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High-desert ska band Spankshaft put out the long-awaited album Beasts and Goddesses earlier this year—and it was well worth the wait. Despite a series of recent lineup changes, including the departure of drummer Russel Waldron and bassist Brent Simpson, Spankshaft is soldiering on, including shows at Record Alley in Palm Desert on Saturday, Nov. 24, and The Hood Bar and Pizza on Friday, Dec. 28. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/spankshaft. Speaking of soldiers: One of the new members is Joel Daniel, a music educator, bagpiper and former Marine who now plays trombone for the band. He was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Sounds crazy, but (despite) being a performing artist for my entire adult life, I never really could find the time to go to any major performances until just last year. So I guess you could say that the first “real” concert I attended was Green Day’s Revolution Radio show in San Diego.

What was the first album you owned?

Too-Rye-Ay by Dexys Midnight Runners. I was 12, I think.

What bands are you listening to right now?

The Interrupters, The Dollyrots, Mad Caddies, Less Than Jake, Madness, Mustard Plug, Suburban Legends, My Chemical Romance, Green Day, and Evanescence.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

Today’s “popular” music. It’s over processed with benign lyrics and is simply too easy to digest. Gimme something with a little meat to it—something with chord progressions other than I-IV-V-I, challenging and inspiring instrumental solos, and meaningful poetry in lyrics.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

I would love to not just see, but to share the stage with The Interrupters and The Dollyrots.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Playing sousaphone in polka and Dixieland bands or rock ’n’ roll bagpipes.

What’s your favorite music venue?

That I’ve played in? I’d have to say the indoor venues would have to either be The Cave in Big Bear or Big Rock Pub. For outdoor venues, it’d be really hard to top the Empire Polo Grounds, where Spankshaft played for Rhythm, Wine and Brews, as well as the Desert Oasis festivals. Maybe we can make the lineup for Coachella sometime in the near future!

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“She. She’s figured out, all her doubts were someone else’s point of view,” Green Day, “She.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Van Halen. The 1984 album was the first time I discovered music of my own rather than just listening to whatever my parents were always playing. It would’ve been my first album purchase, but my brother had already bought it.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

“What would you like to learn first?” as asked to the rookie band student in high school who has very limited skill, but has the drive, determination and passion to take it all the way.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Being a professional bagpiper, I most definitely do not want “Amazing Grace” played. So with that being said, I’d have to say the slow version of “The Marines’ Hymn” played by a Marine Corps band.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Van Halen, 1984. You never forget your first love.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

I think you misspelled the word “album.” I know this is going to sound like a shameless plug, but Spankshaft’s Beasts and Goddesses is absolutely wonderful! I used to think that listening to your own recordings made you a narcissist. However, I can honestly say that Brandon Simpson’s songwriting is just so powerful that I honestly listen to Spankshaft’s music just for the pure enjoyment of it—even the album they recorded before I joined the band! After all, it was the music that inspired me to join them in the first place.

Published in The Lucky 13

If you've never listened to Daytime Moon before, you really should fix that. This majestic three-piece band—which includes Brent Simpson, formerly of Spankshaft—incorporates several different genres into the music. The band will perform at the Beatnik Lounge on Wednesday, Oct. 17, and The Saguaro on Friday, Oct. 26. For more information on Daytime Moon, visit www.facebook.com/daytimemoonband. Brent Simpson was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Canned Heat at Pappy and Harriet’s. I think I was about 10. I went up to country, and got my mojo workin’ for whisky and wimmen and boogie music. I’m serious. I realize those are all titles of songs by them, but I was 10 years old, and it blew my mind.

What was the first album you owned?

The first CD I ever bought with my own money was one of the Now That's What I Call Music! CDs, but I can’t remember which volume it actually was. The first album of a band that I actually liked and knew what I was getting into was Blink-182’s Enema of the State. Then it was pure mayhem, and I quickly maxed out my parent’s subscription to one of those “pick some CDs and get them in the mail”-type deals.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I am enjoying some Family Thief, Slothrust, Mystic Valley Band, Amine, Animals as Leaders, Mourners, and Jouska. I am also listening to the new Daytime Moon masters from Get Right Recording Studios.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

I don’t get why so many artists have to pop pills and drink cough syrup and all that nonsense. Life is beautiful, and mental health is not talked about enough. There are a ton of amazing artists out there who feel incomplete or unhappy the way their chemistry is, and they should be able to talk about it.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Jimi Hendrix! Or, maybe Elvis. This is a really hard question, because I feel like maybe Elvis wouldn’t live up to the expectations. Jimi would probably blow anyone away, but everyone probably chooses one or the other, so maybe Jimi.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Have you heard of The Moog Cookbook? Also, jazz ensembles are sometimes cool. I was a band geek back in the day, ya know, so I kinda have a different take on this.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Palms in Wonder Valley.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“This a rollie not a stopwatch, shit don’t ever stop,” Drake, “Nonstop.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

The Beatles. They taught me that love is all you need.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

I would ask Mozart: “DO YOU WANT TO JAM?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

I would love it if there was a karaoke-type thing and a sweet jam session or a drum circle, but if it had to be one song, it would probably be Blink-182's “Adam’s Song,” but played on a dozen ukuleles and one bass guitar. Or an a capella version of that “Time Traveler” song by The Flusters.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy. It’s the only album I own two of, so it must be my favorite, right?

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Alien Boy” by Oliver Tree. (Scroll down to hear it.)

Published in The Lucky 13

Spankshaft is often labeled as a “ska band.” However, the group, which calls Yucca Valley home, is much more than that.

Brandon Simpson (vocals/guitar), Brent Simpson (bass/vocals) and Russel Waldron (drums) recently sat down to discuss the band’s in-the-works new album, Beasts and Goddesses.

“We started, in March, layering down the drums and guitar sounds, and we’ve almost finished up the bass right now,” Brandon Simpson said. “The first album we recorded (Great Job, released in 2011) was just a collection of songs we had written. We were trying some new things. This one is more like an actual album, where we knew we were going to record a number of songs. It feels more like an album than an EP.”

Beasts and Goddesses will include songs both old and new.

“‘If We Lose Our Heads’ is a really old Spankshaft song. It’s never been properly recorded until now,” Brandon Simpson said. “We have another one called ‘I Was Just Leaving,’ which is a new one. That was written in the studio just from a guitar riff that we had.”

Spankshaft’s music definitely has ska elements, but the members also include a heavy-rock element in their sound. During live performances, it’s not uncommon to hear a cover of the Arctic Monkeys’ “I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor,” as well as songs by the Black Keys, Lit, Sublime and many others.

“There are a lot of reggae bands locally, but we are actually trying to be punk/ska. It definitely feels lonely in our genre,” Brandon Simpson said. “But we’re more than punk/ska; we do a lot of other stuff. We sound a little Queens of the Stone Age on some tracks, and Streetlight Manifesto and Blink-182 on others. A lot of ska songs use major keys. … I have a love for minor keys and dissonance, so we have a lot of dissonance ska.”

Waldron said the upcoming album is quite diverse.

“A lot of this album is branching off the ska genre,” Waldron said. “Every time we have a show, people are like, ‘Oh my god! Ska is still around!’ Ska is huge in San Francisco and in Mexicali, or even in Orange County or Los Angeles.

“We’re trying to be not just known as a ska band. Travis Barker from Blink-182 is my main inspiration. … You’re going to hear a lot of influence on that aspect. … Every song is different than the last, and that’s what I really love about it. Each song is different, but it’s still cohesive.”

Reggae is also included on the new album.

“We have some actual reggae jams on this album,” Brent Simpson said. “Russ and I spent a year learning how to do that reggae-feeling thing. Andy from Warsaw Poland Bros. showed me a lot of cool stuff to do on the bass. Everybody loves reggae. We started experimenting with different sounds and tones. For us, it’s really opened us up to anything.”

Waldron compared playing reggae to playing the blues.

“You have to have the soul and the heart, and if you don’t, you’re just going to sound like a fucking tape recorder,” he said. “You have to have that feel. I’ve also added a lot of electronics on my kit. I’m still playing with the octapad and trying to fit that in. Every time we go into the studio, I come out of it a better musician. It’s amazing, because you’re sitting down and dissecting every little part and thing you’re doing.”

Yucca Valley is home to a surprising number of fine musicians. Spankshaft’s saxophonist, Clint Stoker, and trombonist, Scott “Drago” Kisinger were touring with Gene Evaro Jr. at the time of our interview.

“Living in the desert, when you find as great of a group of musicians as we have … it’s easier to keep a group together,” Waldron said. “In a city, people are going to say, ‘Well, I’m going to go play with this band.’ We’re experiencing that right now with our horn-players, but it’s cool, because we still have our core. We’re not going anywhere; we’re still playing shows and sound tight as a three-piece. There’s a lot more patience and loyalty in the desert.”

The band has been together for almost 10 years, and has been through both trying times and great times. Some of the good times have included sharing the stage with bands such as Voodoo Glow Skulls, The English Beat, Unwritten Law, and many others. As for the trying times?

“We’ve been through lineup changes, different horn players, deaths in the family, births in the family and just about everything. I don’t know what else there is left for us to go through,” Brent Simpson said.

Brandon Simpson said Spankshaft will likely go on for quite some time.

“Both Russ and I have the band name tattooed on us,” Brandon Simpson said. “That’s probably the only tattoo I have that I have no regrets or second thoughts about. Russ and I have had conversations about how we’re going to keep doing this band until we’re too told to do it anymore, like the Rolling Stones, just because we like doing it.”

For more information on Spankshaft, visit www.spankshaft.com.

Published in Previews