Supertones: The gospel-infused ska that changed my life

I’m gonna do three things:
Preach the gospel
Reach your heart
And Ska Ska Ska Ska!

Oh, let my pride fall down…I’m a little man played through my stereo when, at 8 years old, I received a copy of the WOW 1999 compilation CD. I’m not sure I ever enjoyed listening to music before hearing the O.C. Supertones sing their hit song “Little Man.” Sure, that disc also featured dc Talk, Newsboys and Jars of Clay, but the ska preaching of the Supertones enraptured my heart to their music. The following summer, I listened to the song with my dad on the way to Carowinds (at which point he informed me I didn’t know the lyrics very well). And lo and behold, the speakers at the theme park were blaring the song throughout the day leading up to a Christian music festival.

This November, the Supertones released For the Glory, the band’s first album since the members parted ways in 2005.┬áThe band’s latest work is a return to the glory days of ska music. Lead singer and songwriter Matt Morginsky is a seminary graduate and pastor now, and his lyrics maintain the commitment to preaching the gospel loud and clear. Listen to Romans 8:38-39 in “Hey Hey Hey,” the recurring motif of God’s glory (“All the Way Alive,” “For the Glory,” “In the Warmth of the Sun”) and cultural engagement in “Fight On” (the song’s Babylon theme is reminiscent of “Dream of Two Cities” on the closing track of The Revenge of the O.C. Supertones).

As I listened with utmost joy to each wonderful track, something peculiar happened — I became overwhelmed with nostalgia as I realized how much the Supertones have influenced my life and thinking.

Loud and Clear, the band’s fourth studio album, fell into my hands when I was 10, offering me more than the single track I previously owned. The 50 minutes of ska I listened to in the 5th grade changed my life forever. For the first time, I learned of the Reformation (“Return of the Revolution”), Francis Schaeffer (“Escape from Reason”) and C.S. Lewis as a theologian (“Jury Duty”). The Supertones also explored the sympathy of Christ as our Great High Priest (Heb. 4:14-16) in their song “Wilderness.”

My parents certainly endowed me with a great heritage of faith, but the Supertones sparked my interest in studying Scripture, Reformed theology, apologetics and Christian literature.

The summer before high school, The Supertones released their “final” studio album, The Revenge of the O.C. Supertones. As I began experiencing struggles with my faith and how I would interact with my new peer group, songs like “Cult of Cool” and “I Will Follow” sustained my soul in a time of need.

But the kingdom began with the advent / He is reigning through his people / The first will be nothing compared to the sequel

Lyrics like this in “The Kingdom” played a vital role in my theology, and oddly influences my view on the millennium almost as much as any commentary has since. Indeed, the album also benefited my understanding of Christ as the new Adam (“Everything’s Broken), the mystery of the Incarnation (“Shepherd is the Lamb”) and messianic peace in eschatology (“Prince of Peace”).

By no means am I trying to make the case that the Supertones are the greatest band in the history of Christian music, nor am I suggesting that the theology presented in their music is substantial on its own or even a primary influence in my thinking. But by God’s providence, the Supertones provided a doorway to greater understanding of my faith by entering my life at a formative stage, a time when no one thought I was interested in pursuing studies in theology.

I often heard Christian bands sing about being unashamed of the Gospel during my childhood, but none proclaimed the good news quite like the Supertones.