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Hub City Stompers

Interview with vocalist Reverend T. Sinister. Originally conducted via email for Artless Nonculture Webzine, May, 2009.

Hub City Stompers at the GSS After ShowImage by Otto Yamamoto via Flickr
This is a Penn-Ohio punk zine, so most readers will be wondering what the hell I'm doing interviewing "the guy from Hub City Stompers", since you guys hail from New Brunswick, NJ. Let's clarify: Rev, where are you originally from?

My birthplace, and where I spent the first 6 years of my life, is the glorious steel city of Pittsburgh, PA. Aside from clarifying my relevance to this zine, it also explains why I walk around Jersey in Steelers gear.

How long did you live in the 'Burgh, and how long ago did you move away (and why)?

The first 6 years of my life. We moved to Jersey when my old man got offered a position with a Presbyterian Church, and my mom got a job with the ACLU in Newark.

If someone never heard your band before, and they asked you what you sound like, what would you say?

Well, they'd need to be familiar with most forms of underground music to understand my response, but I'd tell them that we have a firm 2-Tone ska base, with strong Oi!, hardcore, reggae, and hip-hop influences.

Who writes the songs?

Lyrically, I do. Musically, they come from all directions in the band. Matty Glock and I tend to write the lion's share of the music, however Nuno & Reggae Bob have contributed alot to the writing as well. And Jenny always comes up with her own stuff, of course.

How much of your lyrical content is based on personal experience, and how much is rooted in, uh, for lack of a better word, fantasy and/or good storytelling? (i.e. "Trojan Night", "Chatterbox", "Johnny Date Rape", the multiple situations in "Suffer the Children", etc.)

All of it is from at least personal observation and at most direct personal experience, so it would depend on which song. Most are inspired by particular incidents or people, but not necessarily only about those incidents or people.

Let's talk about the new record, Ska Ska Black Sheep. A lot of people have been waiting for this one for a while now, And I gotta ask: What the hell took so long?

Initially there were delays in mixing and going back to fix and add things in the studio. Then, once all that was set, we had a lot of artwork and layout snafus that held things up for a good while. I suppose it just makes it feel even better that it's out now.

Your MySpace blog mentions something about "dubbed-out versions" of classic HCS songs; which songs are we talking about here? Are these just instrumentals, or are we talkin' full-on spaced-out dub? What made you guys come up with the idea to do version tracks for those?

We decided to dub-out some of our previously released tracks that were more reggae oriented, such as "Chatterbox", "Everytime", "I've Got A Boot", "Sum Of 3", and "Skinhead Boi". The sixth dub track, "Nuni Pon Session", is actually a brand new track, and is not from a previously released song. It's not just like the vocal tracks were removed, it's full on dub. They practically sound like new, different songs. There's a couple interesting twists in all of them. The idea was not ours, actually, but Django's (imagine that!). So he's not only responsible for the execution of the dubs, but it was also his idea. I was originally planning on releasing the CD as an EP, like Mass Appeal. He thought it'd be a good idea to add on something special and extra. I like how it turned out. I like the idea of 6 new tracks and 6 dubs.

There's also some songs on there that have become "fan favorites" from your live shows like "Ska Train to Dorkville" and "Where's My Hooligans". Any others we might already know?

Aside from the dub tracks, those two songs are probably the better known ones, nationally. But people in the NJ & NYC area are very familiar with "Clutch Tango" and "Ska Ska Black Sheep". The other 2 originals probably aren't as well known anywhere, as we rarely play them out live, so they'll be nice surprises for everyone.

You recently did Warped Tour for the first time. How was that? Are you guys doing it again this year?

That was the summer of '07 when Bucket (from The Toasters & Megalith Records) reached out to them and Warped Tour decided to have a strong local & national ska presence at their shows. A few national acts, such as The Toasters, went on the entire tour, and a couple bands from each area [that] the tour went were asked to play the "Kevin Says" stage. Most bands only played the one date most local to them. We were fortunate enough to play 3 dates (New York, New Jersey, and Philly). We of course enjoyed it, and appreciated the exposure and opportunity, but we also learned some lessons about how to prepare for playing Warped Tour, such as bring enough chairs and beverages, and plan ahead! It was an overall good experience. The manager of our stage enjoyed us and became a fan, but I guess Warped Tour didn't want to continue with the ska demographic for summer of '08 and summer of '09, because it never happened again.

Any plans for an upcoming tour? Plan on hitting any cities close by, like Pittsburgh, Akron, or Cleveland?

We'll be doing weekenders this summer and hitting places [that are] having big shows and fests, such as Houston, TX and possibly Knoxville, TN. But other than that, we'll be sticking mostly to the Northeast. As far as really hitting the road, we're most likely joining up with the next "Ska Is Dead" tour in November, and riding that out from Jersey, down the east coast, through Florida, and out to Texas. We'll be out in Pittsburgh, PA at The Smiling Moose this coming Saturday (May 30th), actually. Don't know if this will be out by then, due to my procrastination... ha.

You were also in Inspecter 7. What would you say is the biggest difference between them and HCS?

Well, musically, I'd say that Hub City Stompers has much more diversity as far as sound and direct influence goes. Inspecter 7 mostly stuck to the sped up trad beat, some 2Tone and the stompers, whereas HCS covers all of that, plus does some straight-up reggae, hardcore, Oi!, punk, and hip-hop. It's the same spirit, pretty much, too, but HCS may be a bit more in-your-face.

Where can people get the new album?

Other than our shows, the best place to get it is at

Any last words?

What, am I being executed here? Um... "Screw the world! Save yourself!" Oh... you mean for the interview. Thanks for the inquisition and interest. We hope to see you out and about on the road and if not, come on out our way and catch an HCS show Dirty Jersey style!

Check out HCS in da 'Burgh this Saturday the next time they're out your way, and pick up the new album, as well as their older releases. Also, if you come accross anything from the Rev's previous projects (Inspecter 7 and Steel Toe Solution), snatch that shit up!
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