Tuesday, November 8, 2011
The Guilty Parties - Music
The Scions of the Southern California Ska Scene Continue to Rock Riverside
The Guilty Parties are a native Riverside ska band kicking butt at a time when the genre has retreated from the mainstream music scene. In the mid-90’s ska exploded with bands like No Doubt, Sublime, Goldfinger, The Deftones and Smashmouth rocketing to huge popularity, only to become mutated, less ska-ish remembrances of their former selves. It seems that ska, with its roots in reggae, and ska-core, its punk fraternal twin, is just too good to be true for too long.
In 2000 Josh Franklin and James Baylor, both singers and saxophone players, and John Martinez, a baritone sax player, were both in marching band at King High School when they decided to put together a band. They'd often practice by playing Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder covers like “Brick House” and “Superstitious.”
Ska bands are never small, and The Guilty Parties now have nine members to skank the house with. Anthony Rondina supplies the bass guitar. Jeff Pap plays lead. Matt Levesque works the trumpet, Nick Barnes rocks with the drums and some back up vocals, J. Wildman also plays guitar and Bobby Perkins delivers that final essential signature sound with the trombone.
They had their first major demo in June of 2003 at Rock the Dome studios in Moreno Valley. Since then, they’ve played at the Whiskey in L.A., B.B. Kings Blues Club in L.A., The Showcase Theatre in Corona and Chain Reaction in Anaheim. Their last album, You’re Out of the Band, was released in 2005.
I asked them why the ska bands that exploded in the 90’s dropped out of their sound as soon as they became mainstream.
“The record companies have too much control.” Josh said. “They’re selling an image and a label.”
“I think too many bands are put together by companies.” Anthony added.
“The record companies pushed bands to keep up with trends.” Josh said. “They think bands have to keep up with labels and change.”
“The bands change their sound for the money. They taste the mainstream and don’t want to make music, they just want to put out a record.” Anthony said.
The Guilty Parties cite diverse influences ranging from The Suicide Machines, The Police, Stevie Wonder, Rage Against the Machine, Dexter Gordon and John Coltrane. You’re Out of the Band is not just a damn fine album, it’s also a perfect representation of the impressive best The Guilty Parties are capable of featuring traditional, progressive ska beats, ferocious modern reggae energy, screaming guitar licks that rival any modern rock ensemble, and a few songs that display the jocular attitude that is characteristic of the band.
“My You’ve Changed” is one song from the album that talks about running into the girl who dissed you in high school and discovering that, years later, she’s as wide and ugly as a manatee.
“Room Service” makes fun of Kobe Bryant’s 2003 rape charge in Eagle, Colorado, with an ode to “A Message to You, Rudy” by the legendary ska band, The Specials in the form of a lyric that sings, “A message to you, Kobe.”
But The Guilty Parties aren’t just part of the IE scene, they promote it. Their frequent shows at Red Planet Records in Riverside are not only intended to bring publicity to a kickass independent music store, but also to introduce younger, less prominent bands that haven’t made a name for themselves just yet.
Franklin admits that the band has moved away from their original ska sound, but no monolithic record company made them change. The new sound is an entirely organic evolution. “We’ve written a few more songs and are more experimental rock/ska. We are going for a more upbeat and danceable mix of our many types of styles from the past albums: ska, rock, soul, punk, hip hop, and some metal.”
The band still intends to serve up the style their fans hit up the shows for. Franklin says that the band is still in it for the music. “We like keeping it fun and upbeat at shows, so we want the dancing fans to be able to dance, and the listen-only fans to be able to enjoy it as well.”