Join us in welcoming author Aaron Carnes for a virtual conversation about his new book, In Defense of Ska, on September 28th at 7PM! In Defense of Ska takes readers on a journey through the last several decades of music to illustrate how important ska has always been, and highlights hundreds of great, underrated bands, completely destroying the popular narrative that ska was just a zany trend in the ’90s. We are looking forward to a great conversation with this professional music journalist!
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Why doesn’t ska get its due as a rich, diverse genre the way punk, metal, hip-hop and electronic music does? Or more to the point, why are ska fans so embarrassed of this music they love? The era of ska shame is officially over. In Defense of Ska is the much-needed response to years of ska-mockery. No longer do ska fans need to hide in the basement, skanking alone in their sharp suits, slim ties, and porkpie hats. Now the time to take to the streets and fight music snobbery, or at least crank up the ska without being teased ruthlessly.
In a mix of interviews, essays, personal stories, historical snapshots, obscure anecdotes, and think pieces, In Defense of Ska dissects, analyzes and celebrates ska in exactly the way fans have been craving for decades. This book will enlist ska-lovers as soldiers in the ska army, and challenge ska-haters’ prejudices to the core.
Since hardly anyone takes ska seriously, author Aaron Carnes, has uncovered a bunch of untold stories. Geoffrey Hales, the “music and surf consultant” for the film Back To The Beach speaks on why he chose Fishbone to appear in the film. His decision was in part because Walt Disney was a racist and pro-Nazi; having his darling Annette Funicello backed by a black band would make him “roll in his grave.”
There’s also the story of Fresno ska band Let’s Go Bowling who, in 1998, had their touring van shot up on the freeway as they were heading home after a show. The only injury was a bullet fragment the keyboardist found in his hand. And how about Riverside skacore legends Voodoo Glow Skulls, who abandoned their first “Fat Randy” video shoot. They cast the real-life Fat Randy—a weird Polish kid they went to school with—and a bunch of old high school friends. These old buddies got drunk and dogpiled on Randy, hurting him, shutting down the video, wasting 10,000 dollars of Epitaph’s money in production costs.
Since ska is a global phenomenon, Aaron flew to Mexico to report on biggest, and most political, ska scene in the world. Many of these bands rose from the most impoverished neighborhoods in Mexico City. Few musicians in Mexico speak on political and social issues, but the ska bands do, and they're incredibly popular with the kids from these same poor neighborhoods. Today these bands play all-ska festivals that draw 25,000 people and more.
After the ’90s, when ska was considered dead, the music continued to have a cult audience. Current-day Pitchfork darling Jeff Rosenstock used to fronted ska-core band Arrogant Sons of Bitches in the early 2000s. They traversed the country vehemently and defiantly defending ska amidst the ska-hating early 2000s musical landscape. They played to small but devoted crowds that loved that they didn't abandon ska in the name of “rock with horn” like so many of the 90s ska bands did. It was such an arduous task, defending ska, they ended many shows injured, usually self-inflicted.
In Defense of Ska takes readers on a journey through the last several decades of music to illustrate how important ska has always been, and highlights hundreds of great, underrated bands, completely destroying the popular narrative that ska was just a zany trend in the ’90s. It’s a way of life. It’ll never die.
Aaron Carnes is a music journalist based out of Sacramento, California. His work has appeared in Playboy, Salon, Bandcamp Daily, Sierra Club, Noisey, Sun Magazine, and he’s the music editor at Good Times Santa Cruz weekly newspaper, where he tries to sneak in ska content whenever his boss isn’t looking. Aaron has been listening to ska since the early ’90s. He used to play drums in a ska band. Now he just plays ska on his car stereo. When he’s not defending ska, he enjoys backpacking with his wife Amy Bee, and talking about music from every existing genre. Ska will always be his favorite.