NYC’s finest, The Slackers, have been spreading their smooth ska style across the country for the past 10 years. Touring endlessly, the band has hit the road leaving a trail of smoke and beer cans behind them. The Slackers boasts four releases on Epitaph subsidiary Hellcat Record and a slew of impressive gigs. The group played with giants of the ska world such as the Toasters and the legendary Skatalites and was recently featured on National Public Radio as a spokesman for contemporary ska musicians.
Original trombonist Glen Pine and drummer Allen Teboul explained in a recent Hatchet interview that their love for the road, and the crowds will never die. Their love for a certain entertainment journalist, yours truly, was however, called into question almost immediately.
Hatchet: So I saw you guys in Baltimore a couple of days ago, great show. I don’t know if you remember me, but I definitely ran into you, Allen.
Hatchet: Yeah, I like literally ran in to you.
Glen: No way.
Allen: Oh shit, I remember. Check this out. This guy was coming off the dance floor, and he barreled the hell out of me
Hatchet: I’m glad you’re laughing about it. I thought you might kick my ass.
(I’m immediately pushed to the corner of the room)
Allen: Lock the door Glen, this kids about to get fucked up.
Hatchet: I’m sorry?
Allen: It’s OK man. These things happen.
Hatchet: To start out, who do you have coming to the shows now days? I mean you’ve got kind of a weird mix of sounds. You’re on a punk label, but you play jazzy ska.
Glen: The crowds are very diverse. There seems to be a lot less scenesters. It’s a mix of everybody, kids, adults, punks, college kids, you know, everything.
Hatchet: Is that different, from say, five years ago, when you were at an earlier point in your career?
Allen: You mean when no one would come to our shows?
Glen: The difference is it used to be no one, now it’s someone.
Hatchet: What’s with the NPR thing? I admit I’m a dork for NPR, and I was listening one day, and I heard you, and I was like ‘what the hell?’
Glen: It was crazy, we got this call from NPR, apparently someone there kept playing our record in the office. Before we knew what was happening we were on the radio with Linda Werthheimer as like icons for the ska genre.
Allen: She put me on the spot and said ‘break it down and show us what a ska beat is.’ Put it in layman’s terms. It was something. Very strange, but cool
Hatchet: New record coming anytime soon?
Allen: It’s in the works. We’re not really slack when it comes to making records. We’ve got some stuff. Don’t know when it’ll be ready.
Hatchet: How do you guys decide what to cover? From what I’ve seen, you usually pick some crazy stuff.
Glen: You talking about the Bon Jovi cover?
Hatchet: That’s one, “Dead or Alive” is a weird cover. Metal being done with horns, kind of out there.
Glen: Well what happened was we made it for this compilation CD, Metalliska, which was a bunch of ska bands covering metal songs. You know, and we all remembered that song.
Allen: We all remembered it because Glen still has the poster on the wall.
Hatchet: You’ve got an old Bon Jovi poster on your wall?
Glen: (looking bashful) I’ve been holding on to that for Allen.
Allen: You can bullshit if you want, but we all know what’s really up.
Glen: It’s actually kind of funny. The cover was reviewed in Maxim, and it got a great review. The way music works, you can play for years under the radar. It’s strange. All it takes is some crazy cover to get us real exposure.
Hatchet: With all the talk of bands selling out, are you guys wary about looking for more exposure?
Allen: We’re just eight or nine guys trying to make a living at this. If someone wants to throw us a bone then shit, of course we’re gonna grab it.