There’s a line in the 2nd verse of Elbows and Eyesockets that goes: Girls like you are the reason I joined a ska band in High School. So for a Throw Back Thursday post, I figured I’d explain that line a little bit.
Like most kids born in the early 90’s I was angsty, restless, and just wanted to break things. I was tired of listening to Classic Rock songs that sang about things I couldn’t relate to and Pop Music that wanted me to live a lifestyle I wasn’t interested in. So when my brother introduced to me to The Squirrel Nut Zippers (a band also mentioned in Elbows) it was all down, or perhaps up, hill from there, since “swing revival” is only a few degrees away, if even, away from ska.
When I talk with people in the poetry or art world about ska a lot of them like to tell me that it’s an immature sound and that it’s just complaining over music. But all art is complaining disguised behind various degrees of elegance. What appeals to me about this music, is that there’s no euphemisms or double speak. It’s a style that doesn’t talk down to you. There’s a bluntness to it, and in bluntness I often find truth, or at the very least honesty. For example when David McWane (front man for Big D and the Kids Table) sings in the 2nd verse of LAX:
and fuck all of your deceiving
what’s your fake heart fake fucking bleeding?
and all the girls you lay to your mat
are the same fucking girls you fucking laugh at
and fuck your fucking fake ass world
and all your handed out fucking thrills
some of us, we have to work hard
just to get our little part
and maybe your glamour’s not in Boston
but my friends are fucking awesome
and we’ll keep on doing our best
even though our lives are a mess
The meaning pretty clear.
Furthermore there is an element in ska I find infectious and compelling and have always tried to emulate in my poems. Ska is the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of an American music, and art, scene that is oftentimes all too Hamlet serious. No matter how awful of a situation, or how terrible of a story, the song is about I always end up feeling happier after listening to it. When you can make an audience feel better, feel more inspired about life, for having heard something incredibly sad, that’s truly powerful. The music has the unique ability of finding not only a silver lining, but an adult sized arcade ball pit (what do you think a mosh pit is?) for you to jump in and forget how shitty you feel.
With that being said, I played trombone in my high school’s concert band, but I also played bass in various local bands. So when some classmates of mine were starting a ska band they had a full horn section, but had trouble finding a bassist, so I offered my services. The band’s name, GFMD and the Blastoids. After a few practices we meshed and then proceeded to blast off. Here’s the only full band photo we have:
And here’s a video of us covering the Reel Big Fish song Sellout (it’s on myspace’s video player so you know it’s from High School). We also had an amazing T-shirt design by the one and only Fabian Intriago (the same man responsible for all of Welch & Penn’s visual art)
The rest is history. We played a few shows, wrote a couple originals, I wore some suits and then we all split to go our separate ways for college. And what’s the acronym GFMD stand for? Well, the world might never know.