Top 5 things to know about Melbourne Ska Orchestra


Melbourne Ska Orchestra frontman, Nicky Bomba, caught up with Ultra Underground during their Sierra-Kilo-Alpha Australian tour to reveal 5 things everyone should know about the group, their origin, and their latest LP!

1. The band was formed to set a World Record

The band was formed in 2003 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Ska (1963 – Millie small ‘My Boy Lollipop”) with the added intention of setting a World Record for the ‘Most Amount of Horn Players Onstage At One Time Doing The Upbeat Skank’. They had such a good time and were so happily wasted that they forgot to take an official count. It would be 10 years before they would record their debut album.

2. They were booked for a season of touring at the expense of teeth, and a guitarist falling

The first performance at the Big Sound conference in Brisbane presented a major problem in that the stage was designed for an average 6 piece band, not a 20 piece orchestra.

The band were forced to set up in a marching band configuration-rows of 5 across and 4 deep. The bass player’s knee was nudging the drummer’s back, the keyboard player had to stand on a makeshift lighting box, Nicky couldn’t see the backline so had to use hand signals while jumping to cue the parts and there was some teeth casualties in the trumpet section from the trombone players stepping back a little too far. One guitarist did actually fall off the stage but landed on his feet and kept playing,(thankfully the lead was long enough). The gig was a success as it was seen by two agents from Canada who promptly booked the orchestra for the next season of touring.

3. They’re endorsed by the Ska greats

Their first UK performance in London was in Camden, the home of Madness. The gig was a sellout and received the seal of approval from Jamaican singing pioneers Owen Gray, Stranger Cole and The Caribs while also getting the nod from 2Tone heroes Rhoda Dakar (Body Snatchers), Dave Wakeling/Ranking Roger (British Beat)and Neville Staples (The Specials).

4. They were due to perform at the ARIAS, and were stopped by security guards

The Orchestra was nominated and performed at the 2015 ARIA awards in Australia with ‘Shepphard” adding the Ska element to the hit song ‘Hey Geronimo”. The horn players entered from the audience with the idea of pretending they were gatecrashing the song. One security guard wasn’t informed and made a run to stop the intruders before being stopped by a co-worker who had read the memo.

5. Their sax player took a week off to admire Sierra-Kilo-Alpha‘s cover art

The artwork for Sierra-Kilo-Alpha, the orchestra’s new album, is a full 3D experience with specialised MSO 3D glasses supplied. Dean, the sax player and virgin 3D viewer, was so enthralled with the visual experience that he took a week off work to embrace the emotional and physical effect of the artwork.

He has since recovered but is often seen staring into a flowering bushes quoting Shakespeare.

You can catch MSO on one of their remaining Aussie Tour dates:

24 JUN Coffs Harbour, Sawtell RSL, NSW
25 JUN Mullumbimby Civic Hall, NSW

Peace, love, and keep singin’ the Blues,