Hey all! I want to start off by saying welcome to all the new readers out there, I'm glad you're here. This month I'm starting a two-part series on ska by Christian artists. It's my goal to inform you about the bands that you're familiar with as well as the bands that often go un-noticed. There has been a lot that has happened since last month, so sit back, relax, and enjoy.

Ska-- I'm not going to pretend I know everything there is on ska, because I don't. I've been listening to ska for only about 2 years, and I didn't really care for it at the beginning. My first experience with ska was listening to Sublime's "40 oz. of Freedom". I don't know if you're familiar with this album, but it seems the only thing they sang about was drinking, getting high, and having sex. Granted, the music was pretty catchy, but I just couldn't handle the lyrical content. So with this in mind, I'm sure you can understand why I was a little hesitant to join the ska bandwagon. But to begin with, I should probably mention a little on the history of ska.

I guess you can say that ska shares its roots with reggae. Both being influenced by the big band era with lots of upbeat horn rhythms to really get you movin'. A lot of music magazines have attributed Bob Marley as the first ska musician. I don't know if this is correct or not, but listening to The Supertones and Bob Marely back to back, I can definitely see the similarities. The first ska wave is during this time. Many of us are probably not too familiar with this first wave.

The second wave of ska is something that we may be more familiar with. One of the first Christian ska bands comes out of this generation. You may be familiar with them, The Israelites. This style of music is more similar to Sublime's newest album which is much more mellow and rhythmic than the ska that we're most familiar with.

That brings me to the third wave of ska. I could say something really corny like the third time's a charm, but I'll save you the grief. However, I'm sure we can all agree that this third movement has really caught on. One of the major summer music tours, Horde Fest, features two ska bands. Last years "Spring Break" on Mtv featured The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, one of the third wave's oldest ska bands. The Bosstones are probably the first ska band that I liked. The thing that I got a kick out of was one of their members sole job is to dance on stage. You may remember this band from the movie, "Clueless". Incidentally, this is an article on ska by Christian artists, so let me get back on track.

The Supertones are known as being the first Christian ska band to gain recognition at a national level. They were the band that really got me hooked on ska. I received a pre-release of their first album a couple months before it hit the stores, and I honestly could not stop playin' the dang thing. I played it for friends, took it to Christian bookstores and played it for them, I basically played it for anybody who would listen. During this time, I was also getting into making hemp necklaces. I made one with a frog playin' a sax on it and I sent it to the 'tones. I never heard from them, but when I saw them at TOM fest that summer, one of the band members was wearing it. Ska wasn't really well known yet, so I wasn't sure how people would react to the album. But when it finally came out on Tooth and Nail Records, it was a huge success. The Supertones are now on BEC Recordings and will be releasing their second album, "Supertones Strike Back", on June 3rd. If you really want to help the band, please buy the album the first week it's available.

Five Iron Frenzy was the next Christian ska band to come out on the market. The band calls Colorado home, which is probably the last place you'd expect a ska band to come from. My first experience with them was last summer at TOM fest. Some other band was supposed to play when they came on stage, but they weren't able to make it or something. The first thing I noticed was one of the members was dressed in a dinosaur costume and there was just a butt-load of people up on stage. Masaki from Dime Store Prophets had played a show with these guys earlier in the year and he told Frank Tate about them. Eventually, Tate signed them to Five Minute Walk-- I believe during Cornerstone, actually. When FIF came on stage, the crowd went nuts. And when they started playing, it was a madhouse. The band played for about 1/2 hour and they were amazing. As soon as they were done, everybody went to the product tent and bought up the compilation they were featured on. Luckily, I was able to pick up a copy. Probably the coolest thing about this band is their desire to minister. I've been writing Reese, the lead singer, via e mail for a couple months now, and he told me that he's happy with the band's success, but he misses being able to talk to fans on a one-on-one basis about Christ. He said that now the people only want to talk to him about music and how great they are. I'll be going more in depth on this next month when I interview Reese for part two. FIF should be releasing a second album next October on Sarabellum Records, Five Minute Walk's new label.

The Insyderz are probably the third most popular Christian ska band out there. They were originally signed to Brainstorm Artists, but the label folded and the Insyderz were sold to Gumshoe Records. Who Gumshoe is, I have no idea. I bought The Insyderz two-song demo last winter, and I loved it. I thought the recording stunk, but the music was really good. The songs were "Buddy Boy" and "Walking Dead". I've heard a lot of stories about shows with The Insyderz, FIF, and the 'tones, and people have responded really well to the band. The only thing you need to keep in mind about these three bands is to not compare them. They are all really different in styles and they're all Christian bands. They play a lot of shows together, they meet each other's family, and they're all great friends. They would all appreciate it if people could enjoy them without comparing them. The Insyderz album, "Motor City Ska", is pretty good. I was a little disappointed with the energy of the album, but getting that to tape is really difficult. However, I really do enjoy the cd and I think it's a must have for all fans. I finally was able to see the Insyderz last weekend when they came up here to play a festival called TIM, TOM's younger brother, I guess. The band put a lot of energy into the show, and it's funny to realize that a lot of these guys do not have much experience on-stage (for some, The Insyderz are their first band). The band played great and really got the crowd jumpin' and skankin' about. Before I move on to other ska bands, let me discuss what skankin' is.

I recently read an explanation of skankin' on a mailing list that I thought was hilarious and I had to share it. Here's what John wrote:

--- Skankin': (n) a dance appropriate to ska music. Almost any body movements coordinated with the music are acceptable. The basic skank involves a kick with the right foot accompanied by a low punch with the left hand on the strong beat (normally the snare hit). The next strong beat the opposite should be done: a kick with the left foot and a low punch with the right hand. For optimal skanking the dancer should bend forward at the waist about 30 degrees. This way the punches and kicks will be very near each other, increasing the difficulty and visual effect. It should be noted that there are as many types of skanking as there are ruddies. No one should critique another's skank. However, if you can't do it to the beat you're are doing it wrong. Another thing to note is the arrangement of an audience at a ska show. Skanking takes up more personal space than is available in a crowd that has packed itself close to the stage. At a ska show where most of the audience knows what's up (normally Xian crowds don't know this) the audience spreads out so every one has a couple feet to themselves for skanking. Skanking is a much more integral part of the ska experience than is being close to the stage.

It's funny about this whole skankin' thing. I've been dancing like this for awhile now, and I never knew until last year that it had a name. The only reason I danced like that was because it's easy. I don't know how to do real dancing, and I don't care for mosh pits. My friends and I would always just get in a circle, and make complete fools of ourselves. So now when I go to ska shows, people think we're really cool dancers and must be really hip on the whole ska thing. Now back to the bands...

Another major ska band that's not out yet is Squad 5-O. This band is signed to Grey Dot's sister label, Bullet Proof records. I've only heard a little bit of this band off of their webpage, but what I've heard is really good. Their album is coming out really soon to stores everywhere, and it should be great. If anybody has any stories on shows of theirs or whatever, write me and let me know what you thought.

The next band is not an actual ska band, but they're ska influenced power pop (whatever that means). The band is Silage, and they kick butt. About 1/3 of their material is ska, while the rest varies from rap to English pop, to praise. I first saw them at, you guessed it, TOM fest. It's funny because before they played, nobody knew who they were. They had cool shirts, a Safeway truck that said Silage instead, and they had cool lookin' cds (the cover was made from an old Safeway bag). But when the band got done playing, it was like a massive rush to their table. They sold all their cds that same night, I'm really glad I got a copy when I did. Unfortunately, the recording really sucked and the only thing worthwhile on the cd was "Election Skank" and that's only because I had fun memories tied with the song. I have heard a bit of the new album and I saw them in concert last month. They've gotten a lot better, and they've been getting pretty popular as well. They played a show Chris Well of 7ball magazine attended, and Chris said they were one of the best bands around. Dr. Tony Shore's new label, Sub-Lime, has captured this exciting band. Their new album, "Watusi", should be available in stores any day now and it really is awesome.

That brings me to the end of the ska bands that are signed to major labels. Now I'll get into some of the more independent bands that I've heard demos of.

Genkide Ska is probably one of the unique ska bands I've heard. The demo that I received has only three songs, and unlike most ska bands, this band has only 2 members. Hmm.... From what I understand, their song "Encircler" has been fairly popular on radio stations on the East Coast. I wouldn't recommend this band to everybody, but if you're into unique bands, give these guys a try. They do have a lot of keyboard music in it which gives a different flavor to it. If you'd like to order a tape, you can do so by sending $5 to Joe Mocha's. I would probably wait though until Genkide Ska has a new recording to offer. The quality on this is not very good and it really hurts the overall sound the band has to offer.

One of the best unsigned ska bands I've heard is a group hailing out of Orange County called Pax. The tape I've got is a four song demo and the quality is not bad. However, you can easily tell that this band has a lot of talent. They remind me a little of Silage at times, and others they've got their own sound. There's a lot of really nice guitar grooves on this tape, and I like that. They told me that they're going into the studio in June to record a full-length, so you can probably expect that sometime towards the end of the summer. They will be playing TOM fest this summer, so I'm really looking forward to seeing them live. I'm guessing that they put on a really good show and they exert a lot of energy on stage. If you would like to order their tape, send e mail to the band at paxofoc@aol.com and request your copy. I promise you won't be disappointed.

The last band to be featured this month is Gransane. They do not have a demo recorded yet, but they did send me a Maxell tape of a few songs they're working on. This band is definitely more on the punk side of ska. In fact, they are a punk band, but play many styles of music, ska being one of them. The band hails out of Pennsylvania, and it seems that they do a lot of shows there. They're going into the studio in August to record an ep, so be looking forward to that.

For those who don't know, there is a ska compilation that is in the making. They do have all the material, I believe they're just waiting for the labels to do their thing so they can release it. The guy in charge of the comp told me he should have it ready by August. Here are the bands that will be featured on the cd: (Keep in mind that not all are ska bands, but instead may be bands with ska influenced songs.) 1800, Big Dog, Small Fence, Bits n' Pieces, Buck, The Daily Special, The Dingees, Genkide Ska, Gransane, The Insyderz, The Israelites, Mister Sippi, Not for the Crowd, Pax, The Philibusters, Pop, The Pringelz, Putty, Rainy Days, Second Half, Sideshow Cafe, The Skadaddles, Skypark, Solomon's Porch, Special Guest, Squad 5-O, This Side Up, Trum Mother Jones, and Urban's Blender. Most of these bands do not have demos to offer, but instead are featured on various compilations. Skantified, the name of this awesome compilation, should be available in all stores. If you'd like to help this compilation, tell your friends about it and buy a copy when it finally comes out. You can also visit the web site at http://members.tripod.com/~skanktified/INDEX.HTM and be sure to sign the guestbook.

Now, you may be a little shocked at how many ska bands are out there, but in reality, this is just the tip on the iceberg. Ska is a lot of fun to dance and listen to, and I have a feeling that it'll be around for sometime. If you have any questions on any of the ska bands I mentioned or maybe on some I didn't, feel free to e mail me at and I'll be happy to answer you. Next month, I'll mention a few places you can go on the Internet to read about the ska bands, and as mentioned earlier, I'll have an interview with Five Iron Frenzy's lead singer, Reese Roper.

See ya next month,

Vaya con Dios,

Carter Hasegawa
723 2nd Ave N
Kent, WA 98032

Hey, you! Read last month's "Indie 500"!!!