Summer tour celebrates the past decade for RX Bandits
Logan Broyles | Downtown News
After two years out of the spotlight, the RX Bandits are back, hitting the road to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of their groundbreaking album, “The Resignation.” The national summer tour includes a Sunday, July 7 stop at the House of Blues, located at 1055 Fifth Ave., Downtown.
The four-piece band is known for incorporating Ska and Punk into their music and they have put out six albums and numerous compilations and re-releases over the years.
Each band member has a wide range of musical talent and lead singer Matt Embree and guitarist Steve Choi both play multiple instruments. Embree takes turns playing the guitar, drums and keyboards, while Choi sings and plays keyboard. Rounding out the quartet are bassist Joseph Troy and drummer Christopher Tsagakis.
In recent years the band has been on something of a hiatus after deciding to take a break from touring in mid-2011. This current national summer tour marks their first live performance in two years, and they haven’t released a new album in almost four.
“We only wanted to come back when it felt right,” explained Choi. “There had to be a moment when we could take stock in everything, get on the same page and see RX for what it was. So it could have been a six-month break. Or eight years. It just happened to be about two.”
The beloved Ska band broke out in the late 1990s and rode a wave of success through the early 2000s, releasing numerous albums and playing in a variety of music festivals all over the country, ranging from Coachella, Bonnaroo, and the Vans Warped Tour.
The RX Bandits are often grouped in with other bands of their era as part of a Ska revival that happened in the 1990s, with bands like Goldfinger, Buck-O-Nine and Less Than Jake. Lead singer Matt Embree even attended Los Alamitos High School, the same school where other prominent Ska bands originated like Reel Big Fish and The Scholars.
The crew originally hails from Seal Beach, Calif., up in Orange County and first got together in 1995 under the name The Pharmaceutical Bandits, but didn’t release their first album, “Those Damn Bandits,” until two years later.
In 1998 they put out “Halfway Between Here and There,” and a year later they re-released it as the first album under their current name, RX Bandits.
The group’s lineup has gone through some changes over the years and added a lot of new members, but the current group have been together since 2002 and made “The Resignation” together in 2003.
To help commemorate the 10-year anniversary of their most popular album, the band will be re-releasing it in stores and playing the entire album from beginning to end during their live shows.
“The album was a definite turning point in what we wanted to accomplish musically,” reflects Choi. “It was an important first step in our evolution. We quickly learned how many music fans like the convention of familiarity, and we sought to evolve and alienate those who didn’t like our progression.”
There will also be a Covers EP being released in the near future, which will be the first recorded work that the RX Bandits have released in four years. The five-song release will feature them playing covers of some of their favorite and most influential musicians, including covers of songs by The Police, Weezer, and Blonde Redhead.
“It was important to get comfortable playing music together again and really just do something for fun,” Choi said. “It was like being a teenager playing your favorite songs and having a blast with the best possible band any of us could be in.”
Choi said the songs were chosen because they were favorites of the band personally and they knew they could do something special with them.
“We wanted to do the songs we love, whether they were obscure or popular,” he said. “We would need to do about twenty covers to truly represent all of our influences, so we just picked five songs that we felt represented our style and would be a lot of fun to play around with and mix our style into.”
After the tour and releasing the EP, the future remains up in the air for the RX Bandits, so catch them while you can because there’s no telling when they might roll through town again.
Contributing writer Logan Broyles is the former managing editor of Pacific San Diego Magazine and editor-in-chief of Construction Digital magazine. He likes to write about music and news, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.