NYC ska mainstays, The Toasters, dance into Wilkes-Barre’s F.M. Kirby Center
WILKES-BARRE — Long-running ska act The Toasters may be in its mid-30s, but the band refuses to settle down.
From mainstream genre success for ska fueled by bands like No Doubt in the ’90s, to the digital revolution and the new music business model, band leader Robert “Bucket” Hingley has gone through the gamut when it comes to commercial success in music. These days, The Toasters spend most of their time on the road — they played 221 shows last year, and will add to this year’s ever-growing tally with an 8 p.m. Sept. 23 performance at Wilkes-Barre’s F.M. Kirby Center.
“As an artist, really, without being able to play live there’s very few ways you can create an income stream now, so live touring is more important than ever,” Hingley said.
When torrenting sites like Napster flipped the record industry on its head in the late ’90s and early 2000s, The Toasters lead vocalist and guitarist began focusing the band’s capital into establishing a “global touring footprint,” which he said has helped keep the band alive through an era where bands may not see a return on their studio work.
“You can go in the studio and spend 30 grand making a great record and then not be able to recoup,” Hingley said. “To me it was more worthwhile to use that money to buy air tickets to take the band to China or Australia or Brazil.”
The longtime ska musician and founder of both Moon Ska Records and Megalith Records said the ripples of the U.S. ska explosion produced vibrant ska scenes as far as Japan, Argentina and even the Balkans. Hingley said the power of any niche market is its network — something he helped grow as Moon Ska Records supported fan zines, college radio stations and fellow ska acts by releasing its material through the label. He has a similar goal with Megalith, his newest label, but it’s proving to be a “slow burner.”
“Basically nobody buys records, so what we’re doing at the moment we had a lot of records that ceased to exist and Megalith is more a reprint medium for Toasters records on vinyl at the moment,” Hingley said. “We’re going to keep that thing going and hopefully it survives the nightmare of live streaming, which is slowing asphyxiating the music business entirely.”
To see Hingley and The Toasters perform live, visit the Kirby Center Sept. 23, when the venue will double as the night’s dance floor for ska-loving rude boys and rude girls.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts
IF YOU GO
Who: New York City ska band The Toasters
When: 8 p.m. Sept. 23
Where: The F.M. Kirby Center, 42 Public Square., Wilkes-Barre
Cost: $15 in advance, $20 at the door. To purchase tickets visit KirbyCenter.org, call 570-826-1100 or visit the venue’s Public Square box office.