The Toasters. Photo by Judd Irish Bradley

A Two-Tone Army of One

Second wave ska legends return to Eugene

Second wave ska bands in both the U.K. and the U.S. arose during the economic recession of the 1970s, only to find themselves responding in the next decade to the right-wing rise of conservatives Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

The Toasters came up in this era. While never explicitly political, the band embodied the populist ideal with songs like “Brixton Beat,” an example of second wave’s interest in Caribbean styles outside ska, such as Calypso, but also the style’s willingness to foray into punk and new wave. 

While The Toasters were well known in the ska scene, they received some degree of mainstream success in the ’90s when their song “Two-Tone Army” showed up as the theme song to the Nickelodeon show KaBlam! 

The band’s last studio album, One More Bullet, came out in 2007, but Toasters bandleader Robert “Bucket” Hingley is in no hurry to get back to the studio. 

“I have a bunch of half-finished tracks that I will get to when I have a minute,” he emails, adding that, for now, touring is all-consuming.

Politics being what it is in both the U.K. and stateside, the timing couldn’t be better for a ska revival. Hingley was born in England but relocated to New York in 1981.  

“Ska music seems to be picking up again in the U.K., which is a great thing. They are going to need it,” Hingley says.

“Music and culture are always a reflection of society,” he says. “Ours is headed in totally the wrong direction at the moment, both in the U.S. and U.K. There are some very dangerous dunderheads and fools at the helm right now.”

The Toasters return to Eugene along with Eugene’s Pirate Radio and ’90s-vintage Michigan ska band Mustard Plug 9 pm Thursday, Feb. 6, at Old Nick’s, 211 Washington St.; $16, 21-plus.