Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Secret Cajun Band. Together we discussed hiding in the bayou, Cousin Joe, their album “Big House” receiving a vinyl release, and so much more!

1. Mustard is grateful to have Secret Cajun Band join them at Music Shelf. How is everyone?

Miguel:  I am fine, but I can’t speak for Josh & Matt

Josh: I am also fine. No, that’s a cop out. I am good overall, but hope to be great after dinner. I refuse to speak for Matt. 

Matt:  I am just fine.  In the future, Miguel, you may speak for me and tell other condiments that I am fine as well.

2. For how long has Secret Cajun Band hidden within the bayou? Have you been caught?

Miguel:  It’s been quite a while!  Local authorities, conspiracy theorists, poets and philosophers have all been searching but we keep well under the radar.

Josh:  I was separated from the group in 1999. The bayou is no place to try and go it alone, so I surrendered to the local Midas Muffler manager and spent many years as a ward of Midas. I later escaped back to the bayou, finding Miguel and Matt selling nightcrawlers on the 10. Those were the salad days!

Matt:  I am not hidden, one just needs to know where to look.  Try just off the 10 next to the sign promoting 2 for one nightcrawlers.

3. As a food product Mustard must ask, does Secret Cajun Band have any favorite cajun recipes?

Miguel:  I am partial to red beans and rice and jambalaya along with a Canebrake beer from Parish Brewing Co.  Actually for one of our shows early on we had a crock pot of gumbo cooking on stage and we let the audience help themselves.  

Josh:  I like Pepcid. Not sure how or where they make it though.

Matt:  Anything with crayfish, or their white-trash cousin, crawdad.

4. Speaking of food; Mustard wonders how “Hot Dog Boy” got their name. Could you share more about the origin of this name and song?  

Miguel:  Hot Dog Boy was/is (??) Josh’s nickname.  I vaguely remember all of us going out in the loop (an area in University City where we all grew up) for Josh’s 21st birthday and we just started calling him Hot Dog Boy.    Matt wrote the song but it had nothing to do with Josh.  I’m not even sure which happened first.   They might remember.

Josh:  I remember challenging a rugby team to a duel that evening. In hindsight it was unwise.

Matt:  I have no memory of the year Hot Dog Boy got his name, but I do know his name came before the song, which is definitely not about a former girlfriend.

5. Secret Cajun Band formed during 1989-1990 during a jam session. What was the band jamming at this time? When did you officially form?

Miguel:  It’s important to note that prior to forming a band, all of us were friends growing up.  We played on the same youth soccer teams, went to the same schools and all lived within 1 mile of each other.   In 1989 Swamp Daddy (Eddie) and his dad took a trip down to the Mississippi Delta over spring break to explore the history of Blues, Cajun & Zydeco Music.  When he came back he was on this Cajun kick and everything was Cajun.  He wanted to have a Cajun Festival in his backyard called Cajun Fest with food and music where he would play the washboard and harmonica.  So he asked Matt and I to join him for the music.  I could barely play guitar but I knew the intro riff from “Secret Agent Man” and we changed it to Secret Cajun Band and the name was born.  We wrote maybe 3-4 other songs.   We invited all of our friends and no one showed up.  Eddie was really embarrassed & wouldn’t play.  It was just Matt on keyboard and me on guitar.  We each took turns on drums.  We made Eddie’s brother, Andy (2-Beer) and his friend stay and watch us.  We also invited people walking down the street into the backyard to eat our Cajun food hot off the grill (hamburgers and hot dogs).    That was June of 1989 and that was the official birth of Secret Cajun Band.    Matt might remember more.  

Josh:  Everyone knows Secret Cajun Band formed when I joined.

Matt:  Though what Miguel says is true, and what Josh says is not, it all really started when Miguel and I were in kindergarten together and shared a soft-serve cone at Dairy Queen.

6. Who (or what) influences Secret Cajun Band?  

Miguel:  So we started out as a cross between Weird Al Yankovic and They Might Be Giants.  We would take a popular song and change the lyrics to something that was funny happening to us or that we just thought was funny.   When we started to focus on ska music or that became our “thing” we just kept writing originals but they usually had some humor to them or it was about something that happened to us (usually something we found amusing).  There’s never a lot of seriousness going on.  

Josh: I think Oddball 6 and The Shakers probably had the most influence on us as a group. 

7. What is Secret Cajun Band’s creative process? How has it developed or changed over the years?

Miguel:  So after Cajun Fest, Matt and I kept writing dumb songs.  Matt’s brother was playing in a funk band at the time and they were recording their music on 4-track. That summer,  Matt and I worked during the days at a restaurant together and after our shift we would go over to his house, write dumb songs and then we recorded a few of them using the equipment his brother’s band had and called the tape The EP.   We played the songs for our friends and they thought they were funny and made copies for them.  Matt had a video camera and so we decided each song would have a video to go with it.  We recorded Cousin Joe, Fat Kids and Fugazi and made videos for them.  For the videos, Cousin Joe made no sense.  I think we just chased Matt’s cats around the house with an Ed Grimley  doll. For Fat Kids, we stuffed pillows in our shirts and knocked each other down.  For Fugazi, we drove around to various late night fast food drive thru’s in St. Louis trying to order Fugazi.    When we were filming Aluminum Bat Boy, I think Matt was hanging upside down, and dropped an aluminum  bat on his keyboard.  It broke one of the keys and that was the last video we recorded.    But we kept writing songs and never got around to making another video.  Matt and I both started college that fall and got too busy to make the videos.  I think that summer we wrote and recorded 20 songs and called that “album” The Complete Tape”.  Then that winter recorded another 17 songs when we were on our winter break and called that “album” Jomo Meets Castro.    Eddie joined us for recording that winter and the summer of 1990 he got on the ska bandwagon. We slowly started adding ska influenced tunes.  The whole creative process definitely changed over the years.  So with all of us in college in the late 80’s and early 90’s we would write songs and then come together and share the songs.  Matt and I were / are the chief songwriters.    We would get together over our breaks and share what we had.  Erik (Skip) played sax and sang and, while Swamp Daddy still played the washboard and harmonica, he was playing more trumpet.  For the basement 4-track recordings, Matt and I took turns on drums.  In the summer of 1991 we recorded the “album” The Average Joe.  When Josh joined us on bass, 2-Beer became our official drummer and Matt retired the broken keyboard and picked up a trombone.    Whenever we rehearsed, we had a plan.  It was very little “jamming” or “writing songs” but mainly learning / re-working the songs Matt and I were writing.  I guess we got more serious about the recording process and for our “real albums” we went into the studio to record them.  But I guess we were always writing about weird or goofy stuff, whether it be a song about a ball flying around Matt’s house, a fish named Otis, living in a large house, a very strange girl that thought a bomb might explode at midnight or poverty stricken children who are rechargeable.  The music & musicianship may have gotten better and horns tighter, but we still find ways to make the song dumb.  For instance we can take a pretty good song like Big Mistake and stick a recording of a prank call to a radio station in the middle and it changes the whole thing.   

Josh:  Well, I appreciate Mustard calling it a creative process in spite of all evidence to the contrary. I will say it always worked best when we tuned. That’s super important.

Matt:  Sorry I fell asleep halfway through Miguel’s response.  What’s the question?

8. You make ska music that human parents will like. What song of yours do you think best relates to being a parent?

Miguel:  Probably Yardwork.  As a kid, you hated doing yard work.  But then as a parent, it was 2 hours of nothing but the lawnmower or leaf blower and you did not have to worry about anything else.  

Matt:  Big Mistake

Lebron:  Big House, no doubt.  During the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, we all listened to music on the bus before games to get us pumped up.  Kobe just kept playing Big House over and over again.  On the way to the gold medal game vs Spain, Kobe couldn’t find his Big House CD & thought he left it at the hotel.  Man, he was mad!.  When we got off the bus and were walking to our locker room before the game, we heard Big House blasting really loud from Spain’s locker room.  The night before the game, Pau Gasol came over to the hotel to hang with Kobe.  Pau & Kobe were teammates on the Lakers and they always played Secret Cajun Band songs before Lakers games.  Right then, Kobe knew Pau stole the CD & Kobe was pissed!  Kobe said “1st play of the game, I know what they gonna run.  Pau’s gonna be the last screen  and I’m running through his chest.”  I’m like, man, you trippin’!  That’s your teammate.  You ain’t about to do that!   I swear, 1st play of the game this happens:  After Kobe knocked him down, everyone thought he said, “Don’t mess with the Brick House” but he actually said  “Don’t mess with my Big House!”

9. Mustard wonders how Cousin Joe is.

Miguel:  Cousin Joe passed away in 2002 but his memory lives on!  

Josh:  WWCJD

10. Could you share more about Swamp Daddy? What is your relationship with Swamp Daddy?

Miguel:  We are all good with Swamp Daddy.  He is the proud dad to 7 kids and lives in Houghton, MI where he is a reporter for their local newspaper.  He has hung up the washboard and trumpet and picked up the guitar and banjo.  Going back to when we first started playing out we were kind of viewed as “Swamp Daddy and his Secret Cajun Band”.  The washboard was front and center.

Josh:  Swamp and I have been good ever since we turned 2-Beer into a bale of hay. Oh Daddy.  Why’d you leave Consolidated Coal Daddy?

Matt:  Swamp Daddy is our version of L. Ron Hubbard.  I am currently working on achieving OT level 13, where he will then lift me up on his golden washboard and walk me across the Bridge of Total Couyon.

11.  Does the Sneaky Snowman operate outside of winter? Where can humans expect to find the Sneaky Snowman?

Miguel:  He’s tiptoeing so quietly.   Matt wrote the song and was hoping it would be a big hit with the kids.  One of our friends told us once that if you could see inside the mind of the most deranged person that ever lived, Sneaky Snowman would be playing.  You can be the judge.  Give it a listen and then let us know on Twitter what you think by going to @secretcajunband:  Sneaky Snowman (Jomo Meets Castro 1990)

Josh: I’ve been told by my attorneys to not respond to this question due to pending litigation between Snowman and me, but… all I’ll say is do not expect a return on any investment into its “hedge fund”.

Matt: He melted away.  Stop asking questions and don’t go looking for him.

12. 1994 saw the release of your debut album “Big House” which is coming to vinyl for the first time from Ninguid Records. How does it feel to have this record on vinyl?

Miguel:  By 1994 everyone had a CD except us.  Vinyl wasn’t a thing and cassettes were on the way out the door.    We had tapes of all of our basement 4 track recordings (The EP, The Complete Tape, Jomo Meet’s Castro and the Average Joe) that we would produce by just copying tapes on a boom box.    In 1992 we released our first ska album, Night Train to Yiggitty-Yiggitty.  We recorded in a studio, it was mastered and had about 500 copies duplicated on cassette.  We had to wait over a year for the cassettes from Big House to even come out.  I don’t think we got the CD’s until much later.  Rearranging the Liquid Monkey went right to CD.  In the early 2000’s everything went to downloads & then streaming.  Now vinyl is back. Our friend, Brian Dorsey, did all of our artwork for our albums, shirts, stickers, merchandise, etc. with the exception of the 1994 Big House release.  Our label wanted to go a different direction at that time.  The fact that he said he would like to do the artwork for the vinyl when we told him we were doing this project with Ninguid Records  was pretty cool.  Considering it had been around 20 years since Brian last did anything for SCB.  Now I guess I need to get a record player in order to play the album.  

Josh:  How does it feel, Mustard? It feels like we’re finally taking our place amongst the greatest recording artists of all time. The only thing better would be immortalizing our greatest hits on microcassettes so I can play them on my answering machine. 

It is fun to watch a turntable in action. 

13. Was “Big House” written in a big house? Is this house hidden within the bayou?

Miguel:  Josh, Erik and I all lived together in a house for 1 year.  The house was referred to by the band and our friends and family as “The Big House”.   We would have rehearsals there, traveling bands would crash there with us or when we were not there.  Guests included but not limited to: The Blue Meanies, King Apparatus, Gal’s Panic, Insatiable, Let’s Go Bowling.   However,  a 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom home in suburban St. Louis that is 1700 square feet, really isn’t that big.  However, it’s pretty affordable:  The Big House.  Josh, do you think that Jess still lives next door to the Big House?

Josh:  That house holds many of the SCB tales. The Meanies were there for about a week or 2 when they recorded Kiss Your Ass Goodbye. Maybe it was only a couple days. Who knows? I think Matt wrote Big House. He didn’t live in the Big House but was a frequent visitor… well sometimes it would be Matt. Most of the time Scarecrow showed up and we had put him against the wall. Yup. Big House.

Matt:  Bowling in the kitchen, smashing speakers in the basement, dog’s on top of the fridge.  Tour typical 3+1 in North U. City.

14. Secret Cajun Band will be playing a show this summer at Blueberry Hill Duck Room. What can fans expect from this show?

Miguel:  Thanks to Tim at Ninguid records and Josh (Matt and I verified in the text thread) we are actually going to be playing our 1st show in 10 years.   A local band called Beekman will be playing with us.  We plan to play many of the songs from both Big House and Liquid Monkey.   There are a couple of us still in St. Louis, but band members are coming in from Denver, Charlotte, New Orleans & New York.  So we plan to spend the week prior to the show rehearsing and tightening things up.  We hope it’s a huge success. We would love a huge turnout and to see people, laughing, smiling, dancing and having a good time.  We would love for everyone coming to the show to go to and get a copy of the album while supplies last.  Bring it to the show and we will even autograph it for you!  Rumor has it there may be a raffle of some sort.  I think I’m supposed to ask about drink & dinner specials, too.

Josh:  We’re very old now. Expect old dudes playing ska. Wait. That’s not very appealing is it? Expect old dudes playing ska enthusiastically? That’s better.

Matt:  It will also showcase a line-up we’ve never before dared to expose to the public, including band members past, present, and future.  Also the first keyboard sighting since 1992.

15. Secret Cajun Band has toured with the likes of The Toasters and MU330. Who from the current scene would you love to do a show with?

Miguel:  Mad Caddies would be cool.  Their whole “New Orleans” vibe appeals to me.  I also like the Interrupters.   I think it’s pretty cool that the singer and guitarist are married.   It would be interesting to meet them and talk to them about how that works, especially when on tour.    Finally, I would love to play a show with Babysitting Julio.  Actually that’s not a band, I just think it would be a good name for a band.

Josh: I asked Becky and she doesn’t want to go on tour with me. I get it.

16. What is Secret Cajun Band’s thought on the current ska scene?

Miguel:  The kids love Josh and the love is reciprocated.  So Josh is all about the scene.  

Josh:  this is accurate 

17. What is next for Secret Cajun Band?

For now we are getting asked to do interviews such as this.  Thank you!  We have also been asked to participate on a podcast and hopefully do more of those. We are promoting both the album release and the show on social media as best as we can.  We are also contacting SKA DJ’s throughout the world to try and get them to play our music.   We are hoping to document all of what is going on and maybe have some video of everything leading up to the show.   More shows could be on the horizon, but who knows.  If the album does well, then we may have a shot at Ninguid Records releasing Rearranging the Liquid Monkey on vinyl.  But as Josh said, we are old.  Most of us are in our 40’s and 50’s and so things are different now than they were back during the 3rd wave.  At least we were told we were a 3rd wave ska band.  Are we in the 4th or 5th wave now?  I have no idea.  It would be nice to have our music reach the younger ska fans, but then  I came across this ad for our show:  SCB Show Ad   Maybe instead of younger fans we should try to reach an older audience. We could play in retirement communities in Florida.  The shows could start at 5 pm in the activity room right after dinner and we could be in bed by 8 pm.  

18. Where can readers listen to your music?

Matt: Apple MusicSpotify, and YouTube Music.  Also my basement when I’m practicing, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-3.


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