The Busdrivers

By paul

They may have just lost two members, but that won’t stop crazy Gainesville ska-punkers The Busdrivers from bringing you their upbeat tunes. Paul spoke to Erin from the band to find out what the hell ‘skapunknerdrock’ really is all about…

PAUL: “Hi Erin, can you briefly introduce The Busdrivers for me please?”
ERIN: “We are a seven-piece ska-punk band from Gainesville, FL. We’ve been together for about 4 years, and have one CD, ‘Missed This Little Trend.’ I think that covers the basics.”

PAUL: “What bands have influenced The Busdrivers sound over years?”
ERIN: “Of course, our major influences are Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, Goldfinger, Suicide Machines and other well-known ska-punk bands. We all really love punk, ska, and every sort of music in between. Each of us also likes something a little different, so we have a pretty big range of influence…Matt likes some funk-driven stuff like 311 and Primus, I like harder stuff like Avail and H2O. Then there are some things we try not to let influence us, like how David likes to sing along to the “Rent” soundtrack and Steve’s obsession with Billy Joel.”

PAUL: “What’s in the band’s name? Has one of the members got a secret driving job?”
ERIN: “Haha, no, none of us drive a bus. I think the story of our name goes like this: Sterling and Eric, who used to be in TBD, were sitting in a high
school class trying to think of a name for the band. Eric whispered something to Sterling, and Sterling thought he said “how about the busdrivers?” and it just kinda stuck.”

PAUL: “Just last week singer/guitarist Sterling and bassist Dan left the band. How much of a shock was this to you guys?”
ERIN: “Overall, I’d say we were really shocked and disappointed. It’s tough to hear that something you’ve been working so hard for is going to take a major step backwards, and there’s nothing you can do about it. We always kinda knew that Dan would quit eventually…he just cares about school and family and friends more than the band, and that’s fine. Sterling we didn’t really know about, he surprised us. It really boils down to having different
feelings and opinions about the way we do things and where the band is going. Dan didn’t want to put the same effort into the band that the rest of us wanted to, so for him it was just best to leave. The hardest part about it all is the timing, and having to cancel our US summer tour. We’re just really glad we have time to regroup and find new members before the UK tour.”

PAUL: “You are auditioning for new members at the minute, what has the response been like so far?”
ERIN: “Response from fans and other bands has been nothing but positive. It’s been
really encouraging to get e-mails from fans all over that let us know that they’ll still be around. As far as auditions go, we’ve got a number of prospects, and for now we’ll just be meeting with people and getting in tapes. We want to be really careful and make sure we find the right people, so we can prevent this kind of thing from happening again. We’ll be playing shows again as soon as we have new members.”

PAUL: “With at least two new members coming in, are we likely to see a change in direction do you think, or will we continue to see ‘skapunknerdrock’?”
ERIN: “I think we’re going to try to stick as closely as we can to the sound we’ve established. The five of us are happy with the level we’re playing at musically, and the level of song writing that’s going on. It is going to be really hard to find replacements that are up to the standards that Sterling and Dan set though. They are both fantastic musicians. I don’t think there will be a noticeable change in our style. Our song writing has always been pretty collaborative, it’s definitely a group effort.”

PAUL: “Speaking of ‘skapunknerdrock’, who came up with that neat little phrase and how did it come about?”
ERIN: “Heh…skapunknerdrock…I think Matt came up with that a couple years ago when we were trying to come up with shirt ideas. We put that phrase on the back of the first t-shirts we got, and then after a few months people started e-mailing us and signing the guestbook using it, and so it stuck. I think it’s really appropriate, because we are really nerds. I’m not kidding, ask David anything about a computer, or Min anything about any video game. Matt and I are really big music nerds too – the kind that can tell Phrygian mode from Mixolydian mode, or write a song in 5/8 time. And Steve’s just a nerd
in general.”

PAUL: “How do you feel about the Less Than Jake comparisons, because every review I’ve read always says that you sound like LTJ…”
ERIN: “Right, I believe we’ve been billed as “the new Less Than Jake.” Naturally, because we’re from the same town, I guess. On one hand, it’s great, because who better could we ask to be compared to? We all love LTJ, I’ve been listening to them for 8 years or so. I believe they’re Min’s
all-time-favorite band. On the other hand, I think our music isn’t that much like theirs. Except for having horns and using clean guitar on the upbeats, we’re not really alike. They don’t even classify themselves as ska! I could write a couple paragraphs on how we’re alike, but a thesis on how we’re different. I won’t bore you with those details though…I give everyone permission to continue comparing us.”

PAUL: “The ‘Missed This Little Trend’ cd is awesome, is there a story behind the title or was it a case of choosing it because it sounded great?”
ERIN: “Thanks! “Missed This Little Trend” is a lyric from our song Holding On. We were all sitting on the floor in our old practice space trying to think of a name for the album, and Matt suggested using that. I think we all agreed on it immediately, partly because it sounds good, and partly because it’s a small commentary on the type of music we play.”

PAUL: “The song ‘Holding On’ goes: “Looks like we have missed this little trend, we’re in the same predicament once again, and I know that only one thing’s for sure, I know that you have heard all of this before.” Do you feel that ska-punk music has reached saturation point or is this lyric more of a dig
at the music scene in general?”
ERIN: “I think those lyrics are a commentary on ska in general. It has a lot to do
with the whole RBF/Bosstones thing that happened back in ’96, when “Sell Out” and “The Impression That I Get” were big, and the fact that it seems
like we came along a little too late. For MTV that is. But that’s okay with us. We love the music we play, and we realize that it’s not the most popular music around. You just have to get over the fact that you’ll never be on the radio, and play what you know. I think the ska scene in general is great. People who listen to the crap on the radio and MTV are so fickle…ska and punk fans are so much more loyal, that’s part of the scene that I love. But back to ‘Holding On,’ the lyrics in general are about the
struggles that every band has to go through (thus the title of the song), and that especially applies to ska bands.”

PAUL: “You actually wrote and sang lead vocals on ‘Can’t Turn Away’, will we see more of your songs in the future?”
ERIN: “There is another song we play that I wrote and sing, called “Thank You.” It’s not recorded yet, but we do play it live. I think now that Sterling’s gone, I’ll try to step up and write more – not necessarily for me to sing, but just to write more. Writing is a very drawn out process for me though, so we’ll see how that goes.”

PAUL: “Is there any news on album number 2? Have you worked on any new songs yet?”
ERIN: “We have six songs that we’ve written since we recorded the first album. They’re all great songs, definitely a step up from the songs on MTLT. Two of them, “Keep” and “Your Favorite Astronaut”, we did quick recordings of…they’re available for download ( And we just recorded another song, “Sucks For Who”, for a comp that’s coming out this summer. As for our “sophomore effort”, we’re not sure as of now. For the past eight months or so, we’ve been really busy playing two or three shows per week, plus going to school and working, so we haven’t been able to write as much as we’d like. And now we’re focused on auditioning people. So, album 2 isn’t going to come any time soon. It also has a lot to do with money. People who aren’t in a band don’t realize exactly how much it costs to record. I’m not going to go into detail, but trust me, it’s not cheap.”

PAUL: “You’re coming over to the UK in August, what can us Brits expect from The Busdrivers live experience?”
ERIN: “Pyrotechnics and live ponies. Kidding! I think we deliver a fun, energy-filled set. We just get up there and have fun playing our songs, and hope that translates into the audience having fun too. We’ll probably be playing a mix of songs from MTLT and newer songs.”

PAUL: “Despite the fact that you’ve only put one album out and you’re not really signed to a big label, you’ve really developed a solid nderground
following. Why do you think this is so?”
ERIN: “I’m not sure. The response we’ve gotten so far from people in the UK has been absolutely overwhelming, as well as the response from people around the US. In the UK it has mostly to do with Good Clean Fun and the amazing job
they’re doing. Kids from the UK e-mail us and say “I picked up your CD at a show last week” or “I saw an ad in a zine for you guys” and that, to me, is just great. In the US, I think it has a lot to do with our street team. Our street team is almost to 400 people now, which is just crazy. We send 5 to 10 CD samplers to each street teamer, they pass them out, and in turn another person joins the street team, and it just grows exponentially. I think we had someone passing out CD’s and flyers at almost every Warped Tour last summer. So, between that, word of mouth, and the internet, it just grows. I’d like to think that our fans loyalty has a lot to do with how we treat them. We answer almost every e-mail we get personally, and try to e-mail everyone that signs our guestbook. I know a lot of fans and street
teamers by name. I just try to treat everyone how I know I would want to be treated. Sometimes, in the case of promoters and clubs, you get screwed for
trying to be the nice guy, but in the end you’ll feel better about yourself. I just hope that the fans and bands we deal with can tell the difference.”

PAUL: “The Gainesville scene (well, Florida in general really) seems to be really kicking off right now, with the likes of Less Than Jake, New Found Glory and yourselves just three great bands to have made it. As someone that lives there, why do you think there is so much good music coming out of Fla right now?”
ERIN: “*Laughs* I don’t think we’ve quite “made it” like NFG or LTJ. I’m not sure why
there are so many great bands from here. Right now it seems to me that all the best “up and coming” bands are from New Jersey and California, but Florida holds its own. I really don’t know what sets one scene apart from another. Gainesville is great because it’s your typical college town – lots
of different people from lots of different places with lots of different interests. Gainesville is really culturally varied, and the music scene reflects that. We’ve got ska, punk, indie, metal, top 40, jazz, funk,
hip-hop, rockabilly, and of course lots of cock rock. The biggest problem with Gainesville right now, and Florida as well, is the lack of good clubs to play. It’s pretty much impossible for us to book an all-ages weekend show here, because the clubs are concerned with making money. That’s understandable, because the clubs are businesses and have to worry about staying afloat, but it just sucks that it has to result in every club having a DJ on Friday and Saturday nights.”

PAUL: “We all like to hear new bands here at Punktastic, which bands would you recommend to us?”
ERIN: “One band that I love that is “up and coming” is Brand New. I know they’re not new to Punktastic, but I just want to make sure that everyone everywhere knows about Brand New. We played with them a couple months ago, and they
were just awesome. They’re even better live than on their CD, and that’s really hard to pull off. Two bands that I love from FL are Vangard and The
Spitvalves. Vangard is from Gainesville. They play dark, Pennywise-ish kind of punk, and are really great guys. The Spitvalves are from Orlando. They’ve been around for quite a while, but are now on Resurrection AD Records, and are starting to get the kind of recognition I think they deserve. They play a mix of ska, punk, and hard rock…I would classify them as ska-core. They have a new CD coming out in June, and I can’t wait to hear it. If you ever have the chance to see them live, go, and you can spend their entire set just watching the guitar player Mikey. He is amazing. Simply amazing. They are also a great group of guys, definitely my favorite band to play with. (,,”

PAUL: “Finally, Spiderman or Star Wars? (I know it’s a lame non-punk related question, but everyone is talking about it…)”
ERIN: “Spiderman, Spiderman, Spiderman. I know I’m a weirdo, but I’ve never even seen the original Star Wars. I guess I never saw it as a kid, and just never felt the need to see it. Plus I don’t like sci-fi at all. I know, I suck…I’ve been called all sorts of names by friends who think I’m crazy for
never having seen it. I’ve even been called “un-American”, which isn’t really such a bad thing as far as I’m concerned. I’ve also been called that for not eating hot dogs…hot dogs are made from animal parts I’d rather not think about. The bottom line is that I know enough about Star Wars to get by in pop-culture trivia games, and to appreciate Blink 182’s song about Princess Leia, and that’s good enough for me. Plus, Tobey Maguire is really cute.”

PAUL: “Thanks a lot Erin, any shout-outs or
thanks you want to give?”
ERIN: “Shout-outs to Matt and Tom at GCF, and to our “pseudo-manager” Matt Weaver, who does so much for us. Visit our website! “

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