One of the most prolific bands to emerge out of the Orange County ska scene in the early 1990s, the Aquabats have released 4 full length albums. The band is known for their elaborate mythology: led by MC Bat Commander, the Aquabats are superheroes on an epic quest to stop evil through the power of music. This mythology is carried over to their outrageous live performances where the band members dress as superheroes and battle super villains on stage.
Originally playing ska, the Aquabats have embraced other musical genres including synthpop, new wave, and pop. Of their 4 albums, the 1997 release "Fury of the Aquabats" is strictly in the style of third wave ska.
Formed in 1992, Less Than Jake has recorded 8 full length studio albums and has built an international following through their extensive touring. In 2008, the members of Less Than Jake founded the independent record label, Sleep it Off Records, which specializes in the distribution of ska and punk artists.
"Arguably the biggest band to break out of the college town of Gainesville, Florida, Less Than Jake melded punk with power pop added a healthy dose of horns, mixed it all together and covered it with silly string for the ska-starved youth of America" (Contemporary Musicians, Vol. 22, p. 168).
Formed in 1985 in Boston, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones were one of the pioneering bands who helped popularize ska in the mid 1990s. The Bosstones are credited with coining the term "ska-core" with their 1994 release, Ska-Core, the Devil and More. Ska-core is defined as a combination of ska, metal, and hardcore.
In 1997, the band officially crossed over to the mainstream with their smash radio hit "The Impression That I Get". The song has been featured in several films, including Step Brothers (2008) and Digimon: the Movie (2000). After a four year hiatus, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones resumed touring in 2007.
Formed in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1991, Mustard Plug has built a dedicated following through their extensive touring schedule. They officially debuted in 1994 with the album, "Big daddy multitude" on Robert Hingley’s now defunct label, Moon Ska Records. The band continues to tour and released their seventh full length album, "Black and white" in 2007 on the independent label, Hopeless Records.
Reel Big Fish is perhaps the most controversial third wave ska band. One of the many ska bands hailing from Orange County, Reel Big Fish formed in 1992 and went on to become the most successful American ska band of the third wave. They achieved mainstream success in 1997 with their massive hit "Sell out" from their second album, "Turn the radio off". The song received extensive radio airplay and was a staple on MTV.
Reel Big Fish’s success polarized ska fans; some embraced the band while others admonished them for selling out. Despite this schism, the band continued to record and perform but their popularity waned as ska faded from the national spotlight. Reel Big Fish disbanded in 2006 but reunited just one year later. The band’s most recent album, Fame, fortune, and fornication was released in 2009.
The San Francisco based Skankin' Pickle formed in 1989 and developed their own unique brand of ska until they disbanded in 1996. The band released all of their material on their own independent label, Dill Records.
Saxophonist and vocalist, Mike Park was a founding member of Skankin' Pickle. After the band disbanded, he went on to form the Bruce Lee Band and he also founded Asian Man Records, one of the most prolific ska record labels.
The Toasters are considered by many to be the most significant American ska band. They bridged the gap between English Two-Tone ska and third wave ska, thus paving the way for countless ska musicians. While never achieving mainstream success, the Toasters have been recording and performing since 1981 and are considered to be one of the most successful independent bands in the history of American popular music.
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