Fans of Mad Caddies know that their music defies categorization. Their unique blend of punk, ska, reggae, and jazz, has been pleasing ears for the last 15 years. The band recently began a several week U.S./Canada tour that promises to deliver set-lists filled with many of the Mad Caddies' staple songs, as well as some new ones from their yet-to-be-released full-length. Sean Jain spoke with singer Chuck Robertson to get the latest on the Caddies' upcoming U.S./Canada tour, their forthcoming album, and the best way to distract Serbian border-guards from finding one's hidden stash.
So where in the world are you right now?
We are in Santa Ynez Valley, California right now. We leave on tour tomorrow so weâre in our hometown - Santa Barbara area.
Are you guys doing a hometown kick-off show of sorts?
Noâ¦we uh(laughs)â¦itâs kind of a very anti-climactic startâ¦weâre leaving tomorrow on Halloween and then weâre going to sit in the bus all day until we get to Bend, Oregon and weâre going to play there Sunday.
So no Halloween plans then?
Yeahâ¦no Halloween plans. I donât know what happened there with the booking, but itâs just the way it worked out I guess.
So after all these years as a band with everyone living in different places across the world, do you guys still meet up before a tour and go over everything or do you just let the cards fall as they might?
Thatâs been the stress of the dayâ¦you gotta practice a couple times. Even though, you know, we just played a show a few weeks ago, we have another bass playerâa different bass playerâplaying with us on this tour so weâve got to run over everything a few timesâ¦get the cobwebs out so we donât, you know, make paying fans watch us mess up. We work out the cracks a couple days before.
How did you guys hook up with The Johnstones?
Um itâs actually a friend of ours, Philâ¦heâs actually going to be playing bass on the Canadian part of the tour and heâs a friend of ours from a band called Flashlight Brown. He produced The Johnstones record and he was like "Hey man, check these guys outâ¦you should do a tour together," and I was like "Sure, sounds great!"
Is it just you guys and The Johnstones or are there some other bands youâll be touring with?
Itâs just us and The Johnstones, with local support.
Yeah I heard that pre-sale tickets are almost gone for all your dates across Canada.
Yeah I think the turnouts should be pretty good actually. Weâre surprisedâ¦we havenât been there in a couple years so itâs good to know this tour is going to be fun.
Is there anything in particular youâre looking forward to in Canada other than just playing shows across the great white north?
Iâm looking forward to Canadian beer and other vices up there that come a lot easier than certain parts of the worldâ¦I just love playing Canada, the people are friendly, the shows are fun, and people have the right attitude.
We donât get any weather ever in Santa Barbaraâ¦itâs pretty much, you know, 70 year-round so itâs nice to see some weather once in a while.
You guys going to do any snowboarding or anything up there?
Yeah, I think we have a day off between Vancouver and Calgary soâ¦if thereâs snow, weâre definitely going to go.
Whatâs your favorite Canadian Beer?
Kokanee without a doubt.
Kokanee straight or Kokanee Gold?
Uh just Kokanee straight. Kokanee straight is actually one of my favorite bottled beers on the planet. For some reason, I donât know, itâs justâ¦itâs refreshing and light yet it has enough bodyâ¦a little bit more than its American counterparts.
You guys recently got back from a Euro-tour, is there any funny or good stories you can tell us about?
Uh wowâ¦that was a blur, that was a good time (laughs). I had a little episode at the Serbian border that was pretty interesting. Nothing ended up happening, but we had this woman go through our tour bus crossing into Serbia for about three hours. She was determined to find contraband and about a half-hour into it, I realized that I had been a little greedy and horded, I donât know, like maybe a gram of weed four days before, and I had put it just under my pillow, and I forgot about itâ¦and sheâs going through all the bunks so Iâm just crapping my pants and Iâm like "Oh dudeâ¦Serbian prisonâ¦" I had no idea what was going to happen, and she actually finally foundâour stage guy has this company called Flash Caps which have these little LED lights built into the bill of a hat, and my bunk is the last bunk she hasnât checked, and she finds these hats and sheâs like "ooooh what are these," and our tour managerâs like "check it out, here, what color do you want," and she was all stoked on the hat and then bailed at the last bunkâ¦and she was going through everything you know? It was a little nerve-wracking.
Well in the end you gave her some free merch and you got her out of your hair.
We gave her a hat with some fancy lights and she can use it to go search other people. All in all though, I think she was really looking to find something, not to screw with us, but to get a little cash-payoutâ¦Iâm hoping a gram of weed anywhere, except for Thailand, wouldnât land you in jail.
Well at least you didnât get thrown in Serbian prison.
So what are you guys planning on doing after this tour?
Well we actually have studio time booked right now for January. So weâre going to come home and work on stuff all throughout the holidays and try to get a record ready to be released for late spring or early summer. Also, right now we have a greatest hits/essential Mad Caddies collection that weâre working on but, itâs going to be a little different because weâre going to have the fans pick the songs. Weâre going to put like 25 or 30 songs on it for super cheap, like 10 bucks, and weâre going to set up a voting system on our website, and weâre going to list all of our studio tracks and then have people vote on, in no particular order, their top 25 or top 30 songs and then weâll place them on the album accordingly.
Nice. Is there going to be any b-sides or unreleased songs or just songs off your records?
Weâll probably put two unreleased tracks on there, maybe one from Just One More and one from Keep It Going.
Itâs kind of weird you knowâ¦you get to the point where your like "Oh man weâve really been doing it twelve yearsâ¦a greatest hits record really? Isnât that cheesy?" But then you think about it and well, we have a lot of new fans coming to our shows, and some people donât have any records and are like, "which one should I get?" and you canât expect people to buy your whole back-catalogue. So I think putting together a best-of isnât such a bad idea.
Have you guys considered releasing another E.P. or are you just concentrating on a full-length for this next record?
Yeah weâre concentrating on a full-length. Weâve got five or six songs that are already pretty much tracked so weâre going to probably record another ten or twelve and then pick the best twelve or whatever.
Are there any new styles or influences you guys are working with this go-round?
Umâ¦nothing planned yet, you knowâ¦weâre just kind of sticking with what we do. A little reggae, jazz, skaâ¦you know. Something we havenât done beforeâ¦Iâm sure weâll figure out something…thatâs always the exciting part about heading into the studio.
Well with everyone scattered around the globe and such, how do you guys go about writing the skeleton of a Mad Caddies song?
Usually the bones are written by myself or Saschaâ¦we pretty much share. The meat of the song is about fifty-fiftyâ¦and I do the lyrics and stuff. Itâs usually either Saschaâs song or my song and then weâll bring it to the table and then people have their two cents or their ideas for a part and then we kind of flesh it out playing together.
Do you guys send each other stuff digitally or just wait till youâre all together in one room?
Totally, thatâs been a great thing about the digital revolutionâ¦Sascha can send me something from Jamaica you know, like "Oh here, I have these three ideasâ¦you have any ideas for it?" and I can just play it on my stereo and sing along or whateverâ¦itâs pretty cool.
Cool. Well, whatâs the weirdest thing a fan as done for you guys on tour?
The weirdest thing a fan has done? Wowâ¦hmmâ¦(laughs)…you know, other than a lot of sweet people bringing us baked goods and things like thatâ¦I canât really think of anything totally crazy that a fan has done. Iâve got nothing.
Well fair enough, I guess that just means that your fans are pretty normal people.
Yeah you know, Mad Caddies fans are not too extreme in any sense of the wordâ¦we have a pretty good, positive crowd.
If there was one thing you could change about touring, what would it be?
One thing about touring I could change? I would make hangovers go away.
Have you tried that Chaser product thatâs advertised on TV?
No, I donât try any of that stuff. Our old bass player Mark swore by that stuff but I donât knowâ¦he still looked rugged in the morning just like everybody else.
Whatâs your favorite song to play live?
Right now itâs probably "Lay Your Head Down" off our last record Keep it Going, thatâs a fun one live.
Alright, Iâve got one last questionâ¦if you could go back in time and experience one era in the last centuryâ¦what time period would you go to and why?
Oh thatâs a real easy one for me. I would go back to me being about fifteen years old in the mid-1940s and Iâd be right here in Santa Barbara. I would go back and I would be able to purchase a ranch that is now never attainable by anyone, and enjoy the golden era of surfing when it was nobody here and absolutely perfect for about 30 or 40 years.
That sounds awesomeâ¦well any last words?
Just see you out there and thanks for the interview!