A Ska Extravaganza with
65 Manchester St
West Warwick, RI, 02893
In 1990, a group of friends were attending college at Virginia Tech in the mountains of Virginia. Among them were Stephen Jackson and Chris Watt who had previously dabbled in playing punk rock covers.
Soon after, a mutual friend, Tal Bayer, began attending nearby Radford University. He was very much into ska and reggae and suggested that they form a ska band. After recruiting a high school friend, Tom Goodin, and an Architecture classmate, Ben Gauslin, The Slugs were born. Soon, they were skipping classes, melding ska, reggae, R & B and punk rock while practicing for hours to learn songs by Madness, The Specials, Bad Manners, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Burial, The Skatalites, The Business, and others. Unfortunately, the name The Slugs was already taken and the band needed a new name. For a few months, the name was changed to the Dancehall Crashers. It was too similar to another ska band out west so the search for a new name continued. Some British neighbors used to refer to the heftier guys in the band as Pietasters, which is British slang for "fat guys". The name stuck and The Pietasters were born.
A few months later, a similar band from the DC area, The Skunks, asked The Pietasters to play a local ska night at a bar in Georgetown. The Pietasters were still rough around the edges. Soon, they were playing every dive bar in DC. The manager of one such bar befriended the band and helped them record their first record, The Pietasters, more commonly known as Piestomp.
In the summer of 1993, The Pietasters set out on their first national tour in a used school bus they'd bought for $900. The tour was haphazard with stops in Ohio, Oregon, Kansas and even many in Canada. By the end of the tour, almost all of the original members quit the band. To this day, only trumpeter Carlos Linares and lead singer Steve Jackson remain as original members.
The Pietasters auditioned many players and decided on Jeremy Roberts, Toby Hansen and Alan Makranczy as their horn players, Rob Steward (Covington) on drums, and Paul Ackerman on keys. Tom Goodin remained on guitar. The new line-up continued to tour whenever possible, and soon attracted the attention of Bucket Hingley, front man of The Toasters and owner of Moon Ska Records. He asked if The Pietasters wanted to be a part of a tour package called, "Skavoovie 94". The Pietasters accepted and were soon touring with The Toasters and The Scofflaws. The tour was much more organized than their last outing and proved to be very educational. By the end of the tour, The Pietasters were scheduled to record "Oolooloo" on Moon Ska with Victor Rice producing.
Oolooloo came out in the summer of 1995. The Pietasters continued to tour the country, and even managed to record "Strapped Live!" between stops in Raleigh, NC and The Black Cat in Washington, DC. "Strapped Live!" was released in 1996 and quickly became a fan favorite and the closest thing to a live Pietasters show. Throughout this period, The Pietasters had been recording new songs, re-recording older ones, and recording some covers. The results ended up as "Comply", and the song selection foreshadowed their next release.
While touring with The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, the band made a stop in Los Angeles. Backstage at the show, Tim Armstrong from the band, Rancid, approached the band and asked if they'd like to be a part of a new label he was putting together, Hellcat Records. The Slackers, Hepcat and Dropkick Murphys were already committed and he wanted The Pietasters on board.
After clearing such a move with Moon Ska, The Pietasters signed with Hellcat, a subsidiary of Epitaph Records, and their next album, Willis was recorded and released in 1997. A tour of the US soon followed as well as their first ever tour of Europe. The Pietasters also made appearances on the Warped Tour and opened for such acts as The Reverend Horton Heat, Cherry Poppin Daddies, and Ozomatli.
By 1999, The Pietasters were in the studio again to record Awesome Mix Tape #6 for Epitaph's Hellcat Records. They finished the album and set out on the road again touring Europe with the Warped Tour, then the US again with the Pilfers and Spring Heeled Jack, and closing out 1999 with an opening stint for the legendary Joe Strummer. Years of touring finally took its toll on Paul Ackerman and Tom Goodin, who amicably left the band. Bassist Todd Eckhardt also left the band and was replaced by Jorge Pezzimenti of Virginia band, The Decepticonz. Erick Morgan, formerly of The Skunks, took over keys, and Toby Hansen replaced Tom Goodin on guitar.
In late 2001, The Pietasters were well into recording their next album when they learned that former bassist, Todd Eckhardt, had died in his sleep. The news was extremely hard on The Pietasters and their fans. The Pietasters released a new album in 2002 titled Turbo, a nickname of Todd's. The new album's blend of Jamaican riddims and Northern Soul won praise from fans and critics alike. It even caught the attention of James Brown who asked The Pietasters to be his backing band at a sold-out concert in Washington DC in December 2002. The following year, The Pietasters released their first DVD, Live at The 9:30 Club. Their song "Out All Night," was featured in the videogames Street Sk8er for the PlayStation, and NCAA Football 06. In 2006, The Pietasters played the International Ska Circus in Las Vegas.
On August 21, 2007, seventeen years after their inception, The Pietasters released a new studio album entitled, All Day.
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