CATCHING UP WITH HORACE PANTER OF THE SPECIALS

The Specials are like most other great bands that expire before they’ve been properly consumed. Get together with some friends, make music, travel around the world, fight like brothers and sisters do and then break up before the rest of us had a chance to know ya.

But a lot of time and space can change things. The British punk/ska/reggae band decided to give it another go back in 2008 and so far have managed to stay out of each others hair. See them Saturday, July 20th at The Stone Pony along with Little Hurricane and The Skels. Doors at 4PM. $35 in advance, $40 at the door. Click here for tickets

Let’s hear what band member Horace Panter has to say about the rest.

ANCHOR: Give us a brief history of the band?

PANTER: Formed in 1977 in Coventry, the once industrial heart of England (see Detroit). Rose to prominence in 1979 with the unique mix of punk & ska reggae & their own record label 2Tone, which also released records by Madness, The English Beat & The Selecter. Had first UK number one with Too Much Too Young- a live E.P. in February 1980 & the second  number one, Ghost Town, in July 1981. This only 3 months before splitting up.

ANCHOR: Why did you guys split and ultimately why did you decide to start touring again?

PANTER: We set ourselves a very punishing work schedule. Also we attempted to change musical styles. After four years of living in one another’s pockets, we couldn’t stand the sight of one another. Plus all that sex, drugs and rock n’ roll bullshit.

ANCHOR: What has it been like hitting the road again?

PANTER: In the years since our original split, our music grew & grew to new generations of fans. There was a demand there but we didn’t think it would be as big as it is.

specials2The band today

ANCHOR: What has it been like hitting the road again?

PANTER: We set ourselves a more realistic schedule commensurate with our ages ( we are all nearer retirement age than voting age!). The response from the audiences has been nothing short of amazing!

ANCHOR: Obviously ska has been up and done in popularity for decades. What is it about the genre that got you guys started? And how has the genre evolved since then?

PANTER: When we first started out, we were attempting to fuse punk with reggae. Ska was a plan where punk rock could be played with a discernible swing & reggae could be played with more of a “punk” feel. The US “third wave” has taken it to both old & new audiences.

There are some superb bands over here who sound just like 60’s rock steady records & there are others who are playing the off-beat at something approaching the speed of light!

ANCHOR: Tell us about The Specials recent history?

PANTER: We got together at the end of 2008 to discuss the viability of re-forming. We played a sold out UK concert tour in April 2009 & have been playing since. There are five original members of the band involved. Jerry Dammers & Neville Staple are not with us.

ANCHOR: Who taught you dudes how to dress so well?

PANTER: Ska music was one of the musical styles of The Mods, British youth culture from the early/mid sixties. It came with its own fashion- Italian suits, button down shirts & loafer shoes. It was natural for The Specials to adopt it especially as a lot of the items could be purchased from goodwill stores.

ANCHOR: iPod or Vinyl?

PANTER: Vinyl I have at home but IPod on tour.

ANCHOR: Anything else you want to add?

PANTER: America has been the bogeyman (spelled boogeyman in the US) of The Specials since 1980 when it exhausted us on our first tour & drove home the nails (in) our coffin on the second tour. Hopefully history will not repeat itself!!!

Let’s hope not.

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