Skan Solo & the Wookies
“It’s obvious that all the money in the next two years will be in ska,” says Steffan Jefferson, lead singer for Skan Solo & the Wookies. “Any band that has the word ska in their name is guaranteed to go platinum, at least.” Jefferson seems to have logic on his side. You can’t avoid hearing their hit “Skalphunters,” it’s all over radio and MTV, and it’s been adopted as the FSU Seminoles’ unofficial fight song. That track has already propelled their new album, Meanwhile, Back on Skatooine, to gold status in just four short weeks. I had the chance to talk to Jefferson about his sudden success aboard their sleek new tour bus (affectionately dubbed the Millennium Skalcon) just before their sold-out show at the 9:30 Club in DC.
This must be a very exciting time for you.
Yeah, I guess. We knew it would happen. Everything we do has been geared towards this level of success and beyond. It was only a matter of time. We looked around and saw all the money that bands like No Doubt, Smash Mouth, and Goldfinger were making, and we knew that this ska thing was the answer. I mean, it’s really not hard to play, it’s just punk with horns. We picked up a few session guys and we were set.
So you aren’t really influenced by artists like the Skatalites, or Desmond Dekker?
Who? Are those new bands? I’ve never heard of them. Naw, I like the band that really started ska, Operation Ivy. It’s obvious that they’re the roots of everything. That’s my main influence as far as the music end goes. I don’t know, one of the horn players was talking about these old guys called the Specials. I’d never heard them before. He played a record for me, but I don’t see the connection. It sounds like reggae to me, and reggae has nothing to do with ska. Everybody knows that. As far as performing and stage presence goes, I gotta say David Lee Roth is the man. Diamond Dave is definitely my role model.
Does that mean that the rumors that you used to be in a hair metal band are true?
Well, my agent doesn’t like me to talk about that… but yeah. Me and Thom (Edwin, guitar) and Phil (Backman, bass) used to be in a band called Thunderball, back home in Nebraska. We were playing some Dokken and Poison covers and a couple of originals, but there was no money in it. Then we saw No Doubt’s album hit so big. We figured that since “ska” is in the name of our state that we had to know more about ska than anyone else.
You must be doing something right. Your debut album is getting fantastic reviews…
Yeah, well, it just better, that’s all I have to say. That one asshole from the Village Voice wrote a bad review of it, but ever since word got around that I kicked his ass after a show, nobody else has said anything negative. Those pansy-ass critics know what’s good for them.
The one thing that has gotten a little flack seems to be your attitude towards women…
Don’t you start that shit with me, or I’ll kick YOUR ass, too! Everyone gives us shit, saying we’re sexist. Let me tell you something, right here and now. We are NOT sexist, we just love women. I love to look at women, I think they’re beautiful, especially when they’re naked. We got maced at some show in Savannah because we had a stripper on the stage. We didn’t force her to come out and strip, she’s a friend of the band’s. She loves our music and works as a stripper. At the club she dances at, she always strips to our song “$100 for the Night.” Nobody’s forcing her to do that. I don’t understand why we get shit about that.
Well, isn’t the song you mentioned about a prostitute?
Yeah. What’s your point?
You’ve also had a penchant for soliciting sexual favors from the stage. You don’t see anything wrong with that?
Listen, women love it when you talk like that. They want to be your little groupies. I don’t see anything wrong with letting women know I’m looking to get my dick sucked. It works! I mean, every time I say that, there’s at least 10 sweet young things looking for a taste after the show.
Aren’t you afraid that parent’s groups are going to try to censor your records or boycott your performances?
Naw. Nobody ever listens to the lyrics in this ska stuff. They just hear that happy beat and assume everything’s OK. Hell, we didn’t even get a warning sticker on our record.
Really? Even with all your songs about drinking and doing drugs, like “Driving Drunk is Fun?” I’d think that parents would be worried about that kind of message.
I think most people believe there’s nothing wrong with having a few beers, or smoking a little pot. I won’t go on stage unless I’m at least partly ripped, it’s no fun otherwise. Besides, the fans love it!
With all the Star Wars references you guys slip in, you must be huge fans of George Lucas…
Ahh, you know. Everyone’s seen Star Wars, and with the re-releases last year, it’s a great time to capitalize on the nostalgia, plus it’s really ripe for sticking the word “ska” into all those words. How else would people know we’re a ska band? It’s an OK movie, but I don’t obsess on it like some people. Actually, I can’t talk too much about it, for legal reasons. Lucas isn’t too happy about our use of his “trademarked properties.” We may even have to change our name. Well, if you’re reading this, Mr. Lucas, fuck your punk ass. Titanic made more money than your sorry-ass movie, anyway. Maybe we’ll change our name to Tiskanic!
Is it really all just about the money for you?
Better believe it. Like my man Puff Daddy says, “it’s all about the Benjamins, baby.” We’re gonna do a song with Puffy, he’s the man. It’ll be kind of like that big ska hit Sugar Ray had a few months back, “Fly.” Man, you can’t get more ska than that.
Didn’t Puffy also say “Mo Money, Mo Problems?”
The only problem I have right now is that I’m out of beer. This interview is over. ◼