Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Duff Interview with Steve Jackson of The Pietasters!

Photo by Ryan Midnight
(By Ryan Midnight)

The Pietasters recently completed a quick tour of the NYC tri-state area the last weekend of January-- and prior to their January 27th show at the Brooklyn Bazaar in Greenpoint, I sat down with Steve Jackson, lead singer and co-founder of the legendary DC-based band to get his thoughts on any planned recording, the state of the DC ska scene, and the next big concert dates for the band.

The Pietasters last album, All Day, was released back in 2007 and fans have been clamoring for another outing. When asked about plans to get back into the studio, Jackson noted that they revolve around "Jeremy [Roberts, trombone] who is building a studio in his basement. We've got a ton of material and it's just a matter of editing and finishing recording, and we'll probably start fresh with recording rhythm tracks. So, there's something in the pipeline!"

Jackson went on to jokingly note on how they may release the album: "With [the state of] music these days, I think we might do it all on cassette, not even a digital release," and that someone else will have to digitize and upload it.

When asked what is driving some of their current songwriting, Jackson replied, "probably getting old is something that everyone is the band is experiencing. You get seven, eight, nine people in a band there's going to be a lot of things. The songs are just about having fun, and talking about when we had fun, and weird stories. One of the albums that [several band members] liked recently was the most recent Blur album [The Magic Whip]."

The Pietasters are currently the longest, consistently performing ska band in the DC area with Eastern Standard Time coming in at a close second. When asked about the current local scene and any upcoming bands of note, Jackson enthusiastically commented, "there's The Forwards, in Baltimore, and they just played with Lee "Scratch" Perry. So, Baltimore has this really cool, more of a reggae scene it seems, though it’s hard to keep any scene going."

Jackson also noted the The Fuss, another DC-based band. He explained, "they're really important to the DC scene because they run Bluebeat DC, a monthly show of local and touring bands [at Wonderland Ballroom]. When we started playing there was a monthly show at Hennessey's where we would play or The Skunks or The Checkered Cabs, so it’s cool that all the folks at Bluebeat are keeping that DIY thing alive.”

In May, the Pietasters will be returning to the Supernova International Ska Festival. Jackson chimed in, "that's always a fun party, and Tim and his wife April work so hard on that and you can see a lot of upcoming bands and old farts like us." [At the time of writing, it was just announced that the Stubborn All-Stars will reunite to play the show as well.]

The Pietasters have for the past several years done a booze cruise off Manhattan, playing close to three hours on a boat floating down the Hudson and East Rivers. When asked whether the tradition would continue, Jackson noted that they were definitely planning it, and were working on a date in mid-August.

The Pietasters went on to perform a killer headline show at the Brooklyn Bazaar--with support from High School Football Heroes, the Dull Blue Lights (formally The Snails), and Ensamble Calavera. They performed songs mostly from Ooolooloo, Willis, and All Day--Jackson front and center with his signature sing-alongs with the crowd, including favorites "Maggie Mae" and "Out All Night." See you next time on the dance floor, and drink, drink, drink, drink!

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Ryan Midnight is a New York City area DJ, who can be found spinning ska tunes at various bars and supporting bands in the area. He can be heard on his weekly-ish podcast "100% Ska." Find him on Facebook at

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