Johnny Reggae Rub Foundation is a German ska-reggae project with punk influences, a few months ago i discovered on YouTube and from that moment i’m follow them. The band answered a interview to La Última Rabia, ¡enjoy it!
– What’s the band story?
“We all come from somewhere… and so JRRF has emerged from The Fishhedz, who were Johnny and my former Ska band. After the breakup we decided to go on with doing Ska music together basically as an acoustic duo with guitar, vocals and melodica. We just kept it up for a short time before we decided: We need bass!
Over the time percussion and stomp box did not make it and Johnny started to develop the “Rudie Drums” (rudimentary drums). First version with cajon and hi-hat only. The Rudie Drums were expanded further and further and the melodica was replaced by the organ. That is pretty much our tour set up still. The music went from acoustic songs to a tight and tough band sound nowadays. We love good songwriting, groove and vintage sounds, have our roots in mind but reach out for the skies.”
– Which are your influences?
“¡Ska, Ska, Ska! We really love jamaican music, especially the early reggae tunes and ska. Bands as Toots and the Maytals or The Pioneers are as well on our fav list as contemporary ones like The Slackers or The Aggrolites. Besides parts of us like punk as you can hear in our tunes once in a while.!”
– Talk me about your album releases.
“We love ska and reggae music and we love the vinyl culture. So when it came to our first release it was clear it would be a 7” vinyl. The songs we recorded first were a version of the classic “Johnny Reggae” and our early reggae style tune “Threesome”. This was very lofi back in the days. We actually recorded this one in a our living room. The second 7” called “Coolit Down” was mixed and dubbed by Victor Rice which still makes us very proud because he worked with us in our early times. Third release was the EP “Punk” on which we covered four punk classics, first release we made completely by ourselves in our own studio. 2017 the time was right to come up with our debut album for which we could win Victor Rice once again. We recorded at our studio in Cologne, he made the mix in Sao Paulo. Great time, great fun! “No Bam Bam” was released on Pork Pie Records, Berlin. Having a label now was a major step for us as a band and we are glad that fans and critics loved our sound right away. The fifth release (2018) was a 7” vinyl once again, called This is Ska / Oi Oi Oi. All of our tunes are available for digital download as well.”
– Why the name Johnny Reggae Rub Foundation?
“Well, to cut a long story short: Johnny Reggae actually comes from the Piglets tune, which is a ska classic and embodies a special very british view on this music. The word “rub” comes from jamaican jerk rub which is basically a hot spice mix here referring to the mixture of (jamaican) musical styles we love and use for our songs. And finally the foundation… because in the beginning we had the notion to form the band as an open group with variabel or/and additional members. Over the time it has turned out that it is mostly just the three of us but maybe that will change again in the future.”
– Why did your song covers of bands as Misfits or Dead Kennedys?
“Our EP “Punk” features four unique cover versions of tracks by Rancid, Operation Ivy, Dead Kennedys and The Misfits. At that time our own tunes were more or less at a mid tempo and we wanted to have some faster tunes for our live shows. So Johnny came up with “Up to no good” as a cover. We made it, the crowd loved it and so we decided to take another punk track into our set. We had fun to rework the tunes in our style keeping the original spirit but making them part of us in a way. I like The Misfits, heard a lot of Rancid in my younger years and Johnny really appreciates Tim Armstrong. Well and the Dead Kennedys tune is a classic, isn’t it? Especially this one is very controversial amongst our fans – some love it, some hate it.”
– What’s about your vinyl This is Ska / Oi Oi Oi?
“Our tune “This is ska” celebrates ska music and became the official anthem of the eponymous festival in Rosslau, Germany, which is the biggest Ska festival here in Germany and known all over Europe. To sum up the songs story: Life isn’t always kind, sometimes you literally stuck in swamp but ska music always lifts you up! The flip site “Oi Oi Oi” is a saucy Judge-Dread-style tune telling the story of young Miss Hubbard. Gets a bit naughty…”
Video This is Ska: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOoRhaZyNIw
Video Oi Oi Oi: coming soon….!
– How is Johnny Reggae Rub Foundation on stage?
“Tight and loud! We are crazy about playing live and love to make the people dance weather it’s in a club or on a festival. Since the release of “No Bam Bam” we played a bunch of shows all over the country and had a blast each and every time.”
– How is the ska/reggae German scene?
“The Ska scene used to be bigger some years ago. Nowadays most cities do not have a big scene anymore and that makes it even harder for the bands. Still there is a huge niter culture and a lot of sound systems and DJs who keep it alive. The This-is-Ska-Festival in Rosslau is the biggest german Ska festival and the whole scene meets there once a year. It is great and more like a big family meeting, you get in touch with Ska people from all over the country and abroad.
Besides The Busters and Dr. Ring Ding who still are the big players in german Ska we have some other good bands who release new music. Especially here in Cologne … seems to be the new spark in Ska here … around our recording studio which we run with our friend-band Masons Arms are coming a lot of new records in 2019. Next to ours first will be from Masons Arms, and bands like Los Apartamentos or Los Placebos who record here.”
– Would you like visit Mexico someday?
“Indeed, we would love to visit Mexico someday! It would be great to meet and play for the people there and to get to know a bit of the country. It seems to us that the Ska scene still is much bigger in Mexico than in Germany. Maybe someday in the future we come over…”
– What’s for the future?
“Currently we are working on new songs, starting to record soon. Next year we are going to release our second album, again on the renowned german ska label Pork Pie Records. Afterwards we will tour in Germany and hopefully play some shows across Europe. We love to travel, play and meet the people at our shows.”