Keeping ska afloat

Save the Swim Team has already accomplished a lot in its five-year career so far. It's played with bands like Big D and the Kids Table and Reel Big Fish and released a full-length CD.

And the members have done it all on their own.

The Huntington Beach ska band began in 2007 when brothers Max Klasky (bass) and Zack Klasky (saxophone) were watching the movie "Van Wilder." The words "Save the Swim Team" were written across a water polo's uniform in the film, and the brothers decided that would make a good band name because of its oddness.

"Ska names are usually kind of silly," Zack said.

Shortly before, the Klaskys jammed a bit with vocalist Richie Martin and the trio decided they would form a ska band. Back then, they played different instruments, but found their sound when they switched instrument roles and added drummer Brent Friedman, guitarist Doug Nye, trombonist Dan Currie and guitarist Scott Wellborn into the mix.

Despite ska not being the mainstream, the members of Save the Swim Team said they play it out of passion.

"We take pride in doing it because there are so few bands now from this area that still play ska," said Friedman.

The band has promoted itself without the aid of a management team or record label. Friedman, who studied mathematics at UC Irvine, took the promoting and networking into his own hands.

"[Brent] puts a lot of effort into getting us to even go to these shows," Currie said. "He basically is the reason why we're getting these big shows."

Most recently, Friedman arranged for the band to open a benefit show for Big D and the Kids Table in Pomona on July 30 to help the Boston band get back home after its van and trailer broke down during the Summer of Ska tour. Friedman promoted the show with a "secret guest headliner from Boston" — which turned out to be Big D, who gained enough money from the show to make it home.

However, even with Save the Swim Team's success in the ska community, they said the ska scene as a whole is struggling.

"Booking at a venue depends on who runs it and who's selective with it," Nye said. "If they're like, 'That's not my usual crowd,' then they won't book ska bands. Fans of one band will just stay for that band, and not for the whole show. And a lot of the bands just care about getting paid. There's no community aspect."

Friedman added, "There still is a scene with big bands that come through, but not so much with the smaller bands. The ska kids are there, they're just not coming to small shows."

Save the Swim Team also fuses sounds of punk and hardcore with ska, an approach that they said works to their advantage as well as their disadvantage.

"In California, people kind of pick and choose the genres they listen to," Friedman said. "In other states, people will listen to hybrids of genres. That makes it even tougher to be a ska band when we're not a straight-up ska band."

Still, music is not the band's ultimate goal. Most of the members work and have degrees in fields like math and English, and though they said they would quit for music, they have to be realistic about what's going to pay the bills.

"We're serious about wanting to play and booking, but even our songs aren't serious," Zack Klasky said. "We just like to have fun, and that's why we do it."

Save the Swim Team will perform in support of Voodoo Glow Skulls at the Observatory in Santa Ana on Aug. 25. For more information about the band, visit

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