Tri-State Conspiracy is a 'psycho swing' and ska band based in New York City. Through their tight, polished sound, incredibly high energy live shows, and sheer resiliency they have earned their place as a true New York institution. They have performed over 150 shows and have shared the stage with such bands as The Squirrel Nut Zippers, The Cherry Poppin' Daddies, The Slackers, The English Beat, The Pietasters, and The Toasters. 8 members, 4 horns, 2 guitars, and a lead singer/trumpet player with a penchant for vintage suits and retro microphones: Jeff Paris elaborates on the history of the band and on their latest full length album, 'Nuisance'... When I first formed Tri-State Conspiracy with Tom Lawlor back in 2001, people used to ask me why the hell I would want to start a ska band. The '3rd Wave' ska explosion had come to a screeching halt and the housing boom in Manhattan was seriously threatening the state of local underground music. It was like the exact opposite of the '70s. More and more people from around the world wanted to move into New York and unfortunately it seemed like most of them weren't really into seeing real local live music with any semblance of passion or raw energy. Then one by one the clubs that supported this type of music started shutting down: first Wetlands, then Coney Island High, then CBGB. The list goes on. I guess you could say the reason for Tri-State Conspiracy was a general state of restlessness and dissatisfaction with the status quo. Yeah we weren't teenagers anymore and we had day jobs, but we were still pissed off and going barhopping with the rest of the douchebags and hipsters didn't seem to be enough of an outlet for us. Why ska? Tom and I were both big ska kids during the '90s so it was only natural that our sound would evolve from that scene. At the same time we were also affected by the swing revival bands of that era, not to mention our love for oldies music in general. I find that most ska bands go in one of two directions: you either have your suburban ska bands who go the 'ska punk' or 'ska core' direction and then you have your ska purists, typically city-based, who form traditional ska bands with Jamaican and/or British influences. What makes Tri-State Conspiracy original is our classic American sound. We draw upon the styles of music that predated and influenced ska like swing, jump blues, and original rhythm and blues...with a little bit of rockabilly thrown in for good measure. There's also a bit of a dark side to Tri-State Conspiracy. People always ask me, 'What's with your f-ed up lyrics?'. Maybe it's the fact that Tom and I watched too many horror movies as kids. Or maybe it's the fact that Tom is such a metalhead and loves writing in minor chords. I think a lot of our music is about purging ourselves of our inner demons. Yeah New York is a much safer place these days, but f-ed up things still happen here, not to mention that, due to the competitive nature of the city, there are douchebags of all walks of life trying to push everyone else around. These negative energies typically come through in our lyrics, while the music itself is extremely high energy and danceable. I suppose the juxtaposition of bright sounds and dark lyrics sort of fits in with the tradition of classic ska music. Those who are expecting straight-ahead ska might be a little bit disappointed with the new album, 'Nuisance'. Whereas our first album High Strung Mess (released 2005) was more of our 'ska record', Tri-State Conspiracy's Nuisance is a lot heavier on the swing, blues, and dare I say it...rock and roll. The new tunes, however, are still upbeat, highly danceable, and have our signature catchy horn lines, so existing fans need not worry that we've gone the way of 'rock band with horns'. Plus there's plenty more songs about murder and revenge for the whole family to enjoy!
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