Keith Turner of the Dendrites: "We're not trying to force any ideals or politics on anybody"
Formed in 2003 as a side project of the more ska-punk-oriented Disasterbators, the Dendrites became a primary concern when the band's members became more interested in the roots of ska, particularly in artists from the late '50s and the '60s. The all-instrumental band soon made a name for itself with the infectious energy that it brought to its music, along with the expressive, almost narrative quality of its sound, which set it apart from its peers.
The latest release from the Dendrites, Fly Casual, has a richly detailed sound and an emotional coloring that gives it a soulful feel, though it remains up-tempo. In some ways, the album is akin to a warm lounge-jazz record, but the tunes are bright rather than dark. In advance of the band's CD-release show this weekend at the Marquis, we spoke briefly with rhythm guitarist Keith Turner about why ska is still an appealing art form, and why the Dendrites gravitate more toward the classic sound.
Westword: Were you always an instrumental band?
Keith Turner: We were always instrumental. We could never really find a singer, and it was also kind of the point to try to play something in the vein of the Skatalites.
Your band is named after the neuron receptor?
I think it came up one day because a few of us were in psychology class at the time. We were talking about it, and someone said "dendrites," and I was like, "Oh, that might be a good band name." And it ended up sticking. The whole ending your name with "-ites" is an old-school ska reference, too.
What is it about ska that you continue to find interesting?
The fun -- the whole aspect of making people want to party and dance. I really think that's what that is. Just trying to get people to have a good time, because it's definitely a positive form of music. We're not trying to force any ideals or politics on anybody. We're just trying to help people to dance and blow off some steam. I think that's the whole reason we're doing it.
There are different kinds of ska. Do you consider where you're coming from more in one school or in another?
We consider ourselves more of a traditional ska [band], in the sense that we try to play in the same vein as, like, the 1960s Studio One records and the rhythm section of Trojan Records bands.
What do you like about that period?
After delving into ska a lot, I think, all of us found that we just liked the more soul-inspired ska rather than the punk-y ska -- the crazy, kind of circus stuff. We're just real big fans of soul music, the Daptones collection and all of that stuff. That's why we went that direction. Not so punk, just ska-soul, rocksteady.
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