While often cited as part of California's Third Wave Ska scene, the Mad Caddies' sound is an eclectic brew that's rooted in ska, but also takes frequent detours into reggae, punk, pop, surf music, and even trad jazz. Fronted by lead singer and rhythm guitarist Chuck Robertson, the Mad Caddies came out of Santa Ynez, California in the mid-'90s, where they emerged after stints as Cracked Macaroni and the Ivy League. The group's energetic and upbeat attack, fueled by cutting guitars and lively horns, was first documented on 1997's Quality Soft Core, and they moved up to the established punk label Fat Wreck Chords for 1998's Duck and Cover. The group's genre-bending style was in especially strong form on 2003's Just One More, which included the streaming favorite "Drinking for 11." International touring occupied the band through much of the 2000s, but they bounded back in the 2010s with 2104's Dirty Rice and 2018's covers collection Punk Rocksteady.
The Mad Caddies were formed by Chuck Robertson (lead vocals and guitar), Sascha Lazor (lead guitar), Carter Benson (guitar), and Todd Rosenberg (drums) while they were attending Santa Ynez Valley Union High School in Santa Ynez, not far from Santa Barbara. With Mark Iverson on bass, Eduardo Hernandez on trombone, and Keith Douglas on trumpet, the band began playing out, originally using the name Cracked Macaroni. They changed their billing to the Ivy League, but by the time they began recording their debut album, they became the Mad Caddies after discovering two other bands were already using the name Ivy League (they also grew tired of comparisons to ska-punks Operation Ivy). Honest Don's Records dropped the debut Mad Caddies album, Quality Soft Core, in 1997, and it attracted the attention of Fat Mike, leader of the band NOFX and topkick at Fat Wreck Chords. Fat Mike signed the band, and their second album, Duck and Cover, arrived in 1998.
After cutting the five-song stopgap EP The Holiday Has Been Cancelled, Todd Rosenberg left the group, and Daniel Rivera, aka Boz, stepped in as their drummer for the 2001 album of twisted sea shanties Rock the Plank. (Lagwagon drummer Derrick Plourde also sat in on several cuts.) Rivera's time in the Mad Caddies proved to be brief; several months after Rock the Plank came out, he left the band and Brian Flenniken took over behind the drum kit, while guitarist Carter Benson also moved on. The new lineup was documented on 2003's Just One More, and they preserved their raucous live show for the ages with 2004's Live from Toronto: Songs in the Key of Eh. The release of 2007's Keep It Going found the Mad Caddies unveiling another new lineup, with Cris Badham taking over on bass from Mark Iverson. The group's recording schedule began to slow down as they spent more time on the road, with their next album, Dirty Rice, not appearing until 2014. (The compilation Consentual Selections served as a stopgap in 2010.) More personnel changes had occurred during their downtime, with original drummer Todd Rosenberg returning to the band, Graham Palmer replacing Cris Badham on bass, and Dustin Lanker becoming their first full-time keyboard player.
In 2017, trumpeter Keith Douglas dropped out of the lineup, and Mark Bush, ex-Voodoo Glow Skulls, joined the horn lineup. For their next recording project, Fat Mike proposed that the Mad Caddies cut a handful of classic punk rock tunes in their trademark style. With Mike drawing up the song list and producing the sessions, the Mad Caddies delivered Punk Rocksteady (featuring numbers originally recorded by the Misfits, Green Day, Bad Religion, and the Descendents, among others) in July 2018. ~ Mark Deming