Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Head cheese

Posted By on Wed, Sep 7, 2005 at 12:00 AM

From within a New York comic book shop, British expat Rob “Bucket” Hingley forged an American revolution. Recruiting several of the retail drones he managed, Hingley formed the first incarnation of the Toasters in 1982, introducing America to ska music. They’ve persisted ever since, riding the wave of at least two ska revivals, while staying true both to the joyous spirit in which the group was conceived and the high quality of musicianship they’re known for.

Like their inspiration, the Specials, the Toasters merge reggae rhythms, jazzy swing and punk energy into sweaty rambunctious fare. They’ve retained consistent quality despite frequent membership turnover; their last two studio releases, 1997’s Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down and 2002’s Enemy of The State, are probably their best.

Still logging more than 200 dates a year and putting on a show every time, the Toasters are an American classic. Hingley offers his monomanias by phone from Spain, where he’s in the midst of recording:

5. batter up: Viagra’s sponsoring baseball’s ‘Comeback Player of the Year.’ Life is too funny after all.

4. Summer vacation: All the Spanish leave because it’s too hot in August, so the beaches here are full of irritated Brits and Germans.

3. Global warming (and cooling): Just wait until the Chinese all get air conditioners.

2. Give my regards to Exxon: The price of gas is absurd. I hope we can afford to go on this next tour.

1. So long, and thanks for all the fish: Best wishes to everyone down in New Orleans. How is it we can go to outer space and clone human beings, but we can’t control the weather, let alone forecast it correctly?


The Toasters play “Ska is Dead 3” on Tuesday, Sept. 13, at St. Andrew’s Hall (431 E. Congress, Detroit; 313-961-6358). Mustard Plug and Planet Smashers to open.

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