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SKALAPALOOZA PREVIEW: An interview with Coolie Ranx

I still remember trying to learn the words to Dub 56 by the Toasters  in my younger days. The chat version where Coolie Ranx is fast talking his way through the horns and steady drums and bass line. Aside from the fact that I loved the song and all my ridiculous dancing that went with it, it fascinated me that someone could sing that fast. A budding vocalist myself, I would use it as a tool to try and improve my diction and vocal versatility. Trying to mimic what he did. The whole time, I had absolutely no idea what in the hell he was saying...

But I loved it. It moved me. It was the song that helped to light that fire that would be my love of ska.



Fast forward a decade or so to my much more evolved love of ska music and a broader understanding for exactly how much of a talent Mr. Ranx is. His work with the Toasters kick-started him into the New York City ska scene that holds him high as a pioneer among fans like myself. After the Toasters, he went on to co-start the Pilfers. A super-fun mix of heavy metal flavor and ska bred together with vocals from Vinny Nobile and Coolie Ranx, the Pilfers were a breed all their own within the scene.

Raggacore.

I have a personal obsession with the song Climbing...

After lineup changes, disbanding, and reforming a few times, the Pilfers are back with reunion shows at this year's SKALAPALOOZA. Shows in Washington DC, Piladelphia, and New York City with bands like The Pietasters and Spring Heeled Jack already have fans like myself buzzing with excitement. I can't wait to see this live. Coolie Ranx himself was nice enough to give me a little bit of his time for a quick interview about where he comes from, what he is up to, and what is in store for us...

What have you been up to recently?
I have been living as a working stiff viewing life through clear eyes.

Tell me about your reunion with the Pilfers...
We have done a few reunion shows in the past couple years. What makes this series special is that we are actually on a mini-tour with (friends) bands we came up with in the business. In actuality, they are responsible for me forming the band in the first place, so shout out Pietaster Steve, SHJ...

What are the biggest changes you have seen since you started in this scene?
Well, I have seen a bit of changes in my time in the scene. When I first joined the Toasters, people danced (skanked) in a line, side by side. A definite show of unity. Now it's more of a scramble and pockets of dances and mixtures of mosh pits. All a show of unity, but just a different form.

What really kick-started your love of this music and your involvement in it?
The love of music is a way out of hell. The conditions of the hood force you to be a few things. Criminal. Thief.

Where do you think ska music is headed now?
I think it can go as far as the imagination leads the artists to create. The key word in that is "create". Not duplicate or copy, but create. I believe in paying tribute to the greats of Jamaica, but we can do so much more as we have lots of music to influence us now.

What have been some of the highlights of your time in this scene?
Meeting creative souls and giving me the experience of knowing other cultures besides my own, rather than form opinions based on hear-say. I was brainwashed before coming to the scene.

What do you have going on for the rest of the year? Releases? Shows?
A slot on Reel Big Fish's new CD. It's a combination mash-up with Reel Big Fish, Sonic Boom Six, and myself. The release of my solo raggacore CD and the release of the Pilfers final installment. We'll see.

See you all at the Skalapalooza shows this fall! Find me and buy me a cocktail. You can get more information on the shows as well as ticket information HERE!












Comments

  1. After having been a huge fan of the Pilfers in my younger days I was SHOCKED to bump into Coolie Ranx about 8 years later at a random acoustic, indie rock type show in New York. We talked about music, the scene, and an upcoming reunion for the Pilfers (this is going back about 5 years now). I told him that I had lost my chawawaleng CD somehow and a friend told him it was my birthday the following week. Coolie, as awesome as he is, came to my birthday party to deliver a new copy of the CD to me.

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