke with Angelo Moore, Fishbone Soldier #1, to discuss the origins of “I’m A Weed Plant” and get a better understanding of what happened.
Q: “I’m a Weed Plant” was part of “Steady Sounds From The Underground Compilation.” Why was it only released as part of this compilation?
A: I didn’t even know it was released on that compilation. I’m just finding out about that now. This song was originally meant to be part of a Fishbone record, but someone talked me out of it. I think it was our producer at the time who said we shouldn’t put it out because, ‘No one wants to listen to marijuana songs.’ This got me worried that the ‘big shot’ producer with all the money and studio time would pull the plug on the record. So, I scrapped that idea, and began rewriting the lyrics.
Q:“I’m a Weed Plant” then became “Where’d You Get Them Pants?” Why?
A: Yep, now which is better? [Reciting lyrics from both “I’m a Weed Plant” and “Where’d You Get Them Pants?”] Man, did I sell out? I rewrote the lyrics to make it radio appropriate. The same people who told me not to put out ‘Weed Plant’ told me that this would become a hit because it’s radio appealing, but did it become a big hit? No! Everyone has pants, but not everyone has marijuana.
Q: Did you think this version of the song would ever be played again?
A: I always wanted this song to reemerge, again… And it finally did. It’s like a message in a bottle; sometimes it comes back and other times it gets smashed up against the rocks. This one came back thanks to [Epic XVIII].
“I’m a Weed Plant” resurfaced this year thanks to the determination of Southern California band, Epic XVIII. In early 2021, they began working on a recording to present to Moore in hopes of getting permission to cover the song. This became an entire collaboration and music video project with the longtime idol of the band. Adam Marquez, Epic XVIII vocalist and baritone saxophone player, discussed how and why he pursued remaking this song.
Q: How did you hear about “I’m a Weed Plant”?
A: I first heard the song while I was attending Berklee School of Music in Boston. The guitarist for my ska band at the time, Yuda, showed it to me. We ended up covering this song in Boston and on tour across the country. I didn’t even know that ‘Weed Plant’ became ‘Where’d You Get Them Pants?’ until after talking with Angelo about covering the song.
Q: How is your version different than the original?
A: The horn line is slightly different as the only version I heard sounded like a demo recording. I also messed up on the lyrics until after we shot the video with Angelo. You can see me singing something different in the music video.
Q: What was it like working with Angelo?
A: Angelo has always been one of my childhood heroes; a bari player, elite singer, and rocks a mohawk. I thought that maybe one day I would open for Fishbone, but never thought a collaboration would be possible. I was slightly star struck at first, but as we began talking, I quickly realized how down to earth and humble he is. I would happily do another collaboration with Angelo, again.
Q: Why do you feel this song is appropriate now?
A: Twenty years ago, pop culture was so much different than today. Back then weed was still a huge taboo in music. Now, the pop culture view on it is much more accepting. It’s a fun song that brings awareness to cannabis culture.
Cannabis culture and weed use has definitely changed over the last 20+ years, and so has the legislation in many states, so it feels appropriate that this song would be released this year.
Aside from working on this project, Moore is keeping himself busy even without live shows being part of his life. Since the pandemic began last year, Moore has released several shorts through his Patreon page (patreon.com/angelomoore), released a new song with The Brand New Step, performed every Saturday with The Missing Links as the house band for “The Green Jello Show,” presented a weekly segment on Facebook called “The Mirror of What,” and released a documentary titled “Forever Moore; The Angelo Project,” which is premiering at the Nova Film Festival. Moore’s work ethic is driven by his mantra, “Fake it, til you feel it.” Check out Moore live this Friday at Leimert Park as he performers for the “Virtual Live Concert Series” for Jazz Appreciation Month.
Although Fishbone will no longer play “I’m a Weed Plant,” you can listen to Epic XVIII’s version on all streaming services starting today (April 20th) at 4:20 p.m. Make sure to check out the music video for “I’m a Weed Plant” and Epic XVIII’s weekly YouTube video posted every Saturday/Sunday. They plan to release a new album this year and look forward to performing on April 30th in Yuma, AZ.