Interview with Robert “Bucket” Hingley

Robert “Bucket” Hingley is guitarist/vocalist for the popular ska band The Toasters. The band recently celebrated its 30th year anniversary and our out on the road bringing their brand of NYC ska to the masses. Media Mikes caught up with Bucket to discuss the bands history and their future plans.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the band’s current tour?
Robert Hingley: We are currently making our way out to California where we have shows booked in both San Diego and Los Angeles. The tour is about 45 dates which have all been rolled into what is the second part of our 30th anniversary tour.

AL: What is the bands line up for this tour?
RH: The band is Thad Merritt on Bass, Nate Sabnayagan on Drums, Jonny D on Sax and Chap Sowash on Trombone and I play guitar and sing. This is a smaller line up as we have tooled it down from touring with 7 or 8 guys. We have gone for more of a lean mean ska machine sound. These days it’s very hard monetarily to tour with a large band unfortunately.

AL: When you started the band in 1981 did you foresee a career which is now into its 30th year?
RH: If that idea would have been proposed to me back then I probably would have told you that you were mad! As it turns out though you would have been the one that was right and I would have been the mad one. Here I am still doing this some 5,000 shows later. I never thought the band would have the legs that it has.

AL: What do you think has been the biggest factor in keeping the band going for so long?
RH: We really play a lot of bizarre places all over the world. In that sense everything hasbeen kept pretty fresh. We are constantly trying to find new places to go rather than running over the same tracks time and time again. We also have a large pool of members to play with. There are a couple of members out with us now that are new to the mix but, that keeps everything fresh. We play the tunes a little bit different and you have to just find what’s good to help change it up. I also think playing in a niche market for a group of very hardcore fans has also helped us survive.

AL: How did the band become involved with doing the theme song for Nickelodeons’ “KaBlam!”?
RH: That was back during our Moon Ska Record days. We had a lot of stuff working with MTV then and Nickelodeon at that time was pretty similar to MTV. The cartoonist for that show was a big Bad Manners fan and he wanted to have some tracking similar to their sound. He couldn’t get them to help out so they contacted our label and we got hired to do the show. It was really just being in the right place at the right time which seems to be the secret of the universe. We have lots of people come up to us and tell us that the first exposure they ever had to the band was watching that show. It’s really shows you the power of television on people’s minds.

AL: Was there a reason the band called themselves The Moon Ska Stompers on that track?
RH: We had a lot of irons in the fire at the time as we were recording a record and touring. Some of the guys just weren’t available so I had a combination of Toaster’s members and some guys I worked with on other projects to be part of that studio session band.

AL: Are there any plans to put out a new album with the bands current lineup?
RH: Not so much and album but we have a couple songs that are ready to go. The next thing we plan to put out is going to be a 7” vinyl called “House of Soul”.  It’s ironic that the music model for 2012 has reverted to what it was in 1962. I think now the concept of an album is something kids fail to grasp. I have 14 year old daughters and I was telling them about the concept of an album and they just couldn’t wrap their heads around the thought of it. They download singles directly to their phone so the idea of going to a record store and buying an album is kind of beyond them. Things have very much reverted back to the 60’s single driven model. In a way that’s not so bad because it forces people to write good tunes.

AL: Does the band have any other plans for 2012?
RH: We have some more touring lined up as we just finished booking a European tour that kicks off in April. That will be about a six week tour. We also have some summer festivals lined up and possibly some dates on this summer’s Warped Tour. From there we will be going to Australia and Japan in the fall and then back to the states for a few more dates. I also have some music festival projects outside of the band in the works but I can’t really say too much about those at this time. I can tell you that it will involve summertime, music and beer. I think people like that stuff.


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