By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
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By Mike Seeley
"If you get played on the radio show—and, in most cases, if you're a solid band with good songs—it's gonna open up a lot of doors, and we've proved that time and time again," says Tazy.
"Quite often, we're doing world premieres, whether it's the Donnas or No Doubt or any number of other bands," says Albino. "They feed us first. They know we're not only a springboard to the underground but also a springboard to the overground as well. We want to support our favorites and bring them to a higher level."
Still, for all the support and love that bands and listeners have shown The Ska Parade over the years, the show remains a largely cultish, local phenomenon, something cherished and fiercely protected by those who know, unblemished by the evil mainstream.
That may change soon, if Tazy and Albino have their way—and as long as they can keep total creative control, they say. The plan is to start releasing some of those exclusive performances on CD—possibly as enhanced discs, with equally exclusive video footage that Albino has gathered—à la famed BBC DJ John Peel, who captured many a rising new-wave and punk band when they were still in their infancy.
"It's only natural for us to start moving into that realm," says Albino. "We've got incredible, incredible stuff."
They'd also love to open a ska museum, putting to use (not to mention clearing their house of) the hefty archives they've kept on all the bands they've worked with. They're looking to get The Ska Parade syndicated on commercial stations—though if that vision peters out, there's always the dot-com route.
"We get mail from people all over the world who listen to the show on the Internet," Tazy proclaims. "It's mind-blowing. And I think that's the direction radio is heading. KNAC is back on the air through the Net, and I hear they're doing great. You don't need to be on the actual airwaves anymore to make an impact, and it opens things up to a worldwide audience."
Whatever form it takes, Tazy and Albino seem primed to keep The Ska Parade—and the music that initially inspired it—alive for at least another decade. The show is sure to diversify even further (Tazy name-drops Long Beach rockers the Killingtons and Kansas City's emoesque Get Up Kids as being among his crop of current faves; Albino likes LA's Tsar), but ska will remain the show's backbone. When ska's fourth wave hits, they'll be ready.
And it will hit, Tazy and Albino promise. Contrary to what you might think, they say, ska isn't dead —just hibernating.
"You had the hottest bands come out first, in terms of genre-breaking—No Doubt, Sublime, Goldfinger, great tunes that'll stand the test of time," explains Albino. "But then we had the same problem that happened with two-tone, which happens all the time: the copycat effect. Everyone wanted to jump on the bandwagon, to crawl under that ska umbrella—not for the music's sake, but for the money's sake. Bands were using it as a launch pad, but they were lowering and diluting the standard. That's what kicks it to the curb until, finally, the media and the industry moved on. But the thing is the rhythm's still there; it still grooves. Like any other tool, it's how you use it. You incorporate it into your can of soup.
"You can call it whatever you want, but when people all said that ska music was dead, the biggest fucking hot-piss single of last year was Ricky Martin's 'Livin' la Vida Loca'—a full-on ska song."
"Love it or hate it, that was a ska tune," agrees Tazy. "They just called it 'Latin pop' instead."
Albino continues. "And that's just a small indicator of ska's power and reach. If you remember back in the day, the '80s and early '90s, with hip-hop and rap, a bunch of people said that it wouldn't last, that they couldn't play instruments, that it was just a fad. Well, billions of dollars later, rappers are some of the richest folks around."
Ska, rock, emo, jazz, whatever—they will still listen to each tape and CD that gets sent to them, an average of 30 per week, from people who recognize the brothers' track record, hoping to become the next big Ska Parade-blessed band. They've gotten to know their local post-office people so well that they took one of the guys who works there out to see the new Star Wars movie on opening day last year ("They've been really good to us," Tazy says).
And Tazy swears he test spins everything at least once.
"In my mind, that's my job. I make it a point to listen to every single thing, no matter what style, because I'm always looking for those gems out there. I've learned that the rule of thumb is to not discount any band. I've seen it time and time again, even though the first time I hear them, they may not be so good, but if they keep working at it, you might see them a year later—it might be the same people, the same songs, but you can't believe the difference. To be in a band, what you put into it is what you get out of it."
The Ska Parade can be heard every Sat., noon to 2 p.m., on KUCI-FM 88.9 or through www.skaparade.com.