Obi Fernandez

Obi Fernandez Premieres Reggae Cover of The Descendents

Obi Fernandez

Just a few months back, Obi Fernandez and Vinnie Fiorello started a label and production company called the RareBreed Recording Co. They wasted no time in releasing a great comp and kicking off a series of limited edition Flexi-disc releases. The first release featured Anthony Raneri of Bayside doing a ska cover of a 60s pop tune. The second release in the series features Obi himself. The Westbound Train vocalist covers The Descendents’ classic “Get the Time,” giving it the soulful reggae treatment only Obi could. We couldn’t help but notice that this wasn’t the first time Obi has reworked a punk tune into a reggae jam. While promoting his solo record back in 2013, Obi and his backing band covered The Ramones’ “The KKK Took My Baby Away.” That track finally appeared on the previously mentioned Rare Breed compilation. It’s labeled “The Rare Breed All Stars” but I know Obi’s voice when I hear it. Listen here:

The band’s true-to-form rocksteady take on the Ramones sounded like it was always meant to sound like that. The roots reggae take on the Descendents is no different. We asked Obi Fernandez what inspired this recording. “This originally was recorded in hopes of being a 7-inch that would come out some time after Confessions, Waves and the Garden State was released but we just never had the right opportunity to release the tunes until now. This one was one of the more fun sessions for me cause it was very scene-centric personnel-wise, just like all the Rare Breed Recordings have been.”

This tune came out of a session featuring NYC ska vets Glenn Hackett (The Scofflaws, The Bluebeats) on drums, Marcus Geard (The Slackers) on Bass, Agent Jay (The Slackers) and John DeCarlo (Westbound Train) on Guitars with Jack Wright (The Forthrights) on farfisa. The recording studio belongs to Gideon Blumenthal and Rich Graiko handled recording and mixing details, both fellow Westbound Train alumni. Mastering went to King Django, another NYC ska heavy weight. Obi says, “I love when stuff like that gets to happen. All those dudes are giants!”

A Glimpse into a Rare Breed Studio Session

But why The Descendents? Obi says it’s something he’s always wanted to do, having been a fan of The Descendents/ALL since he was in 8th grade. “From the first time I heard the song I knew I wanted to cover it. I’m a huge fan of how those guys put songs together.” Like many of us, bands like them were a big part of his adolescence. “I’m just stoked Rare Breed gave me the avenue to make a project like this happen.” I always find it refreshing to meet people who still connect with punk rock. It spoke to Obi when he was young, and he told us it still speaks to him today. Where’s the reggae connection?

“Punk rock and reggae just go hand in hand in so many ways, be it the subculture, the message, or how they derived from a desire for independence and self-expression.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. This cover is a no-brainer. Head to New Noise Magazine for the exclusive stream. Then head to the Rare Breed store to subscribe to the Flexi-disc series or just the individual recordings.

UPDATE 7/10/15 11:15 AM: Listen to Obi’s cover of “Get the time” below.

Listen to The Descendents’ original “Get The Time”

Jacob Wake Up!

Jacob Wake Up! is managing editor of Boston Ska (dot) net. He's been going to ska shows since high school and never looked back. Jake lives in Roslindale and works in communications by day. You can see him perform with The New Limits or strike up conversation with him at a local ska show.

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