Before the Bosstones were Mighty Mighty, before Mephiskapheles signed a pact with Satan, and back when Skankin' Pickle was just a cucumber and the Skalars were undergrads at Two-Tone University, the Toasters were laying the foundation for a new wave of ska music in America. Formed in 1982, after English-born vocalist Rob "Bucket" Hingley relocated to New York, the Toasters fought the conventional "wisdom" of a record industry that said ska music just wouldn't fly in the States. So Hingley took matters into his own hands, forming his own label, Moon Ska Records, which eventually paved the way for the huge ska revival boom of the late '90s. But ska's newfound popularity in the U.S. attracted many who weren't in it for the long haul, just the quick cash.
"What happened in the '90s was too much interest was paid to it by the wrong people," Hingley notes, referring to the short-lived opportunism of the major labels and the hordes of ska-punk bands that disappeared as quickly as they emerged. "Now what's happening is there is still a solid core of veteran bands but also some newer, younger bands. And there's less of the ska-punk genre."
Amen to that. While there's No Doubt (pun intended) mainstream ska-punk introduced the word ska to a new generation, the weeding-out process that ensued once the opportunists faded left the Toasters -- and Moon Ska Records -- feeling cheated. And when the '90s came to an end, so did the label.
For Hingley, it was time for a fresh start. So Hingley formed Megalith Records from the ashes of Moon Ska, returning to the grassroots approach that Moon Ska employed in its early years. "We want to get kids excited on the street level," Hingley says. There's plenty to be excited about too, as the Toasters plan to release a new album later this year, proving that, like its 1996 album suggests, the Toasters are a Hard Band for Dead.