Mad Caddies Bring Ska-Punk to Tempe, Talk Dirty Rice, Fat Mike and More

Categories: Q&A

The Mad Caddies will be performing on Sunday, April 13, at Club Red in Tempe.

When the Mad Caddies take the stage on Sunday, April 13, at Club Red in Tempe, it will be the first time the ska-punk-reggae musicians have played for their Arizona fans in seven years. What can an audience expect after all this time? Well, the Mad Caddies performance they have grown to love will be in full effect, but they will also find that their beloved band is touring with a rejuvenated drive and purpose behind their music after the lengthy hiatus.

"I think that helped us get stronger and better than we ever have been," says singer Chuck Robertson on the Mad Caddies' time away from the spotlight. "And we're stoked to put out a new record."

That new record is called Dirty Rice, with a scheduled release date of May 13. The people anxious to get a taste of the long-awaited music before the album drops have two options: scroll down and listen to the first single called "Brand New Scar" below in this article, or catch their live performance where Robertson says the band will be mixing in a few new tracks to accompany their time-tested favorites.

"We got to explore some new territories and do some different things," says Robertson on the production of Dirty Rice. "All in all, it's a fun record. It's definitely a Mad Caddies record -- no one is going to be shocked by some crazy turn in sound."

Now, the Mad Caddies are coming up on their twentieth anniversary as a band -- an impressive feat in the harsh genre of punk rock, where youth sells. And from a personal perspective, the Caddies evoke a sense of nostalgia dating back many years to when my own punk rock North Star introduced me to their eclectic symphonies. Up on the Sun took the opportunity to speak with Robertson and discuss what he has been doing for seven years, the band's new album, and the group's ever-loyal fans.

The Mad Caddies have been around almost twenty years now, did you ever imagine you would take it this far?

You know, I don't know. It's pretty crazy thinking it's been twenty years coming up next year. I don't know that I ever did imagine doing it for twenty years. Looking back, a decade ago seems like yesterday and then twenty years does seem like a long time away.

When the Mad Caddies were first starting out, was there a specific audience that you were targeting? Is there one nowadays?

We started the band in our late teenage years, so we were trying to make music that we liked. So, I guess we were targeting our peers and that age group of teenagers and early twenties that were into the punk and ska music of the time.

I think now, it's kind of come full circle. We're in our mid-thirties now and making music, and I guess it's still for everybody. [There's] definitely more mixed audiences these days.

We never wanted to completely depart from our earlier sound, so with every record we've always made sure we kept a couple of fast punk or ska songs on there to stick to our roots, while continuing to branch out into new territories.

You have been on [NOFX singer and legendary punk rocker] Fat Mike's record label for some time now. Can you describe that relationship?

It's definitely a family thing at this point. We consider Mike a good friend, and a lot of people at the label are personal friends. It's a small grassroots business that gained worldwide notoriety over the years. It grew into a pretty big company, and then with the downturn of CD sales and digital they had to downsize a little, but I think they are still relevant. They kind of scaled it back so that it's a sustainable business model to this day.

We've always enjoyed total creative freedom, and no one has ever told us what we're supposed to sound like or look like. They just put out the music that the artists want to create.

I listened through Dirty Rice and I really enjoyed it. Both "Down and Out" and "Shot in the Dark" jumped out at me right away -- I liked the horn section in both -- what can you tell me about those?

Yeah, we have multiple song writers in our band -- myself, Sascha [Lazor] (our guitar player), Todd [Rosenberg] (our drummer), and as well as our keyboard player, Dustin [Lanker]. So, we had a lot of collaboration on this record, and "Down and Out" was actually a song that Todd and Dustin collaborated on and brought in our friend Logan to do the lyrics. I like the arrangement -- it kind of has like a '70s rock vibe.

That's actually my favorite song, [and it's] the one I didn't even write the lyrics for. I don't know if that has anything to do with it, but that song turned out to be the standout for me.

Then, "Shot in the Dark" was the only song that came about spontaneously at the end of the process. A few of us went to do see a Dr. Dog concert, and we left half the guys at the studio that night and when we came back the next morning they had that vibe going. We were like, "Wow, this is awesome." So, it happened organically.

I also enjoyed "Back to the Bed" and "Drinking the Night Away."

Yeah, "Back to the Bed" is one of those tunes that is a personal reflection. I think it's something that people can relate to about being out there and not doing the right thing. All in all, you only hurt yourself and you are the one who has to live with the guilt of certain misgivings. So, that was kind of a personal one for me.

Then, "Drinking the Night Away" was just a fun tune that we would sing on tour. It's just kind of a late-night jam session. We wanted to track it live with just friends, so we got a bunch of buddies in the studio and everybody started taking harmony tracks. It was a lot of fun. We wanted to make sure it really felt like a live thing, and it was. It's just a fun song to sing on tour.

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