Underground TV's Backflash Vol. II No. VI, June 1995
The Miggedys Skank 'Til You Graduate by Ralph Tetta
To listen to the Miggedy's call the Backflash Jukebox, 723-2JAM, menu 6 enter #252694
The Miggedy's they of the Home of Pittsford Ska, a new CD called An Informal Gathering, and several members who plan to go off to college in a few short months, are a bunch of average ordinary high school seniors by day, but turn the house lights off and light up the stage and they become a finely-tuned Ska machine. I sat down with them one evening and talked to them about their music, their plans, & the events that led to the informal gathering known as The Miggedys.
RT: This is a pretty big group, so let's just go around and get some introductions.
JB: O.K. I'm Jon Barra, I play guitar
ML: I'm Megan Loomis and I do vocals
TG: I'm Tricia Gonzalez, singer.
KS: Keith Souhrada, trombone
NM: Nancy McKnight, saxophone
AO: Andy Oyer, bass!
DS: Doug Shrank, baritone sax
JV: I'm Jim Van Allan, manager [R.I.P. 2009]. There's some members missing tonight, Jeff Steinheider, tenor sax, Matt Smith, trumpet, and Adam Gross, drums.
RT: O.K. An Informal Gathering, why?
AO: Our drummer came up with it
JB: I believe he said
we originally just wanted to put a collage on the front, just a bunch of pictures of us the one that's
(continued on page 22 col x.)
inside the CD, and he said Wouldn't it be a cool thing to call it An Informal Gathering? or we were going to get all dressed up, and call it that as a paradox or an irony, or whatever
RT: How did you all come together? Where did the group start?
AO: It started with Jon, Adam and I, we just used to play together and we decided to take on horns
I was in an old band called Skaboola-rah and they broke up, and Adam the drummer, was supposed to fill in on the last Skaboola-rah show, so I already knew him. We were going to get together and play, Jon played guitar, so the drummer didn't leave, so Adam didn't play with us. When that was over, then I told him OK. You can play with us and the last Skaboola-rah show, Nancy was there, and one of the guys in the band said, You play saxaphone
do you want to be in a band? and we all agreed upon it, she's friends with Jeff. We had another trombone player that was also in Skaboola-rah, and he left, so we get Keith, Loomis was with us on-and-off for a while. Jon heard Tricia singing in the hallway at school, so we got her, and then Doug and Matt added on.
RT: When the band started was it a Ska band?
JB: It was a power-funk trio!
AO: It was a Primus rip-off
it was bad.
RT: When you moved over to Ska, was it something that just happened?
JB: When we started off, Oyer played the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and we kind of had a Ska influence, so we were playing happy stuff. At the same time, we'd throw ugly stuff in the same song, we'd mess around and make ugly shit, and when we picked up horns players we started to get a lot more structured, and especially when we get vocals after that, it was really just in a whole different direction.
AO: We'd been together two and a half, three years, and we really didn't get our act together until the end of last summer (1994). We opened for Bim Skala Bim at the Boogie Bar, and we were really excited, and that was a show that I had been waiting six months to get, and we were terrible, and that's when we sat down and said If we're going to get shows like this, we've got to get serious. That's when we really started to become what we are now. Everything before that was up in the air, members coming and going, nothing serious.
RT: What was the catalyst for getting the CD together?
AO: Well we wanted to do a live recording, we were dying to do a live recording, people were always asking us for a recording, but it didn't turn out the way we were expecting it to. We just weren't happy with the quality.
TG: The vocals sucked!
ML: It was bad, I felt pretty guilty
RT: Well isn't some of the stuff on Informal Gathering live?
AO: Yeah, those we thought were O.K. The problem, I guess is that in a live show, some of the vocal harmonies are hard to hit, and that's something that really came together nicely on the (studio) album. The production on the CD is a lot better than the live thing.
JB: We would've felt bad charging people the same amount of money for a studio tape as we would for that, so we let our friends come up and say can you dub me this show, or that show but none of the live stuff was the type of thing that we wanted to put our name on and sell.
RT: Had any of you had any studio experience?
AO: Last year in the spring, Jon was an intern at Dajhelon, and he had to do a final project, so he decided to record us, so we went in there and it was definitely a learning lesson. We didn't sound the way we sound now, and we didn't sound the way we wanted to sound. It was just too clean. It wasn't right.
JB: Nothing against Dajhelon, it was just the way we were produced, and I don't want to burn any bridges here. I had a really great time at Dajhelon. Met a lot of great people but when you listened to the recording, it just didn't sound the way we sounded.
RT: Lyrically, where do your lyrics come from?
ML: Mostly me and Tricia. Once in a while, Jon and Andy will come up with the lyrics they want, for their songs, or other times Jon and I will sit down and say, well I want this type of mood or something like that, like one afternoon we whipped off the lyrics to a song in 50 minutes to a hour. Jon just kept playing it over and over again for me and it just came along. Other times it depends on who writes the lyrics. If Tricia writes the lyrics, we'll go back and add Tricia's harmonies. But we've been writing more songs together than we did in the beginning, which I think is important because the songs would be very polarized, very this way or that way, and then we came up with songs that were a happy medium, which is good.
RT: When you're writing a song, how do you decide what to write about?
TG: Most of the time, it's things that are going on around us.
RT: Like what?
ML: My favorite quote I ever heard was.. my mom says this all the time, she says Don't cross Megan, or you'll wind up in a song! and it's so true, because like anyone can testify that if they pissed me off, or whatever happened. Like two weeks later they'll be in a song about it.
RT: Well, then this begs the question, who pissed you off and wound up in a song?
JB: We don't want to use his name
We'll call him George! I did that one time... I took a shot at someone in a song. The first line was about an old girlfriend of mine
AO: We'll call her Jane!
JB: We've been debating for six months now if she even knows it's about her
we know it's one of her favorite songs, but I'm not sure if she knows it's for her, or just a catchy little tune.
RT: That's a happy story, and a sad story at the same time!
AO: You'd asked how it all came together
We've always started with the music, and this is something that may change depending on the girls, where they'll have something that they've written, and they'll try to work it out with a song, or we'll try to write to it, and that's where we're at now. I know a lot of bands start out with vocals, but with us, it's always the music first.
RT: How are the music opportunities for playing out in Rochester?
KS: Basically what we wanted to do, in a nice way, is to leech off of other bands and suck some of their fans away.
JB: Suck is such an ugly word
KS: We wanted to get a base of audiences
AO: We wanted to get into the Ska crowd
that's our music. We wanted to play in front of their fans, because that's the kind of music we play, too.
TG: We also like those bands, so it's fun opening up for them and meeting them.
AO: They're our heroes.
RT: How is the Rochester Ska Scene? Is it thriving? Is it strong?
AO: It does not exist, but we're working on it.
TG: It's getting a lot better
ML: And all the people at our schools (PMHS & SOTA) know what Ska is. A lot of people showed up at our CD release party at Milestones (7 May 95). Like this guy showed up on a two-toned motorcycle, like checkers, and at the Bosstones show at R.I.T. (5 May 95) There were a lot of skankers who had never heard us before,
(continued next/ page 23)
and they were like Hey!, this is great! It's like very underground now.
JV: The record stores we've put the CDs in are selling out, the record stores are playing the CD and it's gotten local interest, and when the group opened for the Bosstones, people were coming up and buying the CD and wanting to know about the band, and DJ's from local college stations were trying to get the band to play at their colleges. It's very college-oriented right now.
AO: Ska in Rochester is at the same level as Ska across the world. It's growing in momentum, there's more of a movement, and it's been dubbed like the third wave of Jamaican Ska. I think Rochester's a good example
In Boston, it's huge, in New York, in L.A., it's huge, but all the other cities it's just like Rochester, it's catching on.
JB: Maybe some day we can have people complaining about kids running around wearing ties and thin suspenders instead of flannel shirts and boots. That's what we're shooting for.
RT: What are your goals as a group? Do you talk about that?
NM: I guess next year we have an interesting situation because we are all seniors right now, and some of us are taking off for school. So right now we're discussing what's going to happen with the band, and where we're going to go with it. I guess it's up in the air and we want to play it by ear, but I know we want to do another CD by next year, by next winter, and we're going to stay together as much as possibleand if something greay happens we can all take a year off. There are some people that are staying in Rochester, so the ones that are going away are going to be sad, but we'll be back together over the summer and during vacations.
AO: We wanna tour! We really do. We want to hit the road
TG: We will get big. Oh yes, we will get big.
RT: Can the band play out with members missing?
TG: It can be done, but there's always a gap when any member is missing. I consider this band like one big family, and coming from a kid who doesn't have any parents, this band is like one huge family to me.
JB: Group hug! Insert loving here
RT: Is there a band philosophy?
JB: Every man for himself!
JV: Work hard, look good, die young.
AO: Skank 'til ya boot! Basically it's have fun 'til you're gone.
JB: And stay away from the drummer's posterior
RT: Who came up with The Home of Pittsford Ska?
AO: I didn't know it was going to be made such a big deal of, but I put it on as a joke, because all these Boston bands, they're all like, we're from Cambridge Street, we're from Allston, so I thought it would be funny, like let's put Pittsford on the map as a joke, and I guess it's being taken seriously. It was really just a Ska thing to do, it's tradition in Jamaica, when there's like two clubs that have a crosstown rivalry, so it's the Ska thing that you're proud of where you're from, so that's how it is.
JV: Just a note, the band is being invited to put three tracks on a forty track Ska compilation CD later this summer that's on MoonSky Records [sic], and is distributed through Caroline Records so that is coming up very soon. (V/A Spawn of Skarmageddon)
RT: I guess the most important question that needs to be asked is.. What's a Miggedy?
AO: This is the wrong band to ask, because there's no real
it just kind of came about. It all goes back to
I have a friend Eric Burns [sic] who did a guest vocal on the album, and we used to call him Miggedy Murns, an call it the Miggedys. Well, we didn't have a name because Skaboola-rah broke up, and we couldn't keep that name because it was another guy's concept, so we needed a name.
ML: I remember at one point you wanted to call it The Bridgeheads or something
AO: We just came up with the most stupid names
ML: Well, Adam looked it up because he always has to have a reason for something, and it means annoying little child in Scottish Gaelic.
AO: And there's about three people left in the world who use it in their vocabulary.
RT: The important thing is, are they fans?
JB: Well, bring them down here and we'll make them!
RALPH TETTA has been performing standup comedy since 1988, taking his act to 35 different states and one Canadian province. The success of Ralphs act is that he never performs the same show twice, calling on his vast repertoire of written material along with his improvisational skills to craft a one-of-a-kind show for each individual audience.
He has the ability to shift from ripping on current events and items in local and national news headlines to a hilarious examination of his personal life, and being a middle-aged married man with a young daughter, a variety of health concerns and living in an inner-city neighborhood in Western NY, he has no short supply of topics from which to draw comedy material.
Learn more at RALPHTETTA.COM
Above interview © Copyright RJ Kingston III 1995.
Reproduced for historic purpose mostly. << back to Miggedy page
duke.edu/~nem1/miggedys.html used to work (1995-99)
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