There is a new ska band in town—
That’s right, there is a new ska band in town; they are called Pressure Dem, and they are very good. They offer a new take on the Two Tone ska sound that came out of the UK in the late 1970s, which innovating bands like The Specials and The English Beat carved from the original Jamaican ska music created in the late ‘50s. Pressure Dem draws heavily on both movements to create a style of ska that is unique to their own catalogue.
Pressure Dem features two former members of the popular third wave ska band The Toasters. The other two members are Mikey Fender and 25-year old guitarist Tommy Rudek—Fender is a kind of “jack of all trades drummer” who has played in many different bands for many years, including Bootleg and Skylab; and Rudek is known locally for his work with reggae/punk band Half Dub that was active from 2007-11.
Back in November 2013 Rudek ran into Fender at a Rebelution show at Jannus Live in downtown St. Petersburg. The musicians had known each other for years. Fender told Rudek he had a new ska band in the works “with these guys from The Toasters,” and was still looking for members. Rudek wanted to join the band, and being a good player with passion for Jamaican music made him a solid candidate.
After his first audition it was unanimous that the young guitarist should join the group—initially on bass, he was moved to guitar within the first month, and by 2014 Pressure Dem was playing the local circuit, gigging at venues like the Whiskey Barrel and Bob’s Boat House and Beach Club in Sarasota, as well as Dcoy Ducks on Anna Maria Island.
With limited internet presence, Pressure Dem is building their following organically by getting out and playing as much as possible—which isn’t the easiest way to go about it, but is probably the most honest.
“This kind of ska is underground,” said Rudek, while nursing a beer at Island Time bar near his house on Bradenton Beach. “It was sort of left behind, but gets rediscovered by people who end up really loving it and follow it.”
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