Illinois Entertainer: The Tossers are celebrating 20 years. Congrats!
Tony Duggins: Yeah, it sure is. We’ve been at it a long time. I’m still feeling pretty healthy. I’m still feeling pretty good, so it’s going all right with me.
IE: Did you think you’d still be here? Meaning the band, not life?
TD: I kinda did ’cause the kind of music that we do. We can just be doing it forever – even if it’s just playing in a little pub somewhere or something. I thought we’d be here and we’re all friends anyway too.
Appearing: 3/16 at Metro (3730 N. Clark) Chicago with Kevin Flynn And The Avondale Ramblers.
IE: If you could go back 20 years, what advice would you give your younger self?
TD: I would tell myself a lot of things at 18 years old that I know now at 38. First thing I would say is don’t buy a tour bus. Rent vans and get hotel rooms each night. It’s way more economical and easier. We were just talking about this yesterday. Oh, the other thing I would say to myself at 18 would be don’t sign away your publishing rights. But it’s kind of a standard industry deal. That’s what they do to bands when you first sign on to your first label, but if there’s any way around it, try not to do that. Get yourself a lawyer for that. Other than that, take a good book and a toothbrush and enjoy the ride.
IE: Now that The Tossers’ seventh album, The Emerald City (Victory), is out, how are you feeling?
TD: I’m feeling pretty good. The response we’ve been getting to the songs are really good when we play them live. Some of them surprisingly good. A couple of them are going over real well. For an example, “The Break Of Dawn” has this chorus that goes, “Whiskey, whiskey all night long/Till the break of dawn.” People are going wild when we do that one. It’s fun. It’s turning out real good.
IE: Speaking of that song, The Tossers know how to drive home a rousing drinking song. What are the ingredients to writing a good drinking song?
TD: Well, the best drinking song I’ve ever heard is “Streams Of Whiskey” by The Pogues and I don’t know . . .
IE: You write them!
TD: I write about myself. When I write a song I think about what’s the weather like outside. Is it a nice day? I’ll throw that in. Like it’s got to be a little personal. That’s pretty much the key to it.
IE: The press release has you describing The Emerald City as your most personal album.
TD: I think somebody called it that. It kinda is. Like I said, we took it each song by each song and tried to make each one the best we could. When you get the record back and you look at the whole record, you can see. ‘Cause a lot more of it is about Chicago and us growing up and stuff. Yeah, it’s personal, I guess.
IE: The title track seems to hit especially close to home.
TD: Well, Chicago. That song is absolutely about Chicago, where we grew up. That song kinda deals with Chicago historically at first, about how the Irish came here and helped to build the city. Then the middle section of the song, I go into my life and what is was like for me growing up there, going down to the parades on Western Avenue, and then at the end it’s about me and my wife and my kids. Kind of like a continuing cycle about how all these lives are affected by the city of Chicago.
IE: The video for “The Emerald City” is a treasure trove of historical footage. You’ve even got the South Side parade in there.
TD: They used a clip of the North Side parade, but you know, fuck it. Who cares? I noticed they also threw a shot of Wrigley Field in there too, which I was none too pleased about. But, oh well. It’s part of Chicago too. I’m not one of those guys that would like never ever go to fucking Wrigley Field. I know a lot of people like that. I mean, even when they do the Crosstown Classic at Wrigley, I know people that won’t even set foot in fucking Wrigley Field. I’m not like that. I don’t really give a hoot. I’ve been there a bunch of times.
IE: You once again recorded at Million Yen Studios with Andy Gerber. Why do you think that partnership is so successful?
TD: Because from the moment we met that guy, he really took a great interest in us. And he has always tried to make our albums great. Every time we work with him it gets better and better. Every one of these projects, he’s been just as much a part of it as we have. He’s practically a part of the band. It’s just as much his project as it is ours. He’s a great dude and we’re lucky to have met him.
IE: The Tossers play a homecoming show at Metro on March 16. What are you most looking forward to about that?
TD: Having our friends there and family. My wife will get to come to that show. We have a babysitter. That’s it. Playing in Chicago with your friends. That’s the best night of the tour.
– Janine Schaults
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