To say that Buncha Skankers put on an energetic show is an understatement.
These two-tone anarchistic mad-heads fuse everything from surf rock guitar to throbbing saxophone riffs covering all things ska and in between, and their audiences lap it up like there’s no tomorrow.
For someone who does very little exercise, just watching the Skankers on stage is enough to induce an asthma attack.
Buncha Skankers are no strangers to Bushy’s, and have been tearing up dancefloors and breaking hearts for as long as they can remember.
Gef had a rendezvous with Chas, the Skanker’s saxophonist, to find out a bit about the band and what makes them tick, and had difficulty holding the little Skanker down and keeping him on topic, but Gef wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Long live the Skankers!!!
GEF: First up can you tell us who the Buncha Skankers are?
SKANKERS: Andy sings, dances and owns a trumpet, and also hands out the fines, James Brown style. Keefso plays the geetar and sings a bit, Gus plays bass and sings a bit, Tray on keys and backing vocals and Marky C on drums. The truly brilliant Rosco plays the slide trombone and me, Chas, on saxophone.
GEF: And can you fill us in on how you first met and where the Buncha Skankers got their name?
SKANKERS: The Skankers (as we are colloquially known) weren’t so much formed as evolved, over the centuries. We were named one night by a chap in the audience, (possibly at the Creek) who shouted
‘WHAT A BUNCH OF SKANKERS!’
We thought it was apt and it stuck.
We likely first met in Bushy’s Bar (formerly Yate’s Wine Lodge). Personally, the first time I was aware of Andy, I was lying face down in the Bushy’s bogs after slipping on piss when I heard this godawful racket coming from the back room.
Naturally I went in for a look and there was this band. Well I thought to myself, that ain’t no Status Quo song. Joe Public it was apparently, anyhow, the bass player had a truly gimpy dance style that I thought would never catch on. So that was Andy – he’s still dancing.
I was at school with Gus but only found out he played when a previous bass player brought him along to play keys one rehearsal. That previous bass player is now a household name, so when he ditched us (sorry, departed to find fame and fortune) Gus stepped in on bass.
As that left a big space behind the piano Tray climbed out of the audience and seamlessly filled that space, and it was nice to get some glam in the band at last.
As for Mark we had to pay him to join. We were desperate, as we were about to embark on a tour and the then current drummer had escaped from rehab and gone ‘on one’, we were in Dire Straits (good lad that Mark Knopfler) so for a huuuuuge bung Mark saved the day. He’s still with us and these days does it for the love.
Keefso was a mate for years, from hanging out in the seediest dives in Ramsey and the North. He’s really a dyed in the beard bluesman who again, stepped in to help when the previous plank spanker had to take time off.
Rosco we grew specially. We wanted a ‘bone player and there were never any about so Andy and Tray did the only decent thing and raised one specially for the job. That’s dedication, no?
GEF: It is indeed! How would you describe the band’s sound?
SKANKERS: Adequate. Our tagline is – all your favourite ska tunes done reasonably well…
GEF: Who are your biggest influences?
SKANKERS: It’s more ‘what’ than ‘who’. Being part of the youth in the seventies and eighties with this stuff on the radio, dancing to these tunes at a disco. Chasing girls/boys/sheep were the best days ever and these tunes were the soundtrack.
GEF: The Skankers are no strangers to playing at TT. What is it that keeps bringing you back?
SKANKERS: Well, it’s TT isn’t it? It’s the atmosphere. The Rock comes to life. Plus this year we are playing to new faces and old in a brilliant new venue. It’s got to be better than a sticky car-park with a Baltic sea breeze cutting you in half hasn’t it? We are well psyched for the Villa. I quite like the bikes, too.
GEF: What’s been a memorable moment in the Skankers’ career to date?
SKANKERS: We once played on a full double decker bus that was calling at every pub round the TT Course. It was interesting when the dancing was in time. I would have loved to have seen that bus skanking past.
GEF: Do you write any of your own stuff?
SKANKERS: No, we let other people do it – they are far better at it.
GEF: You’ve probably seen some odd shit at a Skankers gig? Tell us about it.
SKANKERS: Once, at a function with a packed room, probably 250-plus locals and foreigners were there. As we came on to play the room emptied. Totally. Apart from five crazy Danes who were gonna party whatever. That was an odd one.
GEF: Who’s been the biggest act that the Skankers have shared a stage with?
SKANKERS: I was in the crowd singing along to Nile Rodgers and Chic last year, does that count? No? Seriously, it was Jacoba. No question. Also the Beat and Bad Manners.
GEF: How would you describe your fans?
SKANKERS: Skankfans are beyond wise and universally hip-and-cool.
GEF: What can we catch you doing after you’re done with the Bushy’s gig?
SKANKERS: I don’t know about the rest of the crew but for me it’ll be hit the massive backstage party, rifle the rider for premium lager and hang out with the Hollywood A-listers for a few hours. Or perhaps cocoa and bed…
You can catch the Skankers in Bushy’s TT Village TONIGHT (Saturday 26th May) at 10-11:45pm, and Saturday 2nd June from 9:30-11:45.
The full Bushy’s TT Village Gig Guide is available here.