I have had the good fortune of seeing Miami group Askultura twice now, and the only thing I’m left wanting after they play is to move to Miami and join the band. With 10 members performing their own unique rumba, ska, worldly, blend of punk (think Gogol Bordello), the energy is absolutely incredible.
During the last song they brought me up onto the already crowded stage to take Captain’s position playing washboard, so he could cover a bucket in lighter fluid to use as a flaming drum. They went on to invite the whole rest of the crowd onto the stage and for a moment we were all members of Askultura.
That is the essence of the entire band; it is a no bullshit, full energy party, where anyone and everyone is welcome.
I had my photographer friend, Jimmy Gorevski, document the performance, and I asked the band a few questions after the show. I wanted to gain some insight about what it’s like to travel on a converted school bus and what’s in the making for this group in the upcoming years.
And aka Ampersand – guitars and vocal
Captain – washboard and vocal
El Pollo Elektriko- lead guitar and vocal
DC – drums
Mathieu – bass guitar
Cheston “Chesty” (of Corporate Fandango) – baritone and alto saxophone
Ryan (of ElDred) – tenor saxophone
Reverend Benjamin Ray (of ElDred) – auxiliary Latin percussion timbalista
JT (of Jay Tea) – keyboard, melodica, and vocal
AJ – tenor saxophone
Not on this tour (aka ‘chinchbugs’): Gribbs on trombone, Austin on trumpet, Chinongo on congas
How did this group come together and do all the members live in Miami?
We have a core, much like professional bodybuilders. When we found out that our brass couldn’t roll on this tour we reached out and picked up Chesty in NC who plays all the saxophones. He also has a primo beard, on his face and chest. JT is awesome and he came on board for the first leg and played his Jay Tea set as well as keyboard with us. He organises (orchestrates?) the Let’s Go Solo tours and is always welcome- if not for his skills then for his good hair. AJ, our homie in NYC jumped on with a tenor sax. He didn’t want to leave, we were equally heartbroken when he departed after three shows. Then special happened: on jumped the ElDred duo-a gentle Ryan Eldred and his larger-than-life drummer Ben Ray who happens to “be in charge” of well, everything. They have played every show with us as ElDred and doubled for Asku on tenor sax and percussion, respectively. Fact: Ryan is part of JT’s Let’s Go Solo tour (www.letsgosolo.net). Members come from France, Mexico, Colombia, Ohio, North Carolina, Italy, Oklahoma, Miami, Peru, the Catskill Mountains, and New York City. -And
I was begged for many months of Sundays to join. After a while I caved and it has been a proper descent into poverty and rocknroll hellfire. -Cap
While it’s very true that Captain aides in creating party atmosphere I do believe he’s revising the facts of his entry into life of debauchery with us. It was he who begged and plied. Which is natural, because who wouldn’t want to be here? -And
This is my first chance to let someone know this is actually a kidnapping and although I’m in charge I’m told I’ll never see home again. Wish me luck. -benray
Once in great while you stumble upon a group of people so unmistakeable right and true to life with just the perfect blend of zany, sweet, animalistic and talented that you feel as though you are doing something right and have ended up on the right path. This however is not the case for me. I have been abducted and need help! Ben Ray and I are in serious danger and are praying the proper authorities will be contacted. Seriously. -Dred
How do you support 9 members traveling around in an old school bus? Sounds like a lot of gas! Would you ever consider ditching the Cool Bus?
Precise mechanics I can’t tell you but there are guidelines we’ve always run by: superhuman ferocity and drunken survival techniques. We work hard, we play monstrous shows. Route smartly. Fool Bus is how we roll in style but any vehicle that gets us to your stage is what counts. -And
I would consider some sort of hovering craft (like a hovercraft). -Cap
Also, the bus does 96 mpg; it runs on combo unicorn tears (back off PETA), politician’s lies (no shortage of those), and punk rock spirit (also no shortage). -And
We bring shinai (bamboo kendo practice swords) to resolve most conflicts. Also, bring a pair of good headphones or drink a copious amount of alcohol if you wanna get any sleep in that close proximity. -DC
What is your direction moving forward? What are your hopes for the band?
More tour, illuminating and raising consciousness with our style of rumba and punk. Europe and Latin America are destinations soon. And a fourth release by summer 2015 where we finally “get dat sound right”. -And
“Hopes” include the aforementioned hovercraft and a rider that includes Jameson and McRib sammiches. -Cap
If you could sign to any label what would it be?
Yeah right, no way! Ok, here: if there was some fat guy with tremendous kickboxing skills whose name was Mike then we’d be down. But I don’t think such a unicorn exists so we’re SOL. -And
Yep, and if his buddy called The Boss had a label we’d be down too. -Ian Maddox (tour manager)
Any label that promotes luchador wrestling matches. -El Luche
I really dig Less Than Jake and I wouldn’t mind being on a label run by one of the best drummers in the industry. -DC
I know Chris DeMakes of LTJ. -Dred
If you could say one thing to people looking to start a band what would it be?
The responsibility of a true artist is to be a revolutionary. -Dred (that would be Ryan Eldred of Catch 22)
Thanks Ryan for making us look like dicks. -And and Cap
Do it quietly or Asku will find you and rock your faces off and ruin your spirits before you begin. – benray
Be prepared to be in a bunch of shitty bands that are like relationships where the couple is not right for each other before anything semi cool even happens to you. Oh, also practice enough that in case someone notices you you’ll be able to hang. -DC
This last photo is me onstage with the band, please support them and thanks for reading! -Lexy
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