For a veteran band like OC ska heroes Suburban Legends, it’d be easy to phone in a predictable greatest hits album full of the same ‘ol classics. Luckily when coming up with the tracklist, they chose to emphasize the word “greatest” instead of “hits.”
Suburban Legends recently released Songs You May Like, But We Love, a vinyl compilation of a dozen previously recorded tunes from the last 13 years.
The Huntington Beach-based group, which has been a staple on Disneyland’s Tomorrowland Terrace stage, has become most widely known as the “dancing ska band,” who choreographs moves to go along with their songs. Audience members will often groove and sing along with the band, even if they’ve only ever heard some songs live.
Songs You May Like, But We Love – released Dec. 11 – allows fans to listen to these songs any time they want, even in a year when other genres dominated the airwaves and is about two decades after the generally thought of death of ska.
The album includes tracks frequently performed at Suburban Legends shows, including rarities like “Dance Dance Dance” and a stripped down, piano rendition of “Bright Spring Morning.”
The group was approached by Toxic Toast Records’ Andy George earlier this year about putting together the vinyl.
“Being a longtime fan, I found myself wanting to listen to Suburban Legends on vinyl, but their catalog was never released on vinyl,” says George, who previously co-released Suburban Legends’ “Rump Shaker” record in 2012. “Since we are a small label, we figured it would make more sense to release a ‘best of’ compilation of songs never released on vinyl.”
George notes a resurgence in the vinyl market in the last decade and touts the medium as the best way to listen to music.
Vincent Walker, vocalist of Suburban Legends, quips narrowing down the song list was like picking a favorite child out of 50.
“It’s like all these kids are staring at you at your birthday party, waiting to pick them because you’re taking the chosen ones to an all-expenses-paid vacation to Disney World,” he says. “You feel awkward so you want to leave your birthday now, but you can’t because you still have to open your presents and cut your cake. When you open the presents, you find out the 12 chosen ones just got you socks and neck ties… things you don’t need. Maybe you should have picked the ones that got you that Ninja Food Processor or the one that put the whole party together or the one that helped you book the Disney World Vacation for the 12 kids that you picked.”
Ultimately, the final track list came down to songs that have been popular among fans or that the band had fond memories of writing.
Walker says he was particularly proud of including “Doing It With You,” which was originally released on the group’s 2010 Going on Tour EP.
“It was just a verse and chorus of me in my bedroom working out an idea with one mic,” he remembers. “It was pretty raw. At the time we put it on an EP for when we were going on tour with the Aquabats and Reel Big Fish. After that EP, we were toying with putting together a full arrangement but it didn’t really come together until a couple of years later. For some reason that song means a lot to me, and I’m super happy it was able to come together the way it did.”
Other tracks, like “Dance Dance Dance” and “Bright Spring Morning” were no-brainers for the album, Walker says.
The former had only been on an EP but was easily a crowd favorite at shows, and the latter has fostered a connection with fans, including being played during first dances at weddings.
Other selections on the album include “Open Up Your Eyes,” “Come Back Home,” “Whoa,” “My Friend,” “Just Be Happy,” “All Around the World,” “Arigato,” “Girls Got What I Want” and “Hey DJ.”
Brian Klemm, the band’s guitarist, says the group hopes to “fool the world” into thinking they “even had one greatest hit, let alone enough to necessitate an entire compilation of hits.”
“It’s just cool to be able to sit back and see a compilation of songs comprised of a large body of work done over a 12- to 13-year span,” he says. “I am so proud of the work we have done as a band and as best friends. I am so excited to have this framed on my wall.”
To celebrate the release of the vinyl, Suburban Legends will play a show at the Toxic Toast Theatre, 757 Pine Avenue in Long Beach, on Jan. 4.
The concert, which also includes performances by Hooray for Our Side and Bite Me Bambi, will include Suburban Legends’ first-ever Live Band Karaoke.
The band, which is otherwise on a touring hiatus, will host a pre-show meet-and-greet where contestants can choose from a selection of Suburban Legends songs to sing along with the live band, says trombonist Brian Robertson.
The audience will determine the best singer, and that person will win a Suburban Legends prize pack. Contestants must purchase the new vinyl to enter the contest.
Suburban Legends perform Jan. 4 at Toxic Toast in Long Beach. For tickets, visit www.suburbanlegends.brownpapertickets.com. Songs You May Like, But We Love is available for $20 at www.toxictoastrecords.com and at the Toxic Toast Records store at 757 Pine Avenue in Long Beach.
By day, Brittany covers hard-hitting city news in San Diego. By night, she’s prowling the Orange County music scene, and is usually a regular attendee of local ska and punk shows. Reporting and music have always been Brittany’s passions. She wrote for her middle school and high school newspapers and studied journalism at Cal State Long Beach, where she graduated in 2012. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her French Bulldog, watching probably too many Disney movies for someone her age and napping.