This is a list consisting of my five favorite ska punk bands that never really broke out to have the amounts of success they deserved... If you know these bands, bravo!
Probably the most well-known band on this list, Spunge toured with Green Day and Dropkick Murpheys for a period of time. Upbeat and rather ostentatious (in the best connotation possible), this band was and still is the master of simple but exclamatory ska punk. Spunge also has a great collection of covers to supplement their original songs, including great renditions of “No Woman No Cry” and “Centerfold”. With awesome guitar riffs along with a unique, strong voice, the best part is that Spunge is still putting out new music!
4] The Planet Smashers
In contention with Spunge for reaching the largest levels of fame on this list, The Planet Smashers have been around since 1994, and are still together as a band. My favorite parts of their songs are their ridiculously catchy horn riffs, which show how creative and resourceful they are – The Planet Smashers only have a two part horn section (saxophone and trombone, as opposed to a full section with trumpets and alto/tenor sax’s). Their single, Unstoppable (check out the video), is one of my favorites, and that song alone constitutes how underrated the Planet Smashers are.
Japan is very open to American music, so why can’t we dabble a bit more into their culture? Potshot was a great Japanese ska punk band who was most popular in the late 90’s. A defining feature of the band was the awesome pace of their songs. They didn’t beat around the bush; Potshot was just pure, unadulterated, ska punk. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, you can’t deny the catch-y-ness and dance-a-bility of their songs, and it’s a shame that Potshot, along with many other non-English-speaking-bands, haven’t reached more success in the United States.
2] The Hippos
A very innovative band, The Hippos integrated many more “poppy” sounds (successfully) through the use of synths. The great part was that none of it detracted from the ska sound and feel of their songs. “Catchy” is an understatement for how to describe some of The Hippos’ songs – e.g. “Thinking” and “Something” (the synth solo followed by a guitar solo in this song is freaking amazing). With a lot of extra flair and sounds that aren’t heard anywhere else, The Hippos’ three released studio albums will hopefully be discovered by more ska punk fans everywhere.
1] The Chinkees
My favorite ska punk band you’ve probably never heard of, the Chinkees deserved so much more attention than they received. They were led by the ever-influential and under-appreciated Mike Park. Mike Park was first in the ska band, Skankin’ Pickle, and then went on to make the all-asian “The Chinkees” (an Asian in a rock band, let alone 4?!). His influence didn’t stop there, as he opened up his own record label, Asian Man Records, from his garage, signing a multitude of bands that weren’t really given a chance otherwise. Through this, bands like Big D and the Kids Table, Alkaline Trio and MU330 were popularized. The Chinkees only made 3 albums before disbanding in 2003 (they started in 1998), and the messages and legacy they left are, sadly, under-recognized.
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Julian Magdaleno from Queens, New York City on July 26, 2013:
Awesome call on the Hippos- they're very different.
Have you checked out a band called Deal's Gone Bad? Absolutely ridiculous ska/ soul out of Chicago.
kerouac1986 on March 24, 2012:
These are awesome bands we need bands like these in the mainstream instead hearing the same bullshit over and over again.
Kay B from Tampa, FL on November 23, 2011:
Great list, never heard about The Chinkee's. As for the Planet Smashers, have you heard their song Never Gonna Drink Again? It's my anthem after a night out with friends. Always :)