“’Pick It Up! Ska In The 90’s'(CPRA Movie Reaction)& Ska Parade 30th Anniversary Show

Release Date: 5/1/2019                                                      

Format: Digital and Physical

Purchase Here: https://www.skamovie.com/shop-1

Production: PopMotion Pictures

Director/Writer/Stars (Per IMBD)

  • Director: Taylor Morden
  • Writer: Heather Augustyn
  • Stars: Tim Armstrong, Aaron Barrett, Christian Jacobs

Appearances by: (Per website)

The film features exclusive interviews with members of: 

The Aquabats • Big D and the Kids Table • Bim Skala Bim • Blink-182 • Bomb the Music Industry! • Buck-O-Nine • Catch 22 • Cherry Poppin’ Daddies • Dance Hall Crashers • Desorden Publico • Fishbone • Five Iron Frenzy • Goldfinger • The Goodwin Club • Hepcat • The Hippos • The Impossibles • Inspector • The Interrupters • Jump With Joey • Kemuri • King Apparatus • La Resistencia • Less Than Jake • Let’s Go Bowling • The Mad Caddies • Maldita Vecindad • Mephiskapheles • The Mighty Mighty Bosstones • MU330 • Mustard Plug • My Superhero • New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble • No Doubt • The Nuckle Brothers • the O.C. Supertones • Oingo Boingo • The Pietasters • Pilfers • The Porkers • Reel Big Fish • Rx Bandits • Save Ferris • The Selecter • Skankin’ Pickle • The Skatalites • The Slackers • Smashmouth • The Specials • Spring Heeled Jack • Starpool • Streetlight Manifesto • Sublime • Suburban Legends • The Suicide Machines • The Toasters • Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra • Voodoo Glow Skulls • and a bunch of other super rad ska related people!

Hey guys Skabones with CPRA here. Happy Holidays to everyone out there. Recently we received an advanced copy of Pick It Up Ska In the 90’s. Personally, I couldn’t help myself and dove in immediately. This film was directed by Tayloy Morden. Be sure to check out some of Taylor’s other movies such as, The Pick Up , The Last Blockbuster, Here’s to Life: The Story of The Refreshments, Gotcha. We reached out to Taylor, so be sure to read his thoughts on the film below. 

So before I go into more of the movie, Let’s talk more about your mom, I mean me Skabones. I grew up when Reagan was dropping bombs and Thatcher was invading the Falklands. Ska bands like English Beat, Madness, and The Specials were wrecking the UK charts. Given I’m only 42 now I was only about 5 or 6 years old then. So let’s jump back to the 90’s. I was an angry kid, hated my dad, we all hated our parents back then. As you can tell from my senior photo I was a real, “rebel”.

My friends and I were constantly going to shows around Denver. We even got tear gassed at the Propagandhi riot. For me personally I felt I belonged, but also that I didn’t belong. That something was missing for me. I was that square peg that never fits into the circle. I was a “Weird Kid”. So when a friend handed me a copy of “The Pietasters” by The Pietasters around 1994. Something in me finally clicked. I restarted my love for ska! As time progressed, my friends and I started going to more Ska shows like, Denver’s Five Iron Frenzy, Fishbone, Save Ferris, and many more. 

So let’s actually get into the movie. When the film opens I felt this immediate ocean of nostalgia come over me. As Tim Armstrong began his narration of the film I felt thrusted back into the 90’s. Someone hit me with a Slap bracelet! The list of media and bands in this film is insane. From legendary DJ’s such as Tazy Phillips to bands you might have thought disappeared. They are some great concepts and schools of thought discussed in the film such as How do you define ska? Have you ever tried to explain ska to someone? Did you know the classic black and white checkered style was not about racial unity? Out of nowhere the weird kids had a place to go and best of all it wasn’t a fashion parade. And suddenly there were trumpets in punk rock.

One of my favorite discussions is Did Kurt Cobain’s death kick off the 3rd Wave of Ska? If you think about it Cobain’s death marked the end of grunge and the start of something new. I’d really love to sit down some time with legendary KROQ DJ Tazy Phillips and asks just why was Sublime so hard to work worth? I can only guess it was Bradley’s addiction or other issues? I’ve watched this movie 3 times now and still find things I missed the first time around. Such as did you know skapunk embraced punk’s DIY boots on the ground self promotion? There was a war between the West coast Vs East Coast ska? Wait wut? As the 3rd wave rose in popularity bands started having more control over their shows such as Skank N Pickle refusing to play non all ages shows

Skabones is that you?

Another concept discussed, How does a ska band survive on the road? You have 5-10 members who have to sit practically on top of each other in the van. I found this part of the movie hilarious! Another personal favorite part of the movie is when gender was discussed and how female members were treated differently from their male counterparts. With venues sometimes thinking they were girlfriends, groupies, or wives of band members. Five Iron Frenzy’s -Leanor Inez Ortega Till discusses this issue in detail. Her section in the movie is a personal favorite. I scored an awesome interview with Leanor which you can read below. Guys I’m talking to you! It may be almost 2020 we may be getting better about inclusion, but newsflash, we are not there yet! 

As I said before the lists of bands and media personalities in this movie is incredible. Some of my favorite moments are with Angelo Moore, Ben Carr, Coolie from Pilfers, Moniqe Powell and Mike Park. Oh and Aaron Barret from Reel Big Fish, stays true to his name as over confident sell out. I guess hes’s the Aaron we all know. Haha! As the movie nears the end, the downfall and over market saturation of the 3rd wave are mentioned. Soon Emo and EDM began to take it’s place. The popularity here in the states may have fallen, but 3rd Wave continues to thrive in other countries.  

Overall I give Pick It Up – Ska In the 90’s a 9.5 out of 10. This movie is a perfected tribute to ska and in particular to the third wave. The little things you didn’t know, made a huge impact, not only in the ska scene, but the music industry in general. The only downside to the movie is no Op Ivy interview, but it’s really the least of my concerns.

Ska will never die, it will continue to evolve from it’s early Jamaican roots. So pick it up now at www.skamovie.com, via download, and now on DVD and Blu-ray! So let us know down in the comments below your best memory from the 3rd Wave! If you think Ska is dead, read more here, https://coloradopunkrockarmy.com/category/ska/

I reached out to the Director of Pick It up,  Taylor Morden for for some thoughts on the making of the film. 

Pic courtesy of IMBD

CPRA: First of congratulations on a fantastic movie!

Morden: Thanks! So glad you enjoyed it!

CPRA: What was different for you in directing Pick It Up – Ska In The 90s vs the other movies you have directed like The Last BlockbusterHere’s to Life: The Story of The Refreshments, Gotcha, Sticker Shock, and The Pick Up

Morden: Pick It Up! was the biggest project for me in terms of scope, there are over 80 bands featured in the movie, and we filmed in 4 countries over the course of a year and a half. It was also a very personal project for me.  I’ve played trumpet in ska bands for over 20 years now and this music has been a huge part of my life. Getting to talk with all the bands I’ve been a fan of for most of my life about the music that means so much to all of us has been an amazing experience.  In a way I got to tell a part of my own life story with the help of some of my all time favorite bands.

CPRA: What was the most difficult part in directing this movie? 

Morden: There were a lot of challenges along the way, but one of the hardest parts was trying to clear so many songs for the soundtrack, there’s a ton of music in the movie and for every song you hear there are a lot of hoops to jump through.  The other difficulties were things like scheduling the interviews around the availability of touring bands and digitizing huge piles of VHS tapes and scanning hundreds of photos, then trying to keep track of all the footage and archival materials and put together a story out of all of it.

CPRA: Was there at any moment you felt it was just too hard to make the movie and what pushed you to overcome if so? 

Morden: Somewhere, about half way through editing, we had a 5 and a half hour long rough cut of the movie… I wasn’t really sure how to get past that stage and down to something that people could actually watch. The main thing that kept us going on this project and helped us overcome obstacles like that was the support of the ska community!  The bands and the fans have been a huge help in motivating us to to try and make the movie as comprehensive, fun, and informative as we could. 

CPRA: We know you can’t really play favorites with any scenes. However; what is one scene that really makes you nostalgic for making the film? 

Credit Pic located here

Morden: Not sure if you’re referring to scenes in the movie, or local music scenes… in the movie, there’s a part titled: the horn section that means a lot to me, as a horn player, that part is really autobiographical and I feel like that’s the kind of thing that maybe another film maker would not have included. If you mean music scenes, that’s a tough one, since we learned so much about so many ska scenes making the movie, and our local scene in Eugene Oregon doesn’t really feature in the film, I’d have to say that the stuff about the Japanese ska scene is my favorite. 

CPRA: What advice do you have for independent filmmakers trying to get their names out there?

Morden: I’m not sure I’m in any position to give advice, but as an independent filmmaker, I really believe in the DIY work ethic that it often takes to get anything done.  That often means long hours and difficult obstacles to overcome. So the advice I would have is: choose topics that you really care about. You’re going to be stuck working on a movie, especially a documentary, for years.  So if you aren’t really invested in the subject matter that can get tedious. But as the cat hanging from the tree says ‘hang in there’. 

CPRA: Thanks Taylor that’s some great information!

Colorado Ska Roots

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It’s no secret Denver has a kickass ska scene. From 3rd Wave, Trad ska, Latin Ska, Ska Core you name it, it’s here. I gained the nickname “Skabones”, because its my go to! I skanked my first ska show at the Ogden to likes of Five Iron Frenzy and more ska locals. Has ska died since Emo/EDM/Folk took its place? Hell No! Colorado has a ton of ska bands, Dendrites, Last Reel Here, Younger Than Neil, Sorry Sweetheart, People Corrupting People, some punk bands that throw in some skapunk from time to time. 

Ska is alive and doing amazing in our great state. I also reached out to Leanor Inez Ortega Till from Denver’s Five Iron Frenzy. Leanor stars in the film and thought she would have some great input from the film. 

CPRA: Five Iron Frenzy was a huge part of Denver’s Third Wave in the 90’s to many of us. What was the Denver ska scene like at the time for Five Iron? For you in particular? Your favorite venue to play back then Vs now?

Leanor: In the 90s there wasn’t a huge ska scene in Denver but lots of bands were traveling through so Five Iron was lucky enough to open for some several of them. The first years we were a band we got to open for for Less Than Jake, Goldfinger, The Pietasters, and MU330 in Colorado. Shows didn’t always happen in a big proper venue; the scene was much more creative. We opened for Goldfinger in the student center of CSU in Ft. Collins and we played with The Aquabats in a bowling alley in Golden. Now in the 2000s many of these bands are performing again and it is amazing being able to play shows with them all over the United States.

My favorite Denver venues back in the day were The Mercury Cafe and Club 156. The Mercury Cafe was more of a coffee shop that catered to the slam poetry crowd but on ska show nights everyone was worried the top floor would cave in! We had some major ska pits happening upstairs! Club 156 was named that because it only could hold 156 people. It was the tiny student center on the CU Boulder campus. There were so many legit ska shows at that tiny venue! 

These days Five Iron loves playing larger venues like The Showbox in Seattle and The Exit In in Nashville. It’s so fun to play venues with high end sound systems and see everyone bringing their kids and having a good time!

Photo By Leslie Janine

CPRA: You mentioned in the film the issues you faced being a woman in a male driven music industry. Since the 90s has this changed, improved, gotten worse? Not just in the band, but overall in the music industry?

Leanor: Since the 90s the music industry has changed in many ways but sadly there are still very few women in bands as compared to men. I attended the Back To The Beach festival in California in the summer of 2019 and there was only one woman musician during the two day festival, singer Monique Powell from Save Ferris. Denver is an exception to this rule. There are so many women in bands in Denver and I’m not exactly sure why, maybe there is a better support system or visibility. 

Photo By Leslie Janine

Leanor is exactly right Denver’s home to so many talented ladies in bands! 

CPRA: Last question. Thank for your time by the way! Do you think there will ever be a 4th Wave of ska or is 3rd Wave the norm for going forward?

Leanor: That is a very good question! I think there will be a fourth wave of ska which will include traditional sounds from other countries in Latin America and Asia. As for the fourth wave in the United States, I think that the younger generation will be inspired by the 3rd wave of the 90s and continue to make new and exciting songs/styles which will incorporate upbeats and horns from the 3rd wave.

Thanks Leanor for amazing information and be sure to checkout her band Five Iron Frenzy! You can currently stream the movie here with purchase, https://vimeo.com/ondemand/pickitup. Or if you’re like me buy a physical copy here, https://www.skamovie.com/shop-1.

Don’t forget the awesome Blu-Ray/DVD release party at the Bluebird on Jan 30, 2019!  The Ska Parade 30th Anniversary show!

  • Los Kung Fu Monkeys
  • Hans Gruber and the Die Hards
  • The Holophonics 
  • Joker’s Republic
  • The Dendrites
  • Showing clips of Pick It Up – Ska in the 90s film between the acts! If you love SKA! Go!
  • Ages: 16 & Over
  • Doors Open: 6:00 PM

Check out out Tribute Playlist to Pick It Up Ska in The 90’s a combo of all waves!


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