Sláinte - A 20th Anniversary Toast to The Tossers (An Interview With Tony Duggins)

Sláinte - A 20th Anniversary Toast to The Tossers (An Interview With Tony Duggins)

The Tossers have a lot to celebrate this St. Patrick's Day.  I spoke over the phone earlier this week with frontman Tony Duggins about the band's twentieth anniversary, the recent release of their new album The Emerald City and their annual St. Patrick's Day show Saturday at Metro... 

Following a nearly five year break between albums, Chicago's own Tossers returned last week with the The Emerald City.  The new album features fourteen songs about drinking, life on the south side of Chicago... and more drinking with these past five years marking the longest break between Tossers projects.  "It was a concerted effort to take our time... We’re at a point in our career where we can take time and get it right and put out the music that we want." explained songwriter, vocalist and mandolin player Tony Duggins.

The fact that the band took its time is reflected in the new album, one of the more focused and cohesive of their career, something Duggins relates to his growth as a songwriter.  "When I was younger, when we were starting, I wasn’t as sure-footed as I am now going into writing a song.  And what it’s really all about now is friends and family and celebration and tradition.  That’s how I feel.  That’s what I want to put across... And that’s the way that we all feel about this record too.  It’s the best one that we’ve ever done."

Born and raised on the south side, The Tossers formed in Chicago in 1993 and the city has frequently been the subject of some of their best work, a trend that continues on the new album with a gorgeous ballad like "The South Side of Town."  "That’s where we grew up and that town is part of our lives."  says Duggins.

The album's first single "Emerald City" goes further, doing its best to relate the city to the Emerald Isle itself.  "Chicago is always gonna be a part of what we do.  It always has been, ya know?" he continues.

2013 also marks the once unthinkable 20th anniversary of The Tossers.  Some artists aren't concerned about a number like that but during our chat, Duggins took a moment to reflect on it from somewhere in the middle of Pennsylvania as the band tours in support of their seventh studio album, certainly aware that it's a career point most bands never make.  "Every day means something to me!  I’m lucky to be here. But yeah, twenty years is a benchmark.  It’s been one hell of a ride and [it's] something to celebrate, ya know?"

The Tossers - 2013 - 20th Anniversary

And this Saturday at Metro, as the band returns home for their annual St. Patrick's Day show, celebrate they will.  While The Tossers still perform in Chicago on a fairly regular basis, the March shows are typically a highlight with a venue like Metro clearly very important to the band on a day of great significance for many Chicago revellers.

Duggins recalls checking out Metro shows by artists like Dead Milkmen and Subhumans, demonstrating in the process a familiarity with the city and an ability to relate to The Tossers fanbase that has always set his band apart from some of its Chicago peers.  It's a bond that's on full display every time The Tossers take the stage.

"You never forget the first time you play the Metro.  It’s mind boggling.  And we just have built a relationship over the years with the people there and it’s always our big show when we can get everybody together." says Duggins.  "The Metro is historical.  It’s a part of the city.  It’s always been a part of our lives.  Because I was going to see shows there when I was a kid.  So I love it."

But despite the anniversary as an excuse to look back, The Tossers remain very much focused, not just on the new album but on continuing to move forward as well.  "I wrote a new song called 'Whiskey!'  I’ll always be writin' 'em.  Until I can’t pick up a pen anymore.  We’re just still going... We’re just… we’re rollin'!"

Sláinte indeed.

-Jim Ryan

(Details on Saturday's show at Metro after the jump)

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The Tossers


Saturday, March 16, 2013



3730 N. Clark St.

Chicago, IL 60613


Doors open at 8PM

Show starts at 9PM

Also Performing:  Kevin Flynn & The Avondale Ramblers, The Blind Staggers and Continental



Click HERE to purchase tickets


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