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Syracuse Ska Forum

Discussing ska & reggae in Upstate New York
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 Post subject: 8 string Ska
PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2016 10:17 am 
New Kid

Joined: Tue Dec 29, 2015 9:18 am
Posts: 2
I don't suppose I'm completely out of line to say that Ska is kinda stagnant. The underground scene is always around but as I search for it, I can't really find it. Ska isn't in the purview of most people. Usually, when I tell people I play Ska music, they ask, "What is Ska?" I search for forums...most are dead. No new posts in years. I'm on this one because I feel deprived of an outlet for my curiosities.

I've been playing guitar for 18 years. A few months ago, I switched to 8 strings. Don't even play 6 strings anymore. It's really brought out a new sense of wonder as far as Ska goes. Sure, my personal style has never been all that traditional. It's not analogous to any of the 3 waves entirely.

Truth be told, and don't take this as a slight against you, I find Ska boring. Did I mention that I tattooed SKA on my fingers. Handpicked. That's how much I love the feeling Ska gives me. I'm bored because Ska is boring as far as song structuring goes. I love me some simple music, but simplicity is only one type of "ity". Complexity is probably my favorite "ity".

I remember when I first got into Streetlight Manifesto. They blew my mind because there was so much going on. Eventho they still stuck to a pretty basic structure, the music was overwhelming. Basic music doesn't overwhelm me. It used to when I was a kid, but after studying music for years and years, listening to Prog and "Other" musics, I'm kinda biased. Reminds me of the movie Fight Club and how Edward Norton says that after fighting, it's like everything gets the volume turned down. Regardless of your opinion of Dillinger Escape Plan, I listened to Calculating Infinity to such an extent...I understand it. After that, the simplicity of Ska is all I really notice.

I tried to start a Ska band over the summer. I had three 6 string guitars and an amp. Found a sax player and that's it. I never really fit into the Detroit scene but that's a story for another time. The band never formed and I gave up on 6 strings. I sold my amp. Personally, I'm fed up with the lingering nonsense of the 3rd wave. Every time I go to a local show, some group of teenagers covers Reel Big Fish's Sell Out and it makes me lose hope, ya know? Sure, I love RBF and I'll always think of them as the best SkaPunk band from the 90s. Their talent is unparalleled. They are the most overrated band by ignorant people and the leastmost underrated band in the music industry. They've never given us label influenced crap like Less Than Jake and they never gave up on Ska like The Suicide Machines and The Flatliners.

But, Sell Out is just the very, very beginning of SkaPunk. It's the go-to anthem of what...20 years ago? Back in the 1900s. We have no champions. Underground Ska is great. Many of the 3rd wave bands are still kicking out impressive stuff. Yet, they don't speak for now. They aren't doing anything worthy of mass attention. I've requested Ska on the radio. I pretty much get laughed at. I've talked to pros...they don't care. Not just other genre pros...the Ska pros don't care. The bands around Detroit are all egomaniacs riding the 3rd wave. They act like rockstars instead of Jazz musicians. They aren't just regular people making music. They're histrionic like rappers. They act like they deserve some elaborate perversion of respect.

And, no...I can't speak for them all. I've not met everyone. I've not heard every band. I'm not the most social person ever. The most recent show I went was at some piece of crap venue in the heart of ghetto Detroit. Some Punk rock nightmare of a was B.Y.O.B. A converted small church. I thought it would be classic but all I really seen was a bunch of plagiarists pretending like it was the heyday of Punk. It was a small show. Not many people showed up. But it seemed like people were willfully living a stereotypical SkaPunk life. Like a bunch of fakers. I watched band after band take the stage and not a single one of them did anything important.

One guitarist was totally hammered. When I criticized his behavior the next day in an online review, everyone turned on me. They told me that it was a Punk show...and therefore I should accept some belligerent fool screwing up every song because that's what Punk is. Really? Punk is making someone pay to see your band play and then giving them garbled nonsense because you're too pathetic to wait a few hours to get trashed? Punk is telling me that I shouldn't be able to say that's a load of crap? When has Punk ever been about not speaking out about things that upset you?

And all I tend to see is the same type of tired crap going around and around while everyone just rips off a handful of bands that have been around for decades. So I gave up on 6 strings. I'll tell you, 8 strings aren't the same. The music I've been coming up with isn't 3rd wave. Even when I try, it sounds wrong. It sounds like everything that these fake Ska fans couldn't enjoy because it isn't contrived attempt at copying things they've already heard.

Not that I'm the future of Ska or anything like that. Heck, the last time I talked to a Ska kid, he told me I don't look like a Ska person. I made acoustic Ska for years and everyone turned their noses up at it. I'm over it, tho. I'm no longer concerned with 3rd wave Ska soiling itself, looking pathetic, playing boring typical music, and then wondering why no one really gives a hoot about Ska as they point their fingers at everyone but themselves.

So what is my intention? By now you've probably assumed I'm looking for a bit of attention. I've done said a bunch of unintentionally hurtful stuff. Am I here just to complain or am I going to try to prove myself as a musician? I guess I have to. I hate being a musician because it always feels like begging people to waste minutes of their precious life.

What have I come up with? Examples. Perhaps a framework for one possible future of Ska. I've been putting lessons online...teaching how to approach SkaPunk from a more intelligent angle. I don't consider myself special but if special people took a moment to really learn something new, well, perhaps we would be able to type the word Ska online and not have it come up underlined in red.

So here is a place to start:

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 Post subject: Re: 8 string Ska
PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2016 5:18 pm 
Upstate NY Reggae
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Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2005 7:34 am
Posts: 3268
Location: Cuse
must be frustrating to be into something that is hard to find a local interest in that you have to surf the globe looking for like minded.
I'm in that bag a bit with my interest Rastafari & imperial ethiopian history. not many in my local city into what I am so I link with others via facebook etc to swap materials etc.

if you are a technical musician, which from your clips and your guitar you seem to be,
I can see you getting bored with simple upstroke ska or a few punk power chords.

I feel there's a hint of "I know what's the best/future of this music get on board you clueless sheep" kind of vibe that might put people off as opposed to
"I'm experimenting with this, if you are into it lets collaborate"
it's easier to catch flies with honey as opposed to vinegar.
I mean no offense to you by that, I'm just letting you know how it came off to me.

people like ernest ranglin took ska to diff places with jazz
and no reason your new style of ska wont take off
good luck


 Post subject: Re: 8 string Ska
PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2016 6:39 pm 
Syracuse Ska
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Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2005 3:25 am
Posts: 4843
Location: Syracuse, NY
Ras Adam gave you about as thoughtful answer as you're likely to get about all this, but I'll still add my own comments.

Ska, like all forms of music, is what you make of it. 99% of the time anyone innovating an existing form is going to get a less-than-positive reaction. I've been into this music long enough to remember when Chris Murray first attempted acoustic ska. 99.99% of us were horrified and it didn't help his first attempts were very basic and a bit crude. But he stuck with it, perfected it and most of us eventually accepted and then embraced it. Now countless people have taken his lead and he's moved on. But his innovation has created a vibrant new sub-genre of ska that's not going away. That's the history of all music, isn't it?

Don't get hung up about the tastes of young kids. Young bands are going to be extremely imitative and so are their fans. Perfectly normal. Only a subset of them will mature enough to innovate and appreciate the innovation of others. Most people as they get older just appreciate better imitations. I also recall seeing an amazing ska-jazz band from Detroit called The Articles who were doing really cutting-edge stuff. Their last album was really "out there" and you had to be very open-minded to appreciate what they were doing. Like most bands that go that route, they had a very small, but very loyal cult following.

99% of musicians who get paid or even seen in public regularly aren't going to be innovating. You have to play what you enjoy and not get hung up how popular it is. 99% of the band experiments I've seen were pretty bad. But the small handful that stuck with it generally seemed to find a niche that worked for them eventually. It's just a matter of perfecting your craft and getting it out there enough that it finds fans. We live in a time now when you can better do that by posting on sites like YouTube and gather in people from all around the world that might not come together in Detroit, for example. But if you click with enough people, you will find pockets that might work for you commercially. For ska, that's Europe, without question. That's where you'll find the innovations in ska right now. Pretty much everyone in the US currently is playing for either just their group of friends or for their longtime loyal fans who keep buying their albums and pay to see them. And that's true for virtually all forms of music, honestly.

Wish you the best, whatever you decide to do. The Detroit music scene has some unusual challenges, but you have an amazing number of places nearby that have often been accepting of innovation in the recent past. Hope you give that a try.

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man." -- George Bernard Shaw

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