Two musical genres that are incredibly easy to rip on — and fun, too! — are ska and goth. The former is an often-ridiculous mixture of checkered slip-on Vans, swing throwbacks, and goofball covers of ’80s tunes; the latter is a humorless monster mash of stark beats, male orgasm vocals, and fishnets worn in ways that fishnets were not intended to be worn. But now, as though the universe decided that these two genres weren’t ludicrous enough on their own, it seems that the two have come together. Yes, friends, there exists, wait for it…a ska goth band.
The band in question are Chicago’s Grave Danger, who play spooky ska songs about horror. What makes their ska so spooky, you might ask? The usual organ-style synths and singing-saw moans definitely help. More than anything, it appears that Grave Danger just love the shadowy look and feel of death rock bands, even if they’re never going to stop tooting them horns.
“As high school students in Chicago’s suburbs, David Schwantes and Dane Erbach spent the bulk of their gym class brainstorming fake bands with their friends in an attempt to avoid whatever physical despair their PE teachers had in store for them that day,” says Grave Danger’s press release. “These bands—which included a death metal band called Throbbing Reaper and a ‘80s hair metal rockers Live Wire—never truly coalesced outside of their imaginations despite complete lineups and exhaustive discographies….The idea of a ‘skath’ band didn’t occur to Schwantes and Erbach until fifteen years later, but it stems from the same strange place: What would a goth ska band sound like, one combined the Misfits’s aesthetic with Reel Big Fish’s goofball schtick?”
The band’s new single, “Specter Inspector,” is a creepy take on a classic ska tradition. “I’ve always enjoyed “ska spy songs”, in the tradition of Spy Market by Let’s Go Bowling and Seventh Street Gangster by Dance Hall Crashers and I thought the phrase “specter inspector” was just funny. This song was a chance to lean into a driving bass line, a slinky horn part, and lots of organ and build a film noir style detective world full of ghosts and supernatural intrigue.”
Check out “Specter Inspector” below and wonder if we’ve come too far as a society: