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Buck-O-Nine

Buck-O-Nine is a San Diego-based ska-punk band who, after gaining a small following in the mid-'90s, enjoyed more widespread popularity as the third wave ska revival reached the mainstream with the success of bands like Rancid and No Doubt. The rebellious attitude of the music and their not-subtle sense of humor confirms their punk roots, while the breezy feel of their ska and reggae rhythms and the groove of their horn section shows they're every bit as committed to the classic 2-Tone Sound. Their third album, 1997's Twenty-Eight Teeth, became somewhat of a commercial breakout for them, and set the stage for several years of successful touring both in the U.S. and overseas. Following 2007's Sustain, Buck-O-Nine endured a quiet period, returning 12 years later with their ninth studio album, 2019's FunDayMental. It arrived just as various tribulations kept the band from touring, but they still gave fans a taste of their sound on stage with the live-in-the-studio LP, 2022's 572 Days Later: Live at Earthling. Initially comprised of Jon Pebsworth (vocals), Jonas Kleiner (guitar), Scott Kennerly (bass), Steve Bauer (drums), Tony Currey (trumpet), Don Albert (trombone), and Craig Yarnold (saxophone), Buck-O-Nine formed in the early '90s and became a fixture on the California ska-punk scene. In 1994, they released their debut album, Songs in the Key of Bree, on Taang! Records. It was followed in 1995 by Barfly, which helped expand the group's fan base, especially with a relentless tour schedule that took them all across the U.S. and on their first trip to Japan. In the spring of 1996, the group released the Water in My Head EP. In 1996, Buck-O-Nine moved to TVT Records and began working on Twenty-Eight Teeth with producers Neill King and David Kershenbaum. Released in April 1997, Twenty-Eight Teeth found the group delving deeper into reggae and ska, and the album produced their first nationwide radio single, "My Town." Following a subsequent tour, Bauer exited the group. The Pass the Dutchie EP appeared in 1998, and a year later Buck-O-Nine returned with Libido. By this point, Bauer had been replaced on drums by Jeff Hawthorne, and new bassist John Bell (ex-Unwritten Law) was on board as well. With the mainstream popularity of ska on the wane and TVT's executives feeling unenthusiastic about the more experimental sound of the group's studio demos, TVT dropped the band. The live album Hellos & Goodbyes (recorded at a show in Japan) was later released through Pebsworth's own Offramp label in 2000. That same year, Bell (who had a health scare during the Japanese tour) left the band to return to school, and bassist Andy Platfoot signed on in his place. Though the band continued touring and playing shows over the following years, Buck-O-Nine decided to ease up on their demanding schedule to be home more. After a seven-year hiatus, during which a best-of album was released, the group returned in 2007 with an album of new material titled Sustain. Over the coming years, Buck-O-Nine remained relatively quiet, touring occasionally and in 2012 welcomed back founding drummer Steve Bauer who took back the throne from his longtime replacement, Jeff Hawthorne. While they'd considered recording again, it was a 2017 invitation from Cleopatra Records that finally resulted in new material. At the label's request, Buck-O-Nine submitted a track called "Don't Be Afraid" to the compilation Punk Rock Halloween: Loud, Fast & Scary. Cleopatra was so enthusiastic about the song that they offered to put out a new Buck-O-Nine full-length. The band acquiesced and presented 2019's FunDayMental, their first album in 12 years. While the band was happy with the album, they had little chance to promote it – most of a planned 2019 tour was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and when the group finally booked new dates for January 2022, they had to scrap the tour again when Jon Pebsworth was hospitalized after a massive heart attack. Fortunately, before Pebsworth's health scare, the band gathered at Earthling, their recording and rehearsal space in San Diego, to record a live set without an audience to give fans a taste of their on-stage attack. The LP, 572 Days Later: Live at Earthling, was issued by Cleopatra in June 2022.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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