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With almost nine years and four albums behind them, the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies might just be the most prolific unknown swing-and-ska band in the country. Although they have a large cult following among college radio aficionados and West Coast swing fans, the band has yet to enjoy the mainstream success of their contemporaries, who range from the Mighty Mighty Bosstones to Squirrel Nut Zippers. But Steve Perry, the guitarist and vocalist, said in a recent phone interview that he hopes the band’s July release, “Zoot Suit Riot,” breaks a few barriers.

Q:What do you think of the latest swing/lounge movement? A:It seemed to me that swing is bigger on the West Coast than the East Coast, Squirrel Nut Zippers notwithstanding. They’re kind of their own Louis Armstrong, Tin Pan Alley sort of style. It’s totally helping us, though. I have some misgivings about the whole thing not because it’s getting big but because when people first get into it, they learn to swing dance and buy the jump blues records and that’s not what we’re really about … People are being really retro revisionist toward it right now, but in order for it to grow and become more modern they have to let the bands do more interesting things with it. A lot of these bands just play covers. I find that totally a straight jacket. If they don’t let bands stretch out a little bit, it’s going to die. Musicians won’t want to play it because they’re forced by traditions to do so. It’s ’97 for chrissake.

Q:What about the mainstream embracing of ska? A:It’s sort of the same with ska. I’m pro third-wave [funk-inflected] ska. Bands like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Fishbone, and I like Hep Cat. But I think I’m more spiritually aligned with the people who are trying to make it new, even if the traditional people sound better. We play swing and ska � but swing is more interesting to me harmonically. Ska is interesting to me in a “pop” sort of way. I’ve been trying to change my palette some � my natural tendency is to use a lot of blue notes, [but] I want to be able to appreciate a pop melody. It’s like, if your house was brown and red, but you want something without all this muted tone. It’s hard for you to all of a sudden paint your house yellow and blue. I’m now forcing myself to appreciate a primary triad, which is the same thing only it’s like I’m trying to decorate myself. Swing uses more muted tones and dark tones, ska is sometimes so sugary sweet I hate it. The goal is to get them to fit together.

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