By Dan MacIntosh
By the time Mad Caddies reach Riverside on October 23, it might finally have some new tunes to play. These fresh songs will be taken from the band’s first full-length album since 2007’s Keep It Going. The Mad Caddies are still keeping “it going” in the studio, after a slight interruption.
“Since we started in 1995,” explains singer Chuck Robertson, “and started touring in 1997, we’d never really taken any time off. It was kind of just tour, tour, tour, and then release a record, and tour. And after 13 years of that, everybody just needed to take a little break and kind of work on other musical projects. We kind of just took a three-year hiatus. We were still playing a handful of shows every year. But we were just kind of taking a step back. Now we’re coming back to it.”
This ska group, which also mixes in punk, swing, reggae, jazz, Latin music and even touches of polka, cow punk and even sailor songs into its unique stew, has already put a lot of time into its sixth LP. “We’ve worked a little over a year on it,” Robertson explains. “We’ve cycled through over 100 song ideas and were doing a lot of demoing in our studio. We now have a collection of about 15 or 20 songs that we’re really happy with.”
Although the group has not yet named this forthcoming album, Robertson was still able to describe how it will sound. “It’s rhythm-driven and music to dance to,” he relates, “but you’re probably not going to hear any super hardcore punk or really aggressive stuff on there like some of our more angst filled younger days. It’s definitely more of a groove thing.”
This latest album will once again be released on Fat Wreck Chords, and will most likely drop the first week of February. Fat Wreck Chords is Mike (aka Fat Mike) Burkett’s label. In addition to singing for NOFX, Burkett’s label has released music by Descendents, Rise Against, Against Me! and Anti-Flag, in addition to Mad Caddies. “We’re close with Mike, on a friendship level, as well as a business relationship with the owner of the label,” Robertson says. “We’ve always appreciated his opinion when it comes to production on the album, and he came down for a couple of days and threw his two cents in.”
Robertson believes there are still a lot of ska fans out there, even though he wouldn’t use the word “ska” alone to describe what his band does.
“I don’t necessarily consider the Mad Caddies a ska band,” he asserts. “I mean, we definitely started out that way; but we kind of ended up more now as an eclectic rock band that also plays ska and reggae and stuff like that. I think there’s a large audience for it [ska] and actually there’s a big resurgence in younger people that are, maybe, tired of the ‘slit my wrist music,’ or don’t want to hear the hardcore metal or anything like that, but are just looking for more of a positive experience.”
Although the Mad Caddies may throw together a widely varying collection of different musical styles whenever it performs live, the one common denominator is that it’s mostly music to dance to.
“We say the Mad Caddies are a party band. You come to dance and have fun and to forget about the crap in everyday life and just let loose and have a party,” Robertson explains.
The group’s dedication to simply having fun even extends to some of the unusual cover songs it may work into its set. “We have a cover of ‘S.O.S.’ by the Swedish pop group Abba,” says Robertson. Although the Mad Caddies might be known to transform Black Sabbath songs into reggae tunes now and again, they don’t exactly reggae-fy Abba. “It’s kind of a rock and roll version. We made it more aggressive, and more of a hard rock version of it.” You might think such a cover is some snarky attempt at an ironic gesture. But you’d be wrong on that count. “I’m a big fan of Abba,” notes Robertson, “those guys created an amazing songbook of, in my opinion, pop perfection. It’s good music to sing along to.”
Robertson is always excited to perform live because playing gives him a rush like nothing else.
“It’s a feeling only people who perform can get,” he attempts to explain. “It’s similar to catching that perfect wave or having a great run down a ski hill. The natural endorphins it produces in the body, there’s nothing like it.”
Mad Caddies at UCR’s The Barn, 900 University Ave., Riverside, (951) 827-1012; www.rside.ucr.edu/barnseries. Wed, Oct. 23. $12.