The Slackers sound is pure roots, but still innovative. While they have been influenced, and even personally taught by Jamaican originators, like the Skatalites and the Upsetters (Original backing band for the Wailers), the band sees its music through an American lens. This band is equally appreciative of old blues, 60s soul, rock, and Rnb as it is of reggae, rocksteady, dub, and Ska. It is as if the Rolling Stones or the Yardbirds had grown up on Bob Marley as well as Muddy Waters.
Recently named the best reggae/ska band in New York city by Americas foremost reggae mag, African Beat, the Slackers have spent 2005 performing 100 concerts and releasing 3 new discs. So far this year the band has performed in 20 American states,11 european countries, 3 canadian provinces, Japan, and, Venezuela. They have released a dub cd, Afternoon in Dub, a split cd with the rock band Pulley, and a live cd, Slack in Japan. This frenzy of activity is leading up to a new release entitled Peculiar on Epitaph records due out on Febuary 21, 2006.
The Slackers hail from New York City. Their first full-length recording, Better Late Than Never (1996), featured a raw, direct vibe that The New York Times was quick to declare is "The Sound of New York."
Upon signing with Tim Armstrong's, Hellcat Records, in 1997, the band released Red Light, which saw them evolving into a smoother, more melancholy and soulful unit. The runaway hit from this album was "Watch This" which received extensive college radio airplay. In 1998,the Slackers followed up Red Light with a 19 song, all original opus, entitled, The Question. Filled with songs inspired by lost loves, dead heroes, and alcohol, it was proclaimed to be the "new Exile On Main Street. As CMJ stated, "the only question left to askis why all new ska records don't sound so respectful and together?" The single from this record, "Have The Time," produced a video that was shown extensively on Matt Penfields' Indie Nation (MTV).
Since the release of Red Light, the Slackers have headlined 11 US Tours and 9 European tours. They have appeared on the stages of the Warped Tour (1998), the Lowlands Festival (1999) Pukkelpop (1999, 2004), CMJ (2000), Montreal Jazz Festival (2000), the Bourges Festival (2001), the Dour Festival (2002), Deconstruction Tour (2004), Augustboller (2005), and the Streetbeat Festival (2005). They have shared stages and tours with Rancid (1999,2003), Hepcat (1999), Joe Strummer (2002), Floggin Molly (2002), Jimmy Cliff (2002), the Beat (2002), Pennywise (2004), and Toots & the Maytals (2005). Currently averaging 125-150 gigs a year! The Slackers have inspired a devoted cult following that drives hundreds of miles to attend their gigs. The Slackers focus on their live show led to the release of their official bootleg in 2000, Live At Ernesto's.
On their 2001 release, Wasted Days, the opening title track, Wasted Days, declared "What have I done wrong that I should be sorry?" and this confident tone was continued throughout the disc. Another track, a "ganja-choked" reworking of Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive", was praised by Maxim and the Village Voice. This growing popularity caught the attention of National Public Radio, and the Slackers were a featured segment on the "All Things Considered" show in July of 2001. This 13 minute moment of nation-wide radio air play shot Wasted Days into the ..8 sales position on Amazon.com's national cd chart for 7/26/01.
Since the mid-1990s, several Slackers members have been carving out careers for themselves as sidemen and songwriters for other bands. . Keyboardist Vic Ruggiero has performed with and been a songwriter for Rancid, the Pietasters, the Transplants, and his work was sampled by Pink on her most recent album. Saxophonist David Hillyard (an original member of LAs legendary Hepcat) has appeared on hundreds of sessions, most notably with Rancid on the Lollapalooza Tour in 1996, and was the featured soloist on their track Riot on the Beavis & Butthead Do America Soundtrack.
This interest in collaboration led the Slackers to record and produce what became "Slackers & Friends. This cd features the Slackers as a backing band for American and Jamaican recording artists such as Glen Adams (the Upsetters), Cornell Campbell (the Uniques), Congo Ashanti Roy (the Congos), Doreen Schaeffer (the Skatalites), and Ari-up (the Slits). Madonnas hubby, Guy Ritchie picked Matey Exterminator to be part of the music on his BBC series, Make My Day. A live concert from the Slackers & Friends 2003 tour was released as Upsetting Ernestos in late 2004.
In late 2003, the band released, Close My Eyes, a dark lo-fi lament for and a celebration of New York City. Vic Ruggiero sings with a mix of irony and hope, so feel free, go steal and rob; revolution aint my job; and if I sing your happy song; please dont tell me I am wrong; close my eyes and I am gone.
Close My Eyes was praised by critics at Pulse Magazine, Kerrang!, the BBC , Alt Music.com, The Village Voice, and the LA Weekly which said it captures their unfettered energy, unerring skankability, and playful anger to a tee!
To support Close My Eyes in Europe, the Slackers were selected to perform on the 2004 Deconstruction Tour alongside such acts as Yellowcard, Pennywise, Lagwagon, Anti-Flag, and Strike Anywhere. The Slackers stood out with their energetic, hard-hitting live show, leading both the BBC and Kerrang! Magazine to note that at the London finale, the Slackers "stole the show."
Coinciding with the Deconstruction Tour, the band released an anti-war EP entitled International War Criminal. It defiantly stated that, The weapons of destruction are gasoline and petroleum!
In 2005, the band was named the best reggae/ska band in New York City by Beat Magazine. They have performed to capacity crowds on the stages of such venues as The Bowery Ballroom (NYC), Troubadour (LA), Melkweg (Amsterdam), the 100 Club (London) and Lees Palace (Toronto). They have released Afternoon in Dub, an all dub reggae cd; a split cd with the band Pulley; and Slack In Japan, a live concert from their 2005 Japanese tour.