Hub City Stompers are one of my personal favorite bands. Primarily a ska band (with tons of other genre influences) from New Brunswick, NJ The substance and thought of songs is just right from real songs like “Chatterbox” and hilarious parodies like “Skins Don’t Cry”. This band is keeping busy with big things coming this year. So get your ass out to their show for a good ol’ fashion time.
I got to speak with the man himself, Rev Sinister, and here’s what he had to say…
I’ll “double back slash” your throat and “delete” your fucking spleen -Chatterbox
BBM: What’s your name and what do you do for the band?
Travis, a.k.a. Rev Sinister.
BBM: When/how did the band form?
Rev Sinister: The band was officially a fully formed and functional band by the summer of 2002. When we recorded our first song, “Night Of The Living”, for the ‘Still Standing’ compilation on Megalith Records.
Prior to that, for most of the 90’s, I was a front-man for the NJ Ska band INSPECTER 7, but Inspecter 7 stopped playing regularly and went on a hiatus by fall of 2001. I wasn’t done playing yet, so I decided to form a new band to keep something going. Fortunately a few of the other i7 members were down to jump onto the new project, so I found a few more people to fill in the remaining positions and we were off and running and writing by spring of ’02. We’ve, of course, been through a few line up changes since then.
BBM: How did you come up with the bands’ name?
Rev Sinister: Initially we were throwing all sorts of names around for the new band. I personally didn’t want anything too closely related to i7, being that there were already some i7 members in this band, and I didn’t want it necessarily seen as “Inspecter 7 #2” but as a separate entity and new band. Aside from the fact that most of the names we came up with sucked, Skoochie (from i7 who, was our tenor sax player at the time) suggested that we just call the band Hub City Stompers, as the reality of the matter was that we WERE in fact comprised of several i7 members at the time and we were also still based out of New Brunswick, known in NJ as the “Hub City”. So despite the reference to i7, I agreed with it as it seemed to make sense.
BBM: When forming, did you expect the band to be such a big success?
Rev Sinister: Well, I guess it’s all relative and a matter of perspective as to how large of a “success” we’ve been, but I am definitely pleased with the fact that we’ve been able to enjoy some popularity within the underground scene all around the U.S. I honestly didn’t know what to expect at the time of the band’s formation, as the ska scene was seemingly once again in the doldrums. But that wasn’t really on my mind at the time. I was doing this for my love of the music, not the popularity of it.
BBM: Bands influences?
Rev Sinister: Everyone who gets to hear a good sampling of our sound knows that our influences are all over the board. While we are definitely based in ska, and generally considered a ska band, our influences range from Ska (Inspecter 7, of course) Bad Manners, The Specials, The Busters, Madness, The Skoidats, Mephiskapheles, Operation Ivy, Prince Buster, Judge Dread), Oi! (The Last Resort, The 4Skins, Stormwatch), Hardcore (Murphy’s Law, Sheer Terror, No Redeeming Social Value), and even some Hip-Hop influences in there on occasion.
BBM: Three words that describe the band?
Rev Sinister: Sarcastic. Fun. Drunk.
BBM: How is the scene different now compared to when the band first started?
Rev Sinister: The ska/punk/oi!/hardcore scenes tend to wax and wane in the U.S. in general, especially the ska scene. So when we first started it was pretty much right after the inevitable “crash” that came right after that mid-late 90’s ska “boom”. Things were pretty quiet at the time we started in 2002, but progressively grew with time. There were a few unsettling evolutions and incarnations within the ska scene along the way, but I’d say here 10 years later it’s grown into a larger, more diverse, and more appreciative scene.
BBM: Funniest touring moment?
Rev Sinister: Oh jeez. I have to apologize because there’s no way in hell we’re gonna be able to pick one in particular. That one question is an entire interview in itself.
BBM: I just read in an interview that San Antonio, TX is one of your favorite tour spots. Got any good stories about our city?
Rev Sinister: Again, there are plenty of stories we could spin about S.A. But the bottom line is we love it for it’s scene, and the spirit, passion, loyalty, insanity, and outright fun that the faithful people here bring to each show we play. We definitely regret the distinct division within a segment of the S.A. scene, and find it terribly unfortunate because without this division, San Antonio would easily be one of the best, strongest, and most unstoppable scenes in the entire country. And we also regret it as we have friendship, respect, and admiration for both sides. We still fantasize about a united S.A. scene, but nonetheless, even with these constraints, we always wind up having a great time in S.A. Hands down in our top 5 favorites easily, if not right up top.
BBM: Outside of that, what our your other favorites?
Rev Sinister: Aside from our beloved home scenes in NJ/NYC (even though they’re some spoiled & jaded bastards sometimes!, ha), other favorite scenes are Chicago, Houston, and California in general.
BBM: How has the sound of the band changed since the forming?
Rev Sinister: It was my initial intention for HCS was to expand the diversity of sound and influence from that of Inspecter 7. And though we did do just that right off the bat, we did still start off relatively confined within the Ska sound, as you can hear on our first CD “Blood, Sweat, and Beers”. But you can definitely hear our expansion in sound and variety of influence with each CD after that. We’re definitely even more diverse sound wise now than we were 10 years ago.
BBM: I just wanted to add, I loved the covers I heard over the years such as “Skins Don’t Cry”. Any plans for new covers?
Rev Sinister: Ha, well, songs like “Skins Don’t Cry” I consider more “parody” than “cover” (kinda like a ska incarnation of Weird Al Yankovic). And “Skins Don’t Cry” is definitely not the only parody I’ve done. Another popular one seems to be “Pants Music” which is a parody of the Adam & The Ants song “Ant Music” that I “adapted” lyrically into a song about how badly the emo scene sucks. That has yet to be released but we’ve been playing it live for a couple years so it’s pretty well known. (Ironically enough, in the early 80’s, Black Flag did a skit utilizing the very same song to mock the New Wave scene). Hell, even the tale end reggae breakdown in “Little Julie Swastiska” is a parody of the Tiffany hit “I Think We’re Alone Now” (which is a cover itself). Jeez, I think I really age myself with all these parodies I do…. they tend to all be 80’s songs.
Now there are actual covers that we do and have done such as Bad Manners “Skinhead Love Affair”, 4Skins “Plastic Gangsters”, Melanie Fiona’s “Somebody Come Get Me”, Outburst’s “Miles To Go”, Gary Numan’s “Down In The Park”, and Suzi Quatro’s “The Wild One”.
BBM: What are some words of wisdom you would give a youth wanting to be in a band?
Rev Sinister: Play the kind of music you love, but develop your own definable sound and style. Don’t be a carbon copy of anyone, be it your heroes or the next guy.
BBM: What’s coming up for the band in the future?
Rev Sinister: Recording wise, we are trying our damnedest to get 2 new CD’s out by year’s end: our new full length CD entitled “Hater’s Dozen” (Stubborn Records) which we hope to get out by the fall, and our 10th Anniversary edition of our debut CD “Blood, Sweat, & Beers” (Megalith Records) which will include the “Mass Appeal” EP as bonus tracks as well as 5 brand new unreleased songs.
Tour wise, we’ll likely be sticking to up and down the east coast. I was hoping to try for the west coast in November but that’s looking unlikely at this point.
And general band-wise, well… you never know. Let me just say that there may very well be some interesting developments coming down the pike. Things may wind up coming “full cirlce”, so to speak. I’ll leave it at that…
BBM: Where can fans pick up your merch?
BBM : Any last words? Anything you want to add?
Rev Sinister: Thanks for the interview and interest. Hopefully we get out to the town of anyone reading this (including San Antonio!) sooner rather than later. You can follow our goings-on at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hub-City-Stompers/194996510716 and contact us for booking at firstname.lastname@example.org. Til we get there, keep party hot and the beer cold!
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