Matt Thomes, friend of the Ska Geek Podcast, recently contacted me in search of a song. Here is the story of his quest to find this song:
Here is the breakdown.
My buddy and I first watched 411vm Issue #1 when we were 14yrs old. We are both now in our late 30's. It was the first skate video we both watched. This is the video that got me into skateboarding. We watched the video so many times I surprised we didn't wear out the tape.
I was really into punk and ska music but one song always stood out. It was the song from the Brooklyn Banks competition of the video. We both loved the song and immediately tried to find it. About two weeks later I told him I found the song. I recently bought Sublimes 40oz to Freedom. For some reason I though the song was Date Rape from the album, it was not.
I looked for the song off and on for a while and really started to dig back into it in 2005. I saw the credits online which I came to find out later were listed wrong. They had it listed as Funky Beatniks- Morning Void. If you think finding this song was difficult, try finding anything from The Funky Beatniks. I searched again for about a year and still came up with nothing.
Cut to 2018
I texted my buddy and told him I was going to find the song. He thought it was impossible, but said good luck. I thought the first step would be to start posting on Reddit and other message boards. I posted on every sub-reddit, music category, Facebook, YouTube, etc thinking someone has to know. Got a ton of good suggestions and found a ton a great bands, but couldn't find the song. This is when my obsession really grew. It's weird, I just couldn't let something go that I have been digging into for such a long time. I had to find the song.
Next I re-watched the video. I tried the obvious, Shazam, SoundCloud, etc., even knowing this would be a waste of time. I also slowed down the video to .75 speed to pick out some of the lyrics. I thought I heard the lyric "Drowning in a Sea Abyss". I did a google search on that as well with no results. I watched the credits again and started reaching out to the individuals listed on Instagram and Facebook. I reached out to founders of 411vm, art directors, music coordinators, music talent they thanked on the tape, but still had no answer. One of the founders of 411vm got back to me and mentioned he had his laptop stolen in 99' so his documentation was missing. The other founder searched but couldn't find anything.
It was time for Plan-B
Being a musician since the age of 9, I recorded the song myself. Drums, bass, and guitar. I'm not a horn player, so these were programmed on Garage Band. I thought maybe the audio was so bad that if I got a good recording, Shazam might be able to pick it up. No luck.
Next it was Plan-C
I reached out to everyone on Reddit etc again with the hopes someone might stumble across it. No luck. I started to take the suggested bands and reach out to the lead singers personally on Instagram and Facebook hoping the would know the band/song. None of this helped either. Probably the best thing about this search, is that everyone in the punk/ska/skate community were super helpful and really down to earth people. Even the people at the top of the bands/companies were really great to work with.
Plan-C was a bust, so I went to Plan-D
I started doing my search on Discogs. Checked out every ska album, comp, and single produced in the US since 1990. Found a ton of great bands, but still not the song.
I was about to give up but then I decided to watch the credits one more time. I noticed the name Steve Steadham.
I remember looking up him before but only finding some new stuff online. It was way more funky than ska. So I never reached out to him. I messaged him on Instagram and asked if this was his band or if he knew who it was. His message back to me was, "Morning". I replied "Good morning to you as well" and asked the questions again. He replied back that it was his band Citizen X. At first I thought he was pulling my leg and this person I was messaging wasn't the real Steve Steadham. I responded back with "Awesome!! Do you know the name of the song?". No response. I went on Discogs and searched 14 bands with the name Citizen X. About the 7th band I searched, I came across a cassette called Thrasher Skate Rock Vol 8- Pierced Ears. I scrolled down and found a song by Citizen X called Drowning in a Sea of Shit. I knew it was the song I was looking for from what I thought the lyrics I heard when I slowed it down.
After I got the name of the band and song, I did a deep google search for everything you could find. The name of the band, song, cassette, comps, everything. Again nothing came up. I went on Discogs and found a list for users who had bought this tape. I sent out a message to the top 8 users based on Discogs activity. I felt it was too much to ask, but I wanted to see if someone could rip the audio for me and send it as an Mp3. One user got back to me and said "No problem, I've done this before for other people looking for rare music". About a half an hour later I had the Mp3 sent to my email. I immediately sent it to my buddy. He couldn't believe it. It was finally over. I sent Steve Steadham a message on Instagram asking him if I could post it on YouTube. He said that was fine, so I made a video with the song and started going back to every single source I could think of sending them the link.
It's really crazy at the end of the day to think about the time and effort myself and everyone else put into finding a song from 24yrs ago. It was just something I couldn't let go, and I needed to find the answer. It became an obsession, but it wasn't unhealthy. I chatted with a ton of great people, polished up my detective skills, and found a ton of new music I never thought I would ever listen to. I want to thank Steve Steadham, Josh and Steve at 411vm. Chris Vesk for the rip, and everyone who put in time and effort to help me finally find it.
I have now listened to the song at least 20 times. Its not getting old. It brings back memories of my teen years, and also reassures me that hard work does pay off.
At then end of the day, it was worth it.