One of the first and most enduring bands on the Celtic punk underground, Chicago's the Tossers mix the attitude and swagger of punk rock with a muscular but respectful approximation of Irish traditional folk music. The Tossers were formed in Chicago, Illinois in 1993 by Anthony "T." Duggins, the group's lead singer and mandolin player. Duggins had been playing Irish folk tunes in Windy City pubs since he was 18 and, eager to play something with more punch (much like Duggins' heroes the Pogues), he founded the band with his brother Aaron Duggins (who plays tin whistle and accordion) and guitarist Brian Dwyer, who suggested the name. ("Tosser" was originally Irish slang for British coins that became worthless after the rise of the Irish Free State, but later came to describe a worthless and unprincipled individual.) In 1994, the Tossers made their recorded debut with a demo titled The Pint of No Return, and their first full-length album, We'll Never Be Sober Again, appeared on the independent Folk You label in 1996. The group next teamed with the local indie imprint Thick Records, which released a pair of studio albums -- Long Dim Road (2000) and Purgatory (2003) -- as well as the 2001 compilation Communication & Conviction, which repackaged The Pint of No Return and We'll Never Be Sober Again on one disc.
The Tossers developed a reputation for their storming live show and busy touring schedule, and they influenced similarly minded bands such as the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly. In 2005, the Tossers began a long and fruitful relationship with Victory Records, which released their album The Valley of the Shadow of Death that year. While the band's lineup often tended to be fluid, the core of the Duggins brothers, guitarist Mike Pawula, and drummer Bones remained consistent from this point onward, and the Tossers were sharing stages with the likes of Shane MacGowan, Spider Stacy, Stiff Little Fingers, the Reverend Horton Heat, and Murphy's Law. Between 2007 and 2013, the Tossers balanced their busy performing schedule with the recording of three studio albums (2007's Agony, 2008's On a Fine Spring Evening, and 2013's The Emerald City), and documented their powerful live show on 2008's Gloatin' and Showboatin': Live on St. Patrick's Day. In 2017, the latest lineup of the Tossers -- the Duggins brothers, Pawula, Bones, fiddler Emily Ruth Constantinou, and bassist Peter Muschong -- emerged with a new album for Victory, Smash the Windows. ~ Mark Deming