Happy Mondays Interview Series: Random Test

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When you think of the Jersey Shore “scene” images of a sweat-laden Bruce Springsteen or a sunglasses wearing Southside Johnny might dance about your funnel cake and pork roll filled mind.

If those are the only images in your brain, then you’re missing a massive part of what the music scene at the Jersey Shore is all about. Reggae music is as big a piece of the musical DNA of this region as the blue collar danceable rock of The Boss and Southside. One of the flag bearers and forefathers of the rich and fertile reggae culture of the area is Random Test. The outfit is currently holding down one of the longest running reggae nights in the area and when you utter the name “Random Test” at any venue you know that you’re in for a night of TIGHT riddims and vibes.

Pop-Break recently caught up with the band to talk about the scene and the band’s long run in it as they prepare to take the stage of Happy Mondays at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, tonight.

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Random Test is: Danny Love – Lead Vocals, Alan McIntyre – Bass, Keith K. Banger – Drums, Gil Cruz – Lead Guitar, Felix Gulfin – Lead Guitar, Devon Atherley – Keyboard, Chris Kenny – Keyboard, Bill Halik – Keyboard, Rock Steady Levi – Percussion

We Formed in: 2000

Based out of: Red Bank, NJ

Any New Music Coming Soon? Second album being recorded now.

Sound linked to: ROOTS REGGAE – Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Culture.

Famous/Awesome Band performed with before: Culture, Mighty Diamonds, Wailing Souls, Third World, Kymani Marley, Matisyahu

Pop-Break: According to your bio, all of your band members hail from the Caribbean, but here you are in New Jersey, where you’ve performed for years. Can you talk about how you guys came together?

Random Test: Alan was playing with another band and when Danny came to the U.S. from Jamaica. When that band disbanded he, Alan and Devon formed Random Test Reggae Band. They still are the original core members. Felix was the original Lead guitar and still fills in on occasion. Gil came aboard to fill in for Felix when he left for a full time career and has been with us ever since. Chris Kenny and Bill Halik share the duties on Keyboards. Keith has been our drummer for the past five years.

Pop-Break: Your Wednesday night at Jamian’s in Red Bank, NJ is one of the longest running reggae nights at the Jersey Shore. What is it about that venue and your sound that has made this night such a favorite amongst Shore goers?

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Random Test: What makes this Wednesday Reggae Jam at Jamian’s such a favorite is consistency – a big up to the owner Jamian LaViola for sticking with it. When we first started there were nights when only 5-6 people would be there but he never gave up on the concept or us. He believed in it. Every week people would come by and see that we were still there. They’d go off to school or move away – when they came back – there was still the Reggae Jam to come to. It became the place to meet up. Week after week the word got out. It doesn’t hurt that we keep them dancing all night as well. We are a Roots Reggae Band which is unique to this area. We are also mostly from the Caribbean – we attract a crowd from the Caribbean population to our events. For that reason we also cover a few Soca Classics. You can skip the gym on Thursdays! Everyone covers Bob Marley – it’s a must – but we also cover all the Roots Greats – Dennis Brown, Jacob Miller, Steel Pulse, Beres Hammond, Gregory Isaacs, Culture, etc. People enjoy the roots but also like to dance. We bring a full sound that the people go crazy for!

Pop-Break: Random Test has performed with some great artists throughout the years — who was the band that you were most in awe of when you met them?

Random Test: Joseph Hill and Culture.

Pop-Break: If someone is reading this and discovering you for the first time and wants to listen to a song of yours to truly get the essence of Random Test, which song would it be and why?

Random Test: “Ghetto Livin'” – it captures the message and vibes of the band – and it’s fun to dance to.

Pop-Break: What can the people coming out to Happy Monday expect to see from you guys in terms of a live experience?

Random Test: [You can expect] hard-hitting Roots Reggae, that will make you dance.

Pop-Break: The Jersey Shore scene has so many reggae bands performing in it right now, so what makes Random Test stand out — from a musical standpoint?

Random Test: The authenticity of the culture and tightness of the band…and a top front man.

Pop-Break: What do you have planned for the rest of 2014?

Random Test: We’re busy most of the summer. When the schedule slows down we’ll be back in the studio to finish recording.

Random Test will be performing tonight at The Wonder Bar for the free Happy Mondays music series. Also on the show will be The Underwater Sounds, Morning Fatty and The Shipwrecks.

all photos courtesy of the band

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites