You thought ska was dead? It’s time to pull out your checkered shirts.
Hitting Australia’s shores for the first time in their almost three-decade-long career, seminal American ska-punks Mustard Plug are destined to give their fans a stack of high-energy and engaging shows. Mixing jumpy horns and crunchy guitars, the band have become known for their live show which is a result of the crazy amount of touring they’ve done all across the world.
“It’s funny because Australia is one of the few industrialised countries we haven’t been to,” lead vocalist David Kirchgessner says. “I guess I always pictured it as a cross between England and Southern California with lots of surfer dudes who like to hit the pub after the ocean.”
Stereotypes aside, Mustard Plug are all about the party, and Kirchgessner thinks Australian audiences will complement that perfectly.
Back in their ’90s heyday, the Michigan-based six-piece were one of the pioneers of ska’s third wave. Taking inspiration from the English 2-Tone ska sound of The Specials and Madness, they moulded this with America’s punk scene and helped pave the way for countless bands that would enter the mainstream before the decade was out.
“Through most of the early 2000’s the scene was getting a little stale in the US because instead of trying to mix it up with new stuff, a lot of the bands were content to try to sound like Reel Big Fish,” Kirchgessner says. “Things are turning around now with a bunch of new bands doing new things, so I’m actually really optimistic about the current state of the genre.”
Headlining the Ska Nation mini-fest taking over The Espy over the long weekend, the band will be accompanied by plenty of fresh blood too.
“After 28 years of playing ska and touring internationally, I feel like I’ve seen every ska band in the world, so I’m actually really excited to be playing with some new bands and hear some new sounds and takes on the genre.”
During the height of their commercial success Mustard Plug had surpassed cult status and music became their main hustle. Returning to their day jobs post-millennium, they sometimes found it difficult to fit touring and recording in between though. Their most recent release came way back in 2014, when they went full party mode on Can’t Contain It.
“Obviously it’s a huge pain in the ass to juggle work and families and go out on the road,” Kirchgessner continues. “It weeds out a lot of people who don’t love it as much as we do or people who are in it just to be rock stars and make a bunch of money. Our live shows are really what the band is about and between our love of the music and audience’s energy, every night creates a little bit of magic.”
In terms of the setlist for their maiden voyage to Australia, they intend to keep the live show fresh. As part of this, punters can expect a wide variety of classics in a ‘greatest hits’ experience of sorts.
“We occasionally throw in deeper cuts just to keep things interesting for fans who have seen us several times. We really try to approach the setlist from the fan’s perspective.”
Having never stepped foot in Australia before, this sounds like it will be a simple task to handle.
Mustard Plug hit Ska Nation at The Espy on Sunday March 8, along with a packed bill featuring The Resignators, Loin Groin and Kujo Kings. Grab your tickets here.