“Anyone who’s been listening to ska knows that it’s always been here, and these bands have been doing this stuff for a while,” says Tim Hildebrand, guitarist of the Philadelphia ska band Catbite.
Ska never really went away, but it is undeniably having a moment right now, and Hildebrand gives a lot of credit to younger folks for the genre’s recent resurgence.
“The new younger generation kind of missed the whole memo of ska being ‘bad,’ or ‘corny,’ or just…it being something to be embarrassed about,” he continues. “So, you have these fresh ears of the whole Gen-Z generation.”
Hildebrand also sings the praises of Jer from Skatune Network, and the way they’ve used their platform to spotlight ska bands from all over the world, both new and old.
One difference between this ska resurgence and previous iterations of the genre is that in the internet age, bands and artists can listen to and pull influence from all eras of ska. Catbite, in particular, exemplify this. Their new record, Nice One, is a sonically diverse album that puts on full display the band members’ eclectic tastes.
“I think what’s maybe been helpful for the ‘Catbite sound,’ is that we have all of those things at our disposal to pick and choose from,” says lead singer Brit Luna. “We do love all the different styles of ska. We’re not just set to mimic one type of sound of ska. We’re very much into it all. And so, when we’re writing music, especially for this record, it was very easy for us to pick and choose the different sounds that we really resonated with for specific songs.”
“All four of us in the band are fans of literally anything ska, but then also way beyond that,” Hildebrand says. “[Brit] studied jazz and soul, and I love punk rock, ’70s punk rock, and power pop, and then we’ve also really loved 1960s Jamaican ska and rock steady, stuff like that.”
Ska started as working class music, with a message about bringing people together. In that sense, this new resurgence of ska is a return to form.
“The community aspect of it has been really influential and different from previous waves of ska,” Luna explains. “It seems like lots of ska bands, even bands that aren’t on Bad Time Records, ska bands in general, are super hype on lifting each other up.”
Artists in this new ska revival are building on the roots of bands they looked up to, such as The Slackers and The Suicide Machines, both of whom Hildebrand and Luna credit for supporting the ska scene as a whole. That’s likely a big reason why so many young people have sincerely and unabashedly fallen in love with this music: Catbite, alongside Jer and Skatune Network, Kill Lincoln, We are the Union, and many more of their peers, are creating a new era of ska that above all else, puts community first.
Watch the video for “Call Your Bluff” here:
For more from Catbite, find them on Bandcamp
Photos courtesy of Catbite and Vince Sadonis