This interview was done over an E-mail between me and The Slackers trumpet player Jeremy Mushlin.
JEREMY-The band has 8 members: Vic-piano,vox; TJ-guitar; Marcus-Bass; Luis-drums; Q-Maxx 4:20-vox; Dave-tenor sax; Glen-trombone; Jeremy (Me)-trumpet
Kyle-How many times has the lineup changed?
Jeremy-The band started as a trio (Vic, Luis, Marcus) as formed by Vic, as an extension of Sic and Mad (fronted by Happy)...then TJ joined as second guitar, then Marq joined...this was the first year...then after 2 years, Dave and I joined...this was the first official 'horn section' of the group. Prior, people would just sit in. The Glen joined in Oct. '97...that's it...we could use a precussion player though...and a second guitar is nice on reggay and rocksteady songs...
Kyle-How did you guys get from the 2tone sound of Ray Gun Sally to the traditional sound you play now?
Jeremy-Dave and I joined the band together...he had been in Hepcat, and I had been in Beat Soup and the Allstonians, still searching for people to play rootsy ska with...I was friends with the group, but wasn;t into the style of music...but the band had super flavor and character...I joined when I came to a show right after moving to New York (1993) and Dave also came to that show and sat in...I said "yeah, I want to play with the guy from Hepcat!" I could also tell that luis was really great and just needed some guidance..the drummer is the most important member of a group because first, always, ska is a beat!
Kyle-What are the main influences of the band?
Jeremy-The Skatalites! The Upsetters, Prince Buster, and then it goes in every direction...I love afro-cuban jazz, bebop, swinging music, eastern music, doo wop, soul, James Brown...just soulful music, holy music.
Kyle-What has the band got planned for the year of 1999? Any plans to tour the West Coast? (So. Cal. in particular)
Jeremy-Yes, hopefully in april, or maybe may...we also may get to play at New Orleans Jazz Festival agian...at the Maple Leaf I hope!
Kyle-Why did you guys go from Moon Ska NYC to Hellcat Records?
Jeremy-Hellcat offered us a better deal, plus our friends are there.
Kyle-What do you guys think of the recent ska explosion where the punky-pop ska bands are labeld ska and the traditionalists arent hardly represented at all?
Jeremy-The stones will sink and the cream will float to the top.
Kyle-How were you personally introduced to the ska scene?
Jeremy-College radio! College radio is the best! no commercials! Commercial radio is evil, corporate radio is evil and is programming you to be stupid...they don't want you to know that God is inside of you...as soon as John Coltrane explicitly started to say that in his music albums and song titles, critics began to denounce him...WKCR 88.9 in NYC, Columbia radio is the bomb. I first heard the Skatalites on WMBR, 88.1 MIT radio in Cambridge, MA.
Kyle-What changes have you witnessed since you were first introduced to ska music?
Jeremy-No one sounded like The Bosstones in 1989,1990...now everyone does...let them be themselves and follow suit...they ar elike the J. Geils Band meets Slapshot meets Madness or something...they have their own influences...most groups don't dig deep enough.
Kyle-What changes, aside from lineup changes, occured from the first album to the latest?
Jeremy-The band is starting to sound like a group instea dof 8 people with intruments...also, everyone has lost their minds.
Kyle-What bands do you like playing with the most?
Jeremy-The Skatalites...any old school JA singers like Horace Andy...Hepcat! Royal Crown Revue was also excellent!
Kyle-What bands would you liek to play with that you havent been able to yet?
Jeremy-We would like tot our, opening for the Skatalites. They just got a new trumper player named jeremy who is incredible...WE all learn so much every time we see them.
Kyle-Have you seen any local bands that blew you away and you'd like to reccomend?
Jeremy-Not really...most new music really disappoints me...the virtiosos are not saying anything, and the crative people are lacking skills...The Slackers are trying to remove ourselves from both of these catagories...it is very hard!!!
Kyle-What advice would you give to a band just starting out?
Jeremy-Seek out the best teachers so your instrument can really become your voice...listen to the best in music...go back in time, find out your influences inflences...listen to the best players and groups that you can...you must imitate before you innovate.
Kyle-Where was your best show at?
Jeremy-A young persons house in Vegas for about 20 people who could not get into a 21+ show of ours the nigh before at a cowboy bar...we played acustically and it was beautiful...the people all danced and we sang loud and played soft...
Kyle-Any funny or embarassing stories of shows or anything you'd like to share?
Jeremy-For the most part, US clubs are blood suckers, do not care about music or musicians, do not care is musicians are hungry, cold, have a private place to change their clothes, or if the sound system works...at least in Europe, the clubs make sure musicians are not hungry...going on tour is like going to war, without the death and killing...bu tthe adversity makes the band really buckle down and work together and reall become and sound like a band...we never played as well in the first 7 years as we have the past year...this is why it took a label from L.A. that never saw us to sign us! Now, were finally getting it together...AMEN to Tim Armstrong and all of Rancid for giving us a chance! We are trying not to mess it up.
Kyle-Do you ever see Mods at your shows? And what do you think of the Mod scene?
Jeremy-Vic is Mod
Kyle-Have you got anything to promote?
Jeremy-Yeah, David Hillyard and the Rocksteady 7, Hillyard Sreet, soon to come out on Hellcat, with lot sof Slackers on it, wicked roots style...Clive Chins new reissues on Blood and fire and Pressure Sounds! And Paul St. Edwards Parkins, we are finishing a full length LP of his now, and Version City Vol. 1, Rocker T and soon to come...Version City Chap. 2 (the last 3 on Stubborn Records)...thats all!
Kyle-I guess thats about it, thanks agian for doing this interview, I appreciate it.