Ska Skank Redemption all about ‘professional fun’
Band puts horn spin on pop-punk music
Published: Thursday, April 19, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 19, 2012 15:04
Winning a battle of the bands might not seem like a huge accomplishment to everyone. But for the members of Ska Skank Redemption, the horn band that emerged victorious from last weekend’s contest at the Fargodome, it’s a big deal.
“It’s a big morale booster, because I thought there were some great bands,” said Dan Christianson, who provides vocals and guitar for the group. Brian Glur, who plays trumpet, mentioned that one of those other bands was Running On Empty, which Chistianson also plays in. At the expense of his colleague, Glur said it felt good to beat them.
The attitude best sums up the music and character of the group, which they both said is all about having “professional fun.”
“I’d say it’s all upbeat. It’s a lot of fun music, good dancing music, nothing too serious but I think we perform with a level of professionalism. It’s not just for kicks, but we have a lot of fun doing it,” Christianson said.
While some might be quick to liken the bands sound to other ska bands like Streetlight Manifesto, they prefer to put a spin on more mainstream pop or punk tunes. Their renditions of Rick Astely’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” and the Beatles’ “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” do just that.
They also throw in a few originals for good measure. Christianson said people tend to notice a song called “Minnesota” most often, which he wrote two years ago. It came together really fast, and he says it almost wrote itself. It’s about kids growing up and trying to figure out what to do with their lives. He was listening to lots of Atmosphere at the time, and some of the seriousness and struggle vibes from that music made it into the song.
A more nostalgic song he wrote during his week in high school is called “Aged Like Wine.” Christianson says he really enjoyed high school, and the tune is about the things he was going to miss from it.
Other than that handful of original songs, the group’s sound can’t be pinned down to any one genre.
“It’s a mix because all of us have different musical backgrounds and we all like different kinds of music, but at the same time we all like the same kind of music,” said Glur. It’s like a giant pot of stew… I don’t know, that’s actually a terrible analogy,” he said, quickly discrediting it with a laugh.
Christianson liked to listen to a lot of pop-punk, like Blink 182, but over time shifted more toward classic rock. His dad had played in a lot of bands over the years and exposed him to horn rock, bands like Chicago and Van Morrison.
Glur’s own taste includes music from Linkin Park, Fall Out Boy and Rage Against the Machines. He has always been a fan of Reel Big Fish though, so when the opportunity came to play in a ska band, he jumped at it.
One group the band can agree on though is Green Day, and Christianson actually performed onstage with them a few years back when they made a stop in Fargo. The group did an encore set and asked if anyone in the crowd knew how to play. He was in the front row and says a bunch of his buddies started pointing at him, knowing he could play most Green Day songs. “It was incredible,” Christianson said.
Glur was quick to counter, saying with a hint of jealousy, “I hated him.”
Christianson continued, with a bit of empathy toward his stroke of luck, “There’s always that -- I’ll meet someone who was at that concert and I won’t really know what to say, because they were probably booing the crap out of me; you wanted to be that guy. I would have been that guy, if I saw someone else get picked I would have hated that kid.”
It wasn’t too long after that incident that the band formed. Their drummer, Andrew Ochoa found Christianson on Facebook and bass player Clyde Schuman came up with an original name -- that had apparently already been used by a handful of other bands. They decided to stick with “Ska Skank Redemption” anyway though, figuring they were probably the only ska group in the area.
The current lineup has only been playing together for a couple of months now, their first show together being in November. That show was a battle of the bands competition over at MSUM, where they took second. They play at bars and venues around Fargo-Moorhead like The New Direction, generally taking any opportunity they can get.
Important to the band’s continued success is a regular practice schedule. They all agreed to a set time and place to play each week at the outset of the semester. Christianson said finding a time that worked for everyone was great and has helped the group grow tight. They jam on Wednesday nights in the basement of Glur’s mother’s house, which that have aptly dubbed “The Skank House,” -- because of the band’s name, not because of Glur’s mom.
When asked how big their fan base is, Glur blurted out, “What fan base?” Christianson opted for a euphemism, saying that their following is “expanding.”
“We’re on Facebook, and while there are other bands that get out and really promote, promote, promote and spam people, I don’t think that’s really us. We want people to like what we’re doing, we want people to come to us and we don’t want to be annoying to anyone. We just like to do what we do,” Christianson explained.
Christianson wants to get all the mileage out of the band as possible. He says it will ultimately be determined by what the band is willing to give up in order to continue on, but that they aren’t anywhere near that point yet. There’s plenty to keep the band going too. Christianson says it’s still surprising to receive a positive response to songs he wrote years ago now.
“Some people really freak out, and any time I see somebody dancing or jumping around and having fun I think, ‘Hey, I like this!’” Glur said. “Fargo is kind of a difficult town to play in -- I think we’re the only ska band in town, actually -- and sometimes the response is good, sometimes they just kind of stand there and stare. If we can get the people dancing and moving, it’s a good feeling,” he continued.