A&E » Arts

Still Toasting

World’s greatest ska band heading to Whistler



Who: The Toasters

Where: Garfinkel’s

When: Sunday, Sept. 26

With 24 years, 12 albums, and over 4,000 live concerts under their belt it’s safe to say you’ve heard The Toasters’ own brand of ska music by now, whether you know it or not.

Over the decades this New York-based band has gotten their share of radio play, both alternative and mainstream, and have had their music featured in television shows, motion picture soundtracks, and commercials – beer companies especially seem to love The Toasters.

And if you’re already into ska music, the dapper cousin of reggae and punk, then you probably already have a few albums at home and plan to be front and centre when The Toasters skank out at Garfinkel’s this Sunday night.

Since 1981 The Toasters have ridden the wave, watching their fortunes go up and down – along with the whole ska genre – at the whim of music critics and record labels. Popular one day and passe the next, at least when it comes to mainstream appreciation, ska has at last stopped trying to please the people upstairs and has focused its energy back on the fans.

The Toasters frontman, Robert "Bucket" Hingley says this approach is working and that a lot of new energy is building around ska music. As one of the founding fathers of the American ska movement, with 24 years on the road and no plans to stop playing anytime soon, "Buck" is living proof that there will always be a market for good music.

"It’s difficult to even conceive of giving it up right now, because we’re already booking tours through the fall of next year. We’re getting so much work at the moment," said Buck.

"I think that things are on their way back up (for ska). We took a big hit in the late ’90s when (ska) was exploited maybe a little too much, and in the wrong way. I think ska got associated with some bad bands and that hurt us.

"But what’s happened is that ska has really gone back to the underground, where in my mind it’s a lot better off. And it’s really coming back up through the efforts of the bands that are out there playing it, not through the record labels or the media. That’s what we, as musicians, should be most proud of."

The Toasters launched their latest North American tour three weeks ago in support of their first ever best-of album, In Retrospect . With 68 shows booked between their first appearance in Covington, Kentucky and their wrap-up in Strasbourg, France in December, it’s safe to say that there’s still a huge demand out there for The Toasters’ live performances. In fact, Buck says the band generally tours for about six months out of every year.