Veteran ska band Slightly Askew will perform Saturday, Dec. 29, at Café Metropolis in Wilkes-Barre. Also on the bill are The BIG Green, Benarik and Below Me. The show starts at 8 p.m.
Whoever proclaimed “ska is dead” obviously has not talked to Slightly Askew. For the past seven-plus years the band has been bringing their own brand of danceable ska of the northeast and have no plans of calling it quits. And despite being together for so long, Slightly Askew continues to evolve its sound.
“I think we started out trying to sound more like Reel Big Fish,” said Jacob Huff. “Ryan (Murphy) and I like to try to throw a lot of Beatles into the vocal harmonies we sing. I’ve personally thrown some MU330 into songs like ‘Panty Raid.’ We love MU330, and if we had to pick influences I’d have to say it would lie somewhere between them, The Aquabats and The Cars.”
Considering that the band has been around since 2000, in terms of underground bands, Slightly Askew is ancient. Slightly Askew believes the band survives to this day because of two reasons: friendship and longevity.
“One, we get along so well with each other,” said Huff. “So many bands break up because they end up not being able to stand each other. We just really respect and enjoy each other as musicians and people. Two, we bounce back easily after we hit any wall. We were recording in New York City with a producer. That fell through, and instead of falling apart we found a studio, recorded an EP and went on tour. When life gives us lemons, we make sweet, sweet lemonade.”
The band’s current lineup — vocalist and guitarist Murphy, bassist and vocalist Huff, saxophonist Jamie Thompson, saxophonist Noah Woehrel, saxophonist Sean Arawjo and drummer Andy Gunderlock — is a prime example that despite never ending the band, lineup changes have been made. The band continues to forge ahead and continues to make new and original music together.
“We are writing new songs for a full-length studio CD which we’ll shop to labels and hopefully get picked up,” Huff said. “That is about 80 percent written and about 50 percent practiced. I guess the 50 percent practiced would be more like 90 percent practiced if we could all get together more often. That’s not a rip at any of the other members. We all can’t get together all of the time, and that’s just a fact, and we’ve come to terms with it. We have a different lineup at some of our shows because not everyone can make every show.
“It’s good, though, because the more current members we have, the cooler our shows and albums will sound because we have that much more talent and input for recording. As far as lineup changes, I think we may have something along the lines of 15 to 20 former members. Our old drummer actually started a forum for former and current Slightly Askew members to share some of their time in the band.”
Being around for so long has brought Slightly Askew many generations of fans that have come and gone throughout the years.
“We’ve had tons of waves,” said Huff. “There will be times when we’ll play [Café Metropolis], and it’ll be an 80 percent new crowd. It’s good, because there’s new people who haven’t heard our CD or who don’t own a shirt who might help us out with gas money by buying something. On the other hand, when people go off to college or whatever keeps them from coming to our shows, we miss them. We really do remember people, and when they aren’t at shows that we think they are going to be at, we know that, and a little part of us dies.”
Who: Slightly Askew,
The BIG Green, Benarik, Below Me (ex Anti-Bodies)
Where: Cafe Metropolis,
94 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre
When: Sat., Dec. 29, doors 7 p.m., show 8 p.m.