Not many ska bands 15 years in release a career masterwork for their seventh album. Then again, Suburban Legends, are not just any ska band. The sextet has made a career of successfully defying expectations through boldly exploring outside genres and, along the way, winning the hearts of hugely diverse audiences, ranging from kids, parents, punks and skins, jam band fanatics, and pop-rock fans. For it’s latest album, Forever In The Friend Zone, the Orange County-based sextet honors all its eras and salutes its fanbase with its strongest collection of original songs in years.
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“We are really proud of this record. It’s about being there for your audience and your audience being there for you,” lead vocalist Vince Walker says. “It’s all about celebrating friendship.”
Suburban Legends first burst onto the Third Wave Ska scene in 1999, and quickly distinguished itself with boundless musicality that encompassed hard rock, disco, and imaginative readings of cover songs. To date, the band has released six LPs, four EPs, and two DVDs. Through a tireless work ethic, Suburban Legends have built an impressive live profile. The group has performed at house parties, bowling alleys, and pizza parlors, and undertaken successful tours with big names like Reel Big Fish, RX Bandits, Catch 22, and Goldfinger. Parallel to establishing themselves with the vanguard of modern ska and punk, the band also has the distinction of regularly gigging at Disneyland. The band has played over 1,000 shows at Downtown Disney and has become a vibrant part of the current theme park experience, mesmerizing children and their parents with its singular and infectious ska-based blend. The Suburban Legends are Vincent Walker, lead vocals, rhythm guitar, and trumpet; Chris Lucca, trumpet, vocals; Brian Robertson, trombone, backing vocals; Brian Klemm, lead guitar, vocals; Brad Polidori, bass; and Ed “Smokey” Beach, drums.
Forever in The Friend Zone is an invigorating 14-track album that finally captures the band’s euphoric live sound. Featuring tracks like “Warrior”, a caffeinated blast of Third Wave Ska bliss; “Everything’s OK” and “Favorite Face”, SL’s exploration of the classic Two Tone vibe. The title track is another standout that evokes the band’s core aesthetic and sweetly sums up the friendship theme of the album. “The feeling of that song can be applied to a number of scenarios. It’s for a romantic encounter that, unfortunately, didn’t blossom into a relationship, and it’s for friends making it through hard times together. The message is: ‘I am here for you no matter what,’” Vince Walker says.
Forever in The Friend Zone was fan funded, and, as a thank you to its supporters, the band recorded an acoustic version of Andrew Gold’s Golden Girls theme song, “Thank You For Being A Friend” for the campaign. For this album, Suburban Legends upped the ante and recorded a warmly sincere full-band version of the TV classic. Two other standout surprises on Forever in The Friend Zone are the gorgeous back porch reggae album bookends, “Doing It With You” and “Worry (On My Mind).” The former track has been a fan favorite for years that was previously sketched out on an EP. Here the band fully realizes the song’s balmy beauty.
As the Suburban Legends gear up for a big summer of festivals and a busy calendar of gigs and tours, Vince looks back on Forever in The Friend Zone and the journey it represents with poignant reflections. “It’s been a winding path for the band with different phases and incarnations,” he says. “People have emotional connections with different periods of the band and on this album we want to honor that. We also want to honor this band as a family because we are really close childhood friends and we love what we do.”