Welcome back to www.thepandemics.nyc! So happy you decided to stick around! We’ve been working at a pretty feverish pace these last couple of months and it kind of blows our collective minds that its already 2015! For many of us, it feels like we’ve been working in overdrive mode ever since April or May or 2014, and we are just now looking up and noticing that 2014 is gone, and 2015 is here! Though there are ups and downs with any year, 2014 was a particularly awesome year for us. Below is a list of just some of the hyjinx we got up to in the last previous 12 months:
First and foremost, we started off 2014 strong with a bunch of awesome shows!
On January 4th, we made our Philadelphia debut with our buddies, Backyard Superheroes, at The Grape Room in Manayunk!
While we continued to shiver in our boots, We ‘kicked that pig’ with Inspecter 7, hailed satan for a reunited Mephiskaphelese going strong and got a chance to hit it once again with the hardest touring ska band on the planet, The Toasters. We even broke out some new songs (and some old songs we hadn’t played in awhile) along the way.
Here’s some video from that I7 / Meph. show. This video actually has some of my favorite onstage banter we’ve ever done as a band. Greg discusses the portability of beer, and we sing the praises of one of our favorite horn sections this side of hades. The video was shot by our good friend Iz over at M.I.M.P. videos
As the weather warmed we played for the first time with some bands that would quickly become some of our closest and most talented friends! We rocked it with InCircles out in Hampton Bays and the AWESOME Beat Brigade and Jah Point and the BOOMshot Rhythm Collective! All bands we’ve reconnected with again since, and would do so again anytime, anywhere! We also made our return to the most wicked party in Brooklyn, THE SWAMP’s Dirty Reggae Party!
In April we tore it up with our buddies in The Fad, The Best of the Worst, The Shipwrecks and met THE TALLEST SKA BAND PER CAPITA ON THE PLANET, Murphy’s Kids from Richmond, VA! We also learned that the guys in Murphy’s Kids were awesome, as they took it upon themselves to call out the nazi skins that have been turning up every now and then on Long Island. Seriously Long Island, stop it…
We also said goodbye to our friends, Nix 86 at this show. They were the best we’d ever seen em play, and they went out with a bang!
As May rolled around, our trombonist Chris was recruited by I Voted 4 Kodos to sub for one of their absent horn players at Apple Stomp II. After Irving Plaza backed out at the last minute, the show was moved to The Cake Shop in Manhattan, making for a much more intimate show. Below is a video of 3 Days Til Rome from that set shot by our good friend, Bryan Kremkau of www.skapunkphotos.com. Seriously, the man is a wizard behind that camera! One of the best concert photographers we know!
The IV4K guys liked Chris so much, they invited him to record trombone on a track for their new record, Start Your Own Scene! They had him record on the song ‘Escape Route’, and he even has a solo If you want to hear/buy this record you can do so at www.iv4k.bandcamp.com
In June we were invited to play the mammoth festival that is Punk Island! Over 90 punk bands, 8 stages, total chaos! It’s a ginormous undertaking that the biggest punk promoters in the city undertake every year, and we think they are out of their freaking gourds, but we love them to death for it. Big thanks to Dick Parker, Lyz Red, Chris Andrews and everyone else involved this year! Even weirder is that for many of the band this was their first time playing on Staten Island in ANY band… Los Angeles? Sure thing, Brah. Knoxville, TN? Yeah, who hasn’t? Tokyo? Multiple times! Staten Island? ::Crickets:: Needless to say we had a blast, and hope that we get invited back to play again this year!
This show was also bittersweet because it was our last show with our long time bassist/vocalist Greg Steiner. It was an entirely amicable parting of the ways and we appreciate all that Greg did for us in his 4 years of service in the band. Anytime he’s around, he knows he’s welcome to jump up and sing a tune or two. Greg also is said to be working on a new project of his own. Once we have details we’ll be sure to share them.
Enter: “Splashmaster” Will Harris on Bass. Without missing a beat, Will quickly got to work as our full time bass player. This was no small task, as within 3 weeks of taking over we had a tv show taping for the Checker Board Kids, a show centered on promoting the NYC Ska Scene and showcasing local bands! It’s hosted by the ever awesome duo of Checkerboard Phil and Checkerboard Jean!
We think Will nailed it! But you can be the judge and watch the entire performance here!:
After that is just just another couple of weeks until we hit the road for our Summer Tour!
We played 11 straight nights in 9 different states, working our way down as far south as Johnson City, Tennessee, and as far west Morgantown, West Virginia. The whole sha-bang started off out at Stephen Talkhouse supporting Top 10 Pop star, Ingrid Michaelson! For our fans who don’t recognize the name, she’s the artist who sang this song, along with many other tunes you’ve been humming along to after hearing them on someone’s car stereo.
Other notable moments were getting the rare opportunity to share the stage with Philadelphia’s longest serving ska band, Ruder Than You! Over 20 years and those guys are STILL slaying it! Malone even got up to do a version of Mirror in the Bathroom with the band! Good times! Great people! What tour is all about!
We also made our way out to play in Altoona, PA with The Whatleys and the Railroad City Murder Men. The bar had an awesome stage and really gave us a dose of rural PA. We’d love to come back again someday. We returned to play with our friends in High Fives & Hell Yeahs at 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown WV, and played two awesome shows at Chichos in Virginia Beach and Lynchburg VA! MAJOR Props to Jessica and Matt for putting us up in VA Beach (formerly of Rude Zombie!, a band we played our first show EVER with!!!). We also played our first ever Feed The Scene show at Charm City Art Space in Baltimore with our buddies No Such Noise and 13 Towers!
We also were lucky enough to link up with our buddies in Demon Waffle and play two awesome shows together at The Odditorium in Asheville NC (our sax player Paul’s favorite stop on tour!, because the inside looks like its out of a Tim Burton movie), and The Hideaway in Johnson City, TN! These guys are absolutely incredible! Highly recommended if you’re traveling anywhere near Tennessee!
Another aspect of tour is that when you spend days upon days with the same group of dudes in a car, you learn all sorts of stuff about them. One of the more interesting bits was that we learned that our trumpet player, Chris Mandato, has a near inexhaustible supply of cow puns at his disposal.
For example: “I Loved that band, they were udderly fantastic…. if you were offended, you should probably moooooooove along… What do you call a cow that didn’t drink it’s coffee? DeCALFinated! What do you call a cow with no legs? GROUND BEEF!”…. We shit you not, this went on for over 2 hours…. It was kind of amazing in a weird, I’ve been partying for a week solid kind of way.
At the Hideaway show, we had the opportunity to link up with a band that we became VERY fast friends with, and we grew to consider them our bandmates-from-other-states. I’m speaking of course of Rude King from Texas. When we met up with these guys we got to talking and we became fast friends, inviting each other up to sit in on covers that we both had in our collective repertoires. This worked out so well, that the following night when we played together at The Local 506 in Chapel Hill, NC with Arch Bishops of Blount Street (a band that specializes in covers in the genre of, you guessed it, Ska!), we repeated the feat with an epic 20+ member set of musicians. Rude King managed to catch it on video, and do a super cut with us and Hub City Stompers, calling the whole thing 21 Guns of Navarone!
Check it out! So Much Brass!!!!
After getting home we got right to work on prepping for recording. We still took some time to have fun and raise some money for a good cause.
Then when the time was right, we went into what would become our subterranean home for the next couple of months, feverishly working on our brand new EP, Change Your Mind (due out in early 2015!) at Sabella Studios! It was kind of a surreal experience. The musical history that has happened in this studio is nothing short of mind boggling. Our bassist, Will engineered and produced the sessions along with Jim, and it is easily our best sounding record to date.
In the midst of tracking our new record, we got a message from our friend Adam at Live Nation giving us the last minute opportunity to open for one of our favorite bands of all time, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra at one of the most prestigious venues in New York City, Irving Plaza! This gig was the icing on top of an already amazing year. The crowd was great, the sound was perfect and Skapara didn’t miss a beat (do they ever?). They were incredibly friendly and a band that we would play with anywhere! #tokyoskajamboree2015 #inourdreams 😉
Yet following this massive show, and despite now being in lock down mode for the holiday season / working on mixing and mastering, the year of incredible shows still wasn’t over! We hit The Swamp one more time with our boys in Askultura, and some of our favorite NYC Natives Karuhata and Radio Armada. Much fun had, many asses shaken.
And our final show for the year, though slightly earlier than we thought it would be, took place on Thanksgiving Eve at Even Flow Bar & Grill. We played with our good buddies InCircles and Jay Tea (J.T. Turret) as part of the Freax From The Apocalypse Reunion / 20 Year Anniversary! Freax was one of those bands that embodied the scene in the mid 90s, and it was fun to give them a homecoming worthy of driving a drum set cross country (that actually happened…, from New Mexico to New York and back… yup).
December was quiet on the shows front for us, which is generally the case with all the holiday shows and other personal commitments cropping up. However, that was just a ruse! We were actually hard at work getting ready to back Pete Cooper of The Porkers! On January 2nd & 3rd we played two shows as “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Porkers”, on Long Island at The Blue Parrot (our home away from home!) and Characters in Manhattan! You can actually see some great photos and video from this show up on www.skapunkphotos.com by Bryan Kremkau right now.
video shot by Bryan Kremkau
So maybe that last bit should count as 2015… I’m not sure. Either way We are extremely stoked to have had such an awesome year! We keep things rolling when we play with The Slackers coming up on January 30th at 89 North!
Thanks for sticking with us guys! We hope you’ll enjoy the ride this year as much as we do!
Cheers! & Happy New Year!,
P.s. Apologies to anyone we didn’t mention by name… there were a LOT of shows last year, and appologies the links don’t show up… will sort that out soon! Copy and paste them for now!