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Skarface is a self-produced French ska band whose formation in 1991 was the result of a raging desire to play ska day and night, in defiance of the burgeoning alternative music culture. The band's name was inspired by 1930s film noir, with particular reference to the film Scarface, giving the band a gangster spin on the 2-Tone ethic; in the beginning, the band's look was as important as the music. The group members profess to espouse the SHARP philosophy (SkinHeads Against Racial Prejudice), as several members of the 1998 are skinheads. After three weeks of rehearsals, Skarface played their first gig; three months later, their first self-produced EP was released, with two additional cuts being released on an Oi!/ska combined sampler. Record companies displayed a resounding lack of interest in the band despite this showing, ignoring Skarface's growing appeal to both French and English audiences. In the finish, the band decided to abandon all hope as far as record companies went, settling instead for using their own money to record and release a full-length CD. September of 1992 saw the release of Cheap Pounk Skaaaaaa!, which went on to sell several thousand copies in France. This led to the decision to quit looking for a major record company in favor of continued self-production and self-releasing, culminating in the 1997 decision to go ahead and begin producing other bands for release on their own label. What makes this effort particularly remarkable is that Skarface is resolutely non-professional, with band members holding down day jobs along with their music careers -- a factor that has led five of the nine founding members to move on over time, followed by a good number of replacements (a total of five lead guitarists, as an example). Despite the hassle of the daily breadwinning, the band has managed to play gigs and festivals across Europe to great acclaim. ~ Steven McDonald

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