Brass-driven ska/rock band SKWZBXX are back at it and ready to headline this Friday’s Party at the Point at the Charleston Harbor Resort. A major player in the Charleston band scene in the late ’90s, SKWZBXX (pronounced “squeeze box”) performed at clubs, festivals, and local events for years. They toured the Southeast and released two studio albums — 1997’s Secret 68 and the 1999’s Freak In My Candy — before calling it quits in 2000. All of the guys are currently active in the local band circuit.
This Friday, five of the original six band members — singer Rik Cribb (of The Problems, The Yachtsmen), drummer Jack Burg (of The V-Tones), trombonist/singer Steve Spaulding (of Love Butter, Booty Call), trumpeter/vocalist Charlton Singleton (of Plane Jane), bassist Jonathan Holt (of Number One Contender), and guitarist/vocalist Brad MacLean (of The Dellortos) — reconvene on the waterfront stage. Sax player David Cole will be there in spirit.
Cribb, McLean, and Holt took a few moments to speak (semi-seriously) with City Paper this week:
CITY PAPER: With everyone involved in so many other diverse musical projects, what sparked the idea of this reunion show — and how easy or difficult was it to put together?
Rik Cribb: I think everyone has a lot more maturity and patience. We have all done so many other things in the past 10 years … Jesus, has it been 10 years? My god! Anyway, I mean four of us have kids and we’ve all done a lot of traveling. Jack and I lived in L.A. and played with a lot of different people. Brad is now a rock god in The Dellortos. Jon and Number One Contender are blowing people’s skulls open. Logistically, it’s a little difficult, but everyone really wanted to do it.
JONATHAN HOLT: Well, I was on the phone with Rik about a month ago and he brought up the idea of a reunion. At first, I thought I was totally against it, because of all the time I have to put in with NOC. But after he told me the pay, the decision was easy. Let me think … music and money together … who would’ve thought? It was difficult to put it together. I spent a lot of time calling these guys over and over to get them into the practice space. Rik is always good at setting them up. Then it seems to be me on the phone calling everyone over and over.
BRADLEY MCLEAN: First of all, you must realize that from here on out I’m going to refer to SKWZBXX as “The Boxx,” because John Kay refers to Steppenwolf as “The Wolf.” Also, like Kay, I will speak of The Boxx as a living being that makes its own decisions. I kinda think Rik gets asked a lot by the Wild Wing guy to do a Boxx reunion. It really hasn’t been that hard to put together especially since they told us how much we’d get paid — the Boxx never earned that kind of money when it was actually trying to make money.
CP: What is it about Party at the Point that attracted you to perform — the scent of the marsh, the salty harbor breeze, the forceful sound of booking guy Rob Lamble’s voice, the lure of sugary daiquiris and free ice-cold cans of beer?
RC: The scenery is awesome, it can hold a lot of people, the salty air is good for the skin, and the highlight is drinking a piña colada with chunks of pineapple floating on the top with Rob backstage after the show … oh yeah, and those fancy umbrellas. Yum.
JH: Rob hooks us up in a lot of ways. Not to mention that it’s outside and there are always a lot of beautiful people.
BM: The Boxx always got free cans of ice-cold beer, so it must’ve been the salty sound of Rob Lamble’s forceful sugary daiquiris.
CP: How does SKWZBXX 2007 sound compared to SKWZBXX 1997? Tighter? Looser? More “mature”? Less frantic? Happily sloppier?
RC: I would say tighty, righty, lefty, loosey, and angrily frantic, in a less mature sort of way.
JH: I will answer this because Rik has only been to two of the 10 practices. We sound pretty fuckin’ good and getting tighter by the second. There are some things that definitely have a bigger backbone than before. But I think, overall, we’re just trying to make the old songs sound tight as shit. We are playing like 25 songs, so it’s hard when we have difficulty getting us all in the same room.
BM: I’d say more mature, except Steve always takes his shirt off at practice and that’s not very mature … slappily hoppier.
CP: What can fans expect in the set lists — stuff from your two albums albums and a few surprises? Clever “ska” reworkings of rock hits? Side two from Led Zeppelin IV with a funky backbeat?
RC: We will be doing most selections from our skrunk collections, perhaps some stinky little gems that can only be found on C-sides in Honduras, and remote areas of Tiramisu. We will also be performing a 45-minute version of “Caribbean Queen” by Billy Ocean.
BM: Just stuff from those records, plus one or two covers it used to do. The Boxx has always been wary of the unknown.
CP: For those who are either too young or too new to Charleston to remember SKWZBXX, what kind of reaction do you predict they’ll have to your rascally style of ska/rock/funk?
RC: I think there is going to be general mayhem. We’ve called in extra security, a fun castle, there will be a total of four emergency service vehicles on staff. We anticipate there will a lot of blackouts right off the rip, Ballard, in conjunction with the usual spontaneous combustion.
JH: They will probably stare at us like we are freaks.
BM: The Boxx expect that most of the people there will be old friends. It does not concern itself with the modern whims of today’s youth with their silly “emo” and Chevelle records.
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