By Bo Rhodes
What happened to the sound? The sound of happiness? The sound of bliss? The sound of ska? The sound of King Apparatus?
With the re-release of the band’s previous albums, King Apparatus and Marbles, Canada’s premier ska band is back with a vengeance.
"[It’s] a chance to celebrate the re-release. It gives us a chance to give closure to some things that we thought needed changing," explains bassist Mitch Girio. "The packaging has changed as well as some of the sounds. We sifted through a lot of DAT tapes and put the songs into two groups. One of the bonus songs on Marbles was taped at the Big Leaf Palace show after our last tour."
"These albums have both been out of print since the mid-’90s and nobody has them for sale so we wanted to get them out,"added lead singer Chris Murray.
The idea for King Apparatus’ return occurred about a year ago.
"It really started when a friend of mine had an mp3 site and put the two albums up on his site," says Murray. "That started the wheels rolling. I talked to Mitch and the whole thing kind of evolved. Asian Man and Stomp records were both interested in re-issuing the albums and the band was interested in getting back together to do limited playing to support [the albums]. We’re all really happy that this is happening. It’s exciting that we’re playing together right now."
Ska music has enjoyed a rise in popularity since King Apparatus last toured.
"The awareness is much, much greater," says Girio.
With the changing face of music, Murray is positive about the reception ska has received.
"I think it’s great. A few years ago, ska was a huge buzz word. All the bands that were getting commercial top-40 play were playing something that was ska influenced, but not really a ska approach entirely. They really grabbed a lot of attention. I think in the long run that’s really good. Ska sounds were all top 40 fodder."
Five years have passed since King Apparatus last toured.
"It’s the original members on this tour," Girio says. "It’s hard to pinpoint the core-vet group but that won’t be any problem. On one tour, the band performed as the opening act as well, only playing in a different style. Most of the audience couldn’t even tell that we were the same band."
Time won’t affect the band though. "I think we’re just getting over the rustiness. It’s our third
rehearsal today and everytime we play the songs it’s more and more fluid. I think everybody’s got the stuff so drilled into them, so that it’s really second nature. It’s like coming out of hibernation," comments Murray.
Touring will differ for the band compared to their first couple of gigs.
"Your first tours are all about depravation: sleeping outside, sleeping on floors, just trying to pay the bills," says Girio.
It’s not always shits and giggles on the road though. Murray relates a story, "We were in a diesel van, out on the prairies, and somebody put regular gas in one of the two tanks in the van. The van made a horrible, horrible loud sound because the wrong fuel was going to the engine. We knew what had happened but didn’t have time to deal with it.
"We drove with one tank for a week while we looked for a place that could drain the tank with the wrong gas. We went to this one small gas station, it was owned by a husband and wife, or Alberta. The husband had the idea to stick a wet-vac hose into the tank. He started to do that, but there was a screen that prevented the hose from actually sucking up any gas. It was probably a good thing though because his wife came out and screamed at him. She pointed to the top vaccuum and there’s an embossed warning on the top of the unit saying do not use to pick up flammable fluids. Then the woman took a length of hose and she tried to siphon with her mouth.
"You’ve never seen a worse expression on someone’s face than this woman who just sucked in a big mouth full of diesel fuel. In the end we had to get somebody to drop the tank and just drain it that way. We have a picture with the woman and the wet vac standing beside the van. It could have been the last you’d ever heard of King Apparatus."
The band has a good fan base but also wants to win over some new fans that were too young to go to the bars five years ago.
"I think the biggest thing out there for us to accomplish is to really get the stuff out there. We’re just doing a dozen shows in Canada and the purpose is to go out and entertain people who were fans before and maybe other people who never had a chance to see us," says Murray.
King Apparatus performs Tues., Mar. 14 at the Republik with Mad Bomber Society.