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Since their inception, during high school in California nearly two decades ago, the Mad Caddies have toured the world countless times delighting fans with their unique blend of reggae, punk, ska and pop, and with their newest album Dirty Rice the Mad Caddies have proven they’re just as impassioned and energetic as ever. In many ways the band’s first full-length in seven years sees them coming full circle, demonstrating while trends and times have changed, the Mad Caddies’ commitment to creating dynamic music has only grown stronger.
Yet the Mad Caddies are a difficult band to pin down. We’re not sure what’s more impressive, the fact that Mad Caddies have sold over 400,000 albums or they’ve managed to combine a wide range of influences – - dixieland, reggae, punk, ska – - into a collection of songs which are incredibly diverse yet still make for a cohesive listen from start to finish. “We love the fact that we’re able to expand our sound with every album,” Lazor explains, citing the fact that the band goes over just as well at family-friendly festivals as they do late-night rock shows alongside their punk peers. “I don’t know many bands who are able to have such a wide range of songs and styles at their disposal.”
Dirty Rice is the culmination of the band’s already remarkable career, but like many works of art, creating Dirty Rice wasn’t an effortless process. In fact, the Mad Caddies originally started working on the album in 2009 but weren’t happy with the results and decided to go back to the drawing board. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise because when they returned they had gained two more songwriters—original drummer Todd Rosenberg and new keyboardist Dustin Lanker (formerly of the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies) — who alongside vocalist Chuck Robertson, guitarist Sascha Lazor, trumpet player Keith Douglas, trombonist Ed Hernandez and bassist Graham Palmer make up the Mad Caddies. “We’re excited with this lineup because the new additions bring so much to the table with their musical knowledge and songwriting skills,” Robertson explains, “That’s very evident listening to these songs.”
Produced by the Mad Caddies and Rosenberg at his own studio (which is incidentally located in the same building where the band rehearsed in high school) Dirty Rice’s in-house nature allowed the band to explore creative ideas that wouldn’t have come to fruition in the traditional big-budget setting. “Writing and recording this album in Todd’s studio really allowed us to experiment, not only with the actual composition but also with the layering and arrangements,” Robertson explains. The result is an album that features everything from the reggae-influenced pop of “Shoot Out The Lights” to the hardcore punk introduction of “Love Myself” and all of the sonic territory in between.
The band also got integral assistance from NOFX frontman and Fat Wreck Chords founder Fat Mike who had a major role in shaping the direction of Dirty Rice and helping them pair down over 30 songs into the final twelve selections. “Mike has worked with us since our first record and he came down and gave his honest and unbiased opinion on a lot of these songs and that outside perspective really helped make this album a lot better,” Lazor explains, adding that Mike also helped write the New-Orleans-meets-reggae rocker “Shot In The Dark” with the band in just ten minutes. “Mike was critical but at the same time he made the process fun and easy.”
Plenty of life experiences and milestones inevitably occurred between the making of Dirty Rice and their last full-length 2007′s Keep It Going but the Mad Caddies have never stopped pushing forward no matter what obstacles lie in their way. The band wanted to keep evolving musically and create new material for the enjoyment of their fans who have supported them in America as well as all the places around the globe where they’ve performed from South Africa to Japan.
When asked about one of the secrets to their success, Lazor explains, “We don’t really have a lot of drama in the band…We know each member’s personality pretty well at this point and we get along pretty well, especially when we’re cramped in a bus or van.” As we said at the beginning, there isn’t an easy way to explain the Mad Caddies because there’s nothing typical about them and that may be why they’ve lasted so long and their fan base keeps growing with them. “The last 20 years have been great and over the course of the next 20 years I’d love to see us become one of those bands where you just have to check ‘em out because you can’t explain their sound.
I feel like we’ll be able to be around for a long time,” Robertson summarizes, citing the fact that the Mad Caddies now have second-generation fans, “Right now we feel more unstoppable than ever.”