INTERVIEW WITH MELBOURNE SKA ORCHESTRA

Three years after their hugely successful debut album, Melbourne Ska Orchestra are hitting the road to launch their new album “Sierra-Kilo-Alpha”. The ‘Sierra-Kilo-Alpha Album Launch Tour’ kicks off on the Gold Coast in April and will be travelling all over the country before heading to the UK to play at festivals.

We spoke to MSO ahead of the tour.

HHB: You’re releasing your second album ‘Sierra-Kilo-Alpha’ this month, how is it to finally have it out for everyone to listen to? 
MSO: We are uber happy to be sharing our creations with the planet! A lot of care has been put into the songs and choosing the first list was practically a scientific process! I think we’ve taken a step up with this production. It’s always a pleasure to set the boat afloat.

What was the inspiration for this album? 
Albums are made up of songs with their own individual story. There are many writers within the band and each song is treated on its own strengths and merits. The themes cover everything from being a positive force as a person and tackling hard issues, worldly observations and philosophies, some political slants, comical jibes and some sweet love songs.

The concept for the artwork was inspired by our place in the world right now where new planets and galaxies are being discovered at an alarming rate. As a result, our outlook is focusing out, yet its also a time to check our impact on this here sweet 3rd spinning sphere from the sun. Did you know Venus is the only planet our solar system that rotates the other way? Ha!

It’s been three years since your debut album, how do you think you’ve changed since then?
I think we’ve made a concerted effort to explore the Ska genre more by playing with hybrids. Melbourne has a big multicultural mix and we wanted to reflect that. The sound is definitely tougher and there are some different flavours with the horn arrangements too.

What is your favourite part about touring? 
The family party atmosphere that is the orchestra and seeing new sights, sounds and faces. We’ve been lucky so far with UK, Canada, USA, Turkey and New Zealand. Playing our songs to new audiences is always a buzz too.

What is it like touring with so many people?
It’s actually lots of fun as we are kind of one big functioning family with respect for each other and the music we make. There is always someone finding something cool, that Special Thing. Transport will always be an issue- but there is always a solution. It’s amazing how many peeps you can fit in the back of a kombi…

What song are you most excited for people to hear from the new album?
Ha! That’s like asking which is your favourite child. They are all sweet in their own way. Its like presenting a new series of paintings. They are all connected by the energy of the present journey.

You’re headed to the UK to play various festivals and shows, how excited are you for that?
Touring overseas with music has to be one of the best things ever. We feel very lucky to have these opportunities and in the past we have scored many goals with our gigs abroad.

The UK has a special place in our Ska-lovin’ hearts as its the home of 2Tone which is how most of us got into this music in the first place. Our songs were included in a film about Ska in the UK so that was a massive honour.

You’ve played at massive festivals like Glastonbury, do you rather bigger gigs like that or smaller ones?
The big festivals work really well for us because of the size of the band. Its a bombastic explosion of sound, movement and stupidity. Having said that there is something endearing about fitting 25 people on a stage meant for a solo act.

What do you want people to get out of your performances?
We like to raise the vibrations of an audience via the musical journey we are presenting. The orchestra palette is wide so there are many dynamic musical adventures to explore. Sore feet from dancing; sore cheeks from smiling too much!
 
Do you rather play with more people in the band or less?
The orchestra experience- especially where onstage dancing and mayhem is the rule – is an almighty energy to embrace. The electric vibes you get from a bunch of fun loving yet highly skilled musicians running rampant is really something to behold. It’s much more fun doing stuff with your brothers and sisters.
 
If you could describe the new album in three words what would they be?
International. Galactic. Ska.

What do you think is next for Melbourne Ska Orchestra?
We have a couple of exciting releases in the works and we’ve been approached to do an on the road documentary which should be loads of fun.

Anything else you’d like to say?
Dean Hilson our sax player was once a Cleo male centrefold model.

By Holly Licuanan

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