By Morgan James

Spankshaft has become a common name in the Coachella Valley and high desert music scenes over the last eight years. With a distinct ska horn section, compelling lyrics, and catchy musical hooks, the members of Spankshaft have mastered the art of songwriting. With their energetic performances live on stage, the band has simultaneously mastered the art of crowd pleasing. It’s no wonder Spankshaft has been chosen to play at this year’s Rhythm, Wine & Brews Experience alongside some heavy musical hitters including Snoop Dogg, Pepper, The Expendables, and Andy Frasco. This six piece group currently includes Brandon Simpson on lead guitar and lead vocals, Brent Simpson on bass and backing vocals, Russell Waldron on drums, Joel Daniel on Trombone, Jason Underwood on Saxophone, and Bill Barrett on Trumpet. I spoke with the band after practice about their new members, new music, and upcoming show.

MJ: With such an extensive career so far, tell me what Spankshaft has been up to as of late?

Russell: “Right now we have been training a few horn players and getting that section in shape while playing a few local gigs and festivals. We played the Balloon Festival in Cat City and just played at the Date Shed with Fishbone. Plus we are recording in the studio for the new album.”

MJ: Let’s hear from your new horn section. How do you guys feel about playing in Spankshaft?

Joel: “It has been a dream playing with these guys. About a year ago I was saying that all of my life’s problems would be solved and my world would be complete if I could just play in a ska band. Six months later they let me join them.”

Jason: “I am super stoked that these guys let me join. I have been playing for a long time and was in a ska band about 10 years ago. I have been working with Spankshaft for about 3 months now and this is a nice culmination of all of the work I have done over the years. I am super stoked about playing the Rhythm, Wine & Brews Experience coming up.”

MJ: Tell me about the new album that you are recording?

Brent: “Yeah we are really taking our time with the new recording to make it sound perfecto. We are reworking some old songs and perfecting some new songs.”

Brandon: “When we first started in 2009, 2010 we had recorded some songs at home that didn’t make it onto the Great Job EP, so we are reworking these to put them on the new album. They are really turning in to something phenomenal.”

Russell: “We are in the process of recording the new songs. We are about three quarters of the way done with about 4 or 5 songs. We are recording with Paul Francis from Get Right Studios in Yucca Valley. We were hoping to get it out this last Fall, but we just have so much to add to it that it has taken quite a bit of time, but it is going to be really great, we are really happy with it.”

MJ: What inspired the writing on this new album?

Brandon: “We wrote a lot of songs about what has gone on with the band in the last few years. We had some friends come and some friends go and there was a time when everything was up in the air and we didn’t know what our sound was going to be. So the music is really about figuring all of that out. Realizing that some people go the traditional route and get married and have kids and then some people just chase their dreams their whole lives. So that is really the premise for the album, which will be titled Beasts and Godesses.”

MJ: Tell me how you feel about playing at the upcoming Rhythm, Wine & Brews Experience this March 4th?

Brandon: “It is the first time we are playing that gig and we are really excited about it.”

Brent: “It’s a trip because last year I was a lowly beer pourer there. At the time I thought ‘one day I will play on that stage’ but I can’t even believe that just the next year we are playing it and with Snoop Dogg no less.”

Russell: “Oh yeah, and we will have some freshies, new songs the audience will hear in the set, about four or five. We also hired a videographer specifically to film it for a music video so if you want to be in it you can run to the front of the stage and skank your butts off. We will also be debuting our new t-shirts at the festival so get them there before anyone else. Then of course if any are left, we will have them at future gigs.”

And remember Spankshaft always says: “If you can’t skank with the one you love, love the skank you’re with.”

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