Formed in 1991, Mustard Plug established itself as a hard-working independent band. The Grand Rapids, MI-based group, with the help of its label, the California indie ska-punk outfit Hopeless Records, repeatedly toured the United States, Europe, Japan, and South America. It made the rounds of two Warped Tours and participated in the Ska Against Racism tour. Mustard Plug began its career meagerly, releasing the cassette Skapocalypse Now! on its own Dashiki Clout label in 1992. (It would be re-released on CD by Dashiki Clout and Hopeless in 1998.) But the band’s proper debut, 1993’s Big Daddy Multitude, was backed by the seminal ska label Moon Records, which eventually went bankrupt. (The album was re-released by Hopeless after it signed Mustard Plug in the mid-’90s.) The CD pushed Mustard Plug into touring orbit, as they began playing a multitude of gigs. Just as ska-punk was moving into the mainstream, Mustard Plug sent Evil Doers Beware to stores in 1997. Selling more than 90,000 copies, Evil Doers was a collaboration between the band and punk legends Bill Stevenson (formerly of Black Flag) and Stephen Egerton, both of whom play in All and the Descendents. The same year, Mustard Plug quietly offered its skanking, rollicking take on the Verve Pipe’s maudlin alt-rock hit “The Freshmen” for a charity CD. The song generated such a buzz that it was met with radio play on major stations throughout the Midwest. Stevenson and Egerton returned to the boards for the Simpsons-referencing Pray for Mojo, which hit stores in 1999. Yellow #5 followed three years later, and Mustard Plug issued the hits set Masterpieces: 1991-2002 in 2005. “A punk band releasing a best-of album?” the band asked on its website. “Hey NOFX did it, so it must be OK!” In 2007, still showing no signs of selling out to the majors, the group released its seventh album, In Black and White, with the assistance of Hopeless Records. ~ Christina Fuoco, Rovi
The Toasters are one of the original American third-wave ska bands. Founded in New York way back in 1981 by Buck. We’ve released 9 studio albums, with labels such as Moon Ska Records, Megalith Records, Celluloid, Stomp Records, Caroline Distribution & Skaloid.
Buck is the only constant member in the band. He moved over to the US to manage the Forbidden Planet comic book store, one year later he formed The Toasters. Our first show was opening for Bad Brains that same year, and later along in ’83 we released our first single Beat Up.
Two more years along and we reach Recriminations, our debut EP, produced by Joe Jackson. This was the point Buck decided to create Moon Ska Records, this would be the label for Recriminations.
Over the following years we expanded with the addition of a brass section, releasing Skaboom! in 1987. Since then, the lineup has seen many new faces (regular contributors included Coolie Ranx, Matt Malles, Brian Sledge, Lester Sterling – followed by a huge etc.), we released a bunch more albums, singles, EP’s & compilations – all available in our toastography. Our latest releases being One More Bullet (LP), in 2007 for our 25th anniversary & House of Soul (7″) in 2013.
Up to today we’re still touring around the world, filling the dance-floors with ska. While we’re at it we’ve also brought out a couple of hot-sauces & brews.
So come down to a show – checkout the supporting act(s), skank to our tunes, and you might even have some beer-money left over for merch!
HALF PAST TWO
Having formed in 2006 and gigged with the likes of Reel Big Fish, The Aquabats, Less Than Jake, The Skatalites, RX Bandits, The Selecter, The English Beat, Mustard Plug, The Toasters, and Pato Banton, Half Past Two are veterans of the ever-thriving Orange County ska scene, but their forward-thinking approach also aligns them with with ska’s bold new generation. Their recent single “Shine” was a highlight of Asian Man Records, Bad Time Records, and Ska Punk Daily’s 2020 compilation ‘Ska Against Racism’ — a now-definitive document of the fast-growing New Tone ska movement — and it doubles as the lead single of Half Past Two’s self-titled album, released October 29, 2021 via Pay Attention Records, the new label from Ska Punk Daily and the venerable Jump Up Records. “I penned [‘Shine’] at the time my family found out that our daughter has Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a neuromuscular disease,” said singer Tara Hahn. “I didn’t write the words to share, but my bandmates really encouraged me to evolve the song.” It’s a powerful, vulnerable, and uplifting song, and a centerpiece of ‘Half Past Two,’ which has become one of the most anticipated albums of ska’s current resurgence.
Some people ask, how could ska — a genre filled with 9-piece bands (like HP2) that relies so heavily on the live show experience — have a resurgence during a pandemic? But, like many of the other ska bands and musicians who have recently come to prominence, Half Past Two didn’t let the socially distanced world slow them down. They made the best of it.
“Look, everything stopped and some of us have not rested, we reassessed and kept going!” Tara said. “There’s momentum and a lot of purpose right now, that’s going to become something really transformative and beautiful.”
Half Past Two brought that same energy to their new album, which came together like no other HP2 release. “It used to be ‘well everybody listen to this song and we’ll all meet up at band practice and work it out’ but getting 9 people into the same room is not an easy task these days,” said guitarist/vocalist Max Beckman. “A lot of these songs have had to be built in the studio piece by piece and player by player.” It was recorded, mixed, and mastered by David Irish at Pot of Gold Studios in Orange, CA, and Irish co-produced the album with Meagan Dolce.
Half Past Two might not have been able to get the whole band in the room at once, but this new album is actually Half Past Two’s most collaborative effort yet. “I think this is the most different songwriters we’ve had on one record, everybody is chipping in,” the band says. “Tara’s lyrics, Max, David, Jack, Din, writing songs or huge chunks of songs! It’s crazy! Everybody gets a credit!” They used more instruments than ever (“4 horns! 6 keyboards! Too many different guitars to count! More snares than you can shake a stick at!”) and their horn section contributed to the songwriting process more than ever. “In the past, whoever wrote the song would typically arrange the horn parts but all that has changed. Our current horn section are all brilliant writers and are coming up with more intricate, complex, and layered parts than we’ve presented previously.” It’s also the band’s first time collaborating with outside songwriters. Daniel Torres, ex-frontman of OC ska-punk veterans CodeName: Rocky, wrote the song “All About You,” and “Curtain Call” (which also appears on Pay Attention Records’ new ‘Too Hectic! California Ska Punk’ compilation) was written by Brandon Strumlauf of the now-defunct band Maxwell Smart.
Half Past Two’s album-making process took a little longer than usual due to COVID, but they kept the momentum going by rolling out singles on a regular basis throughout 2020 and 2021. As you can hear on the pre-release singles, Half Past Two pull inspiration from multiple eras of ska as well as anything from driving punk rock to shiny pop. They cite such influences as Reel Big Fish, Weezer, The Hippos, RX Bandits, and Mad Caddies, and they’re proud to coat their songs with a little sugar. “Someone on the internet thought they were making fun of us and called us ‘bubblegum ska’ and it’s honestly the best description I’ve ever heard of our band,” said Max. “I guess you can imagine a punk band that whittled away all the hard edges until they had a perfectly shaped heart, then they covered that heart in glitter and horns. That’s us.”
Malafacha is a Ska band with Reggae and Latin rhythms that was formed in 2003 in Pilsen’s Hispanic Bohemian neighborhood in Chicago, IL. Malafacha is conformed of 8 members, Moises Bello -lead voice, Alejandro Cruz -drums, Ivan Bello -alto sax and choirs, Ezequiel Cruz -bass, Juan Abad-trombone, Armando Pescador – percussions, Roberto Carlos Tovar (Charlie) -guitar and Martin Orosco -Keyboard. All different personalities and musical tendencies between the band members has brought the band to obtain an original sound with a base of Ska, Reggae and Latin rhythms mixed with Punk, Metal, Cumbia, Rock, Disco and an endless fusion of genres that makes of Malafacha an unique band.
Malafacha takes it’s name from the lyrics of “Chilanga Banda” a song written and performed by Jaime Lopez and Jose Manuel Aguilera both are a very well known as classic Spanish rock exponents in México. Cafe Tacuba later recorded this song. Malafacha is a word that doesn’t really exist in the Spanish Dictionary and though some people will give it the meaning of dress badly, for us Malafacha is a style of living. For some conservative people will be thought as “bad dressed”, but for us is looking our best, being original and keeping our freedom of expression, we promote that people should fight for their ideals, living free and in peace. Malafacha doesn’t believe in distinction of race, doesn’t respect frontiers neither repression. Malafacha is a sublime cry of liberty, describes themselves and believes everybody is a citizen of the world,
Malafacha had shared the stage with a big number of bands including some of international recognition such as Maldita Vecindad, Panteon Rococo, El Gran Silencio, Victimas del Dr. Cerebro, The Wailers, Gondwana, La Castañeda,The Toaster, Rata Blanca, Salon Victoria, Sekta Core, Genitallica, Nana Pancha, El Haragan, Banda Bostik, Kenny y los Electricos, and La Tremenda Corte. Also Malafacha toured some if the USA cities on 2009 as invited musicians for La Royal Club. Malafacha has performed in big and small cities through the USA, it does not matter where do fans live Malafacha will visit their city when they least expect it.
DJ CHUCK WREN (Jump Up Records)
DJ Chuck Wren has hosted the ska radio show “Everything Off-Beat” across the Chicago dial since 1989, currently airing Sundays at 9 PM on WLUW-FM 88.7. Since 1993, his label JUMP UP RECORDS ( www.jumpuprecords.com ) has released over 100 albums including ones by local faves Deal’s Gone Bad, The Drastics, and Green Room Rockers. His monthly night at Delialh’s is Chicago’s longest running ska/reggae night at 18 years, and when he spins you see piles of piles of original Jamaican 45s sprawled all over the place.