The New Orleans rock band makes its Voodoo debut this year, and there's one thing they want you to know.
The Scorseses want you to know they’re not a ska band. Yes, they started as a ska/punk band, and yes, they’ll play some upstrokes, but when drummer Chris Noto and singer Vince Ebeier count off the artists who influenced the members of the band, no ska bands get named. Instead, they mention Streetlight Manifesto, Miles Davis, NOFX, Victor Wooten, and Bela Fleck among others.
“I grew up on punk rock and Iron Maiden,” Ebeier says. “My biggest influence in the world is Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden. I love singers that can put forth melody and accentuate the melody, almost like there’s storytelling. I love the ‘50s style melodies and ‘50s style vocals, old Misfits stuff or old doo-wop stuff.”
They don’t deny ska, but being associated with ska can be a burden. It has become a gateway band for kids - literally - in search of a soundtrack for teenaged rebellion that also has a strong physical presence. “It’s a way to dance like a maniac and not care about their rhythm,” Ebeier says, laughing. But its association with all-ages crowds and the corresponding maturity level keeps people from taking ska bands seriously.
Musically, The Scorseses are far more musically involved than most straight-ahead ska bands. You can hear prog touches and ideas that require chops to play in their new album, Magnumopus, and ska only really manifests itself a spring at the rhythmic core of the songs. They embrace the punk spirit, but they want to execute their songs that are about something as well.
“A lot of people go for the common ground thing, but I’m trying to write bigger than me and bigger than a personal situation,” he says. “There are bigger things in the world than your girlfriend being mad at you tonight. I’m trying to keep it from being too ‘me.’”
Four years ago, they were so eager to get the band off the ground that their first gig was a kickball prom when friends from the league asked them if they wanted to perform. “We only had three songs, but we said, We’ll take it,” Noto says. They had a month to hustle together an hour-and-a-half’s worth of covers, but they pulled it off, and played “Earth Angel” by The Penguins as the balloons dropped.
Now, they’re getting ready for their first major tour with H.R. from The Bad Brains, which will take them up the Eastern Seaboard. They’ll spend much of the next six months on the road, and will return to New Orleans to play the House of Blues in April. Eight members will pile into a van that has had one seat pulled in favor of a mattress, so they’re preparing themselves for the trip. Rule number one: Danny Nixdorff doesn’t drive. “He gets too nervous,” Ebeier says, and because he doesn’t do his share of the driving, he gets the job of reloading the van at the end of each night.
“There’s a penance,” Ebeier says.
The Scorseses play Saturday at 12:45 p.m. on the Carnival Stage at Voodoo.