The ska(-mmunist) manifesto

Everyone can own new EP by local ska band, ‘cause it’s free

Winnipeg ska band The Afterbeat released five new songs for free download last month. Joey Senft

At a time when CDs are quickly becoming a thing of the past, local ska-rockers The Afterbeat decided to give the cyber world a try with the release of a free five-song EP.

“We released these songs digitally to get a little bit of a buzz in people’s ear,” Mike Reis, the band’s 29-year-old singer, said during a recent phone interview. “It seems that’s what the trend right now is… Records aren’t necessarily the best medium if the massive amount of fans aren’t there - we sell more hoodies and t-shirts than CDs on tours.”

Since the release of their last album, 2005’s Personals, the band has been playing around town and trying to get out of debt. Touring has had to take a backseat due to the soaring price of gas.

“It came down to the fact that we were broke. We were a band in the middle of Canada. With gas prices going up and the dollar instability, it’s hard to travel. You don’t see bands touring by themselves anymore. There are a lot of sponsored tours with a lot of bands that will bring a big audience. It’s getting expensive to travel and keep yourself afloat.”

You don’t have to follow that person in front of you. You can think for yourself. You can say what you think and say what you want to.

Mike Reis, The Afterbeat

Reis waits tables at a local Moxie’s Classic Grill. Working there allows him a lot of flexibility when it comes to playing shows, touring and recording. If he couldn’t get up and go, he would be unable to sing upbeat songs of social protest, like “Change System,” which appears on the new EP. He takes work seriously, but he also keeps everything in perspective.

“I use that job to get what I want - it’s a stepping stone. I gotta go through work to get to go touring, to play with my band.”

The songs on the new EP were written at a time when Reis was supposed to be doing the mature thing by voting in the federal election. As a new homeowner, property taxes and other issues were at stake and he had to fulfill his democratic duty - according to his mom. Reis stresses that people should think for themselves.

“You don’t have to follow that person in front of you. You can think for yourself. You can say what you think and say what you want to. I used to go to church every Sunday. Why? Because that’s what you did. Stop and realize that your capable of thought and decisions on your own.”

With the band heading out west in the spring, the EP is sure to be passed around by hipsters and ska fans across the nation, causing a buzz in advance of their arrival.

“We’re trying to get people to remember that there are people playing music here. Just because venues are closing doesn’t mean people have to go listen to their radio.”

See The Afterbeat Friday, Jan. 16 at Dylan’s on Pembina.

Published in Volume 63, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 15, 2009)

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