Volume 94, Issue 24
Thursday, October 12, 2000
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Ska music's royal family
Gazette File Photo
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN, THE BEAT MOVEMENT IS OVER?" Stylish ska practioners, The Kingpins, will kick it Jamacian style at Call The Office tonight, with local favourites Angry Agency.
By Matt Pearson
The Kingpins have a plan. It involves taking over the Canadian ska scene with an energetic live show, dressed to perfection in suit coats and thin ties.
The Montreal band is currently on the road in support of their latest release, Plan of Action. As lead singer Lorraine Muller quips, the new album offers quite a different flavour. "This third album is a total departure. It was very stressful and scary because it was such a new direction. We thought, 'This doesn't sound anything like the Kingpins'," she laughs.
To their relief, the Kingpins' new album is doing well commercially. Still, Muller is realistic about album sales. "If we don't sell albums, I'm not going to have a vehicle to tour in or a house to live in. I want the band to continue having fun and in order to do that, sales are important," she explains, adding a number of videos will be released over the next couple months, in hopes of providing listeners with a visual idea of who the band is.
Muller, who has been with the band since its inception in 1995, has a clear understanding of ska's history and variations. The Kingpins maintain they are rooted in traditional Jamaican ska. Despite these Jamaican roots, ska also comes wrapped in a bacon-soaked, beaver-loving Canadian sweater. "There is absolutely a Canadian ska sound, but you can sort of regionalize it," Muller asserts. "Each Canadian ska band has a distinctive sound I don't think there are two ska bands that have the same sound in Canada."
The world of ska, which experienced a re-emergence in the latter half of the 1990s, has come a long way according to Muller. "Every band tries to discover something new. It's not a great thing to put out an album that sounds like all of your other albums; that's using a formula that works," she explains.
If the Kingpins ever had a formula, it was surely turned on its head when their former frontman left the band to pursue other ventures. By no plan of her own, Muller inherited the role of lead singer and spokesperson. However, she does not find the burden of responsibility too great, as she has been managing the band since 1997. "Losing our frontman changed the feel of our band. I'm now the face. I'm the person people look to. I feel comfortable in the role, but it was a huge change," Muller confesses.
As any avid ska fan will tell you, the music is definitely experienced best in a live show. "It's dancing music," she laughs. "Whether it's live or played, it should be played in a club where there's dancing. It's not fair to play it where you're just sitting around having beer. I mean, it's okay, but it's not background music."
Muller gushes, "I'm so happy to be involved in a form of music that's lively and gets people up and dancing," adding that bands dedicated to maintaining the traditions of ska usually dress well on stage. "It makes you feel a little bit more like a unit. When you're onstage and you present yourself as one well-dressed unit, it feels better," she explains. Muller's ideal ska look involves a very specific type of suit, with small lapels and three buttons, usually worn with skinny ties.
As the band's recently appointed spokesperson, Lorraine Muller seems quite comfortable in her skin. "I see this as what I'd like to do for the rest of my life and if I don't have to 'work' to pay my rent, I'd appreciate that, too. If I didn't have to worry about money, then I wouldn't have any other worries."
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