Horn Rock: How Brass Persists in Today's Bands

What Is Skacore? – A Look Into What Makes It Awesome

Whether it was the heyday of the late 1990s or a raving cult favorite, trying to define what skacore is can be tricky for many casual listeners. So, what is skacore?

Skacore is a cross-blend of many genres blending bouncy ska riffs with metal-inspired drumming with vocals delivered in a coarse, rough style akin to many punk icons. By fusing aspects of many different genres, skacore stands out as a unique genre. 

Taking all of this into account, let’s take an in-depth look at skacore.

What Makes a Song Skacore?

Before anything else, it’s imperative to see just what makes a skacore song. The genre is much more complicated than many may assume. It uses different styles from both rock, punk, and (sometimes) brass bands.

What makes skacore unique is that each aspect of the song is entirely different yet comes together to create a perfect mix of styles. Below is a list of standard features you might catch.

Skacore Songs Include UpTempo Beats Supported By Hardcore Drums

Making up the foundations of a song, you will generally find an up-tempo beat that uses different drum kit features. These drums feature double kick-pedals on the bass drum and frequent use of cymbal and hi-hat crashes. It’s a style inspired more by hardcore and metal bands than what you would find in traditional ska or reggae songs.

Skacore Songs Include Bouncy Bass and Rhythms

In stark contrast to the drums, both the bass and rhythm guitar sections take on a much more laid-back style that feels bouncy and chilled. Harking back to roots in ska and reggae, the fast but bouncy licks give songs a summer-like vibe.

Skacore Songs Have Rough & Coarse Vocals

If you were looking for clean and melodic vocals, think again. Skacore bands go for a much coarser vocal style which comes straight out of a punk playbook. While lyrics cover almost any subject, the vocalist’s delivery is more often short and sharp and quickly catches a listener’s ear. It’s not uncommon to even see verses rapped with a clean chorus depending on how influenced the band might be from hip-hop and ska pioneers.

Strong Bass Sections Come With Skacore Music

You will also find that many skacore bands will have brass instruments adding extra layers to their songs. Whether it is trumpet or trombone, the brass instruments add melody in tandem with the lead guitar. It is almost like a “call & response” mechanism. It adds an extra sense of individuality and is a defining part of what skacore truly is.

How Skacore Went From A Cult Phenomenon To Smashing Charts

Skacore was one of the “it” subgenres. It has seen plenty of bands find success in charts worldwide.

Skacore’s 1990s Megahits

The second half of the 1990s proved to be the real heyday of the genre. Several songs became bonafide chart hits in mainstream markets across the world.

The likes of Reel Big Fish and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones enjoyed success with their respective hits “Sell Out” and “The Impression That I Get.” These songs hit the top 20 charts in the US, Australia, and the UK.

Not only could you find these songs on every major radio station, but they became a significant part of big movie soundtracks as well. The rapid release of “college party” movies like American Pie & Road Trip featured skacore songs in their soundtracks.

Even family films got in on the act. The Rugrats Movie featured Reel Big Fish as one of the main songs.

Skacore is Still a Cult Subgenre

As the success of the 1990s passed, skacore found itself settling down as a popular niche genre adopted by several significant movements. With direct influences from reggae, the “420” movement jumped on the bandwagon straight away.

Many campaigns to legalize marijuana and cannabis would feature a skacore song in some capacity. The result was a synonymous relationship between the subgenre and a cult movement.

Also, some of the most extensive sport and music tours thrived off the skacore popularity. Warped Tour’s popularity grew exponentially with the dozens of skacore bands on the touring roster.

Even if the genre didn’t stay in the mainstream, skacore bands found themselves some of the most popular tours. Skacore bands were featured alongside Rancid and Less Than Jake, appearing almost annually on the biggest touring party of the summer.

The Skacore Hotspots – Regions Where Skacore is Very Popular

Some regions were able to produce scenes that almost always were a hotbed for skacore acts. These zones go beyond regional interest.


Like all things linked with summer and skating, California is where many of the biggest bands came to form. Whether it was in Orange County, Long Beach, or the Bay Area, you can always find a skacore band ready to fill a venue. The likes of Sublime, Goldfinger, Rancid, and Reel Big Fish all started in an area where all things summer feel at home.


Believe it or not, skacore did not initially start in the sunny throngs of California. Instead, most originated in the dingy clubs of cities across the UK. The punk movement of the 1970s mixed with socialist agendas saw bands experimenting with more unconventional genres, including ska and reggae.

With the UK having large Caribbean communities scattered across many major cities, the musical influences spilled over into the wider area leading to new audiences toying with musical mechanics. Bands such as Madness, The Specials, and The Beat popularized ska and laid the foundations for skacore to shine.


Like California, Australia has its burgeoning skate and punk scene, leading many skacore bands to enjoy a platform. With cities such as Sydney and Melbourne having a thriving cultural side, bands such as The Porkers, Area 7, Bodyjar, and Ocean Grove have found plenty of domestic success. Many toured internationally, earning fans in all corners of the globe.

The Top Bands of Skacore

Considering that skacore has been around for several decades, it’s fair to say that the top bands in the industry have become leading names in rock – not just the skacore movement. Below is a list of the best.

Reel Big Fish

Going on strong for over three decades, Orange County’s Reel Big Fish is the first name that comes to mind when you think of skacore. Their massive 1996 hit “Sell Out” took over the airwaves. It was featured everywhere from FIFA to stadium playlists. They also enjoyed success with A-Ha’s Take On Me cover, earning themselves a cameo in the movie BASEketball.

Major Albums:

  • Turn The Radio Off
  • Everything Sucks
  • Why Do They Suck So Hard


Long Beach’s Sublime rose and peaked with skacore’s heyday during the 1990s. Their laid-back tunes mixed with the hip-hop stylings of vocalist Bradley Nowell made them a mainstream hit.

Songs such as “Santeria” and “What I’ve Got” were major chart-toppers in 1997 and 1998. This success allowed them to break into the Billboard Hot 100. However, Nowell’s death in 1998 from a drug overdose stopped the band in its tracks. They would later reform as Sublime With Rome, with Jim Rome stepping in for Nowell and carry on their legacy to a new set of fans.

Major Albums:

  • Robbin’ the Hood
  • Sublime
  • Second-hand Smoke

Less Than Jake

Representing the Florida scene, Less Than Jake has proven itself to be one of the top names in the skacore industry. With no less than nine albums, the Gainesville rockers have proved to be one of the biggest-selling bands.

They have hits such as “Overrated” and “She’s Gonna Break,” becoming well known in both the US and UK. The dual-vocal mix of Vinnie Fiorello and Chris DeMakes gives their back catalog a unique identity that you can’t find anywhere else.

Major Albums:

  • Hello Rockview
  • Anthem
  • In With The Out Crowd

No Doubt

Before Gwen Stefani broke away to become a pop icon, she found herself fronting one of the hottest crossover acts in music as part of No Doubt. While their later hits were very much pop, the Anaheim band’s back catalog was full of ska numbers. Tunes like “Just A Girl” and “Spiderwebs” are skacore classics that are just as popular as their defining hit “Don’t Speak.”

Major Albums:

  • The Beacon Street Collection
  • Tragic Kingdom
  • Return of Saturn

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

Around since 1983, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones found their origins from the Boston hardcore scene before trying something different. The reward was a career spanning decades, even if nothing quite eclipsed the success of their 1997 hit “The Impression That I Get.” Featured in movies ranging from Step Brothers to Digimon, you would likely hear The Bosstones somewhere and not even realized it.

Major Albums:

  • Question The Answers
  • Let’s Face It
  • Pay Attention

Wrap Up – What is Skacore?

Skacore is a fusion of punk and hardcore with more laidback styles such as reggae and ska. Skacore is a genre that can crossover into the public domain in any part of the world. It’s why that the genre remains a cult favorite today. There will always be someone looking to find out what is skacore and why it appeals to so many people.

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