How does a 10-piece ska band celebrate St. Patrick's day? The old fashioned way: by cramming into a school bus and tripping on a road to Chicago. Askultura knows that to build a following, you have to tour and the bigger the tour, the more room you have to grow. Coasting up to Chicago is a big step for the band, one too big to cram into your basic touring van.
That's why they are riding in style in the Cool Bus. The refurbished school bus is a massive spectacle, announcing to each new city that Askultura has arrived. Along with Jay Tea from the Arrogant Sons of Bitches and Ska Goes Solo tour, Askultura is blazing a trail to Chicago for two big St. Patrick's day shows. The night before they took off for tour, we chatted with singer And Mazzatoro who gave us the scoop on everything from what they eat on the road to how they acquired the beautiful touring automobile. Do the cool kids still sit in the back of the bus? It's a difficult question when every kid is cool enough to be in Askultura.
New Times: What do you pack to eat while you are busy on the road?
And Mazzatoro: Let's see, I've got olive oil. There's honey buns. There are four cases of Yuengling, some plum wine, a handle of Wild Turkey. There is champagne for the first night and a big two gallon bottle of wine and a bag of oranges. A lot of beer. A lot of ramen noodles. I see a case of Pepsi. What else is in here? Oh there is a coffee maker and a cigarette butt thing. There are Fig Newtons and chocolate wafers. There's dried apricots... Oh, there's hand sanitizer!
I like your style. You have plenty of people to feed. With 10 band members, have you ever gotten all the way to a gig and realized you forgot somebody?
With the bus, it's never happened. But when we are on our own, there is always, always one vehicle that doesn't show up on time. I guess that's just part of dealing with this many people.
The bus must be a spectacle. What's it like when you roll into a new town?
Oh, they love it. It's a full size school bus, you've got people pouring out. There is an external PA and an internal PA. It's definitely a magnet. People want to come in here and hang out. There are only two of the actual school benches left. They are right up in the front of the bus and there are coolers of beer. It's classified as an RV so we're totally legal to drive and have drinks in the back.
When you guys are on tour, what is it like being in close quarters with so many people?
We're used to going in a 15-passenger van so this is actually and upgrade for us. This, you can go in the back and crash out on the bunk. There are kind of three different areas. There is the driver with his people up front. Then there's the middle section people, call them the partiers. And then more reserved people are in the back.
How did you acquire the bus?
Our friend Zachary Storrs of Hungarian Descent. He picked up the bus from the Mexican government and we basically contracted him out and he is putting the pedal to the metal for us.
How did you get hooked up with Jay Tea?
A few years ago we were all sitting around and I was like, "Guys, what band do you want me to book?" and that ended up being the first time we met him and this past Ska Goes Solo tour was the third or fourth time we played with him down here. So I called Jay Tea and I said we have a couple of dates if you want to jump on. He had the beginning of March available and wanted to come. Then he figured out it was a four week tour and he jumped on all of it.
Does gigging in Miami basically prepare you for anything on the road?
I would say so. We are well trained. When Matt, the bass player, and I look for musicians to start taking on more serious tours, we are looking for people that can hang and are physically tough and also mentally tough. They wouldn't let the small things get to them.
How can fans follow your progress while you are on the road?
To learn more about where the Cool Bus is going to next, visit askultura.com.
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