MUSIC / BAD MANNERS : Doin’ the Ska Thing : Buster Bloodvessel, the big, bald singer for the English band recounts their trials and travels.


Don’t you think if salmon had any social connections whatsoever they’d bring a couple of killer whales along on their next white water adventure to scare off all those hungry bears?

Or they could just teach Bad Manners front man Buster Bloodvessel how to swim upstream like a torpedo. He has the scary looks of a psycho killer in a bad Joe Bob Briggs movie. Actually, he’s a nice guy who’d probably have the bears dancing in the river shortly after his ska band kicks in.

Bad Manners has been doing the ska thing for 17 years. Their 15th and latest albums, “Fat Sound,” is just out on Triple X Records, the band’s zillionth label. Bloodvessel and his band will be issuing direct orders to the feet of other bald people who will be dancing all over the Anaconda Theatre Wednesday night.


Opening will be the Twist-Offs out of Cleveland and a completely raging ska band out of Carpinteria, the Upbeat. To quote every Edsel ever made, “Oooooooooooooooo,” this is going to be good.

When the English ska scene catapulted into worldwide prominence a decade or so ago, Bad Manners was right there with the English Beat, the Selector and the Specials. The band had four Top 20 albums and 13 hit singles in the U.K.

“Fat Sound” is typical Bad Manners, plenty of spiffy originals and a bunch of covers--this time by artists such as Greg Allman, the Kinks and Dion.

The giant bald guy recently discussed what’s what with Bad Manners from a chilly Calgary hotel room.


Question: How’s the tour, the new album and all that?

Answer: We’re in Calgary right now and we’ve been through the coldest part of the blizzard of ’93. After a night of partying, it’s a long drive to get anywhere in Canada. That really does in your brain, but we get

to be on stage and shake our thing. Everyone seems to be getting into the album. It’s getting onto the college radio format, and it’s picking up some commercial radio airplay as well.


Q: Is ska getting bigger, smaller or staying the same?

A: I always think it’s getting bigger, but it’s really just staying the same. Ska always had that steady pace. It’s also always gotten the whole crowd going completely crazy. It’s always the best night of the year for the clubs. There’s ska everywhere; for example, ska is big time in Japan. It’ll be the same until some young bands come along. I like new bands like Fishbone and the Bosstones.


Q: How did you get started in all this?

A: I’m a frustrated actor. I never had the right push or promotion because we never had any money. I started Bad Manners in 1976. I’m from London, which was always a very strong ska town. It’s a black and white place, and I’d hang out with the black kids at the local dances. Rock is great but ska is the best music in the world.


Q: Do you get the kindler, gentler skinheads at your shows?

A: We get a real mixed crowd, sometimes some SHARP kids. Do you know about SHARP? Well, SHARP started in New York five years ago and it stands for Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice. Skinheads are really the ones that fight fascism on the front lines. A lot of them actually fight other skinheads. Geraldo wouldn’t want to hear something like that.


Q: Tell me about a strange Bad Manners gig.

A: I’ve played a lot of strange ones. The strangest was probably with Barry White and Dire Straits in Italy in 1985. I dropped my pants and the Pope was watching. So, I guess, I’ve been blessed.


Q: Who writes?

A: I write a lot of the songs, probably 80%. But we don’t mind doing covers. Elvis never wrote a song in his life.


Q: Why is the British press so mean?

A: They’re horrible. They don’t like anybody and they don’t like Bad Manners, either. They build a band up then throw them in the toilet. They’ve taken journalism to the point where it interferes with a person’s personal freedom.


Q: What’s next?

A: We’re going to be doing a world tour beginning in September. Usually we tour nine months out of the year although we haven’t in a year and a half. I’m just looking to make another album. “Fat Sound” is a year old, so it’s not new to us. We’re up to 15 albums now, counting all the bootlegs.


Q: Fifteen? The last one I have is the MCA album from 1983 or so.

A: Yeah? I saw that one in Baltimore selling for a hundred bucks.


* Bad Manners, The Upbeat, Twist-Offs at the Anaconda Theatre, 935 Embarcadero del Norte, Isla Vista. Wednesday night, 8 p.m., $13.50.