Metal Blade Records On May 17, As I Lay Dying vocalist Tim Lambesis appeared in…
- Posted on Mar 12th 2010 4:00PM by Kenneth Partridge
"That'd be great," Hall tells Spinner, looking ahead to scheduled dates in Los Angeles, Toronto and New York City. The band is also slated to perform at Coachella and appear on 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.' "We can only play and see, really," Hall adds. "We [recently] played in Australia and New Zealand for the first time. Again, it was a little like we didn't know what to expect, but it was very similar to the reception we got here [in the UK]."
Formed in Coventry, England, in 1977, the Specials spearheaded the 2 Tone movement, so named for the record label cofounded by keyboardist, songwriter and eccentric mastermind Jerry Dammers. In addition to the Specials, 2 Tone launched the careers of Madness, the English Beat and the Selecter -- UK hitmakers that enjoyed only modest Stateside success.
Hall says the Specials' inability to crack the US market had little to do with their music -- a punky, politically charged take on traditional '60s ska -- or fashion sense, which drew on the English mod and Jamaican rude-boy subcultures.
"I felt a lot of [American] people understood what we were saying the first time around," Hall says. "The reason I feel we didn't scale the heights is because we split up. Everything was building to a certain way, but then we needed to call it a day for a while."
Hall left the group in 1981, following the release of the Specials' sophomore album, 'More Specials,' and teamed with fellow defectors Neville Staple and Lynval Golding to form the Fun Boy Three. Dammers soldiered on, enlisting new musicians, renaming the group the Special AKA and laboring for two years on the overcooked flop 'In the Studio.'
Comprising six of the seven original members -- everyone but Dammers -- the reunited Specials are focusing on music from their first two full-lengths, modern classics that influenced such punk-ska followers as Operation Ivy, Fishbone, No Doubt and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
On those albums, the Specials sang about issues affecting their hometown -- racism and rampant unemployment, most notably -- though Hall says the music has always had relevance beyond Coventry.
"The messages from our songs were written from a very small-city point of view, but those problems exist all over the world," he says. "They just take on different shapes."
"A song like 'Too Much Too Young,' which is about teen pregnancy and being sort of a little more careful, that happens all over," he adds. "So does racism. America has a long line of that. It is sort of a different racism from what you experience here, but it still exists."