My name’s James, and I’m a music addict. I fell in love with live music growing up in rural Wiltshire, and Spankboy were my gateway drug.
Ska’s a hard scene to define. It has its own terminology, its own traditions and its own sub-genres which essentially require brass and bounciness. Ska punk is probably the best known, but aside from The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Reel Big Fish and (a band that would later become implanted permanently in my skull for at least five years) Less Than Jake, it’s not exactly flooding music’s consciousness. I’m not sure it ever was, unless you count the two-tone era of Madness and The Specials. To teenage me, though, my hometown of Salisbury seemed ska punk obsessed around the turn of the Millennium.
The subtly branded Spankboy (who later became The Solabeat Alliance before disappearing forever into obscurity) were our must-sees. Fronted by a dreadlocked hippie (called, brilliantly, Tim), they were often the star attraction at the local arts centre’s long-running post-Millennium gig series, the Millennium Bug Balls. Despite sounding like an event that might require formalwear, the Bug Balls featured metal bands dressed only in cling film, touring skate punks who’d spend half the night begging you to buy CDs so they could afford the petrol to get home, and support bands made up of the ‘cool’ kids from down the local grammar school.
Spankboy had three pieces of brass over a traditional rock band set up. They seemed to find the only legally-eligible person at each of their gigs to drink two litres of cider through a funnel on stage half way through their set. They were hooked up with essential genre-themed label Moon Ska, and had an album, which gave them an aura of respectability on a rural music scene. That album was ‘Adventures in Blue Flash’.