Mad Caddies

Keep It Going

You don’t see a ton of new ska/reggae bands popping up these days, despite the genre’s (deservedly) enduring popularity, but luckily, fans can usually count on the time-tested vets who’ve been faithfully laying down the dub since the last time the scene peaked in the mid-’90s-groups like Catch 22 (and offspring Streetlight Manifesto), Reel Big Fish and of course, Santa Barbara softcore stalwarts Mad Caddies, who return more than a decade into their punk-dancehall odyssey with the aptly titled Keep It Going, their fifth proper full-length. And thank Jah for it-emo may be a young man’s sport, but only a unit with the Caddies’ seasoned credentials could pull off Going’s hyper-hybridized aural atom-smashing, which fuses a flurry of authentic, horn-driven Jamaican flavors with everything from snarling street punk to Dixieland brass. There are as many memorable moments as there are musical wardrobe changes; the clean, classic reggae of “Reflections,” the frantic ragtime and raw riffage of “Tired Bones,” the acoustic sing-along “Whatcha Gonna Do” and the rolling rocksteady of “Without You” being just several highlights from this strong overall effort. If you’ve been awaiting an excuse to polish up your skank-steps, this is it. (FAT WRECK CHORDS) Brendan Manley


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Keep It Going is arguably one of the best records the band have done, yet it’s your fifth studio release and you’ve been together for more than a decade. A slew of “fine wine” clichés are running through my head right about now...

Our last record was 2003, and we’ve grown up a lot over the last couple of years. I just think we started taking things more seriously on a lot of different levels. Not drinking as much before we go on stage... We’ve been doing this a while-we got signed really easily and started touring really quick with a lot of big Fat [Wreck Chords] bands like NOFX, so basically the first six or seven years were just a fucking party. [Laughs.] We were kinda just throwing songs together and throwing out records just to get back on the road and get wasted and tour again. This time we really took our time and tried to do the best we could.

I hear you also spent some time during the band’s hiatus “working” down in Jamaica as a producer.

It’s a long story, but basically I have friends down there, and it led to doing a lot of work with some big guys like Beenie Man and Anthony B. and some big dancehall reggae guys. It’s been great. It’s something I’d like to pursue while the band’s going, and after I’m sick of touring, I’d really like to be producing music.

Did your time there influence the new Caddies record? It’s definitely got an old-school Jamaican ska/rocksteady vibe at times.

I think it affected it a bit... This record’s definitely more reggae-heavy, and it’s because we wrote a lot of reggae songs, but we also wrote a lot of faster songs that just weren’t as strong and didn’t get used. We just wanted to mix it up and do something a little more groovy and slow because a lot of our stuff in the past was kinda manic and fast.

Besides the copious amounts of weed readily available, Jamaica can be a wild, dangerous place, so I hear. What’s the craziest experience you had while down there?
I was at a show-there were probably, like, 8,000 people there outside at nighttime, and, like, 30 of the biggest dancehall reggae guys are there-and Buju Banton jumped up onstage, unannounced, and just launched into one of his most popular songs of that moment. And these two guys right in front of me pulled out guns-one guy had a .38 special and one guy had a Glock-and started shooting them off in the air. I mean, that’s fucking loud when you’re not expecting it. But I looked over at [the people I was with], and they didn’t even flinch; they just kept on watching the show. Down there, a gun salute is the ultimate applause. -Brendan Manley