I am a former ska band member.

Remember ska?

It was the late 90’s. Groups like the Squirrel Nut Zippers, the Mighty, Mighty Bosstones, and No Doubt ruled the airwaves. That is, unless you were a God-fearing Christian, and then you listened to The O.C. Supertones, Five Iron Frenzy, and if you went in for them, the Insyderz.

I was sold out for ska.

This may have been due to my background interest in jazz, big band, and swing music. It may have been because this was the popular music when I was at my most impressionable age. Or it may have been because I saw the possibility of people simultaneously playing trombone AND being cool.

I was band geek in high school. King of the band geeks, actually. Voted “Most Musical” in my senior yearbook (along with “Class Kiss Up”, but we don’t need to talk about that now), recipient of the John Phillips Sousa Award, and member of the Jazz Band on Bass Trombone, the Symphonic Band on Baritone, and the Freshmen Band (as a senior, mind you) on Tenor Sax. Also, I sang in the Honors Choir. So, my senior year was dominated by music classes.

And as if I didn’t get enough music during the day, I was also in the school musicals.

But I digress. All of those accomplishments happened in my senior year of high school. It was while I was a sophomore that I was in the ska band.

Our band’s name was the Kung Foo Chickens and a Guy Named Fred. We didn’t really have a guy named Fred, and I would have been surprised if anyone in the band knew any form of martial arts. Mainly, we just thought it was a cool name for a ska band. Also, we liked the idea of our band logo including a Karate Kid version of Colonel Sanders (Kung Foo Chickens = KFC) in what would surely have been blatant copy-write infringement.

The Kung Foo Chickens had very few original songs. We were mostly a cover/praise band. We did a few songs by the Supertones, a few by Five Iron Frenzy, and a few ska-versions of praise songs. Mostly, we had a good time.

But those good times were short-lived.

After our first official gig at church all-nighter, our band disbanded. Or rather, they morphed into a rock band, leaving the horn section that defines the ska band behind.

Was I hurt? I don’t remember. Probably. But it wouldn’t have been because I was convinced that our band could have made it in the arena of ska. It would have been because I hate rejection, and the fact I chose the wrong instrument to play seems an arbitrary reason to be ousted from a group. Anyway, I’m mostly over it now.

Also, ska is coming back. I heard the other day that No Doubt is getting back together. And Five Iron Frenzy recently broke all kinds of records on Kickstarter for having the fastest and most funded money drive ever.

Perhaps it isn’t too late for a resurrection of Kung Foo Chickens. Or maybe some better-named ska band.

Anyone in need of a rusty trombone player?

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5 responses to “I am a former ska band member.

  1. Over here in the UK it is the 80’s bands making big comebacks including as you will have seen if you watched the olympics closing ceremony our own top ska band Madness

  2. Ah, I remember the golden days of ska fondly. In fact, I’m amazed at how many widely divergent types of music were flourishing at that time. Love the name–maybe in this second incarnation of KFC, the fast food joint would be willing to overlook the copyright thing if you’re wildly successful. ; ) Rock on.

  3. I don’t know, Josh. Squirrel Nut Zippers was ska? I’d fit them more as an early precursor of the Big Band Revival of 1998, (Yes, all those words deserve capitalization,) along with the likes of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, and the Brian Setzer Orchestra. Unfortunately, all of those bands have been relegated to making Christmas music. On another note, the Insyderz first album was okay at best, but Skallelujah! was fantastic, and I know they don’t fit into the Holy Trinity of Christian Ska (OCS, FIF, Insyderz) but I still contend that B.U.C.K.’s self-titled album was awesome. Their older stuff was grimy and recorded-in-someone’s-mom’s-laundry-room-ish, but that album was great.

    • It’s nice to see someone as passionate as I am about ska. And while I would agree with your comment regarding Squirrel Nut Zippers, because Ska was all the buzz back then, I contend that it became an umbrella term for anything the was a blend of rock and jazz instruments, thus including the swing revival. Also, hey, didn’t we use to be in a folk band together?

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