With over 100+ hours of recorded interviews and thousands of miles traveled, filmmaker Taylor Morden and his crew are working toward releasing Pick It Up! a documentary on 1990’s ska, in April of 2019.
Morden has already interviewed members of Fishbone, The Specials, Skatalites, Less Than Jake, No Doubt, Sublime, Save Ferris, Reel Big Fish, Goldfinger, Mad Caddies, and many more in preparation for the story. Morden has even interviewed a handful of Japanese ska bands, where the genre flourished long after its main-steam popularity in the US fizzled out.
Although the focus will be the “third wave,” the documentary is set to cover all of ska’s history, starting where it developed: 1960’s Jamaica. It will include the rise of two-tone in English cities through the 1980s, and culminate with an extensive and comprehensive analysis of the third wave. Pick It Up! will strive to “tell this story as accurately as possible, from as many points of view as possible.”
Taylor Morden described his first path to music as “geeky,” growing up playing in the school band. As a middle school trumpet player, he always felt there was a divide between the music he could play on his instrument and the punk rock he and his friends listened to. His worlds came together when his friend let him borrow Upbeats and Beatdowns on cassette, the 1997 album from Christian ska band 5 Iron Frenzy, whom are also featured in the film.
Morden said this to The Pier about first hearing the album: “I was hearing people play these school band instruments, trombones, trumpets, and saxophones, in an entirely new way. I was 16-years-old at this point and it just blew my mind. From there, the next thing I heard was the self-titled No Doubt album, which also has a ton of horns on it. It was exponential from there; I was listening to anything I could get my hands on that was ska or ska-punk.”
From there, Morden went on to not only follow ska, but to play in the scene as well. After playing trumpet in a few local bands, Morden went on to join Pocketface, who saw mid-level fame in the thriving Japanese ska scene in the early 2000s. In the band, he met Rei Mastrogiovanni, who is the producer of Pick It Up!. The duo had the idea for the documentary in the fall of 2017 and have been hard at work ever since.
They started in Los Angeles, interviewing Darrin Pfeiffer, founding member and long-time drummer of Goldfinger. While in LA, the filmmakers also caught up with Miguel Happoldt of Sublime and Monique Powell of Save Ferris. From there they went north, catching up with Mike Park of Asian Man Records and Skankin’ Pickle, and Karina Deniké of the Dance Hall Crashers in San Francisco, and Steve Perry of Cherry Poppin’ Daddies in Portland, Oregon. From there, their network has only grown, as each artist, manager, and promoter has sent them in a new direction to more people crucial to the scene.
In addition to those mentioned above, Morden told The Pier two essential pieces of assembling the Pick It Up! puzzle have been Robert “Bucket” Hingley of The Toasters and Moon Ska Records and Christian Jacobs, or the M.C. Bat Commander, of Orange County ska band The Aquabats.
The project seems to have been timed perfectly, with a sudden resurgence of ska happening right now in 2018. In June alone, new albums from The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Mad Caddies, The English Beat, and third wave-newcomers The Interrupters were released or are still awaiting release.
In true DIY fashion, Pick It Up! will only be possible if funding allows. The film’s Kickstarter is aiming for $40,000 by late July 2018, a goal they are nearing closer to each day. Be sure to read more and donate to bring this Documentary to life by clicking HERE!
Follow The Pier for more on Pick It Up! as they enter the development and editing stages this summer.