Ska-ed For Life

27 March 2013 | 10:17 am | Kate Kingsmill

"We just give it everything we’ve got. It may not always be in tune, it may not sound perfect, but that’s kind of the beauty of what we do as well, because it’s all about the energy and the experience that we create.”

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There's a 40-year age gap between the oldest and youngest members of Melbourne/Daylesford ska band The Resignators. “But in our brains we're all 16 or 17,” says Francis Harrison, the band's vocalist and main mouthpiece who, age-wise, is somewhere in the middle. “We've got big generation gaps!”

This spread acts as an advantage for The Resignators who, after seven years on the scene, are broadening their musical horizons. The members of the band all come from hugely different backgrounds, from hardcore punk to first wave Jamaican ska. “Steve [Douglas, guitar], who is American, started Gwar, they're a very famous metal band,” Harrison informs. “He came to Australia to play in a bluegrass band. I know – it's the freakiest thing on earth.” Stacey (Kilpatrick), the band's keyboardist, has a Celtic musical background, and Jeremy Meaden, their trumpet player, was in an indie band in Ireland called The Vals. “You've probably never heard of them, but in that scene they're really quite big: NME did a big write up on them,” says Harrison, whose background is in rock and punk. “Then you've got John [Howell], who's only 19 and he's an amazing bass player. His interests are so wide: lots of bass bands, Primus and stuff like that.”

The Resignators will be touring Europe, the States and Canada later this year. “Canada is probably our biggest market, we've been there five times. They seem to be a lot more open to what we do. I love Australia to death and that's why we're still here, but Australia is still very four-to-the-floor rock'n'roll when it comes to live music and it's very hard for bands of any other genre to get a foothold here.“ Which is part of the reason why The Resignators are broadening their musical horizons. “We love ska to death, all of us, and that's the thing that binds us, because we're all very, very different people. The thing that binds us together is our love of this Jamaican form of music, but we're really trying to not play so many ska gigs. We're really trying to mix it up and play more mainstream sort of gigs with bands that people may know, more so than just doing ska.”

It would appear that ska is one of those specific genres that people either love or hate. “Apparently!” Harrison pipes up. “I don't know how you can hate ska. It's such an easy listening kind of music, maybe that's just me because I've got an ear for it. I just don't understand when someone says, 'I hate ska' or, 'I hate trumpets' – I don't understand that!”

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Even so, he admits he doesn't like saxophone very much. “But we toured with The Toasters last year and there's this famous sax player who plays with The Toasters called Tommy Tornado, he was amazing. His sax sound was just out of this world. He was so good. So you can always be swayed if someone uses it in the way that you like or you can hear it.”

You can also be swayed by passion, which The Resignators have swathes of.

“If nothing else, we give a good performance. We just give it everything we've got. It may not always be in tune, it may not sound perfect, but that's kind of the beauty of what we do as well, because it's all about the energy and the experience that we create.”

There's also a growing maturity to the sound of The Resignators on the new EP. “It's just got more serious themes. Sometimes ska gets a bit silly and that's cool. We have, on some of our past recordings. But this time we made a conscious effort to have some themes in there to make people think.”

The Resignators will be playing the following dates:

Thursday 28 March - The Workers Club, Melbourne VIC
Friday 29 March - Mynt Lounge, Melbourne VIC
Saturday 30 March - Enigma Bar, Adelaide SA
Sunday 31 March - Doolys Old Hepburn Hotel, Bullarto South VIC
Thursday 4 April - Transit Bar, Canberra ACT