Special C hailing from Redondo Beach, CA has been busy lately with shows spanning from the sand in Hermosa Beach for the Ironman to House of Blues Sunset Strip supporting Pennywise. These guys aren’t just busy, they have a heart too! Joining forces with other South Bay bands, Special C brought their punk reggae sound to the annual/semiannual Viva Vero VII benefit show. As with many of the other bands, the members of Special C were friends with local hero Veronica Enriquez and honor her memory with this event. The proceeds and food collected are donated to the Veronica Legacy Foundation supporting the poor and homeless in the South Bay. By the Barricade was there in support of the cause and also to interview the guys from Special C. The full interview transcript follows.
Dustin Jones – vocals, guitar
Evan Pershing – bass
Jason “Bubba” McMackin – drums
By the Barricade: I saw the Easy Reader article from a while back which talks about how you guys got together to play a show for Jason’s birthday
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: That is how it started.
By the Barricade: Was this just by chance and temporary or did you know you wanted to be a permanent band?
Evan Pershing: Totally by chance. Completely by chance.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: We got together and were jamming but it was too fun and cool and my birthday was coming up and I was contemplating telling these guys that I don’t want to jam anymore unless we do a show. It’s too cool, the vibe is cool, and I could picture what was happening already. We played that show for my birthday along with a couple other bands.
Dustin Jones: But it was totally a mistake. We played for his birthday and decided that instead of doing all covers we should write a few. We had a few and threw them together. After that first show, people were stoked so we got invited places. People wanted us to play their backyard, play here or play there.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: But what I said was my vision. Part of Special C history, we didn’t intend on keeping the name Special C that was just going to be for the first show or two because we all ate Special C’s (A menu item from El Burrito, Redondo Beach). I told my wife and all the girls that were her friends said, “No, no, no. We love that name.”
Evan Pershing:A lot of people identify with our name.
Dustin Jones: Locally everyone liked it too. Because even if they don’t know our band, they can be on a cruise ship or somewhere and people will come up and say, “Oh, Special C!” they think of two bean and cheese burritos which is synonymous with us because we are three bean and cheese burritos!
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: In Las Vegas it took only 30 minutes and some guy saw my shirt and said, “Special C! I’m from Redondo Beach! I live here and I love to see a little Redondo Beach!” People just start going off.
Dustin Jones: It’s like a double entendre. We win.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: That is the whole thing with the name. We grew up with it, we ate them. We knew all the kids could relate and knew what the Special C was.
Dustin Jones: They still do, it’s only five bucks.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: To this day people see the shirts and say, “I love the two bean and cheese burritos and they don’t even realize it’s a band.
Dustin Jones: Honestly people don’t even know our band and see that and they hear it and decide they don’t hate it. We are like the black sheep. We played two shows with Pennywise and then we played with Pato Banton. We don’t fit anywhere, but wherever we go people come.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: Actually we have played 5 or 6 shows with Pennywise.
By the Barricade: Well, you played two shows recently.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: Dustin is the always one who feels that we suck and whatever, but we recently met some people that drove down from Canada for their vacation and planned their trip around us playing.
Dustin Jones: We keep doing this is because it is fun. We don’t take it too seriously. If we tried to make a paycheck or be like most people in bands; unfortunately we would totally kill each other and not even do it anymore. We have fun.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: It has become more than just us. But we will gladly take a few beers to play a rad show and gain a few fans. It’s not about money and it has never been about money. We have always been about the fact that we kind of have some talent and we are just doing what we know. We know we are never going to explode. If that happens, awesome, but for the most part, just give us some beers.
Dustin Jones: We get on stage to have fun. We are inclusive. We have played with bands over the past several five years that are very exclusive.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: We are going on seven years now.
By the Barricade: That was going to be my next question … you have now been together for about 7 years, what has the journey been like so far?
Evan Pershing: I had completely given up on the bass at that point when I was asked to play.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: We all have our history before the band and the band brought us together and has actually made us better people all around. It’s given us discipline, it’s given us focus because we love what we do and we want to be good at what we do.
Dustin Jones: As lackadaisical as we are, as he (Jason) said, people come from Canada and all of a sudden if we have little Sunday band practice bicker we cannot just break up now. People like us now so we have to tolerate each other forever. The good thing is that we are friends so we can say, “Ah, bug off!” and then the next day we are together and it’s fine.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: We get together and we jam. Our good shows and bad shows are still rad shows.
Dustin Jones:I won’t say any names but I just met the guitar player of this other band and he is like their fifth guitar player.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: Are you kidding me? What?
Dustin Jones: If you aren’t playing with your friends then just don’t even do it. Bands before us, Pennywise, Red Hot Chili Peppers, any band that is successful, they are usually friends. They can go through strife and tribulations, but really love music.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: That is also another backbone of Special C. We love music. We just wanted to jam and play stuff that we couldn’t listen to 24 hours a day elsewhere, so we just play what we like. That was another thing, we all had this time so we were able to get together to jam.
Evan Pershing: They know exactly what you are going to play.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: When you are comfortable and know each other you can be in your underwear and still be cool. It’s totally normal.
Dustin Jones: We all have egos so it is hard to get three people who are into “art” to work together.
By the Barricade: What influenced your decision to play this reggae/punk style music?
Evan Pershing: That is just what we like.
Dustin Jones: Bad Brains, Sublime and just the rebelliousness of reggae and the local history of punk rock here. Granted they are so far away but in today’s age, they have meshed. There are so many kids now who you could play reggae for and they will know it. When I was growing up no one knew about it. Now after Sublime, you have Slightly Stoopid and they mesh in today’s music.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: We all love reggae and we all love Sublime. They are both rebel music. Punk and Reggae complain about the same things but just have different tempos.
Dustin Jones: That is what makes us the black sheep like I have said; we played with Pato Banton and what an honor that was.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: Also Yellowman, and the Hollywood Palladium if we are checking off lists.
Dustin Jones: We can do a show with Pennywise or whomever else and it is great; it’s magical. A big part of our success is appreciation. We are not entitlement babies. We appreciate everything we do whether it’s the Palladium or House of Blues with Pennywise to here (Kiwanis Club) we are stoked.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: We will play the Sunset Strip House of Blues and then we will play the VFW and play there for a few people and still think it was rad. It’s about getting together, getting energy out. Feeling energy from people is the best part.
Dustin Jones: We are equally as awful at the House of blues as we are here.
Evan Pershing: It’s about having fun.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: When we are playing a show, even if there are a few shots or whatever, we are on. The audience is feeling it and we are getting the energy back. That is when it is just explosive and it gets into something totally different. It is not a show anymore. It becomes something rad. You have both energies creating this.
Dustin Jones: Thank you for coming out. What an honor! I don’t know about these guys but for me it is weird. Who cares about us, we are idiots from Redondo, Hermosa and Manhattan but we now have people coming from Canada.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: He told we are all they listen to in their scene in Canada. I couldn’t believe it. We are just dudes who get together and jam but they listen.
By the Barricade: You are a popular local band with lots of shows in the area, do you have a particular stand out show, experience, or event from these shows?
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: Sunset House of Blues with Pennywise. You (Susan) were there, something happened that day. I can’t even explain it. I’ll keep saying something happened until ten years from now because we are there and the DJ is playing our song. The DJ is calling me out on stage and the audience knew us. I am still in awe of it. We all agree that something happened and people knew of us.
Dustin Jones: We are used to people knowing us around here. We’ve been on the seven year tour of the South Bay and we are happy with that but to play in Hollywood and have people from someplace far away say , “Hey, I’ve heard of you!” it’s weird. That happened a few times that night and it is happening more and more. It feels like we are beating a dead horse when we are jamming and stuff and we argue, but then our phone keeps ringing and we keep playing.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: Imagine what Pennywise feels like. They have been playing those songs for 25 years. We’ve been playing them for six and we are complaining.
By the Barricade: I read that you like to invite other musicians up to play and/or sing with you. If you could invite anyone up living or dead who would that be?
Evan Pershing: H.R. (Human Rights) in his prime before he went crazy; pre-1990 H.R.
Dustin Jones: We were noodling and almost had a show with Bud Gaugh, the drummer of Sublime. That is where our heavy influence is. His (Jason’s) brother (Byron McMackin of Pennywise) has come up and played songs with us.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: Bud Gaugh! Yesod (Williams) from Pepper came up and played “Saw Red” with us. I would have to say Bradley (Nowell) or someone from Sublime.
Dustin Jones: He is probably our biggest influence. When I saw play him play The Strand in the SouthBay it was life changing. At this point only myself and a few of my friends knew of reggae. We thought, “Wow these guys are from Long Beach” It was punk rock, he was amazing he could wail.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: Bradley’s voice resonates through my soul unlike any other singer or songwriter.
By the Barricade: What is a future goal you guys are striving for?
Dustin Jones: Like most American’s we don’t look too far in the future, but we are going to record next. We had a great summer. We played with Pennywise twice. We played with Pato, we did the Ironman. As a band we are done so now we will just play a few bars and gather our monies and get back in the studio with new material.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: We did the album but summer is super busy for us here because obviously no one is doing what we are doing. Everyone wants to have a cool band play and people come to the bar and spend a lot of money so now this album is out, it’s going to slow down. We are going to start writing a new EP and release that. As far as we are concerned we have already played with more people than we ever imagined: Yellowman, Pennywise, Pato Banton, punk bands, reggae bands. We just keep jamming; we write music and they continue to be rad songs and people want to continue to hear us play. So that is what we do.
Dustin Jones: We are getting better as a trio, we are growing together. Each time we go into the studio it gets better.
By the Barricade: So now is it burritos or tacos?
Dustin Jones: Burritos.
Dustin Jones: The taco thing is our friend Taco Todd who is a legendary character in the South Bay. The Special C is two bean and cheese burritos and that is the only way.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: Special C may make a song about tacos, but it will have to be because there is a taco incident (whether it is Taco the man, or taco the food).
Dustin Jones: I would rather just wrap a taco in a burrito.
Evan Pershing: I would rather sing a song about Taco the man.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: Taco is song 14 on the CD that is all we need to say.
Dustin Jones: He is a character.
By the Barricade: What does playing this benefit mean to you?
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: For me this is a big deal because she was a close friend of mine. I would always call her “Barronica” because I didn’t know Spanish well and I couldn’t roll my r’s. It was a little bit easier. We would get drunk and people would all leave the parties and we would talk and be real. She was one of those people. She was real and she would do good things. She did so many things for people that were less fortunate.
Dustin Jones: I have an autistic nephew and she was one of his special needs teachers. She was really giving and super cool. She was a great teacher and a big music fan. She followed Ozomatli.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: Ozomatli loved her so much that when she passed away they started a benefit in her name also. I’m not sure what it is because I have always been with the Viva Vero.
Dustin Jones: We have missed a couple but we played the first few Viva Vero events. It’s cool to be back on it.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: We played the first one and on the second. I took my bass drum off the stage and it broke. I was thinking WOW! It was one of those things where I thought Veronica was holding that together. Every time we do this I feel her. I don’t necessarily believe in all that stuff, but I do believe in something. When you do good things for good people, charities and what not, I get chills. It drives me nuts but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’d be home right now and going crazy, but instead I am here pacing and thinking about what I can do better the next time.
By the Barricade: Is there anything else you would like to say to the readers of By the Barricade?
Dustin Jones:We are stoked. When I think of us, I think of the garage band just having fun, but we are the garage band that plays big shows sometimes. We can never grow out of the garage.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: This summer was all-time for us. When we played with Yellowman at the Malibu Inn, I thought “What’s next? Barrington Levy?”But this summer was the punk rock version of us, we had a spurt of punk shows and that inspired us to write a couple of punk songs and a couple of reggae songs and redo an old song.
Dustin Jones: That is funny because when we played with Pennywise we played a ton of reggae. When we played with Pato we did a Black Flag cover. I am almost that bratty kid who is told to bring a set list and then we just totally deviate. It ends up ok.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: With a setlist there are songs to pick from.
Evan Pershing: We bring our own people with us.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: I’m not trying to be mean, but we are what I call the crusty punkers of reggae whereas any other reggae band that comes from here may be awesome, but they are so traditionally reggae.
Dustin Jones:They wouldn’t play a Black Flag song at a Pato show. We are the thorn in the side that snaps them (the audience) out of it. A bum out is good because you remember it. That is what I love about our band is that we don’t’ fit.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: We are trying to be real people. That is rad. We go somewhere where we don’t fit and we end up fitting because people give us a chance and think we are cool and having fun less is more and we work off that.
Dustin Jones:This guy is in three bands. He is in our band, fIRED and SuperSession.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: Special C is my baby. Dustin is the man child or whatever. He wrote most of the songs. This is where I put all of my effort. The other bands I play drums for, but it’s not like I am trying to write music. This is where my heart is; it’s not like I hate the other bands, but Special C is something special to me personally so I always want to.
Dustin Jones: We are a team. I couldn’t do any of it without these two idiots. When we get our first big Canadian tour he’s going to tell the other bands, “Later! We are going to Canada!” It’s on the contract it is actually tattooed on his back. It is serious stuff.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin:It is weird that I consistently run into people who talk to me about Special C. I think, “Dude, really? Wow, thank you!” I am so grateful. My brother is in Pennywise and that is what I am used to hearing about but to me it is just Byron, my brother and to us it’s just Pennywise. It’s another band jamming just like us.
Dustin Jones: It’s like the Grateful Dead, “What a strange trip it has been.” I have never been to a Dead show but it reminds me of that. We are used to seeing Pennywise and the fame and now I am at the 99 Cent Store or something and I have people come up and say, “Hey, I heard your album.” I think it is really cool.
Jason “Bubba” McMackin: The first band that played today (The Sub-Standards) said they love Special C and were excited to see their name on the flyer with us. I thought, “Are you joking?” It’s stuff like that, putting money and all that crap aside, we are inspiring another generation. We are just peons jamming in Hermosa Beach. That is huge. Learning music is super hard. If listening to our music inspires a kid to pick up a guitar and work on playing it that is giant.
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