One of the most influential American ska bands, the Toasters were instrumental in bringing the 2 Tone sound that was all over England to the States. Founded in New York City in 1981 by Robert “Bucket” Hingley, the Toasters helped to kick off and shape ska’s third wave; a wave that the Toasters are riding still.
The first wave broke in the late 1950s as a new style of music called ska was taking root in Jamaica. A combination of traditional Caribbean rhythms and American R&B, ska was the precursor to rocksteady and reggae and was popularized by such bands as the Skatalites, the Melodians, Toots and the Maytals and a young band called the Wailers. These pioneering musicians played familiar radio tunes, but they added horns, placed the emphasis on the upbeat and opened the door to a new sound that quickly became all the rage.
The second wave of ska, known as 2 Tone, rolled through the UK in the 1970s and produced such legendary bands as the Specials, Madness and the English Beat. These bands kicked up the tempo, added more instrumentation and brought a high-energy message of friendship and racial unity into a heated political and racial climate.
It was in the early ‘80s that British expatriate Hingley, missing the vibrant ska scene of his home country, put together a ska band called the Toasters that would eventually become the epicenter of East Coast third-wave ska. The Toasters were one of the first bands to introduce ska to America and they cleared the way for countless ska, pop and punk bands, including the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Reel Big Fish and Operation Ivy.
With a lineup that continually changes shape—there have been nearly 50 members over the years—Hingley and the totally skankable sound of the Toasters have remained, bringing their irresistibly danceable, energetic and horn-driven sound to the masses.