For the past year I have been documenting the progression of The Upstarts, a ska, reggae and rocksteady band from the Salt Lake City area. I followed the seven piece group as they prepared to release and promote their self-titled debut album, regardless of the dwindling ska scene in Utah.
Insatiable is Utah's longest running ska band. Their current incarnation started back in '92. I spoke with Jeff before he was to go on stage for a show in their 17th year. We talked about the 2-tone era influences Insatiable had during the early years. Jeff commented, "The beauty of it is... we've been able to perform with all those icons over the years. That's the best part... to not only be influenced originally by [2-tone bands], but being able to share a bill with them."
2.5 White Guys are quite arguably the driving force behind ska and reggae in Salt Lake City these days. I stopped by during one of their weekly practice to chat with Andy and Nate. We talked about a lot about ska, and if it needs a tangible scene to sustain itself. Nate commented, "We will take any scene that wants to come see us, but I don't think we try to project that we are in [a scene], or that we are [a scene]." Andy added, "The kind of people that return to our shows are the people that are like 'you guys throw it down so I'm going to come support you'."
Dustin "Skip" Blad, formerly of Go Go 13 and Atta Boy Skip, sent me some super cool photos he snapped back in the day. Check 'em out...
I spoke with Dean, Shaun and Joel of our very own local Superhero. We talked about their influences and where they fit within ska. Shaun said, "We play with a distortion pedal, which some ska-purists may say 'that's not ska'. Just like with any type of music, everybody has their own twist. I think bands in the mid nineties like Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, the Hippos... are kind of what we draw our influence from, maybe like a fourth wave." Joel added, "Most people would identify us with third wave ska. I don't really feel like it's like that, because we try to move on from that."
Bucket fronts the United States longest running ska band, The Toasters. From the city of New York, the band is in it's 27th year and still going strong. Bucket also owned the ska-only label Moon Ska Records during its existence, as well as today's Megalith Records. I asked him about his dedication to the style, regardless of popularity or album sales. To that he said, "I found something I loved, I guess. When you love something like that you stick with it. The music business is a cyclical thing, it goes up and down. You have to be prepared to go through some lean times as well as the fat times."