After finishing 10 dates on the annual alternative-rock excursion Warped Tour, Towson’s Stacked Like Pancakes heads to Baltimore Saturday for a supporting performance at Rams Head Live with The Evokatones and headliners the Pietasters.
In the eight years since singer and guitarist Kellen McKay created the ska band, it's gone through a myriad of band members, as McKay — a Howard County native — changed schools and locations. The group’s current lineup consists of recent Towson University graduates (except lead guitarist Michael Busch, who still has a class left), who met through friends and connections at the university’s Center for the Arts.
Aside from McKay and Busch, Stacked Like Pancakes includes Darrell Reddix (drums), Andrew Baker (bass), Alec Leventis (trumpet), Andy Dawson (trombone) and Zach Foote (trombone).
Before Saturday’s performance, we recently talked to the 23-year-old McKay — who was calling from North Carolina with Warped Tour — to discuss the band’s origins, touring and more.
I’m sure you get this question a lot. What does your name mean?
We do get that a lot! There is absolutely no meaning whatsoever. It means nothing; that’s all there is to it. It was the result of 30 seconds of brainstorming upon the inception of the band, and we just stuck with it.
Did you ever consider changing the name?
You know, last year, or maybe two years ago, when we incorporated to an LLC, we were like, "This is our last chance if we want to change it ..." But we’d already established it pretty well by then, so there was no going back.
How did guys you get into ska?
I remember pretty vividly when I first heard it: I was at one of my good friends at the time’s house and he was like, "Check out this band." It was Reel Big Fish, the song “Sell Out.” As soon as I saw that, I looked up more songs, got albums, all of that. In high school, I moved away from [Howard County] to Carroll County, where no one had even heard of ska, so it was a bit of a challenge for a while.
What about now? Does everyone you play with now like it?
Actually, it’s kind of funny. Our bassist hated ska, but he came to rehearsal and we started playing and he was sort of like, “All right, I may hate it, but it’s a lot of fun to play.” Eventually, he came to. Pretty much everyone else was already fans of it or had at least heard it. We make it our own, though.
As a relatively new band, how do you guys get your name out there? What’s the main way you promote?
Definitely person-to-person contact and building relationships. If you get in people’s faces, you might annoy a few people, but in the long run, you’re establishing relationships with people that will last for as long as the band exists. That’s what Warped is all about, really. We have signs that say, “If ska dies, Justin Bieber will take our spot on Warped Tour in 2016,” which have been really popular. Our horn players have been running around being crazy, playing the “Super Mario” theme song. Anything to get our name out there, get people to listen and check us out.
You're recording an album now that was funded on Kickstarter, and part of the money is going to charity?
Yeah, we're doing “This is Us” now. We reached our goal of $10,000, with $1,000 going toward the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. It's been like two years since I've dreamed of combining what I love with who I love: my sister. She was diagnosed with Crohn's in 2007, so this has been a dream for me.
Looking ahead, what do you see in the band’s future?
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in the last eight years, it’s that you can never know exactly what’s going to happen. The best thing is just to work as hard as you can at what you love and things will come to you. It’s a bit of luck, a lot of hard work and just knowing that things are going to happen, rather than hoping. You’ve got to have the confidence to know good things are coming.
Are you excited about playing at a hometown venue?
We’ve played there twice before, once in like 2010 and then again earlier this year. I’ve seen a few bands at Rams Head Live over the years — including Reel Big Fish, who I’ve seen probably like 15 to 20 times so far. It’s by far my favorite venue in Baltimore and the surrounding areas, I’d say. The staff, atmosphere and sound make for a cool experience. We’re looking forward to the show.
INTERVIEW HAS BEEN EDITED AND CONDENSED