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Orange County has long since passed the high-water mark of its contribution to third-wave ska, but seven friends in a band named Starpool play on. Formed in 2003 and consisting of former Save Ferris musicians (Bill Uechi, Brian Mashburn, Eric Zamora, Oliver Zavala, T-Bone Willy and Evan Kilbourne) and pre-Gwen No Doubt singer Alan Meade, the Anaheim-based group have spent the past year playing shows large and small in various venues supporting the release of their debut album, Living In Transition. The crest of the third wave has come and gone, but with a clean blend of ska, reggae, punk-rock influences and more in the mix, the potential for good times at a Starpool show, especially the second-annual Ska Luau at the House of Blues, remains just the same.
OC Weekly: At this point in your careers, what is the approach of Starpool to ska and music in general?
T-Bone Willy: The goals in some ways are the same as they've always been. In the Save Ferris days, we were always playing the music that was natural to us and the music we were generally into. We weren't trying to make our sound into something that sold CDs. Starpool is definitely about playing music that is dear to our hearts; that music happens to be ska, reggae and punk.
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Oliver Zavala: There are seven different guys in the band, all with different tastes and opinions, but the one thing that definitely unites us is our love for ska, and that is the center of it all. We're very diverse, which isn't surprising at all—I mean, just look at us; we're the friggin' United Nations of ska!
After having finally released your debut album, how has 2011 been in terms of "Living in Transition" as a band?
Zavala: It has definitely been a period of transition for the band. It's interesting to me that at a time when many of us are feeling the pull of domestic life and exploring other avenues, Starpool seem to be enjoying the most success. For me, personally, I've begun to venture into other artistic outlets such as filmmaking. My brother Gabe and I are in production with an independent film called Rude Boy: The Movie, which should be out sometime in 2012.
How have audiences received the album?
Zavala: It's always pleasantly surprising to see and hear an audience sing along to your songs. It's very clear that these aren't just words that rhyme with a catchy tune to our fans. As for commercial success, our iTunes sales are doing quite well. We're not driving around in Lamborghinis or anything, but do we really need to?
How did the idea of putting together a Ska Luau event come together, and how did it go the first time?
Willy: The idea for the Ska Luau was kind of an ode to our youth. One of the trends of the '90s ska scene was Hawaiian T-shirts at all the shows. I think the ska/punk/reggae scene just fits so well with the Hawaiian beach lifestyle. We thought it would be pretty funny to celebrate a luau in December. And funny beats good!
Playing a live show on the eve of New Year's Eve must be a nice way to close out the year. What do Starpool have in mind for 2012?
Zavala: There's no better way to say goodbye to 2011 than to skank the night away. It's going to be a great lineup, and we're anticipating another sell-out show. As for 2012, Starpool still have a few tricks up our sleeves. We're looking into possibly touring Japan and Korea. In July, we will be playing with Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra for their Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Francisco tour dates. We will definitely keep putting out new music, not to mention celebrating the release of Rude Boy: The Movie.
This column appeared in print as "Starpool Dive In."