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Punk On The Rocks: The Top 5 Reasons I’ll Miss Scott Klopfenstein

This week’s post is bittersweet. Not only will I be writing about how my favorite member left one of my favorite bands, but this post will be the last installment of Punk On The Rocks. In a way, this is very fitting. My first real foray into blogging was a MySpace post about why I should have Scott Klopfenstein’s children (Yes, really). Scott was always my favorite member of Reel Big Fish. I can’t say for certain whether it was his sense of humor, his voice, his glasses and shaggy hair or his way with a horn, but for some reason he was the band member I felt connected with. Now that he has had an actual child (Not with me, sadly) and with Reel Big Fish is celebrating twenty years as a band, he has decided that it is time to leave behind the life of a touring musician. As a way to say thank you to him for his many years of service in the two-tone army, I have written the following tribute: The Top 5 Reasons I’ll Miss Scott Klopfenstein.

So long Scott, and thanks for all the Reel Big Fish

5. The Dashing Good Looks – Give me a man with glasses, boyish good looks and a trumpet and watch me melt like a stick of butter in a microwave.

4. The Sense Of Humor -  Scott and RBF frontman Aaron Barrett are the ska equivalent of Blink 182′s Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge. Their stage banter isn’t just filler, it is part of why you came to see the show in the first place. Scott even manages to steal the show with his hilarious commentary track on Reel Big Fish’s 2003 live DVD Reel Big Fish Live At The House Of Blues – The Show Must Go Off!

3. The Harmonies -  As someone who has played in a few bands, I know how hard it is to find a person whose voice meshes perfectly with yours when you sing in harmony. Scott’s voice is a perfect foil to Aaron’s, and for me at least, their tight vocal harmonies largely define what I consider to be the Reel Big Fish sound. Sure, they’ll find someone else to sing Scott’s parts— but it just won’t be the same.

2.  “Scott’s A Dork” -Classic Reel Big Fish track “Scott’s A Dork” just won’t be the same with out Scott singing along about how he’s a dork. Will they even PLAY “Scott’s A Dork” without Scott? Will I never get to hear ” Dork Dork Dork Dork Dork Dork Dork Dork Dork” again? Oh, the humanity!

1. The Lead Vocals – While Scott sang mostly backup vocals, the few instances where he would sing lead were always highlights for me. Knowing that I’ll never hear him belt “Drunk Again” live is the number one reason that I will miss Scott Klopfenstein.

What do you think about Scott Klopfenstein leaving Reel Big Fish? Let us know in the comments section!

I hope that you all enjoyed reading Punk On the Rocks as much as I enjoyed writing it. Keep your music fast and loud—Gabba Gabba Hey!

Q&A With Reel Big Fish

It’s hard to imagine that Reel Big Fish turned twenty this year. The ska superstars maintain a youthful sense of humor as well as a relentless touring schedule, and their energetic performances alongside bands half their age at Warped Tour are a testament to their timeless nature.

But while they’ve been together for two decades, it hasn’t always been easy. The group has undergone near-constant lineup changes, and frontman Aaron Barrett is the only founding member who’s still a part of the band. We sat down with Barrett to talk about the ups and downs, his fondest memories with the group and the current state of ska.

OS: You guys have been around for a while – you’re currently on your 20th anniversary tour. What has it been like to be in the same band for so long and be a part of all the changes the industry has gone through in the last 20 years?

AB: It’s been pretty interesting seeing all the changes that have happened in the music industry up close like we have. Especially with the way MP3 technology took over and the way people obtain and listen to music now. The power went from being almost completely in the hands of the record industry to now being almost completely in the hands of the music fans. Also, it’s been pretty amazing seeing the band I started when I was 16 go from playing backyard parties to getting record deals and having hit songs on the radio and MTV and touring the world and then having a long lasting independent career years after that. It’s been a wild ride!

OS: And you’ve been touring nonstop that whole time. Do you ever start to feel worn down?

AB: We’ve pretty much been on tour non-stop since 1996, playing over 250 shows a year. Luckily I have OCD so I like to do the same thing over and over and over and over and it doesn’t get old! [Laughs] But seriously, sometimes the traveling gets a little tiring. But we get to play music we love for a living and we have so many amazing fans that come out to the shows to support us, so that makes it such a joy and a pleasure to perform almost every night of the year.

OS: What are some of your favorite memories from your years with Reel Big Fish?

AB: Making the music videos has always been fun memories. Also, making Turn the Radio Off—our first real album in a real studio—was something special. We sang the national anthem at a Miami Dolphins football game in front of 50,000 people and that was pretty cool… and meeting the South Park guys [Trey Parker and Matt Stone] and being in the BASEketball movie was pretty surreal! We’ve been lucky enough to do a lot of very random and amazing things over the years. In fact, one time we acted on a sit-com with Andrew Dice Clay! We had lines and everything. The show was never a hit though… but it was called “Hitz.” [Laughs]

OS: Does it surprise you that you’re the only remaining founding member of RBF?

AB: It doesn’t surprise me at all that I’m the only original member to still be in the band. It was my idea to start the band, and it was my dream to do this for a living. I’ve always written the songs and been the “captain of the ship,” so to speak. So the people who didn’t want to make RBF their entire life for whatever reason have gone on to do other things that make them happy and that’s fine, I totally understand. What surprises me is that Dan [Regan, trombone] has put up with me for so long, almost 16 years! [Laughs] Also, I’m very happy with the line-up of musicians in the band right now. It seems like everyone is here for the right reason, finally, and everybody enjoys this music and loves to tour with this band. Things are good!

OS: Do you find it ironic that your most popular song is about selling out?

AB: Well, now-a-days I’d say our most known and long lasting fan favorite songs are: “Beer” and “Take on Me,” thanks to the continuing popularity of the BASEketball movie. But I always thought it was very ironic and funny that our big hit song in the ‘90s was “Sell Out.” We actually planned it that way. Our record label—Mojo— had a great sense of humor and actually suggested that song as a single!

OS: How did you decide which songs you wanted to cover on Fame, Fortune, and Fornication?

AB: It was just completely random, some songs we had already been covering, some I had always wanted to cover and a few were just songs that I was listening to a lot the previous summer.

OS: We don’t hear a lot of ska on the radio these days. How do you feel about the current state of the genre?

AB: I think to the mainstream radio and music industry in the 1990′s, ska was just a novelty. Just a funny little joke that had run its course, so they moved on to swing and then to whatever else was new and different. I think to the average radio listener ska was just too weird and quirky, and it wasn’t as tough or as cool as other kinds of rock or metal or rap. But the ska scene continued to grow underground and it is still getting bigger all the time. From what we’ve seen in our extensive travels is that there are more ska bands and ska fans all over the world than ever before. We are playing in either the same size or bigger venues than we ever have ever all over the USA and now in more countries all over the world. Ska is huge in the underground in the USA, Europe, Australia, Japan, South America, Eastern Europe, and we hear that ska is now sweeping Indonesia and the Philippines as wel. The scene is definitely going strong.

OS: Are we going to see a new RBF album this year?

AB: Either late this year or the very beginning of 2012… we hope!

Check out Reel Big Fish’s upcoming tour dates here. And be sure to check out Punk On The Rocks this week, as Bethany examines the departure of longtime RBF trumpeter Scott Klopfenstein.

Punk On The Rocks: The Johnstones

To say that Ajax, Ontario’s The Johnstones are a punk band would be misleading. There is a definite punk flavor to their sound. Their attitude is definitely punk— If getting banned from Disney World for life isn’t punk enough for you, then I don’t know what is. But The Johnstones are more than just punk. They combine a punk sound with garage rock, hip hop and ska to create songs that are just begging to soundtrack your next party.

Smile For The Camera : The Johnstones

“Gimme Your Love (Or Gimme Some Money)” from the band’s 2009 Stomp/Union Label Group release Can’t Be Trusted is a great example of The Johnstones’ sound. The song starts out with an urban-pop Outkast-style beat during the call and response type verses, then blasts into a The Strokes-meets-The Sex Pistols whirlwind of garage guitar and high-energy vocals.

Check out “Gimme Your Love (Or Gimme Some Money)” in the player below. What do you think of The Johnstones? Let us know in the comments!

History Of Punk

Like all great historical movements, punk rock’s timeline extends back further than its universally accepted starting date of 1977. Antecedents like the early Stooges and MC5 albums suggested, as far back as 1969, the dwindling peace-and-love influence of the hippies on popular culture, and indirectly voiced the rumblings of discontent of a disillusioned generation.

Teenagers of the ‘70s started to resent the bloated excess of classic rock and the slick materialism of the disco scene. Although small musical fires were being set all over the world simultaneously, one of punk’s ground zeros was the shabby rock club CBGB on New York City’s then-dicey (now mostly gentrified) Bowery. The sartorial outrageousness and garage-y musical grit of The New York Dolls, and later the rough and tumble, untutored appeal of The Ramones, Voidoids, Patti Smith, Blondie and other stars of the CBGB scene turned designer/clothing shop-owner Malcolm McLaren’s head, later to resurface as influences on the band McLaren managed, The Sex Pistols. Indeed the CB’s scene, given wings by the 1976 release of the first Ramones album on Sire Records, made a big impact in the UK amongst unemployed, disaffected teenagers of the underclass, who immediately adopted (and adapted) the do-it-yourself aesthetic to express their own dissatisfaction with their decaying empire, bad economy and hopeless-seeming future.

By 1977, The Clash, The Subway Sect, The Buzzcocks, Siouxsie & the Banshees, X-Ray Spex, The Slits and many more bands were all making important, yet musically diverse, contributions to the punk canon. Other punk scenes flourished in Ireland (The Undertones) and Australia (The Saints, Radio Birdman) and punk became well-represented all over Europe and North America.

At the turn of the ‘80s, punk had splintered into a variety of styles, including hardcore (especially popular on the West Coast of the US), new wave, synth-pop and post-punk. Hybrids and offshoots evolved, like two-tone ska, cowpunk, psychobilly, garage-punk and surf-punk. Metal began to reemerge as an influence, and many bands added metallic elements, to varying degrees, to the punk template. A more melodic and perhaps song-oriented strain of punk emerged toward the end of the decade, giving rise to what became known as alternative rock, and later indie rock. The Seattle punk scene gave birth to grunge, and grunge’s posterboys, Nirvana, became one of the best-loved bands of the era.

The success of Nirvana and other alternative acts changed the music industry in the ‘90s. Punk was more widely accepted than ever before.  By mid-decade, radio and MTV were playing the hell out of pop punk bands like Green Day and Jimmy Eat World. As punk became more and more mainstream and commercial, teenagers and other creative folks continued to find ways to reclaim the sound and attitude for their own—Riot Grrls, twee pop, emo, screamo, post-hardcore, dance punk and an endless variety of other subgenres have materialized, all fueled by the same passionate need to rebel, to communicate and, ultimately, to rock.

Paula Carino

Paula Carino is a musician and writer based in New York. She’s written for AMG, American Songwriter and contributed to the Encyclopedia of Pop Music. She’s also a yoga teacher and authored the book “Yoga To Go.”

Backtracking Forward: Reggae In Your Jeggae

“Musical discs from the flick of my wrist to make you dance and twist as I would say!” exclaimed music legend Dirty Harry in the seminal 1978 Jamaican film Rockers as he overtook a disco DJ in a club and replaced the music with sweet reggae melodies. Each month, “Backtracking Forward” will undergo its own musical takeover with Reggae in Your Jeggaea new post that spotlights the crème de la crème of roots, reggae, rockers, dub and ska music found on This month’s pick of the litter is a sticky mess of all these genres wrapped together with a distinct west coast persuasion. They call themselves Summit Dub Squad and whether they are eliciting sweat-soaked punky/ska grooves or spaced out ethereal dub rhythms, the music is guaranteed to strike a chord in any listener who can let their hair down and feel the love of Jah almighty in the music.

Reggae? Ska? Punk? Hip-Hop? Dub? Summit Dub Squad covers it all with an irie twist

The genres that influence Summit Dub Squad’s music can be heard plastered all over their tracks, taking the listener on a ride where skanky dance floor rhythms are followed by shoe-gazing dubby expeditions. “Rude Boy Riot” is tickled with that 2-Tone, US-influenced zest of ska while “Bredren” is layered with some tasty scratches and beats from the likes of DJ SOE that help ease the vocals into a smooth hip-hop flow from vocalist B Dub. Throughout their tracks, and especially on the buoyant number “Sovereign Land”, a melodic and catchy horn section is frequently paired with quick and choppy reggae guitar licks that generate a consistent rhythm to satisfy the mind and soul.

Continue Reading Backtracking Forward

Punk On The Rocks: We Are The Union “Great Leaps Forward”

We Are The Union’s newest release Great Leaps Forward makes me want to dance. Well, maybe “dance” isn’t the right word. Great Leaps Forward makes me want to lace up my docs and launch myself off of an anonymous shoulder into a sea of people while pumping my fist in the air. Their second full-length release and their first full-length on Paper + Plastik Records, Great Leaps Forward definitely makes good on the band’s goal of changing the direction of modern ska music. The album combines the break-neck pace and attitude of Less than Jake‘s Pezcore with the melodies, social consciousness and progressive ska sounds of RX Bandits’ Progress to create one of the best ska-punk albums in recent memory.

“I can’t stop this freight train feeling” shouts the band on the third track “Rearranging Deck Chairs On The Titanic.” Indeed, Great Leaps Forward hits with all the force of a freight train and doesn’t let up for 14 tracks.

We Are The Union

Detriot, Michigan's We Are The Union

The music is intense, fast and loud with 10 of the album’s 14 tracks clocking in at under 3 minutes. The lyrics are insightful and uplifting, focusing on living your life to the fullest and keeping an open mind. Standout tracks include “What We Have Here, Is A Failure To Communicate,” “Glaring Teeth,” “Start Over Start Over” and album closer “Be Kind, Rewind,” which implores listeners “Don’t waste your last breath/ To ask for redemption/ Forgive yourself/ Reinvent salvation.” The album also features “Rearranging Deck Chairs On The Titanic,” “We Don’t Care If Yesterday Burns, Stoke Up The Fire,” and “Five Out Of Five Kids Who Kill Love Slayer” from the band’s Spring 2009 Paper + Plastik debut The Gun Show Must Go On EP.

If you’re looking for a ska-punk album to make you think and make you move, you can’t do much better than We Are The Union’s Great Leaps Forward.

We Are The Union is currently on tour with The Wonder Years and Such Gold. Great Leaps Forward is available in Mp3 format from iTunes and Amazon and on Vinyl and CD from Paper + Plastik Records.

Pedro Eça E Os Franco Atiradores

The Weekly RhythmMonth after month, Pedro Eça e Os Franco Atiradores are one of my favorite acts to stumble upon in the Latin Channel. Four Top 10 finishes and two Channel wins are just the beginning of their arsenal of OurStage accomplishments: they’ve racked up a whopping 16 other badges as active Fans of music on the site.

Continue reading ‘Pedro Eça E Os Franco Atiradores’

Punk On The Rocks: Skankin’ To The Beat!

OSBlog_POTR_MASTERWhile some folks might think that the ska revival died with the 1990s, this style of music is still going strong around both the country and world. One of the reasons for its continued success is the genre’s adaptability. While one of the most common, modern-day ska hybrids is ska/punk, many bands incorporate elements of soul & reggae (The Aggrolites, The Pietasters), funk (Fishbone) and latin music (Mento Buru) as well. This week, “Punk On The Rocks” has compiled a playlist of some of the best ska on OurStage, so put on your best two-tone suit and stompin’ boots and get skankin’! Continue Reading Punk On The Rocks: Skankin’ To the Beat!

Punk On The Rocks: The Resignators

OSBlog_POTR_MASTEROne of my favorite, new OurStage punk artists of 2009, is Melbourne, Australia’s The Resignators.  Not quite ska, not quite punk, not quite rock and roll, The Resignators are definitely something special. The band somehow manages to combine the best elements of all three genres in a recipe that yields an instant party. Their sound has caught the attention of ska fans around the world thanks to albums released on Canada’s Stomp! Records and Japan’s Vecca Records. The band even showcased at SXSW 2009 in Austin, TX. Continue Reading Punk On The Rocks: The Resignators

Punk On The Rocks: Tip The Van

OSBlog_POTR_MASTEREvery teenager who starts a band dreams of touring the country and playing to crowds of adoring fans. Connecticut-based Tip The Van is one of the few bands living the dream. Formed in 2002 by sisters Nicole and Simone Oliva while the pair was still in high school, the band has toured the country as part of the Vans Warped Tour as well as completed a string of dates in the midwest, northeast and southeast as the openers for third-wave ska heavy hitters Reel Big Fish and Streetlight Manifesto.

Continue Reading Punk On The Rocks: Tip The Van


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