Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Skankin' In The Tri State Part 3 - Bucket from The Toasters

The Toasters have a special place in my heart. Many nights in the summer days of my late teens were spent flying around with the windows down and Dub 56 blaring from the speakers (...before you ask, purists...BOTH versions). They were partially responsible for pulling me into the wonderful world of third-wave ska  in the NY scene in the first place. Don't Let The Bastards Grind You Down has been one of my unofficial theme songs on an average weekday at work for many years. It's also played quite often in my house, and is one of the most dancable songs I know with it's infectious beat. They are East Coast ska scene pioneers and have influenced and help launch a mastery of other bands in their wake. 


Robert Hingley, better and most affectionately known as Bucket to most of us, started the band in New York in 1981 while working at a comic book store. That was long before the ska sound had caught on here in the states the way it has today. The band released albums through the end of the nineties, into the new millennium and continues to tour and play shows to this day, though Bucket remains the only original member. Still, that is a 30 year ska career. Pretty freaking incredible for any musician...let alone a genre of music that is not exactly acknowledged by the mainstream.


He was also the mastermind behind the legendary Moon Ska Records up to 2000 when it disbanded after well over a million and a half copies from The Toasters and other amazing artists in the scene. In 2002, he launched Megalith Records which continues to put out recordings from bands such as the Hub City Stompers, Rudie Crew, Los Skarnales, Victor Rice, and Deals Gone Bad...just to name a few. There are a LOT. It's one thing to be a musician. It's something else entirely to help launch other bands who aspire to walk the roads you have. To call Bucket a legend in the scene is not credit enough for what he has done and what his music has meant to so many people who call the weird and wonderful world of ska music "home".






Bucket was nice enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions for the series:




1) What attracted you to this music and this scene in the first place?

I bought my first Ska record in 1964 when I returned to the UK from Africa. That was My Boy Lollipop by Millie Small. I still have that 7". It's as thick as a dinner plate. In England in the late sixties there was a ton of Ska music on the charts and in the discos. From there it was an easy progression through the trojan Explosion to 2-tone. That's what really got me hooked.

2) Who have been your most prominent influences?

Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly------

3) What is your best memory from being a part of the NYC Ska Scene?

Probably putting out the NY Beat compilation in 1986. That was a time when all the bands worked together towards a common goal. We could use some more of that now...

4) What are you working on now? Shows in the works? Music coming out?

Touring in Europe, Australia, China, Japan. Fall and winter tours in the USA. Next year Mexico, Brazil, Russia/Siberia, lots of gigs. As far as music is concerned we are tracking a new 7 inch in Boston next week. 

5) Where do you see the ska scene in NY headed as we move on from 2012? 

Not in a very good direction. There isn't a regular gig since the Knitting Factory closed. The bands need to get together and make something happen in Manhattan as the Brooklyn-centric scene just isn't cutting it.

6) What are you most looking forward to in the coming months?

Going to Australia. It's the only continent that I haven't been to. I probably won't want to come back. I am also working on a beer festival BREWDOWN with Kevin Lyman. That is going to be a lot of fun.




It;s always fascinating to me to hear from an artist what they think about the scene that they helped to create and define as to where it is headed. It's why it remains a consistent question as I request (pester) folks for interviews and write these pieces on this scene. Ska music has grown and evolved quite a bit in the last 50 years, and each location within the music itself has created it's own sound...it's own vibe...it's own separate definition of ska music. Be it fused with other genres...a punk rock sound, a dancehall sound, rocksteady, straight reggae. It is all like a wonderful recipe that brings us to the clubs, to the dance floors. You can hear NY Ska in the Toasters. Buckets voice is a beacon to the scene. To hear Bucket himself say that the scene needs to come together, dammit...we NEED to come together!


If the younger bands in the tri-state area have anything to do with it, I think Bucket will be damn proud. 


I would be happy for another 30 years of Toasters shows. I will still be dragging my tush to the floor. I will still be singing along with I Wasn't Going To Call You Anyway in my car as I sit in North Jersey traffic, dreaming of better times had at a ska show. The scene needs more like the Toasters. The industry needs more like Bucket.



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