A Friggin Ska Supergroup

Forces of Evil gathering strength

The Forces of Evil were hoping for their first-ever show—this Friday at Chain Reaction—to be a somewhat low-key affair. "We thought it would be cool to get our feet wet and see how things went," says bass player Derek Gibbs.

To this end, the Forces of Evil are playing first on the bill, and the plan to keep their identities secret got fucked-up when Chain Reaction leaked the info on their website.

But can you blame Chain Reaction? The Forces of Evil are a friggin' ska supergroup. Look at this lineup: Gibbs is from the late Jeffries Fan Club. Justin Ferreira played drums with him in Jeffries Fan Club and Longfellow. Chris Colonnier played trombone with Jeffries Fan Club and the Specials. John Throop from Lone Raspberry (who? wait a minute, I've never heard of them . . .) plays trombone. Jay Lafayette from the Scholars performs on trumpet. And the pièce de résistance: Reel Big Fish singer/guitar player/malcontent Aaron Barrett sings, plays guitar and is malcontented!

This is fairly huge, and not just in terms of stature, but in terms of numbers. There are a lot of musicians in this band. How do they all fit onstage?

"It's a pretty small place," says Gibbs of Chain Reaction. Actually, he was referring to the number of fans who can fit into the place, but surely it applies to the stage as well.

But Gibbs has a different frame of reference: by the end of his four-year career in Jeffries Fan Club, which broke up a year ago when lead singer Mike Dziurgot chose to recommit to school and Christianity, the band was selling out fairly large clubs. Which goes to show that despite the critical middle finger given to ska, it's still not dead.

"I had a chance to fill in on bass with Reel Big Fish over the summer, and there were crowds everywhere," says Gibbs. "In one place, we played before 3,000 people, and that was a Reel Big Fish and Goldfinger show. So to say it's dead doesn't seem accurate. As far as MTV or KROQ is concerned, maybe [it's dead], but there are always going to be people who like it."

The Forces of Evil came together in January when Barrett approached the remaining members of Jeffries Fan Club at their farewell show at the Glass House in Pomona. According to Gibbs, Barrett asked three questions: "He asked if I still wanted to play and if I still wanted to play ska and if I wanted to play with him. And it was, 'Yes, yes and yes.'"

But it has been slow going since then, what with working around Barrett's touring schedule. But it's worth it. The talented Barrett brings with him his signature deadpan disenchantment.

"They're Aaron's lyrics," says Gibbs. "People who hear them are going to go, 'Oh, yeah, that's him.'" And then: "There's a little anger in there."

Gibbs plays a boom-box recording over the phone. It's melodic and peppy with big, bouncy horn lines. And the words? They're hard to make out over the phone. "Oh, yeah," says Gibbs. "He's saying, 'It's my life/I'll fuck it up myself."

Forces of Evil play with Suburban Legends, Digital Unicorn and the Busdrivers at Chain Reaction, 1652 W. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, (714) 635-6067; www.allages.com. Fri., 7:30 p.m. $8. All ages.
 
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