Oscar Isaac is one talented guy. He’s known for his roles as Poe Dameron in the Star Wars franchise, Jonathan Levy in Scenes from a Marriage Story, and, on Friday, as Duke Leto Atreids in Dune. And even his musical talents have been recognized in movies like Inside Llewyn Davis. But back in the late 90s and early 2000s, Isaac was known as the lead singer/guitarist for Christian ska bank, the Blinking Underdogs.
Isaac and four of his college buddies formed the band while they were attending the University of Florida at Miami together. They never grew to huge popularity, even though they did make arguably good music. although most video evidence has been mysteriously wiped from the Internet, the Blinking Underdogs opened for bands like Green Day and playing at festivals in Florida, including Warped Tour.
In an interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Isaac revealed he was actually in a few different bands, including Petrified Frogs, Closeted Heterosexuals and the Worms, but the Blinking Underdogs were his final and most successful project.
Before we continue this deep dive any further, let’s take a moment to witness The Blinking Underdogs in action.
Oscar Isaac singing “I give it all to you” in light-wash flare jeans while teens five teens mosh in the pit is something I can only describing as life-changing.
Whether or not ska bands are your thing, you can’t deny that Isaac’s presence and voice draw you in to the music. Isaac has said that his time with the Blinking Underdogs opened him up to different music styles:
“We started off as basically a punk band. As we kept going, we’ve tried to experiment with different types and styles. Right now it’s in a transitional phase because the guys live in different states, so we haven’t been able to play as much. The stuff I’ve been writing has been different—a little more folkie. Stylistically it’s going all over the place. In high school I had a couple of different bands, but this particular one started in Miami after I graduated. We toured the East Coast, and in May we played at the Viper Room in L.A. That was the last time we played. We have a six-song EP and a full-length album. We’ve opened for a lot of big bands, like Green Day.”
Isaac was plugged into the Christian rock subculture in these days, reminiscing about hitting up the Christian music festival Cornerstone in an interview with GQ. “I went to this thing called Cornerstone when I was in high school, which is like a Christian Woodstock,” he said. “It was like a Christian Coachella kind of thing. They had, like, Christian metal bands and Christian hardcore bands and all sorts of different tents and all that. That was pretty wild.”
In an interview with The Sun, Isaac’s childhood friend Floyd Kelley said, “He could have been a punk icon absolutely, not a John Lydon, because he’s a bit too much in your face, more of a Joe Strummer type or somebody like a Bob Dylan.
“It sounds cheesy, but Oscar was kind of a poet. He was definitely someone from another time. I don’t think he had the ego for the music industry today, just the talent.”
Despite their minor success, Isaac left the band to attend Juilliard. Thankfully he still seems to think fondly of his ska days, so here’s hoping we get the Blinking Underdogs to have a reunion soon. In the meantime, if you want to hear more of Isaac’s punk vocals, you can listen to The Blinking Underdog’s only album, Last Words, right here.