By: Andrew Asch
Angelo Moore has served as the jester in chief for ska and many other music scenes for years.
No Doubt's Gwen Stefani and Tony Kanal often namecheck Moore and his band Fishbone as being among the founders and inspirations of the third-wave ska scene. But Moore has something he feels cannot be contained by Fishbone.
Meet Moore's alter ego, Dr. Madd Vibe. Moore stresses that Dr. Madd Vibe is a force for good, for shaking shit up.
“It is the non-filtered Angelo,” says the man with a mohawk-shaped tattoo on his head. He can be caught anywhere wearing fez hats, bondage suits and updated looks from the ska-boy style of the mid-1980s.
Dr. Madd Vibe is Moore's one-man, free-form band, playing ska songs; telling mind-bending, stream-of-consciousness stories; performing comedy skits; and then offering up jazz that might fit in at a Prohibition-era speakeasy. Sometimes, he is backed by the Missin' Links. Sometimes, he's backed by an orchestra.
It is wild stuff that wouldn't fit in with the already-wild Fishbone. That group are on hiatus until they reunite for a gig at Coachella 2014, Moore says. (Goldenvoice has not announced the 2014 lineup, and via email, the company declined to make a statement.)
The hiatus has given Moore the chance to do more Dr. Madd Vibe shows. He concocted the good doctor's character in the late 1990s, according to Tazy Phyllipz, producer and host of Ska Parade, one of the most influential radio shows of the American ska scene.
“He's the ultimate performer,” the Irvine resident says of Dr. Madd Vibe. “Parts of it will be weird and exciting. But it will always be joyous.”
Everything is on the menu for Dr. Madd Vibe: Japanese ska; the Moog Theremin, which is his favorite noisemaker; Dr. Seuss-style rhymes mixed with a little Gil Scott Heron.
But there is one thing Dr. Madd Vibe won't prescribe. "Everybody else does love songs,” Moore says. "Good, let them do that. But what about problems in society? What about racism in America? What about people who put off their labor into making something, and they just get run over?
"One of [hip-hop musician] DJ Quik's buddies said that two people in love, are two people feeling sorry for each other,” he continues. “Love is good, though. The world needs love more than anything. But you can't take love and mask all of the poop, the shit and the big elephant in the corner. First, you gotta clean it up.”
America's preoccupation with race is one of the subjects he addresses, and he says it set limits on his career. “There's a lot of un-earned white privilege,” he says. “The Red Hot Chili Peppers, No Doubt, Mighty Mighty Bosstones–they are good people, and they made good music, but the fact that we all started out during the same time period . . . They get to skyrocket; they can play anything. But when a black band play something different, you get a lot of resistance from society. You have to play R&B and hip-hop.”
But Moore stays busy with a seemingly never-ending flow of projects. He constantly tours; recently appeared on the album Thriller: A Metal Tribute to Michael Jackson; produces other people's music for his label, Moore Mapp; and works on myriad business ventures, such as his nail polish Man Glaze, which he is doing with his girlfriend, stylist Leisa Balfour. Yet there always seems to be room for more.
Moore says Dr. Madd Vibe is there to help you through this great glob of live action called life, with jokes and his expanding ruminations on soundwaves.
“If you got a block, Dr. Madd Vibe will help you over your hurdle,” he says. But are you ready for his prescription?
Dr. Madd Vibe and The Missin' Links play with Common Sense at the Reggae/Ska/Punk Music Festival at Gaslamp, 6251 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Long Beach, (562) 596-4718; www.thegaslamprestaurant.com. Sun., 3-10 p.m. $10 in advance; $15 at the door. All ages. Fro more info, visit www.drmadvibe.com