New York band blending Jamaican ska with jazzy horns, twisted humor coming to Yellow Cab Tavern



Don’t call Mephiskapheles ska-punk. The band, headlining eSKApe at Yellow Cab Tavern in Dayton on Sunday, April 23, brings a certain hardcore intensity but the music is more complex.

Since forming in New York in 1991, Mephiskapheles has blended Jamaican ska (a precursor to reggae) with jazzy horn motifs, metal-infused minor chord guitar riffs, twisted humor and a certain New York attitude. The band self-released the EP, “The DEMOn” (1991), followed by the albums “God Bless Satan” (1994) and “Maximum Perversion” (1997) on Moon Ska Records. Mephiskapheles signed with Koch for its third full-length, “Might-ay White-ay” (1999), only to break up in 2001. Reforming in 2012, the band has released a pair of EPs, “Mephiskapheles” (2015) and “Never Born Again” (2019), and will be recording a new album during this current tour.

Andre A. Worrell (vocals) and Greg Robinson (trombone) recently discussed Mephiskapheles, which also features Michael Bitz (bass), Wayne Dunton (drums), Adam X (guitar), Greg Lapine (saxophone) and Eric Molina (saxophone).

East Coast sound

Robinson: “We’ve always been different. Our roots are firmly in the ska scene and we’re still part of the ska scene. We’ve always been super into traditional ska. We didn’t go in for the ska-punk that came directly after us and was concurrent with us. People call us the founders of ska-punk but that’s a stretch. You could maybe pick a couple of songs on our first album that are kind of punk, but we didn’t go the direction of the California bands with four major chords and a happy, peppy horn line. That just isn’t our thing. Most mainstream ska bands nowadays owe a huge debt to the Toasters above all, and we do too for that matter although we went in a different direction.”

Worrell: “(The Toasters) created that whole New York thing. They took ska and put that New York edge on it. We used to go see them a lot and they were always very supportive.”

Watch the music video for “Paradise” by Mephiskapheles:

On the road

Robinson: “We were ramping up for our biggest year in many years when COVID struck. We had to cancel three tours that year. That was pretty rough, but we worked on new music during the pandemic. Then, when it was time to reopen, the response was great. It was even better than we expected. The merch numbers were crazy. We’ve done quite a few shows the last couple of years. It’s not quite a full-time situation but we’re on the road quite a bit.”

Worrell: “We’re ready for this tour. It’s time to get back out and time to share some new music. We want to surprise the fans with some cool new songs. We’re also getting ready to record.”



Back in the studio

Robinson: “We were originally supposed to do three dates with the band Stuck Lucky, but they dropped off, so we had three days open. At the same time, we’ve been working on an album of new material for some time, and it was about time to record it. Instead of scrambling around for some door deals at the last minute and barely getting by, we decided to take advantage of the days off and go into a recording studio to get this thing going.”

Worrell: “The interesting thing is now we’re being crazy productive. We’ve got a lot of music we’re working on. After this record drops, we might be dropping something else soon after.”

Robinson: “That’s true. We’ll have a lot more music after this. We haven’t been the most prolific band in our 30-year history. We took time off in the middle and we weren’t really active and that’s part of the reason. Even so, we were always more of a live band and a road band. Our third album was our only traditional label experience, so we were never in a situation where we were part of a factory effort to put out music regularly. We just did it when the songs were ready. Another issue with this band is we’ve had personnel turnover through the years. That can tend to impede new music because you’re having to teach the new member the old music. There’s been a bit of that, but at this point these songs are great and we’re ready to put them down. Then, after that, we’ve got a whole bunch more ready to come.”

A new era

Worrell: “We might be entering a new phase with this band where we’re more active in the studio. This new album is going to have that particular sound that’s us but we’re always trying to do something that’s different, something that we’re very interested in and excited about. It’s different every time and that’s great. That’s what we want and that’s what we like to share.”

Robinson: “We’ve been working on some of these songs for 10 years and they just weren’t ready to go on any of our previous releases but now they’re ready. Getting this album done is kind of the imperative this year. It will be our first full-length album in 25 years when it comes out, probably in 2024. We’ve engaged a director and we’re going to make a full-length documentary about the making of the record. It’s a big milestone for us.”

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or


Who: Mephiskapheles with Whiskey Brisket and Mr. Scientist

Where: Yellow Cab Tavern, 700 E. Fourth St., Dayton

When: Sunday, April 23 at 9 p.m.

Cost: $15 in advance, $17 at the door; cover charge starts at 8 p.m.

More info: 937-424-3870 or

Artist info:

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