Side of ska

Sings Sunny Side Up frontman Lance Godfrey, “Growing up in suburbia,
nothing ever seemed too strange / But little did they know that we’re
all secretly deranged / One chance to get out, guitar in hand / I
proudly stand out from the crowd.”

Emblematic of youth and capturing the promise of escape, the expression comes from the Oklahoma City ska band’s new, debut EP. Young, footloose and free, the boisterous tunes and rebellious tone are the sound of recent high school grads rolling good times and high spirits into a career choice of sorts.

Bassist Garland Moore got the ball rolling about a year ago when he posted “Let’s start a ska band” as his Facebook status. Guitarist Tanner Smith seconded the notion, and while talking about it with his girlfriend at a restaurant, an eavesdropping Godfrey asked, “Hey, do you need a singer?”

Godfrey brought along trumpet player Tanner Hughes; trombonist Austin Meyer was discovered through Facebook; and drummer Johnathan Box was the last addition, thanks to a Craigslist ad. A London transplant studying at the University of Central Oklahoma, Box brings an appropriate flair to a musical style that began in England.

“It’s great having a real British person in the band, because in Oklahoma, that’s a rarity,” said Moore, also at UCO. “It’s like the accent catches them off-guard, and it’s a big hit with the ladies.”

Moore initially was inspired by online animations, many backed by ska icons like Reel Big Fish and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Intrigued, he downloaded a bunch of their music, slowly tracing his way back to ska’s English origins around the time of the late-’70s punk movement.

That interest was bolstered when he and Classy San Diego guitarist Andy Benton recorded a four-song EP they posted to Bandcamp.

Recorded live at a Conservatory show, it offers an early hint of Sunny Side Up’s foot-stomping energy. Recorded at Southern Nazarene University, which Smith attends, the new, self-titled EP greatly polishes and hones that formula, revisiting those songs along with several new tracks.

“I think those recordings really helped us flesh out those tracks and make them the best they can be. It was a very long, painful process,” said Moore. “I wanted it to turn out amazing, and I think the guys in retrospect will appreciate that I made them do that.”

The band, which practices for a couple hours twice a week, is already planning its next release, and considering modest changes in direction.

“We’re talking about calming down and writing songs from a different lyrical style,” Moore said. “The plan’s to make stuff that’s less power chord-heavy and more bouncy.”

Chris Parker

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