|This article does not cite any references or sources. (October 2013)|
|Origin||New York City, New York, United States|
|Years active||1990–2001, 2012–|
|Labels||Pass The Virgin
Moon Ska Records
Jump Up Records
|Associated acts||The Shaved Pigs
|Members||Andre A. Worrell
Bourbon Zeigler, Jr.
|Past members||Brendan Tween
Ray (last name unknown)
Mephiskapheles is a ska band based in New York. Their name is a portmanteau of "ska" and "Mephistopheles", of Goethe's Faust. As their name suggests, their lyrics are often playfully satanic in nature.
The band began when New York hardcore band The Shaved Pigs split up, and guitarist Brendan Tween and roommate Mikal Reich decided to start a ska band. After recruiting several friends, including keyboardist Brian "Underpants" Martin, the band was formed under the name Skatterbrains. It was changed to Mephiskapheles once the band realized that another band had already taken the name.
On January 3, 1991, the band made its first public appearance at a venue in Long Island. After a small lineup shuffle that saw Andre A. Worrell (as The Nubian Nightmare) emerge as lead singer and frontman, the band recorded its demo tape titled The DEMOn. The band continued to play live, winning the Brooklyn Lager Band Search in the World Beat category, in 1992, and building a devoted fan base throughout the Northeast.
In 1994, the band released its debut album, God Bless Satan, produced by Bill Laswell and Robert Musso. Originally released on the band's own label Pass The Virgin, it saw wider release after being licensed by Moon Ska Records, starting in 1995. A video for the song, "Doomsday", began receiving airplay on MTV around this time. Earlier, in its demo form, the song had been widely heard on television in New York as the soundtrack to a fitness-center commercial.
The band made several U.S. tours in 1996, including a triumphant trip to Honolulu, Hawaii to celebrate a string of three hit singles on the Hawaiian Island Charts: "Doomsday," "Saba," and "Bumble Bee Tuna." Mephiskapheles frequently played shows with the Blue Meanies, from Chicago, and Inspecter 7, from New Brunswick, NJ, during this time. Soon after Mephiskapheles's first European tour, in early 1997, drummer and creative force in the early phase, Mikal Reich, left the band to pursue a career outside of music. He was replaced by Wayne Dunton, who recorded with the band on its second album, Maximum Perversion. A video was filmed for the track "Break Your Ankle Punk," which featured hip-hop DJ Lyvio G.
By 1999, the band had gone through a major lineup change with Brendan Tween, bassist Michael Bitz, and trumpeter Osho Endo all leaving the band, for various reasons. New members, bassist Dan Jeselsohn, guitarists Bill McKinney and Dave Hahn, and saxophonist Ian Hendrickson-Smith were brought in to record an album, Might-Ay White-Ay, that fused ska, hardcore, and metal, with some pure ska songs included for contrast. Former Skatalites trumpeter Nathan Breedlove also played on the album, but he did not tour with Mephiskapheles. After continuing to play live performances for two years, the band stopped playing shows without any official announcement of a breakup.
After Mephiskapheles, Worrell, McKinney, trombonist Greg Robinson, and bassist Michael Bitz played in the band Skull-A-Ball, although Robinson played guitar in this project. The band recorded one demo and played several shows before disbanding. Worrell also appeared with Bitz and Jeselsohn in the band Burn Guitars. The band featured three bass players, a drummer and no guitars. This band also played numerous shows, but disbanded after recording one demo. A third band, named Tirade, spun off from Mephiskapheles and featured McKinney, Jeselsohn, and future Bouncing Souls drummer Michael McDermott, performing more heavy-metal-based material. This band also recorded one demo.
In Spring of 2012, Brendog and Andre led separate Mephiskapheles reunion shows. Andre's lineup resurrected the "8 Iron Men"-era band of 2000-01, and consisted of Andre, Wayne, Dave, Bill, Dan, and Greg, plus saxophonists Neil Johnson and Bourbon Zeigler Jr. Brendog's group, Doomsday: The Ultimate Mephiskapheles Tribute, boasted a lineup of Brendan, Mikal, Dan, Osho, Greg, and saxophonist Alexander McCabe, plus keyboardist Jerica Rosenblum, and performed one night in April 2012, thrilling the small crowd in an Upper West Side bar with a recital of Mephiskapheles classics. Subsequent "Doomsday" shows have included Brendan, Mikal, and Jerica with new members, and have featured other music besides Mephiskapheles songs.
Since regrouping, Mephiskapheles has continued to perform on tour and work on new music in the studio. Notable appearances in 2013 included featured sets at the Apple Stomp ska festival in New York and at Riot Fest in Chicago, where the band preceded TSOL, Rancid, and Blink-182 on the Riot Stage. The band also played gigs in support of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Bouncing Souls in 2013, in addition to being the headliner for several shows. A number of tour dates for 2014 have been announced on the band's official website.