Buck O Nine won’t let ska die.
Longtime Buck-O-Nine lead singer Jon Pebsworth pops up as a talking head in the new documentary Pick It Up! Ska In The ’90s. The film details the history of ska music while concentrating on the bands that broke in the so-called ‘third-wave’ of the movement. Besides Buck-O-Nine, this era included such acts as the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Reel Big Fish, Hepcat, and Goldfinger.
The ska scene had been simmering since the late ’80s due to influential bands such as Operation Ivy. It wasn’t until around 1997 that the music exploded into the mainstream. Ska’s moment was fleeting though, as the movement quickly drifted back underground by 1999 as nu-metal bands began to take over the airwaves. Twenty years removed from the genre’s peak popularity, the documentary makes a point of showing that ska is so far off the mainstream radar these days that many people have no idea what it is.
“That wasn’t really surprising to me, because I remember even back in the ’90s when the third-wave thing was really popping a lot of people would be like, ‘What’s that? I don’t know what ska is.’ Then to explain it to them would be almost painful. There’s times when people have asked me and I kind of feel like going ‘I’m just not even going to answer. Let’s just talk about something else,’” Pebsworth said with a laugh.
The band may not be as busy these days as they were during the third-wave era, but they’re still active. They’re not averaging two to three-hundred dates a year like they were in the mid-’90s, but they still get together for shorter tours and to work on albums, the latest of which is 2019’s Fundaymental. Logistically, it’s a bit trickier now that half of the six-member band lives outside of San Diego.
“Andy [Platfoot — the band’s bassist who lives in Yosemite] will jump in a rent-a-car, come through LA, pick me up, and then we’re in San Diego,” Pebsworth explained. “Steve [Bauer, drums] just flies in on a cheap flight [from Colorado]. So, it’s not that hard to get everyone together, but it does take a good three to six months out to kind of plan something.”
The band is already at work writing songs for a follow-up to Fundaymental. Pebsworth said that they have four new songs they’re working on right now, and that they are hoping to have twelve to fourteen on the finished LP.
“At the pace that we work, it’s going to be 2021 at least probably,” he explained. “But, who knows, we might get it together quicker than that.”
One thing that fans can count on is a lack of constant updates about the status of the new album on social media. At this point, the band is more concerned with discussing their songs than scheduling Instagram posts.
“We don’t think too much about marketing and stuff like that anymore,” he said. “Maybe we should. Maybe it doesn’t matter. I don’t know. We’re just kind of on our own little pace at this point. When we have discussions over text messages or phone calls, it’s more about ‘what about the bridge of this song?’”