Melbourne Ska Orchestra Twenty Years Young…

And just like that the Melbourne Ska Orchestra turns 20 Years Young! From the fun loving humble beginnings in St. Kilda to the international stages of Glastonbury, Istanbul, Montreal, Edinburgh, New York and beyond, the band has steered their ramshackle train into the hearts of many. Initially formed to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the birth of Ska (1963-2003), their infectious energy soon earned them a coveted slot at Bluesfest and WOMADelaide, a recording contract and accolades from all over the world. Two ARIA award wins cemented their reputation as one of Australia’s best live acts, while three of their songs were chosen for a UK feature film about Ska.

The band have matched the appreciation with a work ethic that is second to none. To date they have released 7 albums, including a nigh impossible mission of recording a song a week for a whole year, the ARIA Award winning 52 Fridays – One Year of Ska. This record celebrates the first twenty-year chapter of a journey that is still going strong. To celebrate twenty years of Melbourne Ska Orchestra, the band is releasing a limited edition Best of Vinyl and hitting the road to bring their signature International Big Band Ska Sound to stages across the country. Nicky Bomba answers some questions about the twenty year journey for Melbourne Ska Orchestra.

Can you believe how twenty years have whizzed by?
Two decades of craziness…. when I think about all the adventures we’ve had, the places we’ve been and the cooky things that have cropped up, it all rolls into one pretty special mission and time kinda stands still. I remember the first gig vividly.

When you compare where you are now to when you started, have all your expectations been well and truly exceeded?
We had no idea where this magnificent beast would take us but the positive family vibes energy in this band is priceless. We’ve been blessed with World Tours, ARIA awards, seven albums, a great label and lots of juicy things in the wings. We’re still on the trip I say. We weren’t joking when we said twenty years young. So much creativity within the band.

What moments stand out most for you over the course of the journey?
Playing Bluesfest and Womad for the first time, Montreal Jazz Festival to over 50,000, UK for 2Tone pilgrimage, Recording our first original album, Japanese Ska Commercial, so many adventures…

As a band how do you celebrate the milestone?
We offer Dean our sax player to the Gods of Mirth. It’s wonderful to watch.

How hard was it cramming a twenty year career in to a Best Of vinyl compilation?
How to break up a band…. Ha… We have a strange diplomacy that always seems to find the best fit. Length of songs was an issue but I’m happy with the result. It’s a classic album for my collection. I think we’ve done a sweet job.

How exciting is it ‘unboxing’ your official copy of the vinyl?
I don’t know… I’ve heard the master disc but my proper copy is on its way.Sorry to disappoint … However… I’m anticipating a fairly substantial jolt on the excitement meter when it lands.

Are there plans for more new music?
We’re always writing songs as individuals so were lucky to have a talented pool of composers. It’s cool trying to find different ways to play with hybrids which is our thing. We proved our point with fifty-two weeks of Ska. We ain’t stopping anytime soon..

How do you think Ska music has changed?
I think there’s been a great shift towards the hybrids with distinct cultural influences. There is always a full respect to the origins of Ska with all Ska musicians I know. I think creating something new yet somehow referencing the seed is always a challenge and a great deal of fun.

Are you excited about getting on the road for this tour?
More so than ever , the live connection is sacred to me. It’s really the heart of the music we play, I get to hang with MSO family and generally laugh a hell of a lot. It’s a special thing we have.

Interview By Rob Lyon

Catch Melbourne Ska Orchestra on the following dates, tickets HERE..

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