The Tosspints: An Irish Red Ruckus & The Fear Of An Empty Glass

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Local Music, Artist Feature,   From Issue 736   By: Robert 'Bo' White

17th November, 2011     0

It isn't everyday that one band emerges out of the pack to lead a cultural change that is as astonishing as it is necessary.  The Tosspints have been an integral part of the water clock,  bringing ancient sounds and stories back to the future in perfect calibration with our innate need to hear music and feel rhythm.
The Tosspints create music of beauty and discord; love and pain. It is real like a punch in the face or a deep shudder in your solar plexus after chugging a pint of Guinness. It hurts but you like it. Their current disc Cenosillicaphobia is being released on CD and vinyl! Retro is now and vinyl LPs are making a comeback. Thank god we came back to our senses and returned to the sound of music - lets face it, analog rules!  We found out that CD's don't have the rich warm sound of vinyl, nor do they hold up very well.
This time around The Tosspints do not hold back anything, The medium is the message and punk has a way of cutting to the chase, whether the topic is love and infidelity or death and despair.
The anti-war sentiments fashioned by Don Zuzula are brutally honest. Zuzula served in the military and he knows only too well the costs of conflict. He was stationed in Iraq and he saw it all. War is hell and war is horrifying and it seems that his sense of humor kept him balanced between stillness and action. It was a form of Zuzula's alternate rebellion when he painted “No Fat Girls” on his truck when the rest of the caravan painted slogans like “Death to Saddam” or “Kill Al Quaeda.” It was genius threefold. It was a way to survive, to find meaning in suffering.
The first track Drunken Ramblings of a Jealous Man grabs you right at the start with a galloping beat and a cracked whiskey voice. It's almost as if Zuzula is talking with you at the kitchen table - only the pain is too big and the words are unspoken. He sings about life on the road - drinking himself to sleep and performing to crowds that don't always get it. He gets by with “bloodstains on my fingers; teardrops from my eyes. This is a song of infidelity and an impulse to murder. The despair is indelibly stamped and there is no satisfying conclusion to the betrayal. Zuzula ends the song with a powerful accapella reading.
Whiskey Be My Savior is outrageous high energy rock that owes as much to the Sex Pistols as it does to the Dropkick Murphys. The influences converge to create a perfect storm of combustible booze-filled Punk. It is a Dionysian dream of excess and consumption. In this bleary vision Zuzula is suckling from a toxic breast. He sings, “the only time I feel death is when my bottle's empty.” It is sung as a mantra for numbness. It is a dissociative response to a life dissolved by pain and self-destruction. Many of us have been there. Zuzula is standing outside the pain and observing his own mastery over it.
The third track, Don't Cry at My Funeral, has an honest unflinching fatalism. It's an existential horror to discover that your life did not matter. This is a punked up working man's blues that evokes visions of filthy back breaking and mind numbing work for paltry wages. It can kill your soul. You work for the man and die quietly without fanfare. There is nothing to mourn. The speeded up breakneck tempo mirrors the workaday bustle that robs you of all the sparkle life can offer. The insurance man talks you into a policy and in the heaviness of an unrelenting ennui you realize your passion and taste for life are gone. Suddenly a thought intrudes - I'm worth more dead than alive.
Underclass Zero is a breakup song. Joseph Heller once said, “I only got married to find out what divorce is like.” It isn't that simple or that cavalier. Heller was out of his mind. In any failing love relationship, a once enduring bond becomes a nightmare of hopelessness and regret. And you may dwell on what you could have done differently. If only… Zuzula sings,
I think of myself as a working class hero
You think of me as an underclass zero
You threw me away
Zuzula almost chokes on the words as he spits them out with a mix of pain and anger;
You tell me I gotta go
I got to leave my home
Brothers Lament is an incendiary rocker with a million dollar riff. The Tosspints perform it at frantic breakneck speed. This is a “Johnny Piss-off” song about a roller coaster ride that is coming off the tracks - it's a song about addiction and the despair of the people who love and care about the addict. The Fugs couldn't do it any better than this. The lyrics are straightforward and righteously angry:
I don't know what I'm doing here
You look me in the eyes
And mine deflect and look right into the floor
I can't take it no more
Save Us is classic punk - speeded up, loud and straight to the point. The lyrics are filled up with tales of drunkenness and despair but the underlying message is all about feisty resilience and a big FU to anyone who can't see that the ship is sinking. The singer sings about an empty life and an empty bottle of gin but he's just being actively passive and more than a little rhetorical. When he sings, “Who the fuck is gonna save us from our goddam self, he already knows the answer. He must save himself.
Johnny Johnson opens One Last Shot with a dynamic syncopated drum pattern. Johnson is one of the most solid powerhouse drummers on the scene today and he snaps off a beat like he's part of the drum kit. He is the beat. Zuzula adds in a few minimalist melodic guitar tones that speak volumes. The song shifts from quiet to loud and it takes off like a rocket. Prime Cobain. This is a song about war in a foreign land. It evokes an existential dilemma about right and wrong and explores our worst fears about our soldier boy -  a fear that he will never go back home. It is what we might imagine to be a Soldier's song - cacophonous and quiet; brave and afraid.  
Johnson is once again front and center on You Shouldn't Do This Alone. He changes up the rhythm with a variation of the Bo Diddley beat with an oddly compelling Dick Dale surf guitar. This is solemn goodbye with a hint of longing and regret. It contains the ancient wisdom of our forefathers that acknowledges melancholia as the natural state for a thoughtful person. The lyrics speak of unconscionable loss and forgiveness. It is the voice of a spirit.
It is another master stroke creation from the heart and minds of Don, Zak and Johnny.  A perfect closer.
Epilogue: In the past few months, The Tosspints have participated in George Killian's Irish Red Ruckus Sweepstakes, a promotional contest created by the company to highlight its support of cutting edge music. Killian's has been scouring clubs and concert halls around the country to invite bands for a chance to perform at the Irish Red Ruckus. Bands have been enlisting their fans, friends and family to vote for them to get to the Ruckus.
Four finalists were determined by getting the most votes received in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. The winner will open for the Dropkick Murpheys on November 17th, 2011 - the day this issue hits the stands.

And the winner is…The Tosspints! Congratulations Guys!!!


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