Since 1993, Chicago band The Tossers has been entertaining crowds with its energetic blend of Irish folk and punk rock.
The Tossers will perform Saturday, Aug. 2, at the all-day Fox Valley Irish Festival at RiverEdge Park, 360 N. Broadway, Aurora. More information is available by going to RiverEdge’s website, www.riveredgeaurora.com.
Kane County Chronicle reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to The Tossers lead singer Tony Duggins about the upcoming show.
Eric Schelkopf: Of course, you guys are going to be at the Fox Valley Irish Festival with two other Irish bands from Illinois. Does that make it even more of a special occasion?
Tony Duggins: I’m sure it will. We’ll play with anybody.
Schelkopf: Of course, The Tossers celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. What should people expect when they come out this weekend? Are you going to play songs from your entire career?
Duggins: We’re going to do a song off every record at least, as well as hopefully some new songs and some old traditional stuff, too.
Schelkopf: What were your goals in starting the band in the first place?
Duggins: We were 18 years old. We were just trying to get into bars and play music and have a good time.
That was it. That was really it. And then people started coming to the shows and we started getting shows at bigger clubs, and it went on from there.
It was the people’s response to it, really. We were just having a good time.
Schelkopf: Are you surprised that people connected so well to your music and that here you are 20 years later?
Duggins: I always knew that I was going to try to make a career out of music. I didn’t necessarily know it would be with this group.
I assumed back then we would be just playing in bars and at festivals and stuff. It is a pleasant surprise that we’re still doing it after all this time.
Schelkopf: Being that you are from the South Side of Chicago, was it a given that you guys would be in an Irish band?
Duggins: Maybe, the way that fate turns out. You are surrounded by that [culture] in Chicago. We were.
I was never into Irish music as a kid because I didn’t think it was cool. As I got older, I started getting into more music than just punk rock and heavy metal.
Schelkopf: Were there any bands that led you to the fact that Irish music could be cool?
Duggins: Yeah, The Pogues, hands down. They are the best.
Schelkopf: What do you think your band has brought to Irish music?
Duggins: What we did bring was a contemporary turn to it, like The Pogues did. All the bands that kind of do what we do all have a slightly different bent on how they approach it.
The real thing that we’ve added to it is a place, in Chicago especially, where people can come together and celebrate their heritage.
Schelkopf: Of course, your brother, Aaron, is in the band, too. I imagine there are pros and cons about having a sibling in the same band. Are there more pros than cons?
Duggins: We may argue over stuff from time to time, but believe me, that’s very rare. We’re pretty much all on the same page as far as the music goes.
My brother is probably is one of the greatest assets we have in this band. Every one of us performs as best as we can.
Schelkopf: There are a lot of references to Chicago on your last album, “The Emerald City.” Would you say that it is your most personal album to date?
Duggins: It is. I felt like I really needed to represent myself a lot more on the album and where I come from.
It was time to make a homage to Chicago and my family and my friends.
At the end of the day, this is the reason why we are doing it. It is a celebration of culture and family and friends.
And really, it is a celebration of our lives in this city.