For years OC has supported the likes of Social Distortion, The Offspring, Lit, The Vandals, Cold War Kids, Young the Giant, and Dirty Heads. Sure, there’s been a ton of great bands that’ve come out of the OC, but it was the 90’s that really put the spotlight here. It was the third wave of ska, and it was a golden age for local music. These bands fused ska with punk and lit up the airwaves. Bands that were part of that explosion were My Superhero, Save Ferris, The Aquabats, Reel Big Fish and No Doubt. The music gods specifically smiled upon No Doubt. They drew international recognition to the genre and the OC. Ever since, Orange County has been the end-all-be-all for all that is cool about music.
Unfortunately, it’s been a minute or two since that was the case. For decades, Orange County has had a thriving music community; and now… the OC is poised to take back the power with a band called Bite Me Bambi.
Over the years local ska bands like BMB have been busy. The locals never lost their appetite for ska; they continue to show up at shows wearing their black coats, white shoes, black hats and checkers…. lots and lots of black and white checkers. Fourth wave ska has been percolating for a bit. Bite Me Bambi fits all the boxes to be the next big thing. They’ve played a handful of shows, and now they’re about to debut a new album, music video and a headlining show is just around the corner March 29 at House of Blues Anaheim. From top to bottom, they represent the best of OC ska.
The band features Ryan Brown, who’s affectionately known as Brown Rice or sometimes Ice Ice Baby. Ryan plays bass and drinks Smirnoff Ice while doing it. Ryan comes from Static Fiction, the Maxies, he also plays occasionally with Suburban Legends. On Sax, there’s Kyle “the Spaceman” O’Donnell. Kyle comes from Starpool and has performed with artists such as Lorde, Bootsy Collins, and Jack Antonoff of Bleachers. On drums, there’s Dan Evans. Dan first hit the ska scene while playing sax for Anaheim-based band the Pocketeers. After attending college in San Francisco where he acquired a degree in music, he played with Wild Wild Monsters, and Half Past Two. On Keys is Mike Berault aka “Mike B.” He’s a long-time force in the OC music scene. Mike Co-Founded third wave ska band, My Superhero; he also played in LP3 and the Tragedy. He also co-founded and hosts a podcast called Mixtape Mixtape!
As for the icons in the band, there’s T-Bone Willy on trombone. T-Bone’s ska credentials include having played with Save Ferris and Starpool, he also recorded on Hepcat’s first ever single, and toured with Dance Hall Crashers. He’s also a crowd favorite for his on-stage antics. As for icon # 2, their lead guitarist is Brian Mashburn. Brian co-Founded fan favorites, Save Ferris and Starpool. He’s beloved by the locals because he Co-Founded the Ska Luau shows with the legendary John Pantle. Then again, he’s personally provided a stage for so many local bands to be seen, that’s given him the kind of respect that money just can’t buy.
In the end, a band is only as good as their connection with their fans; and their lead singer, Tahlena Chikami, is as good as it gets. She’s been performing since she was nine years old and it shows. She’s played in Unicorn Injection and Karate in the Garage. Like all great leads, she’s more than a good voice. Although, that is the draw, she simply has great pipes. There’s more to her… she’s an actress, song writer, she plays a mean rhythm guitar and puts it all together on stage. It’s a sublime experience watching her perform. This soon-to-be ska Queen can flat out entertain! When she hits the stage, she connects with the crowd, and like her royal sisters, she has an infectious smile; hers can light up all of Orange County. With this band behind her, they have a dynamic we’ve never seen. This band is ska’s next level; their sound and vision is beyond crazy-good and off the charts. I know that’s a bold statement, but that’s just how electrifying they are. I’ve seen lots of great bands in my day, and I can honestly say this band is the real deal. With Tahlena at the helm, the sky’s the limit.
You can catch Bite Me Bambi March 29th at the House of Blues (Parish Room). For tickets and full details click here.