John Norwood Fisher remembers hearing Two Tone Ska for the first time. It was the early 1980s, and fellow Fishbone member/trumpeter “Dirty” Walter Kibby introduced him to The Selecter and The English Beat. The bassist's reaction?
“I was disappointed,” he jokes. “We didn't invent Ska?!”
While it might sound both preposterous and solipsistic for Fisher to figure his band pioneered an entire style, Fishbone could have had a legitimate claim … at least in the U.S. Ska had already existed since its creation in Jamaica in the '60s, yes, but it was still fresh to America when the high-schoolers in Fishbone were banging out music in California.
Although it’s not the genre he hoped to create, Fishbone is assuredly one of the archetypal purveyors of Ska Punk. Fusing bouncy beats with high-energy Rock (and eventually everything from Funk to Metal), the combo found immense popularity for a stretch in the ’90s. Oddly, Fishbone barely profited from the cachet they earned as the style’s elders — the cultural focus shone on younger bands like No Doubt and Mighty Mighty Bosstones — but the group stayed steady the entire time. This year Fishbone turns 25, an age especially monumental in band years.
They play The Mad Hatter with The English Beat, Outlaw Nation and The Pinstripes. Get show details and read Reyan Ali's full interview with the band here.