Backy Skank are one of those bands that I used to go and see over and over again, a great party band with a rotating roster of members and popular song choices that switch between ska staples and their own catchy originals. Based in Sydney, the band still gets together to help Sydney ska fans cut a mean rug on occasion. Vocalist Simon (pictured right) granted us permission to post up the band's first EP for free download, and Simon also gave us a rundown on the EP's production and some of the meaning behind the songs... (as usual, right click and save song titles to get the tune)
SIMON: After the demise of Complete Madness three members of the group decided it was time to record some secretly hoarded original tunes penned in the era of the Australian tribute band. The EP was recorded in December 1997. Recording was a much more expensive and complicated affair back then. We hadn't done a gig or even rehearsed when we recorded the EP so none of the songs were ever tried out in front of an audience. For this reason we were never absolutely happy with the sound. We launched the EP and the band on the same night in June 1998 at The Globe in Newtown with The Hangovers and the Bedlam Beggars supporting.
1. Don't Sleep in the Subway
An old mate suggested we enlist producer Peter Blyton to help us record an EP. I was decided that we needed a good old tune that might work as a ska cover. After a few wines Mr Blyton rang his old mate Ted Mulray (yes THE Ted Mulray) who thought that Don't Sleep in the Subway would make a great cover. Pete and my exaggerated lyrics on "Over rate TED" and "De-fate TED" in each verse are respectfully dedicated to Ted Mulray!!
2. Fashion Victims
Fashion Victims was a term of phrase in high rotation when we used to play in a cover band. The song features a few quotes from the Bowie song Fashion. The drum intro, opening horn lines and middle 4 section are musical deconstructions from Bowie's song. There are a few quirky lines, one of my faves is "to make a statement it takes more than dyed hair".
3. Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick was written by Pommy Paul Cooper. Paul used to play in a Madness tribute band in the UK and also in a original band called the Newmatics which featured Everette Moreton from the Beat on drums. He has met and befriended everyone in the English ska scene from Prince Buster and Rico to Lee Thompson from Madness. As a result his songs are very English sounding. We all love Kubricks films. The subplot of this song respectfuly hints that Kubrick's brilliant films will continue to fascinate long after he's gone. The song was written before Kubrick's death in 1999. It was this song that captured the attention of Channel V and led to our House Band spot on The Joint in 1999.
When you got problems it seems everyone has advice. Frank Sinatra once said "a friend in need is a pest". Pete Wilson felt that a problem shared is doubled. Such sentiments from two of last century's greatest vocalists struck a nerve and led to the writing of this song which we still play live. On one level it's words of advice for the socially awkward, the other level is strictly personal.
5. These Boots
We stole this from the Strange Tenants. When we toured with them in 2005 we finished our set with this one. John Holmes relaxing in the dressing room jumped out of his seat and bolted onto the stage with his guitar. He thought it was the Tenants playing and he was late. Works well as a cover but I always thought it was a bit of a shame that we started and ended the EP with covers.