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 V.18 No.6 | February 5 - 11, 2009 

Spotlight

The Supervillains

Your friend’s ska band sounds like shit

Curbside with red-haired Dom Maresco and the other Supervillains
Chris Miller
Curbside with red-haired Dom Maresco and the other Supervillains

The evildoers in The Supervillains love ska—or at least they used to.

“Ska used to have soul,” recalls drummer and co-lead singer Dom Maresco. “Nowadays, if your friend tells you he’s in a ska band, it probably sounds like shit.”

Maresco says the modern ska scene is bloated with imitators of third-wave ska godfathers. “They all sound like they heard a Reel Big Fish album one day and they decided to write the same shit,” Maresco says. “It’s like a broken record.”

The Central Florida native says he harbors no ill will toward imitation per se, but it should be culled from a broader range of sources. Maresco lists Toots and the Maytals, The Specials, Operation Ivy, and Sublime as a few of the artists who help form The Supervillains’ ska-reggae-punk crossbreed.

Another one of the band’s inspirations, or at least preoccupations, is marijuana. During the half-hour interview with Maresco, pot is brought up a half-dozen times. The band’s studio experience, tour bus and pre-show preparation all somehow relate to weed. “We talk about Mary Jane a lot,” Maresco admits.

If The Supervillains' members are potheads, they're not the unproductive type. The band has released five LPs over a little more than a decade, and it tours relentlessly: A typical year yields more than 200 shows.

The group's late-2008 effort, Massive, marks The Supervillains' first journey into a professional recording studio. Maresco says he’s glad the band finally decided to pony up the cash to get inside Fighting Records Studios in Orlando. “Before, [we were] just documenting what we were doing at that particular time,” Maresco explains. “We weren’t really putting life into it and paying attention to how it sounds. This time, the whole experience was great, and we really made something.”

Massive is what you might expect from a reggae-minded ska band obsessed with the chronic and sponsored by Jägermeister. Each track has a keg-stand-engendered, party-until-you-pass-out mentality. But the band spares us from the grungy rock-with-horns that passes for ska in the post-third-wave era. Here, ska elements hail down from the old school. This is two-tone the way the good Lord intended, with occasional giddyup punk pacing or fleshed-out dub instrumentals.

Live, The Supervillains exemplifies full-bodied confidence. The band has been known to engage in silly antics and banter on stage. Maresco says that’s part of what fans come to the shows for. “If I want to go onstage and stir a bowl of fucking oatmeal for 20 minutes, I’m going to go up there and do it,” Maresco asserts. “We have a good time, and that’s why people paid to get in the building, anyway.”

Listeners unfamiliar with The Supervillains' unique lead singer setup can get confused when Maresco starts crooning from behind his drum kit. “We’ll be playing shows and people will be looking around like, Who the fuck is singing right now?” Maresco says. “Then they’ll see me and they’ll go, Oh, that guy’s singing. It’s always a pleasure to see.”

When Maresco and the rest of The Supervillains swing through Albuquerque, they’ll be touring in support of San Diego sultan of reggae-rock Slightly Stoopid. The two bands have toured together before and Maresco can’t wait for the reunion. “Those guys are just cool dudes,” Maresco says. “If you have a problem with touring with them, then you must be an asshole or an idiot.”

The Supervillains and Slightly Stoopid play El Rey Theater on Saturday, Feb. 7. Tickets are $21 in advance through gettix.net or $25 at the door. The all-ages show starts at 9 p.m.

 

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