EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Chuck Robertson of Mad Caddies

Photo: Max Gray

LOS ANGELES, January 31, 2014 — Mad Caddies are a ska-reggae-punk band on Fat Wreck Chords. They formed in 1995 and have released three full-length albums. They recently finished recording their fourth album, which is due out this spring. Mad Caddies singer Chuck Robertson took some time to speak with Wells On Music regarding the recording of the new album, the upcoming tour, as well as recording for the Tony Sly Tribute record.

Scroll below video to read the interview.

Kevin J. Wells: It’s been seven years since the world has heard new Mad Caddies music. Did Mad Caddies ever officially break up?

Chuck Robertson: No, we didn’t. After Keep It Going in ’07, we kinda toured on it through the better part of ’08, but then in ’09, we just decided we wanted to just take a hiatus. There was never an official breakup. We actually continued to play 20 to 30 shows a year throughout the next couple years. We started this in high school when we were kids. We started touring in ’96 and never stopped. We just needed some time to work on other projects. Some guys did side projects. Some people went back to school. We came together last year said it’s been way too long. Let’s get a new record out and we’ve been writing and recording ever since. I just heard the final mixed version last night. So, it’s done.

KW: What can you compare this new record to, sound wise?

CR: I think this one kind of starts where Keep It Going left off. It’s definitely an eclectic mix of Dixieland jazz and rock and reggae and ska. It’s a little more aggressive than the last one, but there’s definitely some mellow stuff on there too. It’s undeniably Mad Caddies.

KW: Did you do anything different as far as the recording process goes on this record than you have with past records?

CR: Yeah, our drummer [Todd Rosenberg] has his own studio here in Santa Inez valley, it’s actually where the band recorded their first demo on his parents’ old farm out in the old feed barn. Se we got to essentially have a working studio space for next to nothing for the last year. So, cost wasn’t inhibitive or anything. We actually started demoing 14 months ago and we cycled through 50 or 60 ideas to get to the 15 songs we were really happy with. Then we began recording it. So, in that way, it was different. It wasn’t like we had a group of songs and then we practiced them and said okay, let’s go to the studio and take three weeks to record it. We were able to take our time and it’s interesting to find songs you’re really stoked on in the beginning and then three months later, it just doesn’t do it for me, let’s move on, you know? I think that was really neat for us to finally be able to really dig our feet in and produce something we’re really proud of and not feel rushed or anything.

KW: Did you self-produce it as a band or did you bring someone in to produce?

CR: We did self-produce it. It will be, “Produced by Todd Rosenberg and Mad Caddies.” He’s a recording engineer and does commercial jingle music. So, he’s got the skills. We all had our vision, but Todd was definitely driving the command center.

KW: Has Todd done any jingles people might recognize?

CR: A lot of Japanese commercials for a fancy new massage or tires and stuff, nothing anybody would know.

KW: When can fans expect to pick up the new record?

CR: I don’t have the exact date, but it’s gonna be middle towards the end of April on Fat Wreck Chords.

KW: Your tour starts in L.A. on February 4. How long will this tour run?

CR: We’re gonna be touring in support of the record for the better part of two years. Originally, the album was slated for a February 4 release date. The L.A. show was supposed to be on the release date, but circumstances beyond our control pushed the album back a couple months. It was like, “We already have the tour booked. Let’s not pull out. Let’s just go out and do it anyway.” We’ll be playing a lot of the stuff off the new album at the shows. We’ve got the February run on the west coast and then in March, we head out to the southeast, Colorado and Texas. Then we go to the Midwest and northeast. In the summer we are looking to do some festivals here in the U.S.

KW: Will there be any Mad Caddies Punk Rock Bowling club shows?

CR: We’re not on that show, no. That would be awesome though.

KW: Are there plans to make more records with Ellwood?

CR: There are. I actually have another batch of songs ready to go. I’ve just been so busy doing the Caddies thing. Now that we finished recording process, the Caddies schedule is just going to be performing live. I aim to get back in the studio sometime this spring and crank out another Ellwood record. It’s just kind of a labor of love. It’s nothing serious. It’s just another thing that’s a lot fun.

KW: Mad Caddies covered AM for the Tony Sly Tribute. What made you pick that song?

CR: You know, we didn’t. Fat Mike suggested it. We were on board for the project, of course. Tony was a great friend of ours and is sadly missed. For certain bands [Fat Mike] had ideas about which song would be good. So he suggested that one and we said, “Yeah, cool.” He wanted to hear it in real mellow reggae version, so we went ahead with it. It turned out pretty good. That whole record is really neat. It’s really neat to hear everybody else’s takes on his music, which is outstanding.

KW: Was it hard recording the song under those circumstances? Was it cathartic for you at all?

CR: It was strange. It was really strange. I would definitely say it was emotional, you know? It seems like in the last five or six years we’ve lost so many people, not only in music, but with personal friends of mine. I would definitely say it was emotional.

Kevin J. Wells is the Sports Editor for Communities Digital News and also writes about Major League Baseball, punk rock music., and food. Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball

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