You probably already knew that Ska, and Reggae are Jamaican musical styles from the 60’s/70s. It had it’s run during the 80s but it wasn’t until the 90s, with the 3rd wave, it became associated with skater punks and punk rock. For better or worse, the genre has fused with punk scene ever since. Blame it on bands like Rancid, Sublime, Reel Big Fish and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, but whichever way you look at it, because of them the genre has cross all borders.
Take a trip down 1990s Japan and you’ll find they had their own scene of horn thumpin’, two-steppin’, bass-slappin’ ska. Most fans of the Japanese ska variant know of bands like Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, Free Kick, Kemuri and Hi-STANDARD but a band no one seems to talk about is SNAIL RAMP.
SNAIL RAMP was formed in 1995 by frontman and bass player TAKEMURA. Following the tradition of do-it-yourself, TAKEMURA started his own label, SCHOOL BUS RECORDS, and the band never signed to a major label for the entirety of the band’s life. As quickly as they came up, their music was hitting Oricon charts at single-digit numbers release after release.
SNAIL RAMP had hopped on the Japanese Ska movement at the perfect time but constantly in the shadows of the band Hi-STANDARD. It wasn’t until their 3rd album, FRESH BRASH OLD MAN, they marked their rightful place in Ska history. Released January 19th, 2000, FRESH BRASH OLD MAN quickly won the number one spot on the Oricon chart with over 300,000 copies sold, and the single B･M･W taking them to the top.
A PIZZA ALREADY (or as it’s written on Spotify A PIZZA OF ALREADY) was the song that won me over. I have a thing for bands who make songs about pizza, so it’s not that difficult. Plus, like most skaters, there’s something naturally appealing about Ska. Regardless, the music video for A PIZZA ALREADY really shows how at the height of their fame, they were pulling in a massive number of fans.
In 2015 the band broke up for good mainly because by then most of the band members were in their mid-40s. They left behind a legacy of six full albums, one cover album, and a greatest hits release. The frontman, TAKEMURA, now runs a kickboxing gym and rumor has it he hasn’t even touched an instrument since. Guitar player TORU, seems to be traveling in japan, climbing snowy peaks, while the other band members don’t seem to hang out on Twitter to know more about them.
I found their official blog but the last post was in December of 2015. They had been blogging since 2008, so there’s plenty to discover, for example, I found a post stating one of their ex-members, ISHIMARU’s favorite video game Winning Eleven — an anime-based soccer game. He also was a pretty big gamer as he would throw video games into the crowd during shows. Which, actually sounds genius, why don’t other punk bands do that?
The band had a solid 20-year run, they appeared on TV, sold-out concerts, and left behind a legacy for future Ska fans. They might not be the most popular, but the dudes who formed the band seemed like solid dudes, and what else could you ask? If there’s any take away, diy shit and see what happens!
Anyways, I’m off to listen to Africa, by Toto: