Following the demise of ska-punk veterans Jeffries Fan Club in 2002, the Orange County ska scene looked asleep on its feet, with only the legendary Reel Big Fish really left to represent. With resurrecting the dead not being an obvious strong point, RBF frontman Aaron Barrett set about trying to give the O.C an injection of energy, the plan? Combine two of the scenes biggest bands into one big, evil extraordinare! JFC drummer Justin Ferreria joined the Reel Big Fish following the departure of Carlos DeSouza and helped Aaron jump-start the new evolution. In their own words, Aaron and Justin Evil!
Aaron: It was very stressful working with producers and dealing with record companies. It's really hard to write a good song when there's so much pressure on you, so I wanted to start another band just for fun, to write fun little ska songs, so then…
Justin: Aaron came up to me at JFC's very last show and asked if I wanted to start a ska band with a couple of the guys from JFC…
Aaron: As I just want to write songs and play, that's it, not have to worry about 'is this going to be a hit song?'. It sucks, it's bullshit.
But we're in the same boat now we got our album, then we'll have to start another band, it's never going to end.
Soul Shine: What can we expect from The Forces Of Evil?
Aaron: It is more the fast type of ska-punk. RBF goes all over the place and this is more focussed on the ska-punk thing. It sounds more like old RBF, and JFC as half the band is JFC.
Soul Shine: How are you feeling about the whole Orange County ska scene at the moment?
Aaron: It's getting a little better and starting to happen again. It's still not there yet. We need more help…
Justin: more better bands…
Aaron: We need, like, five more good bands, then we'll have one for each night of the week. I can only do two or three, more. There are some really good bands. There's one called Starpool and it is everyone from Save Ferris except for Monique the singer. And there is another band called Suburban Legends who are awesome.
Soul Shine: A lot of Reel Big Fish songs appear to be autobiographical, is this the case with The Forces Of Evil?
Aaron: Yeah, sometimes. I don't write all the songs. A lot of them are silly and weird but probably half of them are real. It comes naturally when I do it, you know when you're lying in bed at night and you can't get to sleep? Your mind is racing and you're just thinking about all the shit, it's like that, like the songs are trying to tell a story but not quite making.
The Forces Of Evil are Aaron, Chris, Derek, Jay, John, Jonny and Justin Evil. A family of 'sadistic guitar' players, 'treacherous' trombonists and 'dastardly' drummers, TFOE are a band borne out of a disillusion with the industry and the lack of inspiration it can promote.
The album, 'Friend Or Foe?', kicks off with 'Angry Anthem'. You can surely guess the mood of this track and complete with its 'F**k all you motherf**kers' chorus, it is a catchy yet focussed middle finger to the music execs that takes in the funkier side of the ska-punk formula. Complete with ska covers of tunes by Suburban Rhythm ('Go To Hell') and Van Halen ('Dance The Night Away') the album is a rigorous explosion of passion and emotion, gift wrapped in uplifting and cool ska riffs and grooves. Though it won't have the audience to set the world alight, it's is well worth a listen, even if you aren't into the scene. This ska supergroup is here to rattle Orange County, then on to the world!
'Friend Or Foe' is out now on Jive.
Check out www.theforcesofevil-ska.com
Writer: Dave Hardwick