Mustard Plug's Dave Kirchgessner: "Ska Is Still Kicking"

Categories: Q&A, Ska

mustard-plug-crescent-ballroom.jpg
Courtesy Photo
Mustard Plug is scheduled to perform Thursday, April 3, at Crescent Ballroom.

Not many bands have attained popularity and commercial success outside the mainstream music industry box the way that Mustard Plug has done. While they can't claim to be most famous ska-punk band in existence, the septet have amassed a sizable cult following, as well as radio-friendly songs and music videos, like "You" and "Everything Girl."

After forming in 1991 and, a year later, releasing a full-length tape on Dashiki Clout, Skapocalypse Now!, Mustard Plug released the popular Evildoers Beware! in 1997 via punk label Hopeless Records. This was the beginning of their zenith, coinciding with the mid-'90s ska craze, which would continue for roughly five years until their breakup in 2002.

Fortunately, Mustard Plug got back together five years later and have since dropped two more records, including In Black and White (where they took their music in murkier directions, and the recently released Can't Contain It, which was crowdfunded by their fans via Kickstarter.

Now, 12 years after their breakup, Mustard Plug, who visits Crescent Ballroom on Thursday, is still kicking out ska and have come back around to their older, poppier rhythms while still developing a new sound. We recently conversed with vocalist Dave Kirchgessner about their band's history and other topics, including the current state of ska and why they don't jam their music down people's throats.

Word has it that Mustard Plug started after a couple of you caught a Special Beat [an amalgamation of the Specials and the Beat] show back in 1991. How much would y'all say that 2 Tone ska has impacted you?

For me 2 Tone ska was without a doubt, the biggest influence on what we were doing, and was the main reason I wanted to be in a ska band. The Specials, specifically were my biggest influence. They were pretty much the first band to combine punk and ska; plus, they had a really cool political element, too. They also embraced ska culture and fashion and reinterpreted it to make it contemporary.

Those 2Tone bands were such amazing songwriters and were constantly pushing limits. I'm not going to deny that bands like Op Ivy and Fishbone and Gangster Fun weren't big influences too, because they were, but the 2 Tone stuff is still an inspiration to me.

Apparently, there wasn't much of a ska scene in Grand Rapids back then. I'd imagine that punk has definitely had its impact on Mustard Plug. What kind of a punk were y'all into back then?

Back in '91, we were pretty much just coming out of the '80s American punk scene. That scene had kind of died out by the end of the '80s, but it was still very much alive in spirit. So I'd have to name bands like The Descendents, Naked Raygun, Bad Brains, Dag Nasty. We also were listening to stuff that would more or less become the next wave of punk like Fugazi, Green Day, ALL, et cetera.


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