For this spotlight we traveled out to Pittsford for the local concert, Pittstock. During the Event we met up with Mrs. Skanotto, a local ska band, to talk about everything from naming the band to where not to play if you want to play loud.
RI: How did you all start playing together?
Justin: So the band started back in 1989, back at Ithaca College where I went to school and I joined it right away. We played for a long time then everyone decided to break up and stopped playing. We had just released something on a national compilation and I thought it was really dumb idea just to stop playing. I asked everyone if I could take the band and keep playing when I moved back to Rochester.
They agreed, so I began auditioning people here in Rochester. Since then there has been just a slowing rotating lineup; as people get older, start families, or move away we have kept replacing people. This current line up has been playing for about a year and a half.
Joe: We just did an album, The Long Dark Road, it was my first album with the band; I didn’t write any of it. The old singer wrote the lyrics, but he just had a kid with his wife, so he kind of had to drop out. Our next album with be this thing we play and write as this band.
RI: How did the band get the name Mrs. Skannotto?
Justin: Actually it’s a funny story; the name was formed even before I joined the band. The band did a talent show two weeks after it was created. They band didn’t have a name and the MC told them they could perform if they didn’t have a name. The lead guy’s name was Mark Annatto, but everyone called him Skannotto because he had like 2000 ska CDs.
Dan: He’ not kidding like a wall of Ska CD’s.
Justin: His mom had just taken the whole band out to dinner so the band figured they would name it after Mrs. Skannotto figuring the name would change later, Opps.
John: The name of the band never changes. Every band I’ve been is always said they will change the name later. It never happens.
RI: Does the band play just around Rochester or do you travel around to play?
Justin: We try to consider ourselves a regional band, but we tend not to travel too far unless the shows are worth it. We won’t travel to New York City for example unless we are playing with a big headliner. We used to play in Philly last year, but we haven’t recently. Philadelphia is far enough away where if we don’t promote enough, the turn out is small just because people don’t know us.
RI: Do you guys have a favorite place to play in Rochester?
Joe: Waterstreet on the main stage is always a good time. We opened of Less Than Jake there a few months back. I love Luvin Cup, but we played there awhile back and it was a bust.
RI: A bust?
Justin: Luvin cup is a quiet kind of place. We were trying to jam out at 11:30 at night while everyone else just wanted to finish their sandwich and go home; really not the place for a hard rock ska band.
RI: What’s with the bear mascot?
Alex: That’s a new addition for the band. We found it in the hallway of our practice space, so I said to throw a t-shirt on it. We’ve been bringing it to shows since.
RI: Where do you get the inspiration for your songs?
Joe: The last album, Long Dark Road, was written mostly by the last singer. The new album will be written by me unless anyone else want to write stuff.
Everyone else: (laughs)
RI: So you got a new album in the works?
Justin: Yea we just started recording a new album, but since none of us are really full time it’s not like the album will be out next week.
Joe: It’s different when you are a local band. If you have a record contract you write the album, release it, and then tour. When you are a local band you write it, tour on it, and release the album as you go. We have been playing this music for about a year now, so by the time we release an album we are already ready to begin writing new stuff.
RI: Is the band touring around now?
Alex: Right now we are in a transitional stage. We are spreading gigs out a little bit and trying to promote each event a little more and let the roots spread. But we will probably start really touring again a few months from now.
If you want to hear Mrs. Skanotto Check out their website: http://www.mrsska.com/