In Defense of Ska – Pre-order




Print ISBN: 978-1-944866-78-5

Price: $18.95

Page Count: 330

Pre-Order the book at: Clash Books

-Josh Fernandez (Hard Times)

“Aaron Carnes knows that ska needs defending, and he’s highly equipped to defend it. Aaron wanted to set out to change the public’s perception of this unfairly-maligned genre.”
-Andrew Sacher (Brooklyn Vegan)

“Honestly, I wasn’t a giant fan of ska. But the stories he gives snippets, I’m definitely getting this book. It’s fucking great.”
-Mike Doyle (This Was The Scene podcast)

“I love In Defense of Ska and I can’t wait until it’s officially released.”
-Cam Brio (Cam Brio Music)

Photo by Cam Evans

Why doesn’t ska get its due as a rich, diverse genre the way punk, metal, hip-hop and electronic music does? Or more to the point, why are ska fans so embarrassed of this music they love? The era of ska shame is officially over. In Defense of Ska is the much-needed response to years of ska-mockery. No longer do ska fans need to hide in the basement, skanking alone in their sharp suits, slim ties and porkpie hats. Now the time to take to the streets and fight music snobbery, or at least crank up the ska without being teased ruthlessly.

In a mix of interviews, essays, personal stories, historical snapshots, obscure anecdotes, and think pieces, In Defense of Ska dissects, analyzes and celebrates ska in exactly the way fans have been craving for decades. This book will enlist ska-lovers as soldiers in the ska army, and challenge ska-haters’ prejudices to the core.

Author Aaron Carnes. Photo by Amy Bee

Since hardly anyone takes ska seriously, author Aaron Carnes, has uncovered a bunch of untold stories. Geoffrey Hales, the “music and surf consultant” for the film Back To The Beach speaks on why he chose Fishbone to appear in the film. His decision was in part because Walt Disney was a racist and pro-Nazi; having his darling Annette Funicello backed by a black band would make him “roll in his grave.”

There’s also the story of Fresno ska band Let’s Go Bowling who, in 1998, had their touring van shot up on the freeway as they were heading home after a show. The only injury was a bullet fragment the keyboardist found in his hand. And how about Riverside skacore legends Voodoo Glow Skulls, who abandoned their first “Fat Randy” video shoot. They cast the real-life Fat Randy—a weird Polish kid they went to school with—and a bunch of old high school friends. These old buddies got drunk and dogpiled on Randy, hurting him, shutting down the video, wasting 10,000 dollars of Epitaph’s money in production costs.

Since ska is a global phenomenon, Aaron flew to Mexico to report on biggest, and most political, ska scene in the world. Many of these bands rose from the most impoverished neighborhoods in Mexico City. Few musicians in Mexico speak on political and social issues, but the ska bands do, and they’re incredibly popular with the kids from these same poor neighborhoods. Today these bands play all-ska festivals that draw 25,000 people and more.

After the ’90s, when ska was considered dead, the music continued to have a cult audience. Current-day Pitchfork darling Jeff Rosenstock used to fronted ska-core band Arrogant Sons of Bitches in the early 2000s. They traversed the country vehemently and defiantly defending ska amidst the ska-hating early 2000s musical landscape. They played to small but devoted crowds that loved that they didn’t abandon ska in the name of “rock with horn” like so many of the 90s ska bands did. It was such an arduous task, defending ska, they ended many shows injured, usually self-inflicted.

In Defense of Ska takes readers on a journey through the last several decades of music to illustrate how important ska has always been, and highlights hundreds of great, underrated bands, completely destroying the popular narrative that ska was just a zany trend in the ’90s. It’s a way of life. It’ll never die.

Flat Planet – Somewhere in TX, 1996. Photo courtesy of Aaron Carnes

The Zeroes


The Zeroes

© 2102 Patrick Roesle


It’s the end of the millenium. Somewhere in the shopping mall saturated, suburban New Jersey, The Returners are riding high on the last wave of Ska. Charlie, Sal, Jack, and Joe are fresh out of high school or there about. The world is theirs and nothing stands in their way. So starts what rapidly turns to inauspicious beginnings of The Zeroes, a new novel by Patrick Roesle. At its heart The Zeroes is a story of growing up, growing apart and coming to the bitter realization that even with all the drive and all the talent and all the potential, sometimes life leads nowhere.

The book is presented in a narrative manner by a character that I can best discern remains nameless throughout. He’s Charlie’s best friend and a talented comic artist, but the storyline takes a very first person aspect and is viewed almost entirely from this lens. Charlie, of course is the brains behind The Returners a four piece, ostensibly 3rd wave Ska band with Sal on drums, Jack on bass and Joe on trombone. But this isn’t a book report.

Sufficed to say, things get bad. Nothing goes as planned and the best intentions fall to pieces. Despite the best efforts, people get out of high school and leave town. Relationships drift apart. Dreams are dashed. People snap. People become cynical and jaded. Inevitably there are those that remain behind.

The Zeroes is a fantastically depressing read. It is perhaps an epitaph upon the dying embers of the last wave of Ska or more likely, it is a somber note that not everything works out. For those of us that lived through the turn of the last century, especially ones who were into Ska, Punk and Hardcore, the book reads like a chapter out of life anywhere in the USA. The bands, the shows, the friends, the triumphs, and the failures could have all happened to any one of us.

The stark, visceral reality, combined with the sonic backdrop of my relative youth makes this one hell of a book. It reminds me of what life would be like a bit less than a generation after Salad Days. A little more jaded and a lot more East Coast, but still a wild ride that doesn’t always work up where you wanted to go.

-Jerry Actually

(Oh, for the record, Permanent Revolution is a brilliant record.)