Reel Big Fish
For me, Reel Big Fish was where it all started. I distinctly remember, being at a house party at my best mate's house, around the age of 16(?) - and I heard “Beer” for the first time. I’d been introduced to bands like Madness by my parents, but hearing this for the first time really did spark something.
Many years later, in 2017 - we (Last Edition) got to support them, and I met Aaron for all of 34 seconds. I remember thinking, how do I fit all these years of loving his band into 34 seconds without making him think I have something severely wrong with me?
Mad Caddies for me are a similar story to Reel Big Fish. As soon as I heard “Beer” I went on a pretty big ska punk binge and was soon introduced to bands like Mad Caddies. “Drinking For 11” - I must have had that song on repeat for at least 3 years.
Again, in 2017 - we supported them on the Fireball tour. In 2018 also, we played a festival in Scotland called “ButeFest” - which they headlined - and then somehow got a support slot with them 2 days later at Birmingham o2 Academy.
Around the time that I was starting to get into the ska punk genre, it was also around the same time that I had 2 or 3 major operations on my legs (I have a nerve and muscle condition called Charcot Marie Tooth). I found Whitmore on the TV, “Alison” I think it was - probably also on P-Rock! (RIP P-Rock).
Anyway, when I was recovering from my operations, all I would listen to was Funeral for a Friend and Whitmore’s “Smoke The Roach”. (One extreme to the other, right?). Over the last few years we’ve played Robb Blake’s venue (Winchester Gate in Salisbury) a few times - he’s such a lovely guy, but it seems I can’t get him to reform Whitmore!
I actually own more Alkaline Trio music, than I do Reel Big Fish. Before I got into ska - and was in a ska punk band - I used to jam with a couple of guys and generally we thought Alkaline Trio were the absolute dogs bollocks. (I think that band was called Midfield General?!)
Alkaline Trio however are a band I still love as equally as I did when I first heard “Stupid Kid”. A lot of the music I was inspired by and listened to around this time was purely found either on MTV, Kerrang! or P-Rock - or whatever other alternative music television channels there were. I can stick any of their albums on and just let them play without skipping a track. I can’t wait for their new album to come out.
These were a semi-recent discovery, as in - maybe 5 or 6 years ago. Last Edition had been asked to support them in Leicester, I checked out “Filthy Habits” from Cavalcade and was really impressed. At the time I had that song on a playlist and it stayed there for a while.
Then, another operation, and Cavalcade quickly became the “soundtrack”. The Flatliners are another band that I can listen to without interruption. “Filthy Habits”, “He Was A Jazzman” and “Hang My Head” are all songs I wish I’d written!
NOFX were also around the start of my venture into punk. I’m fairly sure that my first ever “punk” gig was seeing NOFX at Birmingham Carling Academy (a quick last.fm search tells me it was May 9th 2004).
I think “The War On Errorism” was released not long before that? Maybe a year? Me and my best friend had it on repeat most days. I think The Epoxies played that night too, so it must have been fairly close to the release of Rock Against Bush vol 1.
Less Than Jake
No Top 10 list written by a ska kid could be complete without a mention of Less Than Jake. Originally, I probably preferred Reel Big Fish, they were the first “ska punk” band I’d seen live. However, I absolutely fell in love with “Anthem” - I mean I always remember “All My Best Friends Are Metalheads” and the earlier “hits” - but I played “Anthem” to death.
I first saw Less Than Jake at Slam Dunk Leeds (they played after Goldfinger and Reel Big Fish, I believe) and I thought they were awesome. I’ve seen them probably 7 or 8 times since then. Their last few releases have been a little hit and miss - "Good Enough” is an absolute banger however.
A fairly recent discovery, and a band that have definitely inspired me and influenced some of our newer tracks. “Good Riddance to Good Advice” is (in my opinion) perfect. Production, songwriting. All bang on.
You’ll notice a trend here. Thrice were also a go-to whilst I was recovering from various operations. I’m happy to admit that, at the time I was suffering - both physically and mentally and in a pretty horrible place generally. “Artist In The Ambulance” is a song that I wish I’d written. I finally, finally got to see them play it live at Download festival this year. I watched in tunnel vision at the stage, I had a lump in my throat for the entire song.
The UK ska scene in general…
Not strictly a band - so apologies if this isn’t allowed - but, we’ve never felt more part of something than we have over the last year. Being asked to play at Level Up really did help us feel as though we are part of the UK ska scene. There are so many awesome bands doing some awesome things - like The Hostiles, Call Me Malcolm, Codename Colin (who we join on tour in October/November). It’s so inspiring and at Level Up we definitely felt an energy that we’d not felt before. It’s nice to see people being excited about ska punk again.
Last Edition are throwing a party this Saturday to celebrate ten years together as a band. Check out the details here. It looks like it's going to be a lot of fun!
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