Dissidente's debut album arrives next week via Bad Time Records, and you can get it on limited-to-100 transparent blue vinyl, exclusively in our stores, or bundled with other limited and exclusive ska records.

Pittsburgh ska-core/punk band Dissidente are one week away from releasing their long-in-the-works debut album The War On Two Fronts, which includes re-recordings of three songs from their 2017 debut EP FRONTLINE, recent single "Corvid" (which we named done of the best punk songs of January), and more, and ahead of the release, we're premiering new single "Labor Day." It's a ska-infused punk ripper with some truly great "whoa-oh"s, and like the rest of the album, it comes with a strong social/political message. Here's what vocalist/guitarist Chris Ruckus told us about it:

The Haymarket affair in Chicago was a labor protest that gave us the standard eight-hour workday. Worldwide, this is celebrated on May Day. Unsurprisingly, the US doesn't officially recognize a holiday celebrating a small victory over capitalism. Instead, they created Labor Day to placate the workers while also white-washing history. The problems laborers face today are just like those in 1886. Today, the income disparity has grown wider and automation is no longer a looming threat has put millions out of work. All of this could be solved by adopting a form of universal basic income. Our song "Labor Day" is a call for that universal basic income. Interestingly, this song was recorded pre-COVID, before UBI was a subject many even knew about. Now, that we've seen the government can absolutely afford to send us stimulus checks, it's become a more mainstream topic. Automation is going to be the greatest economic hurdle of the 21st century. Companies complain about the labor shortage, when 7 million jobs have been lost to automation in the last decade. That number is expected to grow to 80 million jobs in the next five years in the US alone. So, what fucking labor shortage? The problem is a WAGE shortage. The national minimum wage is seven dollars and a fucking quarter. That can hardly get you a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread.

Listen to the new song below.

The War On Two Fronts drops 2/11 via Bad Time Records, and you can pre-order it on limited-to-100 transparent blue vinyl, exclusively in our stores, or as a bundle with other exclusive and limited ska records.

Ahead of the release, I caught up with Chris to discuss the five-year-long road to this album, musical influences, the importance of protest music, the Pittsburgh scene, the recent ska renaissance, and more. Read on for our chat...

The War on Two Fronts is your first full-length, but you've been around for a while - it's been five years since you put out the EP. For those unfamiliar, can you talk about how Dissidente formed, and the leadup to finally putting out this album?

A friend from high school got me in contact with our drummer Iggy, and we had a short-lived ska band that never got off the ground. Shortly thereafter, Iggy leaves the US for a while, and I had an accident at work that resulted in a partial amputation of the distal phalanx on the middle finger of my fretting hand; I lost about an inch, from the bottom of the nail and up and I didn't think I'd ever play guitar again. Then I got divorced. And then addicted to pills. So Iggy returns to the States and wants to catch up. He learns of my sob story and figures it would be good for us to try to pick up where we left off. He introduced me to Vadim, who had immigrated from Moscow a couple months earlier and is an absolute ripper on bass. The three of us reworked a couple songs from that old ska band. Those formed the groundwork for the FRONTLINE EP, which we recorded in a basement (and, hilariously, mixed at The Blasting Room). We played as a three piece for a while, but it became clear that our songwriting was becoming more ambitious guitar-wise, and I couldn't pull the weight while singing. So, we found Rhett, who had immigrated from Mumbai to get his master's and happens to be a total shredder on guitar.

The album includes re-recordings of three songs from the EP. As the cliché goes, "you have your whole life to write your debut album" -- had you been working on this LP consistently for that entire five-year period?

We had a handful of the new songs on the LP demoed when we recorded the EP. The original idea was for the EP to be a teaser for the LP, which we planned on releasing a year later. Hence the related titles (FRONTLINE and The War on Two Fronts), but after we added a second guitarist, our sound became a lot heavier, and thus we needed to rework some of those demos; so, it's about 50/50 with songs we had on the back-burner, and songs we wrote since Rhett joined. Some of those guitar riffs were even salvaged from songs I had written years prior that had never seen the light of day.

There are a lot of bands that get namedropped when people write about Dissidente, but who would you say were some of the bands that influenced this album?

Being a political band from Pittsburgh, it's impossible to not get compared to Anti-Flag, which is tight. I love that band, both as songwriters and for what they do for the community. They're clearly a big influence. But there's a lot of heavier material on this record too. I know I was listening to a lot of Fucked Up and was trying to channel my inner Damian Abraham for the vocals. Rhett is a total metalhead, so there's definitely some Trivium in there too. Iggy grew up on the Fat Wreck SoCal stuff, so I hear that in the drums. Vadim is a goddamn virtuoso, and he studies dudes like Victor Wooten, which is all over his solos. Interestingly, these songs were written and recorded pre-COVID, but mixed at the height of the pandemic. As such, there's this dynamic of hopelessness and isolation in the mix too. I was listening to a lot of Godspeed You! Black Emperor at the time. I'm doing better now though, haha! I don't think any of those were ska bands.

I think it's obvious to anyone who listens that this is a very political album. If you had to summarize it, what are some of the ideas that you hope people take away from this album?

It seems to me that every time a Republican president is in office, the greater punk scene becomes very vocally political, and when a Democrat replaces them, the scene quiets down for some reason. In my opinion, that is total fucking bullshit. The two-party system was intentionally designed to divide the American populace, setting us against people we have more in common with than the people we're fighting over. This control is necessary because if we were to unify and fight back against our oppressors... well, there's a hell of a lot more of us than there are of them. So, in typical ska fashion, the album is a call for unity and class solidarity.

On a similar note, what do you feel is the importance of being an explicitly political band, and/or of writing protest music? How has political/protest music impacted your own life?

My first real protest was the 2009 G20 Summit at the University of Pitt. I didn't know what the fuck I was doing and then suddenly, we were being tear gassed and riot police were deploying sonic weaponry and beating my friends. I had listened to Anti-Flag and Suicide Machines and Against All Authority, and I knew that the government did shady shit and that the cops were the Stormtroopers for the Empire. But I also grew up as a white kid in the suburbs in the '90s and listened to a lot of third wave ska - a genre in which most of the popular bands at the time were singing misogynist songs about women, dancing and drinking beer. To that point, I had no real exposure to the violence of the state. Something clicked. This is what all those punk songs were about. It's so easy to get burned out from feeling like we're outnumbered and outgunned. That deluge of bad news is never-ending. The importance of protest music is to combat that burnout and reinvigorate people to have the energy to actually take to the streets. No positive change can come from slacktivism and keyboard warriors.

What's the ska scene like in Pittsburgh? Are there other local ska bands, or were you sort of the one ska band in a sea of punk bands?

Pittsburgh is very much a punk town. We have a killer D-beat scene and have some of the best punk rock record stores and have shows like Skull Fest. So, as a band, we're in a weird spot because on paper, we're a ska band... but in execution, we're much more of a hardcore band. I think if the punks hear you playing any hint of upstrokes, then to them, you're a ska band. Period. But on the flip side, we don't really get put on a lot of ska shows because we don't have horns. Usually, when a national touring ska band comes through, promoters will have non-ska bands open, because those bands happens to have horns. I think a lot of the ska kids still have the association of "horns = ska," which sucks, because in my opinion, some of the best bands in the scene do without them. There are still ska bands in Pittsburgh, though. Most are just firmly rooted in the third wave sound.

In the time since you formed, the current ska scene went from being entirely niche to making national headlines. What's your personal experience been as a ska band during this sort of renaissance period for the genre? Why do you think it's all happening now?

Ska is experiencing a renaissance because of innovation within the genre, and the willingness of new bands to touch upon social issues. For a long time, at least in the ska punk world, the "pop-punk-with-horns" sound dominated the scene. To me, it's tired and it's played out. I'm so happy to hear new genres, with everything from black metal and grindcore to hip hop and hyperpop cross-pollinate with ska and create something original. Without innovation, the music becomes irrelevant. Speaking of irrelevance, newer bands bringing back the political roots that many of the third wave bands neglected has been huge. Jeremy Hunter from Skatune Network having such a massive platform and being openly queer has definitely let the LGBTQ community know that the ska scene is inclusive. Reade Wolcott's transition story in We Are the Union's Ordinary Life prevented trans suicides. Ska isn't just a boy's club anymore, and much like the 2-Tone music of the late '70s and early '80s was at the forefront of the discussion of race, the modern ska scene is at the forefront of discussion of gender and sexuality. And of course, because the world hasn't gotten much better, race and class are still topics too.

Who are some current ska bands you love that you think people need to be paying more attention to?

Mike Sosinski has really done an incredible job at curating the greatest best in ska punk with Bad Time Records. Everyone knows Catbite, Kill Lincoln and We Are the Union, and with good reason. But my favorite releases of theirs have been The Best of the Worst, Joystick! and the Still Alive / Stuck Lucky split. Heavy as fuuuuuuuck. Also, Redeemon is going to be huge. We're homies with The Upfux and Public Serpents, and they both rule. As far as more traditional stuff goes, Chuck Wren has been at it for decades with Jump Up. The Tellways' new LP is great. Eric and Sean collaborated on our track for The Shape of Ska Punk to Come Vol. 2. Mr. Kingpin's debut is so good. Flying Vipers are excellent. Jay Nugent from the Slackers has been doing these awesome ska and dub versions of classic punk songs with his project Crazy Baldhead. My current favorite new discovery is Japanese singer Asuka Ando. She does these super chill rocksteady tunes, and that new Voodoo Glow Skulls record is the best thing they've put out since Band Geek Mafia.


Dissidente's new album The War on Two Fronts arrives 2/11 via Bad Time Records. Get it on limited-to-100 transparent blue vinyl, or bundled with other limited and exclusive ska records.


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