The Pilfers has played its unique blend of ska, pop, metal, reggae and dub in New York City since 1997. The band, formed by vocalist Obiajula, aka Coolie Ranx, and trombonist Vinny Nobile, played until 2001. Recently the original band, including members Anna Milat-Meyer, James Blanck and Nick Bacon, reunited to play select live shows. Staff Writer Ryan Bryant spoke with Obiajula about the band’s upcoming shows and its past.
The Pilfers played at The Haunt on Friday night.
Ryan Bryant: How did the Pilfers come to be?
Obiajula: It was a winter night in December … no I’m just joking. I was originally with the Toasters. I left the band and decided to put a band together.
RB: You’ve been associated with “reggacore.” Can you describe what that is?
O: It’s a fusion of anything Caribbean with anything rock. It’s basically the blending of two cultures coming together.
RB: The Pilfers have been labeled as Third Wave Ska. Can you describe the band’s flavor?
O: We have a chance to experiment with any type of music that we like. We’ve blended ska with reggae, Third Wave being different from what the two waves were doing before. We put more of a contemporary spin on it.
RB: So what’s it like having the band play together again?
O: I guess there’s a yearning for the music again and the need to perform. So we got together to do a couple of shows and see how it goes from there. Performing together is something that we like doing. We’re out here to give ’em some music and see how far it goes.
RB: You’ve worked with bands like Reel Big Fish and the Pietasters. Is there anyone you’ve wanted to work with but haven’t?
O: There’s always someone out there that we’d like to work with. We don’t mind mashing up the stuff that we do with anything that someone else does. We’re not in every genre. So here we go, keeping the doors open, trying to put some Jamaican flavor in there.
RB: The Pilfers have played all over the world. What are some of the favorite places you’ve been?
O: I really like Barcelona. I like Poland for the historical aspect; it was the first time I went behind the Iron Curtain. [We like] France, New York, D.C., Ithaca and Connecticut. As long as there is an audience that is enthusiastic and has a great energy, that’s what we like to see. That’s our favorite place to play, a place where there’s a synergy between us and the audience.
RB: I was listening to your songs and saw “Dr. Kevorkian.” Can you explain what made you want to write a song on this topic?
O: If you listen to the song, we’re not actually taking sides. We just made a report on the topic of the day. We look for the opinion of who he is and what he’s doing and how we treat our elderly. That’s what the song is supposed to be focusing on — how we treat our elderly, leave them to be left alone and to die alone. They are responsible for us being here. It’s basically a light shone on our family once they get older.
RB: What made you decide to play in Ithaca?
O: We got the call from Ithaca. We used to do a lot of shows up in Ithaca. There’s always a great crowd. I got attacked there once. The crowd came to my rescue like no other. It wasn’t a physical attack — I was attacked verbally. The crowd showed me a lot of love and passion. I have never forgotten that. Ithaca is a place I like to call home as well.
The Pilfers will perform at 9 p.m. tomorrow at The Haunt, 702 Willow Ave. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 day of and can be purchased at The Haunt or at Volume Records.