What's kind of impact has Ska and Reggae music had in your town?
Have you ever wondered what it's like in towns around the world?
Last weekend I had a IM discussion with Kevin Willingham.
This interview is the start of a whole new series of interviews planned in the month to come. The goal is to answer the very questions asked above.
Sunday July 1st 9:00 pm
me: So I'm gonna assume that much of our readers have not heard of you...where are you from?
kevinwska: Well basically I'm from the St. Louis area (Missouri if you do not know the state) and more specifically I'm living in this little rail road town called DeSoto.
me: wow, whats the music scene like there, particularly with ska?
kevinwska: Well St. Louis has an odd music scene in general. There are alot of house Reggae, Jazz and Blues bands around. St. Louis also use to have a buzzing Punk and Alternative scene. When it comes to Ska of course there is Mu330, Secret Cajun band and The Urge. The scene goes through phases. At any point in time it can be huge to no bands at all. It is in a middle phase right now, a rebuilding stage if you will. My small home town has had a lot of Punk bands and a few ska bands. Some of them would be Spatula Face, The Yellow Five, Dumb Luck and Shit.
me: With such a wide variety of music like this how did you come be a fan of ska music? Especially with it being so scarce.
kevinwska: Well when i was real young; I was huge rocker. I grew up on sounds of Kiss, Joan Jett, Rush and the like. When I reached Jr. High some of my older friends introduced me into Punk. After a while I found my self drummin in a band of my own. My first true exposure to Ska was with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones (my mom really liked them) and probably The Police. But it wasn't until this band I was in played a cover of Bob by NOFX that I really looked into this Ska thing. After some research I download two bands, Reel Big Fish and The Specials. RBF came first and I didn't like it much but when I got to The Specials I really dug the style and that started my love for Ska. When it came to my own scene the first Ska band I saw was The Yellow Five which made me wanna do my own Ska band down the road.
me: That's an interesting musical path...and now you perform solo acoustic ska is that right?
kevinwska: Yes it is. That kinda started out due to two different factors. I had been in a few bands playing guitar, singing, playing drums and bass. But none of them made it past house party status and we were never good. I couldn't find dedicated musicians! So I started writing my own stuff; which at first was like stripping Operation Ivy down to just guitar and vocals aka not any good. It was when I heard some Chris Murray that I put some more thought into it and maybe had more faith that I could do it for real.
me: So how would you describe your material now?
kevinwska: That has always been hard for me, for one because what I want it be changes daily almost and I hate to limit it. Once I called it FolkatronicSka! But its basically acoustic music that goes where I wanna it to; the only definite is the heavy Ska roots. The folk sounds just kinda happened. I really started getting heavy into Folk music, especially Celtic. I even decided to learn Mandolin and Tin Whistle. But even that description will fail soon as I've been writing electric stuff for a change of pace, drums, bass, guitar, horns all the works.
me: That's sounds cool...I certainly can hear those influences in some your music Ive heard...
Do have any music released for those who might be interested?
kevinwska: Oh yeah, I have two hard copy releases right now and there is music on my myspace (http://www.myspace.com/kevinwillinghamska) and scattered all over the net if you can find it. As for the hard copies I have an EP that is out of print now but still floating around to buy (Interpunk). I also have a Single with songs from my recently finished full length. The single is not available on the net right now but I'm working on that. The full length is kinda in limbo right now. I sadly can't find a label that wants to release it. I may release it DIY soon but I can't decide; wasn't my original intention.
me: That's great that you've been able to to all this on your own...
kevinwska: Its been rough but I try my best
me: I hear that your now performing in a band now...can you tell us about taht?
kevinwska: Well I was suppose to be playing Trombone in a band from around here. But I actually don't think that is going to happen, for what reason I have no idea; I'm not too thrilled about that. I am trying to put a band of my own together but no luck so far, I've already laid down some songs and have a myspace for them (to claim a name and get the ball rolling) I want it to go by the name Ultra Panic. I'd also really like to play drums in a band again. It has been so long and being a Percussion Major in college that seems odd; I miss doing it.
me: Well I hope it all works out for you, the project sounds pretty exciting...
So percussion major, I would never have thought....
What would you say are your major influences musically?
Which artist have really made an impression on you?
kevinwska: Yeah most people don't know I'm a percussionist; how would they? But I've played drums Since I was 4 years old. My influences are a tough thing for me too. One would be my dad who played drums in a hard rock band in St. Louis in the 80's and 90's. After that I'd have to say I really look up to Mike Park. I love every project he has been involved in and his solo stuff (I use to cover a song of his). On top of that I have a lot in common with some of his outlooks I think and some day I'd like to set up my own recording studio and label. I also really like Dan Potthast; I just like his style , talent, and voice. I connect with Jesse Michaels and Chris Murray..the list could probably go on.
me: Those musicians are great, have any of them ever come through St.Louis?
kevinwska: Only Dan Potthast. I played with him on the first St. Louis Ska revival back in December. It was nice having another Solo guy on the bill, I'm use to being the only one but it can be intimidating sometimes knowing all those kids are waiting to rock out as hard as they can. Dan was a nice guy we talked a little about small stuff; he always seemed like he had a lot on his mind.
me: That's awesome that got to perform on the same bill as on your musical influences. These kids who are ready to rock you speak of, which venues are they attending with these shows?
kevinwska: Most Ska shows around here are at The Creepy Crawl. It is an old independent venue (though just got a new place) that has heavy scene following. Recently ones have been booked at Off Broadway (I'm playing there with Magic Goat on the 7th) and Cicero's I've also seen them and played at The Red Sea and Midwest Music Pit.
me: Sounds like a pretty solid scene..
Are there any websites we can go to get a closer look
kevinwska: I use to have a small website but it hasn't been updated in ages; I need to fix that. Mostly you have my myspace and my blog (http://kevinwillingham.blogspot.com) which really is more about Ska reviews, interviews and other music in general more then my music (but read it anyway!). If you have facebook you can look up my name and add me if you like, just tell me who you are and why you added me. I have a small group on facebook too.
me:Nice!..I have noticed how active you are in various online communities...
It's always good to see musicians right out there with everyone
kevinwska: I'm internet junkie sometimes, and I like to be involved in stuff like that. I wanna give back if I can to the music, in whatever possible way. I also really love meeting new people. I'm not much of a people person really, but I find people interesting from a philosophical perspective. Also I just like to talk about different things learn different thing.
me: I can understand that...
Maybe some of our reader will run across you online some time...
kevinwska: I'd love that. But please if you talk to me on AIM or something, do so more then once; or if its been a long while remind me who you are. I'm terrible with names great with faces. So take away the faces I just have a bad memory!
me: Well Kev it's been nice chatting with you
It's been good to find out about your music and the St Louis ska scene too
kevinwska: I appreciate the time as well and I'm very glad to answer any questions.
me: Thanks for taking the time to do so!
any final words?
kevinwska: Just to remember that music is more then scenes, money and anything else. Its about passions; love, intelligence, individuality while unification; the entire world around us! The only way to keep it strong is to learn it, truly appreciate it, and have fun with it.
me: Right on...well, until next time Kevin, take care.
Friday, July 6, 2007
What's kind of impact has Ska and Reggae music had in your town?