I was covering a music festival in Northern Germany a few weeks ago when I first saw SKAMPIDA on the main stage. Growing up in the UK during the 70’s & 80’s I was fortunate enough to have been part of the Ska revival that took place in Europe. SKAMPIDA are a 6 piece Ska outfit from Bogota, Columbia and it didn’t take long before they caught my attention. I was delighted to find out the guys were playing a venue I was covering last weekend so I arranged to sit down and have a chat with them. Tonight they were headlining:
A big welcome to David Mujica and Pedro Vega from Colombia’s very own SKAMPIDA . Guys, thank you very much for taking some time out to chat with me. I am not sure if you are aware, but you are 29 shows into your current All We Can Do 2015 tour with 7 shows to go before you finish on the 29th August in Belgium.
SP: What I would like to do is go back to the beginning, how did SKAMPIDA come about, how did you form?
DM: SKAMPIDA was a school project which started around 1997/1998 as a band. Before then we were playing together and jamming but from 1998, I think, we decided to create proper band with a real name and start looking for shows around the city [Bogota].
PV: The name was invented by our former keyboard player. He come up with it at a time when every school had a Ska band. Everyone would finish school and all they wanted to do was play Ska and dress like rude boys and create the Ska scene in their cities. So, that’s what happened with SKAMPIDA. The strange thing was though, for us it became big very quickly. In Bogota we played events like social strikes and in the punk clubs and skinhead bars for about 2 years. In Bogota people liked it, they understood our sound and enjoyed it so they were very welcoming to us.
SP: For someone who has never seen or heard SKAMPIDA before, how would you describe your type of Ska?
DM: We have a very interesting kind of mix of Ska and Latin American Ska, which comes also from European and English Ska. We have influences from North American bands as well. We are a mix everything , it’s not straight Ska.
PV: More than the influences it is like the caprice, you understand? It’s the musical caprice of David and Juan Pablo (guitar player) because they are the musical producers of the band. They are not always looking for a genre to fit their songs into, they just wanna project their music. Although it may fit many genres, that’s not the idea. I think the SKAMPIDA style is to try and make every song different, to change it and mutate it, not to make everything sound the same.
SP: What type of music did you grow up with?
DM: We grew up with Latin American Rock and Roll. That’s definitely one of the most important influences for us. The biggest bands in Latin America, like Soda Stereo, Caifanes, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Maldita Vecindad, Los Pericos, La Cuca. Many bands from Mexico, Argentina, Chile. On the other side we are also grew up with US and European music, also African music, yes because of our Colombian and African roots we grew up listening deep black music from the jungle and coast of Maroon and Jamaica.
PV: Mano Negra were also a big influence for us.
SP: When you are writing is including the Colombian influences something you consciously do or is more natural, because it’s in your blood?
DM: Yes, it’s in our blood. During the first tour we done in 2003, we toured the little villages and towns in the North, around the Caribbean coast and we fell in love with those styles. We come from the middle of Colombia which has a different style again. But from that moment it was like a new era for SKAMPIDA. Our first album ‘STEREOBLASTER’ was heavily influenced by Champeta and Caribbean coast music.
SP: One very interesting thing that I have read, and it’s a band that’s close to my heart. You have been influenced by The Clash? How big were the Clash in Colombia?
PV: Big Time!!! They play music and they feel it. They were not the best musicians of all, but they could project their energy. The Clash have always been big, in London, everywhere.
DM: Yeah, bands like The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The Specials and Madness, they are Universal. All of us in SKAMPIDA grew up with these kinds of bands. That’s why we play music, you know? They inspired us.
SP: You’ve been on the road since June touring Europe, how has it been? How do you find Europe?
PV: It’s great. This is the third time we have done this tour. The first time was 22 shows, then 34. This time it’s even more. Every time we come to Europe it gets better. So far we have visited 10 countries, we haven’t been to France, Spain, Italy or the UK because there they liked the more mainstream bands and it is tough to get bookings. But things are progressing, we are going to France this time. Yeah, every time we find Europe an amazing place to tour because everywhere there are places to play, people treat you good, you get paid, the accommodation is good, everything is good. We are always treated well in Europe and Canada.
DM: And I think here you can see how your band is growing, it’s amazing. That doesn’t happen in other countries like Latin America or the US. In Europe and Canada, if you are a good band, you are professional and you are booking more shows people notice it. They remember you and they talk to friends and say ‘this band is great’ let’s go and see them together, so they bring more people. As I say, it’s interesting to see how we are growing.
PV: Everybody understands what we do, they get it. They may not understand our Lyrics but they understand the attitude we have, they understand what we want to say.
SP: How do European fans compare with those back home? Is it possible to compare?
PV: Everywhere is different, communities are all different. Europeans love the type of music we play, they realise we have come from so far and they enjoy it better. People here are very genuine and they have no trouble picking up on our vibe and getting into the groove. The Mexican crowds are astonishing though. They go crazy man.
SP: We touched on the UK before, do you have any plans to get to play there in the future?
PV: Yeah, definitely. We wanna conquer the whole world! We need to go to back to Canada, go to Australia, we need to conquer the rest of Europe, China to. In Asia there are a bunch of interesting place to go to. It’s step by step. The UK would be a dream for us.
SP: Your last album Inflammable……..
PV: No, no…the last album is Transmutante.
DM: Yeah, we just released Transmutante, Inflammable was released 3 years ago.
SP: Yeah, in 2011. I was going to ask if there was anything new in the pipeline?
DM: Yeah, we are just releasing the new 2015 album Transmutante. We got the CDs 2 days before we came to Europe. They haven’t heard it yet back home in Colombia, we release there when we get home. After that we are back to recording the next album which we may release next year.
SP: Do you have a writing process, do you sit down to write a song?
PV: It’s a bit more organic. Once in a while nothing comes out, then suddenly this comes then that comes along.
DM: We rehearse and practice 3 times a week. Sometimes we will practice our old songs and sometimes we will try and practice new songs or come up with new ideas.
SP: Who does the writing? Is it a joint effort?
PV: It’s mostly David and Juan Pablo. They are the ones who direct the music. Everybody can contribute and propose and everything, but they are the song builders I would say.
SP: No doubt you are looking forward to going back home? Is there anything you especially miss when you are away?
PV: [Laughing] Not really! No, we like it here.
DM: I miss my son, for sure. We are used to being apart, this is my job and he understands that. When I go home I will be with him for a few weeks, I talk to him many times when we are on tour. Maybe the drummer [Juan Sebastian Escovar] misses the Colombian food. What do you miss from Colombia Pedro?
PV: Not much! I like it here, I like it everywhere. I like this type of living. Once I’m back in my home for 3 days I think “What the fuck am I doing? I wanna go back on tour”. This is living.
DM: I think you always have to enjoy your time wherever you are. Colombia for us is the time for rehearsing, practicing, creating albums, make new ideas and get ready for the next tour.
SP: Guys, thanks again for chatting with me, it’s been a great pleasure. Before we wrap things up do you have a message for your European fans?
DM: Thanks to our European fans, old and new, for coming out to see us this time round. Follow your dreams, do everything you can to catch them and make it happen. You’ll be surprised how quickly things can happen the way you wished it would. But you have to look for it. See you all next year……
David ” Dub ID” Mujica ( Lead Vocals & Bass)
Juan Pablo Gonzalez Tobon (Guitar & Vocals)
Pedro Vega (Sax & BackGround Vocals)
Joaquín Galeano (Trombone & BackGround Vocals)
Camilo Morales “Carela” (Trumpet y BackGround Vocals)
Juan Sebastian Escovar “Juanse” (Drums)