The Interrupters are… making ska-punk popular again?
If you happen to keep up with ska-punk, there’s a good chance you’ve heard (or at least heard of) The Interrupters, the band Tim Armstrong took under his wing a few years back. They’re fronted by Aimee Allen, who was first signed to a major label as a solo artist back before The Interrupters were a band, and she’s backed by the Bivona brothers (Kevin, Justin, and Jesse), who were playing in the band Telacasters before they met Aimee (Kevin Bivona was also in Tim Armstrong and Travis Barker‘s band The Transplants, and was an engineer at Barker and Mark Hoppus‘ Opera Music studio). Tim Armstrong produces and co-writes for the band, sometimes sings on their songs, and releases their albums on his Epitaph imprint Hellcat (and another Bay Area punk icon, Billie Joe Armstrong, co-wrote their song “Broken World”), and they basically sound like ’90s Rancid. They’re actually one of the catchiest, most fun modern ska-punk bands around (not that there’s much competition), but I kinda assumed their fanbase wouldn’t stretch far beyond aging ’90s ska-punk fans who need a little nostalgia in their lives.
I was wrong. As a new Billboard feature by Chris Payne titled “Meet The Interrupters, the First Female-Fronted Ska Band With an Alternative Radio Hit Since No Doubt” points out, The Interrupters are actually getting radio play and cracking the charts, which presumably means they’re resonating with a younger audience who maybe didn’t realize they had an appetite for this kind of thing. As we speak, their recent, super catchy single “She’s Kerosene” sits at #32 on Billboard‘s Alternative Songs Chart, along with bands like Florence + the Machine, Arctic Monkeys, The 1975, and Foster the People, and it sits at #46 on Billboard‘s Rock Airplay Chart, just one slot behind CHVRCHES and two ahead of Guns N’ Roses. The only thing else even vaguely like it on these charts is ska/reggae rockers Dirty Heads, but they aren’t ska-punk by any means. “She’s Kerosene” is an anomaly. “It’s like we have a seat at the table we didn’t even know was there for us,” Kevin Bivona told Billboard.
You may be thinking “please god no, don’t tell me ska-punk is back,” but if you ever liked late ’80s / ’90s punk of the Epitaph/Lookout/Fat Wreck Chords variety at all, you’ll probably find that “She’s Kerosene” quenches your thirst for punk more than almost any other band cracking these charts. (They’ve also played NOFX’s Punk In Drublic festival, toured with promising Fat newcomers Bad Cop/Bad Cop, took the Token Punk Band slot on Coachella 2017, and they’re currently one of the easiest bands to stomach on the final Warped Tour.) And even if The Interrupters aren’t for you at all, this surprising popularity makes them seem primed to be a good gateway band. If your little cousin starts talking to you about Operation Ivy, it might be because they heard “She’s Kerosene” first.
Here’s more from that Billboard interview on the story of their Billie Joe Armstrong collab:
When we were on tour with Green Day, we were hanging out with Billie Joe after one of the shows, and he says, “I have this idea I think would be a really cool Interrupters song.” He played this riff on guitar, and then we went into a chord progression that was this epic melody. He was like, “I don’t know if you guys want it — if not it’s cool — but I just thought it would be cool for you.”
We went home, took those riffs, and turned them into “Broken World,” a song on the new record. We were super nervous to play it for him, because we respect him so much. We sent it to him and I think he responded a half hour later — the longest thirty minutes of my life. He was like, “I love what you guys did with it. I think this is the first ska song I have ever been a part of!”
As mentioned, the band is on Warped Tour now and they’re playing the Jones Beach (7/28) stop this weekend. They tour Europe after that. All dates here. They’re also playing Jimmy Kimmel Live! tonight (7/26).
Their new album Fight the Good Fight is out now via Hellcat/Epitaph. Watch the video for “She’s Kerosene” below:
Subscribe to Brooklyn Vegan on