By Bill Gould and Jared Younis
Bill: So, Tazy, Where'd you go to school?
Tazy: U.C. Irvine
Bill: What'd you major in?
Tazy: Music. I was born in Philly, grew up in Northern California. I went to U.C. Irvine to go to school. On the second day on the campus, I discovered the college radio station. One of the news people pulled me into the studio and I actually read the news -
Bill: Right there on the spot.
Tazy: Right, and I was there for 12 years.
Bill: So that was your job?
Tazy: Well, it was all volunteer, I wish I would have gotten paid… (Laughs).
I actually started doing a jazz show. I played piano, and I was very much into the jazz thing. My first show was a jazz show and it eventually became an interview show. I actually got to meet and hang out with some of the biggest names in jazz of all-time. It really instilled in me as an up-and-coming musician the whole process of artist development. I started out just doing a whole jazz thing and I wasn't really too concerned with other music at the time. When I went home in the summer of '89, my brother [Albino] convinced me at the last moment to go see this one show at the River Theatre in Guerneville, California.
I don't how he did it, but he convinced me to go. I went there, and the first band was an offshoot band of Operation Ivy called Dancehall Crashers. The second band came up, and this is what really made the light bulb go on, and they were from Fresno called Let's Go Bowling. They were playing this stuff - this music, called Ska, and I'd heard it before, but it sort of sounded like jazz, and here were folks that weren't like 5 times my age, they were the same age as me, and the audience was also my age or younger. Seeing these guys, and essentially, they were doing solos and everything, and I was like, "wow, that's really cool, tell me more about this music called Ska!" so that was the reintroduction to Ska music for me. Now, mind you, in junior high I was into two-tone stuff, but I didn't know it was called Ska at the time. I was into Madness, The English Beat, and then growing up, Fishbone was one of my favorite bands, but I wasn't making the connection to what the rhythm was called.
That was the reintroduction, and it got me so motivated that my brother and I produced a two-hour radio documentary with video footage also involved. It was based on what became the first-ever mention of 3rd Wave Ska. And it was just U.S. bands and I got in touch with and met all of them. The show had 31 bands from all over the country. Everyone was involved, it had the last interview with Operation Ivy, No Doubt was part of it, Fishbone was part of it, The Skatelites, The Toasters. It's just remarkable for the time frame. It got so big that at the time, Poorman, who was on KROQ, was also hosting a show on KDOC-TV called "Request Video." I made a bet with him before my show aired that if I could get The Untouchables to make an appearance on his show that he would plug my program that was airing on KUCI on KROQ and on KDOC-TV for three days.
I won the bet, and we were actually on "Request Video" for three days. The first day was The Untouchables, The Skeletones, and myself; the second day it was five different bands: No Doubt, The Donkey Show, Gangbusters, Better Than Nothing, and The Skeletones. The third day I couldn't make it, so Better Than Nothing did an acoustic thing and that's when the radio show aired. The title of the show was "The Ska Parade." At the time, it was the most listened to program in KUCI's history. The following January they gave us a weekly show, which was "The Ska Parade".
Ska in its basic element needs to be experienced live, my brother was always pushing me to have the bands play live, do whatever they can. He always seemed to win over, we started having all these different bands come on the show. Most of the initial performances weren't all electric, it was all acoustic (like impromptu acoustic stuff), but that was the beginning of the show. Every show had a guest, whether they were playing live or being interviewed, or phoning in or whatever.
The Ska Parade was the first place where bands like No Doubt got their first airplay ever. This was in the days when they only had demo tapes. We became very good friends with No Doubt. They appeared on The Ska Parade some fifteen times, and eventually contacted us to world premiere on the radio this song entitled "Just A Girl." They also encouraged us to book such new upcoming bands as Sublime and Suburban Rhythm.
Bill: Oh, wow.
Tazy: Folks were always requesting for us to re-broadcast the live band performances, and at the same time, the radio station was heavily in debt; so we released the benefit cd "Step On It: The Best of The Ska Parade Radio Show" CD. One of the live performances on the CD was a song called "Date Rape" by a band, Sublime.
To sort of let you know my progression, by this time I was interning over at KROQ in Los Angeles. The morning show thought I was funny, so they used to have me answer the phones, and then I actually got hired in promotions. The whole time I was there I was pushing this whole Ska thing.
I could see that 3rd Wave Ska was a natural progression of music from the Grunge of Nirvana to the Pop-Punk of Green Day. I knew I didn't have the strings to pull with the higher ups at the music meetings, but I had the ammo....so I gave the "Step On It" CD to two of my so-called buddies who worked closely with the higher-ups. I told them that Sublime was a gem; and that their song, "Date Rape," was a hit. They convinced the KROQ corporate heads that Sublime had potential, and the asked me to be the conduit between KROQ and Skunk Records (Gasoline Alley). I worked closely with the band, managers, label, and radio station (on my own time and without pay). On the night before Acoustic-Christmas '94, I was in the programming director's office, and I gave them an early Christmas present: the Sublime cds, "40 oz. To Freedom" and "Robbin' The Hood." The KROQ heads chose Sublime's song, "Ebin," as their "radio hit." With no disrespect, I told them that "Date Rape" was the hit, and I kept pushin' them.
Finally, "Date Rape" got its spin at KROQ, and you better believe that my brother and I rallied The Ska Parade fan base and swamped the radio station with requests for the song (Skunk Records did the same).... So I actively became the middleman with working the Date Rape single, and that's what put the band on the map. But it should be noted that the way that upper programming at KROQ viewed it, they wanted to show that they were helping out this local band from Long Beach, and then there'd be a big bidding war and they'll release something new and then we'll play it a little bit and drop them, and that was it. And that was the plan. But they didn't know that Sublime had already been signed by a subsidiary of MCA called Gasoline Alley, which was Rod Stewart's label.
Bill: I didn't realize that.
Tazy: So that was the reason why they couldn't just tuck it under and it became huge, and not only was it huge, it was like all the radio promotions stuff was there, but also the full-on fan support was there. I mean, Date Rape was number one in requests at KROQ for six months. It was number one in rotation for three weeks and it was the song that, you know, created the third-wave Ska revolution. The only drag with Sublime was - and you gotta realize how impossible to fathom this is, but Date Rape at the time was a four-year-old song on an independent record that flopped, and yet between us, we really worked it to be one of the biggest bands from the 90's.
And the thing about Sublime was that they were a bunch of drug-addicts and the whole situation with them was "Oh my gosh, the guys did what? Okay, how can we fix it?" And that kept coming up, regardless, whether it was their first Love Line appearance, I mean, you know, a big FCC violation is to show up at a radio station with alcohol at the radio station. I mean, that's like a big FCC violation, or maybe station policy violation. Regardless, I'm like convincing them to put it in the men's bathroom outside the radio station, so, it's like they would be there for Love Line, when Riky Rachtman was hosting, and during the commercial break they'd run to the men's bathroom and pound, and then run back to the studio and then they went on Jed's (Jed The Fish) show later that year and I was like sick, I couldn't get out of bed, you know, and I'm like "guys, you know what you can do," you know like, "you remember from last time, right?" and then "Oh yeah, yeah, Tazy, we know." Dude - they light up in the studio with Jed, the band got suspended from airplay, I mean, it's just a bunch of things that happened at the time to the point where KROQ wasn't gonna play them anymore.
And on top of that, they hated playing Date Rape, cause it was a four-year-old song and they already played it out, and they wanted to play the new material - and everyone wanted to hear Date Rape, but they didn't want to play it. So it was a struggle on every single end to deal with that band. So that is why they went to a band that was nicer - like instead of like lighting up in the studios at KROQ they show up at the studio with a pretty girl that baked homemade cookies for the DJ's. Now, who are you gonna deal with? And that was a band called No Doubt. Now, ironically, the folks who took me to my first Sublime show were Tom and Adrian from No Doubt, cause I was pretty good friends with Eric Stefani and I used to hang out at the Beacon St. house, and Tom and Adrian came over and said "Dude, you have to see this band" so we all went down to The Coconut Teaser, and that was the first time I ever saw Sublime, and it was like a year later that I got back in touch with them (No Doubt) and then they played live on my show.
And that was the moment that just like clicked, I mean it was like the best live performance that these guys had ever done in their whole lives. And that's coming from the words of Sublime Manager/Bradley's Dad, Jim Nowell. And then two of their songs made it on the benefit CD and then you can see the progression, you see the doors opening. So that was - cause KROQ didn't want to deal with them at the time - the music director flat out said that he would have nothing to do with No Doubt, you know, and this is in the midst of the Grunge revolution. You know, their first record flops, and it was funny that that's what put it on the map. I actually had stuff that Tom sent to me - a tape with a real nice note saying "I don't know if this will ever happen to us, but would you mind debuting "Just A Girl" from our new record, you know, maybe you could do the same thing you did with Sublime. (Laughs).
Bill: Oh yeah, wow.
Tazy: So anyway, you see the start of all that's happening, so then all the sudden it seems like the radio show at UCI seems to be put on the map - everybody who even remotely plays a Jamaican rhythm all the sudden wants to be on the show. Sure enough, we're having The Specials play live in the studio, we have The Skatalites, you know, Fishbone comes in, Untouchables - you know, you get the picture. Everybody who was anybody came in and played live - it wasn't just interviews, it was the full band setting up, electric, everything, during the course of the show, and that was the gig, and then on top of that I would team that up with the up coming bands, so there was all these up and coming bands, like Reel Big Fish, The Aquabats, Save Ferris.
For example, the first time Save Ferris was on my show that was when Tragic Kingdom was coming out, and they were huge No Doubt fans and I had Gwen call in, and you can see how weird that is, I mean, looking back, that was what I was doing like every week. So then we hit a point where we've had every possible third-wave Ska band on the show, and we've had all the major Ska bands play live in the studio, so you know, how much farther can you take this? So a manager friend called me up and said, "Tazy, I know that this band isn't Ska, but would you like to have Descendants live on your show?" Now, Mind you, two of my favorite bands growing up, especially in my high school years were Fishbone and Descendants...
so Descendents played, and it went really well, and I was like, "Oh, okay, well maybe the audience is cool with other rhythms than just the Jamaican rhythms." So that was the start of having bands from other styles of music actually come in and play live, and I started spinning other styles on the show. Since then, we've had over 450 different bands representing 24+ genres of music. It's like anybody who's anybody has come and at least has done something for the show, whether it's actually been in our studio, or done another show that was exclusively just for us. And that's been the progression since 1989.
Obviously it's sort of hard to call the show "Ska Parade" when you have bands like Fugazi playing live, or Jurassic 5 in the studio. It's a little tough. I mean, the audience gets it, and the bands got it. "SP Radio One" focuses on band in 24+ genres and "The Ska Parade" particularly focuses on the Jamaican riddim-based bands. KCXX in the Inland Empire asked me to bring SP Radio One to their station, and I was there for four years.
Bill: That's where I first heard you.
Tazy: And the other thing that's remarkable about that station is if you look in the history of commercial alternative stations that have gone against the biggest alternative station in the country, every station that's attempted to go against KROQ has been literally blown out of existence except for one station, and that's KCXX, and it's still there today, and it's because of a team of us that actually cared to do something.
Jared: See, I can identify with you on that, because, I mean, this is part of the reason why we're doing the website - to get bands who don't have as much exposure here a little bit more exposure so maybe people will -
Bill: People that won't get exposure on Clear Channel stations.
Jared: Yeah, for example, one of my favorites, The Faint.
Jared: You know, you were the one who played The Faint, and I was like "man, you rule!" Because nobody else had - practically nobody else had even heard of them.
Tazy: Well, with them in particular, see, I'm always keeping my eyes and ears open, I mean, I'm always searching for good music, I mean, that's my passion. And, when I get tips, or I see, something that catches my eyes or ears, I'll jot the band an e-mail, and they're like, "Yeah, Tazy, maybe you should check out this band." So, with all this communication, it's like I'm seeing, you know, where I'm able to find and try to contact a band, like The Faint.
So I contacted the record label, the record label sends me the stuff, and if I think it works on the show I'll play it. If not, then, try again next time, but I'm glad that a lot of people entrust me to at least give it a test listen - and by the way, I do give everything a test listen. Sometimes it takes me a while, but I actually do listen to everything - whether it's the band in the basement, or the biggest band in the world, you can still send your CD, and I will listen to it, and if it works for the show, I'll play it. If not, you know, don't let it hurt your ego, it just means try again next time and on the next time maybe something will happen. I can't tell you how many different bands at first I thought just weren't up to par - quite honestly sucked, but that kept at it, and maybe because folks like myself would go, you know, "You're not up to par yet," and they will work harder at their craft, and then, you couldn't believe it, like a year later, it'd be the same band with the same song, and you couldn't believe it was the same band! And then you knew they were ready.
Tazy: I had known Mike Halloran - we're gonna get to Premium 92.1. I've known him since my KROQ days, and, how I befriended him was really by chance. I was working for KROQ in the promotions department, and at the "weenie roast" they put me in the front ticket window to coordinate guest list stuff, and up comes Mike Halloran with his family, you know, his little baby at the time, and at the time he was the programming director for 91X, and guess what? Not on the list. Okay? I got him and his family in. And we've been friends ever since. And then when The Specials played for the first time, it was like out 300th edition of the radio show. I mean, what a historic thing is that? And that night, they played at Soma in San Diego, and The Specials wanted me to introduce them over the guy who ran Soma, over Mike Halloran and so the way they set it up was I guess the owner of the club went out and he's going, "okay, here's this guy blah blah" and he thought I was gonna go out and flop on my face. And it was like the best introduction I've ever done in my life. And Halloran comes up and he's like "Dude, that was really good!" And then I think he was considering me to get on 91X at the time, but then that was when he was ousted.
Bill: Was that when Jacor bought them?
Tazy: I don't know about that, but you know, shifts of power and stuff like that. So we'd been in touch, ran into each other quite a few times at the different music industry festivals and stuff, and I saw him last march at South By Southwest in Texas. I later get a call from him, "We're starting a radio station where an owner switched formats and I want you to do specialty," and that was the call and I was more than happy to do that, and liked the challenge of going up against the 800 Lb. Gorilla, although it was like multiplied, because, you know, nothing against Clear Channel, it's just they're so huge of a corporation now, so it's like, not only are you going up against the biggest station in San Diego, but you're going up against the biggest radio conglomerate on earth. But the one thing I'm able to do is I know I'm able to do a solid thing that's able to get ratings which generates revenue. I have about 40,000 listeners on the online SP Radio One show (www.skaparade.com).
Bill: Wow, really…
Jared: That's phenomenal.
Jared: So, What was it like having The (International) Noise Conspiracy on the show?
Tazy: It was cool. Before, it was like, all the sessions had to be in our studio. Then, when I didn't have a studio - it's sort of ironic, it's like, I have all the equipment, but I don't have a place to bring the bands, and the only bands I can really bring to my place are folks who could do it without drums, you know, so sort of semi-electric, sort of acoustic. Singer-songwriter stuff for the most part. So, you know, where am I gonna bring the bands for this? A couple of the clubs have been really super-nice in letting me basically tag-team with them doing shows. So basically, it's like going to a show, but they're also doing the show that's gonna be recorded and edited for the radio. That's what we did with The (International) Noise Conspiracy on Cinco de Mayo at Chain Reaction in Anaheim. I can't give enough props out to the folks at Chain Reaction, they've been amazing. But they also know that I do spread the word out, you know, most of their shows sell out anyway nowadays.
With The (International) Noise Conspiracy, I'd been trying to get them on the program for a while, and I know the owner of Burning Heart Records from Sweden. But I was just happy that the band said yes! Because it really comes down to, "do you want to do this for the radio show, or don't you?" And they said yeah, sure.
Jared: I know their philosophy is to get their music out as much as they can.
Tazy: Well, true, but they also want it to get out in a responsible manner, you know, they don't necessarily want their stuff to be heard on KISS-FM. They want it played in the right shows that are gonna showcase the band for what they are.
And Ironically, their show is the one I had to postpone because of the September 11th tragedy. If you're listening to it, you know, you wouldn't necessarily "get it," but it's just at the time it really didn't seem like the right thing to do, to have an anti-establishment band that's very communist based singing a song with the title "Reproduction of Death." It's the first song that they played (at the show).
Jared: But that's such a great song! (Laughs)
Tazy: It's a great song, but not for September 12th.
Jared: Yeah, I hear you there.
Tazy: The only reason I was playing their set that early is because I was all set to go out to the CMJ festival, and I was gonna be on the panel and I was gonna see The (International) Noise Conspiracy, I was gonna do my whole show based on all the cool bands that were playing at CMJ, and that completely went out the window.
Jared: I know a lot of the bands that I like were gonna be playing there, and they weren't able to go, because of obvious reasons, and I'm sure they were kind of weary about traveling to New York at that point.
Tazy: Anyway, in closing, please check the incredible music and merchandise [e.g., San Diego's The Donkey Show cd, Birmingham, UK's The Equators (who inspired The English Beat & UB40) cd, No Doubt Eric Stefani "Ska Parade" logo shirts] and SP Radio One in 24+ Genres at skaparade.com. Please listen and spread the good word - which should work on most modems.
Bill: It works on my 56K.
Tazy: Yeah, it works I think even for folks who have 28.8. And just to give you some tips, PC Users: If you're going to listen to the show, please use Winamp. Mac users: I recommend Soundjam, but I'm sure there are other better programs. Realplayer sucks, has and always will, unless they do some type of miracle to their programming. QuickTime is good for viewing movies made in QuickTime, but not necessarily for MP3 streams. So, you might wanna update that MP3 player. So, to recap, PC Users, Winamp, Mac users, I recommend Soundjam or some other compatible MP3 player. You'll be able to hear it with no problems, there shouldn't be that much buffering, and everyone will be much happier. And just to let you know, the shows broadcast (stream) like they're actually on the radio, so if you catch something like maybe at the tail end of a band's set, well guess what? It'll come up again within the next continuous cycle or stream - you know, so each of the shows are gonna be around two hours, and it'll just loop at the end of the two hours, so if you miss the beginning, guess what, it'll come up again.
Also, in regards to 92.1, not to make the story too long, but I really do thank you for your listenership and support, and it's really up to you if you want to have the show back on the station. And what it's gonna require is not only calling up the station, but actually sending individual letters written to the station, that would help.
Bill: It's a small station.
Tazy: Exactly, I mean, I have a show that works, that when they hear stuff on the show they wanna go out and buy the record and they wanna go see the bands when they tour, and they wanna wear the clothes or the shades or the shoes or whatever. They wanna go skiing, they wanna - you know, you get the picture. So, you know, that door is still open, and if people wanna contact me they can contact me through the website (www.skaparade.com) as well.
Jared: I think you're tops, I mean, you play stuff that nobody else has even heard of. I mean, it's good stuff.
Tazy: Well, it's stuff that doesn't get the voice that it necessarily deserves. Mind you, every time I was playing something I kept getting things added to full rotation on the station. I think I got something like 13, 16 different things that came from my show added - and I only did 21 shows!
Jared: And I think what it comes down to also is, you not only have a good ear for music, but you're willing to take the time to listen to stuff. And not everybody does that.
Tazy: Well, when I drive in the car, unfortunately, it sounds silly, but I don't listen to the radio so much, I don't get to listen to my own personal cd's, I'm listening to the stuff that people send me trying to find those gems. And I tend to find them time and time again. Sometimes I go through good periods, sometimes I go through bad periods, but they keep coming up. And by the way, we're in a good period right now!
***listen to SP Radio One in 24+ Genres! at www.skaparade.com
(article originally published on EvilRadioEmpire.com in December 2001 - https://web.archive.org/web/20060218120433/http://www.evilradioempire.com/interviews/tazy.html)