An underground band with a cult following are back with not one but two new songs as they emerge from lockdown.

The Slackers, from New York City, have been entertaining ska and reggae fans around the world for almost 30 years with what singer Vic Ruggiero calls their ‘Jamaican rock ’n’ roll’.

After years of local gigs and rehearsing in a dingy basement in Manhattan’s lower east side, the band released debut album Better Late Than Never in 1996.

Its success resulted in the release of a second album, Red Light, on the Epitaph label in 1997, and since then The Slackers have released 11 more studio albums, three live sets and numerous EPs and singles, as well as contributing to lots of compilations.

As well as channelling early Jamaican music, they mix in classic ’50s and ’60s American styles, including rock ‘n’ roll, R&B, jazz and Latin music, which stands them apart from their contemporaries.

They have opened for the likes of Rancid, Joe Strummer, Flogging Molly, Jimmy Cliff , The Beat, Toots & The Maytals and The Pogues, as well as selling out headline shows of their own around the world.

Their last two albums have been released via crowd-funding, and in recent years they have hooked up with leading punk and ska label Pirates Press Records for re-presses of some of their best-loved records.

The latest album to get the treatment is Live At Ernesto’s, which is being re-released on double 12in vinyl for its 20th anniversary, alongside a very special 12in single featuring two new songs.

Live At Ernesto’s was recorded in March 1999 at a restaurant in Sittard, in the Netherlands. Originally released in 2000 by Hellcat Records, the new Pirates Press edition has been remixed and remastered, and comes in three different vinyl variations. Check them out here.

The two new songs are Nobody’s Listening and Sleep Outside, which are two bright, upbeat tracks meant to get everyone up dancing and singing along. They have been pressed onto one side of a black vinyl record, which has full colour digital printing on the B-side. It’s cut at 45rpm, to give it a big sound. Get it from Pirates Press here.

Special bundles of Slackers vinyl are also available for a limited period from the Pirates Press website.

To celebrate the release of Nobody’s Listening and re-release of Live At Ernesto’s, The Slackers will be playing a ticketed live-streamed event on August 1, where they hope to recreate the intensity of an in-person performance, online.

They will be recreating and playing their Live At Ernesto’s set, and adding the two new tunes from the 12in single. They will be joined by The Pietasters, The Bar Stool Preachers, Catbites and DJ Boss Harmony. Tickets are available here.

Gary Welford owner