Pirate Punks

The MAD CADDIEs with NOFX, Fabulous Disasters and Frenzal Rhomb at the Kool Haus (1 Jarvis), tonight (Thursday, March 21)..

The MAD CADDIEs with NOFX, Fabulous Disasters and Frenzal Rhomb at the Kool Haus (1 Jarvis), tonight (Thursday, March 21). Sold out. 416-870-8000.

Rating: NNNNN

pirate music isn’t exactly flood-ing the radio waves these days. Besides the oldie-but-goodie Yo Ho Ho And A Bottle Of Rum and Captain Hook’s tarantella, my timbers are rarely shivered by a rockin’ buccaneer number. Santa Barbara’s Mad Caddies are out to change that. Their most recent record, last year’s Rock The Plank, serves up a hearty brew of what they deem pirate rock. Actually, except for rollicking seafaring sing-along Weird Beard, the songs have little to do with sailing the open seas.

Mad Caddies singer Chuck Robertson, on the line from a swank hotel in New York City, sheds a little light on the subject.

“We envision ourselves as modern-day pirates,” he chuckles sleepily, “hanging out and raising shit, drinking beer, living on a tour bus, which is our version of a pirate ship. Sure, we plunder and pillage — everything but the raping!

“But when it comes to the “pirate rock’ tag, we chose it ’cause nobody had any idea what pirate music was.”

The Caddies’ music doesn’t exactly define the term. Other than a few avast-ye-mateys! moments on Rock The Plank, the tunes drift through punk, ska, reggae and rock — even Dixieland, due to sparkling licks by horn players Keith Douglas and Ed Hernandez.

Their earlier albums leaned more toward the ska end of the spectrum, which meant they got lumped in with other poppy third-wave revivalists like Reel Big Fish and Goldfinger.

On their newest effort, the band have moved away from the straight-up ska vibe for a harder sound.

Rock The Plank is less overtly political than you’d expect from a punk record. There are elements of anarchy on tracks like Bridges, which disses hypocrites on Capitol Hill, and the self-explanatory We’ll Start To Worry When The Cynics Start Believing, but for the most part the disc focuses less on raising consciousness and more on raising the roof.

Although Chuck says the Caddies aimed toward activism with some of their older tunes, he insists he’s not into punk for the politics.

“Music can be a good vehicle for getting out a message, but we’re not trying to save the world. We just want people to come to our shows and have a good time, kick back and relax.”

Weirdly, the Mad Caddies are much bigger stars in Europe than they are in their homeland.

“I think they’re smarter over in Europe,” says Robertson. “They’re definitely not as conscious of styles or scenes, that’s for sure. I mean, they all wear fanny packs there. They obviously don’t give a shit — they’re just in it for the music. And they’re not as plugged in as people are over here. They don’t rely on TV or the media to tell them what’s cool. I feel the same way about crowds in Canada.”

Canadian and European crowds have been seeing a lot of the Caddies. These dudes tour relentlessly, which Robertson admits is rough. Still, he’s stoked to be playing shows with punk icons NOFX, led by Fat Wreck Chords (the Caddies’ label) head honcho Fat Mike.

Besides, a nomadic lifestyle comes with the pirate turf, right? Robertson sheepishly admits that the Caddies would trade life on the open seas for a mini-bar and feather pillows.

“Usually we’re stuck in camper vans. We just trash them and then return them and don’t have to clean up the mess. Now we’re in a great hotel — it’s got a sort of Japanese theme going. The showers have wood floors and shit. We’re treating ourselves, ’cause it’s so rare that we get to stay in a hotel.”

What about the pillaging and plundering?

“No way,” laughs the swarthy captain. “If we trash a place like this, they’ll never let us back in!”wuzzlet@hotmail.com

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