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 we‚??re in our hometown - Santa Barbara area.
Are you guys doing a hometown kick-off show of sorts?
No‚?¶we uh(laughs)‚?¶it‚??s kind of a very anti-climactic start‚?¶we‚??re leaving tomorrow on Halloween and then we‚??re going to sit in the bus all day until we get to Bend, Oregon and we‚??re going to play there Sunday.
So no Halloween plans then?
Yeah‚?¶no Halloween plans. I don‚??t know what happened there with the booking, but it‚??s 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?
That‚??s been the stress of the day‚?¶you gotta practice a couple times. Even though, you know, we just played a show a few weeks ago, we have another bass player‚??a different bass player‚??playing with us on this tour so we‚??ve got to run over everything a few times‚?¶get the cobwebs out so we don‚??t, 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 it‚??s actually a friend of ours, Phil‚?¶he‚??s actually going to be playing bass on the Canadian part of the tour and he‚??s a friend of ours from a band called Flashlight Brown. He produced The Johnstones record and he was like "Hey man, check these guys out‚?¶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 you‚??ll be touring with?
It‚??s 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. We‚??re surprised‚?¶we haven‚??t been there in a couple years so it‚??s good to know this tour is going to be fun.
Is there anything in particular you‚??re looking forward to in Canada other than just playing shows across the great white north?
I‚??m looking forward to Canadian beer and other vices up there that come a lot easier than certain parts of the world‚?¶I just love playing Canada, the people are friendly, the shows are fun, and people have the right attitude.
We don‚??t get any weather ever in Santa Barbara‚?¶it‚??s pretty much, you know, 70 year-round so it‚??s 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 so‚?¶if there‚??s snow, we‚??re definitely going to go.
What‚??s 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 don‚??t know, it‚??s just‚?¶it‚??s refreshing and light yet it has enough body‚?¶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 wow‚?¶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 don‚??t know, like maybe a gram of weed four days before, and I had put it just under my pillow, and I forgot about it‚?¶and she‚??s going through all the bunks so I‚??m just crapping my pants and I‚??m like "Oh dude‚?¶Serbian prison‚?¶" I had no idea what was going to happen, and she actually finally found‚??our 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 hasn‚??t checked, and she finds these hats and she‚??s like "ooooh what are these," and our tour manager‚??s like "check it out, here, what color do you want," and she was all stoked on the hat and then bailed at the last bunk‚?¶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-payout‚?¶I‚??m hoping a gram of weed anywhere, except for Thailand, wouldn‚??t land you in jail.
Well at least you didn‚??t 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 we‚??re 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 we‚??re working on but, it‚??s going to be a little different because we‚??re going to have the fans pick the songs. We‚??re going to put like 25 or 30 songs on it for super cheap, like 10 bucks, and we‚??re going to set up a voting system on our website, and we‚??re 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 we‚??ll place them on the album accordingly.
Nice. Is there going to be any b-sides or unreleased songs or just songs off your records?
We‚??ll probably put two unreleased tracks on there, maybe one from Just One More and one from Keep It Going.
It‚??s kind of weird you know‚?¶you get to the point where your like "Oh man we‚??ve really been doing it twelve years‚?¶a greatest hits record really? Isn‚??t that cheesy?" But then you think about it and well, we have a lot of new fans coming to our shows, and some people don‚??t have any records and are like, "which one should I get?" and you can‚??t expect people to buy your whole back-catalogue. So I think putting together a best-of isn‚??t 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 we‚??re concentrating on a full-length. We‚??ve got five or six songs that are already pretty much tracked so we‚??re 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?
Um‚?¶nothing planned yet, you know‚?¶we‚??re just kind of sticking with what we do. A little reggae, jazz, ska‚?¶you know. Something we haven‚??t done before‚?¶I‚??m sure we‚??ll figure out something…that‚??s 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 Sascha‚?¶we pretty much share. The meat of the song is about fifty-fifty‚?¶and I do the lyrics and stuff. It‚??s usually either Sascha‚??s song or my song and then we‚??ll 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 you‚??re all together in one room?
Totally, that‚??s been a great thing about the digital revolution‚?¶Sascha can send me something from Jamaica you know, like "Oh here, I have these three ideas‚?¶you have any ideas for it?" and I can just play it on my stereo and sing along or whatever‚?¶it‚??s pretty cool.
Cool. Well, what‚??s the weirdest thing a fan as done for you guys on tour?
The weirdest thing a fan has done? Wow‚?¶hmm‚?¶(laughs)…you know, other than a lot of sweet people bringing us baked goods and things like that‚?¶I can‚??t really think of anything totally crazy that a fan has done. I‚??ve 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 word‚?¶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 that‚??s advertised on TV?
No, I don‚??t try any of that stuff. Our old bass player Mark swore by that stuff but I don‚??t know‚?¶he still looked rugged in the morning just like everybody else.
What‚??s your favorite song to play live?
Right now it‚??s probably "Lay Your Head Down" off our last record Keep it Going, that‚??s a fun one live.
Alright, I‚??ve got one last question‚?¶if you could go back in time and experience one era in the last century‚?¶what time period would you go to and why?
Oh that‚??s a real easy one for me. I would go back to me being about fifteen years old in the mid-1940s and I‚??d 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 awesome‚?¶well any last words?
Just see you out there and thanks for the interview!