Toiling Midgets

Last updated

Toiling Midgets
Origin San Francisco, California, United States
Genres Post-punk, post-rock, instrumental rock
Years active19791983, 19891997, 2007present
Labels Matador, Rough Trade, Fistpuppet, Thermidor, Toiling Midgets Media
  • Craig Gray
  • Paul Hood
  • Kevin Kuhn
  • Daniel Benjamin
Past members
  • Nosmo King
  • Tim Mooney
  • Ricky Williams
  • Aaron Gregory
  • Tom Mallon
  • Annie Ungar
  • Mark Eitzel
  • Joe Goldring
  • Joanna Hood
  • David Ripley
  • Carla Fabrizio
  • Lisa Davis
  • Erich Werner
  • Mark Sullivan
  • Simon Bell

Toiling Midgets is a rock band from San Francisco, California formed in 1979 by members of San Francisco punk bands Sleepers and Negative Trend. They have been active on-and-off since 1979, with their early 1990s lineup getting most attention due to the involvement of Mark Eitzel of American Music Club. They reunited in 2007.



Toiling Midgets was formed in 1979 by drummer Tim Mooney, of The Sleepers and Negative Trend, and guitarist Craig Gray also of the local San Francisco band Negative Trend, guitarist Paul Hood from Seattle's punk bands Meyce and The Enemy, and bassist Nosmo King (aka Johnathan Henrickson). [1] Initially an instrumental band, they added former Sleepers and Flipper singer Ricky Williams to its lineup in 1980. [1]

This lineup of the band recorded the first Toiling Midgets album, Sea of Unrest, produced by Tom Mallon and released in 1982 by Rough Trade Records. [1] [2] The album was described by Jordan N. Mamone in CMJ New Music Report as a "junkie-rock monument...beautiful, yet horribly-sick stuff". [3] The album was included in Andrew Earles' 2014 book Gimme Indie Rock: 500 Essential American Underground Rock Albums 1981-1996. [4]

Williams and King left the band, with Aaron Gregory (bass, ex-Maggots) and Annie Ungar (guitar, ex-Gun Club) joining, this formation recording the instrumental Dead Beats album, released on Joe Carducci's Thermidor label in 1985. [1] [2]

After a few years on hiatus, in 1989 Hood, Gray and Mooney reunited, initially again as an instrumental band, with Joe Goldring on bass, but they recruited singer Mark Eitzel (for whom Williams had been an influence) of American Music Club in 1990. [1] [5] [6] The new group released the album SON on Matador Records in June 1991, by which time Eitzel had left the band. [1] [2] After touring in the summer of 1991 to support SON drummer Mooney and bassist Goldring left the band. Mooney went on to join the American Music Club, which Eitzel was still fronting, and Goldring later formed Touched by a Janitor and Enablers. They were replaced by drummer and long-time producer Tom Mallon and bassist Erich Werner, formerly a member of Telepaths and The Blackouts. Williams returned to the band and recorded 6 songs as well as a show in the fall of 1992 but died on November 21, 1992, due to respiratory complications and a mixture of drug and alcohol abuse.

Mallon, Werner, Gray, and Hood continued with keyboard player Mark Sullivan (Lucky, Motorcade) joining, and Paul Hood's sister, violist Joanna Hood (who had performed with the Loma Mar Quartet and Paul McCartney) also joining briefly. The group went on an indefinite hiatus in 1997, but reformed in May, 2007 to play at Dirkfest, a June 7June 8, 2007 festival taking place at Slim's and the Great American Music Hall, respectively, honoring the late Dirk Dirksen and to play the Haight-Ashbury Street Fair (June 10, 2007). There was a short tour of the Northwest in November, 2009. A new LP was recorded in 2011 but remains unreleased. Tim Mooney died in June 2012. [7]

In 2013 Ektro Records released a live album Toiling Midgets Live at the Waldorf 1982. [8] Tom Mallon died in January 2014 after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. [9] [10] Ektro Records put out the career retrospective double LP A Smaller Life in 2015 and an accompanying cassette A Smaller Tape in 2017. [11] [12]

In 2019 the Midgets toured Europe with Simon Bell on bass and vocals along with Daniel Benjamin of SEA + AIR on drums. In Sept of 2019 the LP Sea of Tranquility was released on Green Monkey Records. Simon quit the band just after the LP release and was replaced by Kevin Kuhn from the band Die Nerven.

The Toiling Midgets released a new EP in Summer 2022, and a full length LP record, including special guest musicians Chris Eckman (The Walkabouts), Kevin Kuhn (Die Nerven) and Chris Cacavas (Green On Red, The Dream Syndicate) and Eugene Robinson (Oxbow) and more is scheduled for 2023, along with aEuropean tour.

Their latest line-up consists of 5 people living in 8 countries: an Italian bass player from Leipzig, Germany, a Czech singer and clarinet player from London, a German drummer from Thessaloniki, Greece who joined the two original members, Craig Gray from Vancouver, Canada and Paul Hood from Seattle, USA.






Compilations, demos, live, etc.


Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Matador Records</span> American independent record label

Matador Records is an independent record label, with a roster of mainly indie rock, but also punk rock, experimental rock, alternative rock, and electronic acts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Can (band)</span> German experimental rock band

Can were a German experimental rock band formed in Cologne in 1968 by Holger Czukay, Irmin Schmidt (keyboards), Michael Karoli (guitar), and Jaki Liebezeit (drums). The group used several vocalists, most prominently the American Malcolm Mooney (1968–70) and the Japanese Damo Suzuki (1970–73). They have been widely hailed as pioneers of the German krautrock scene.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sun Kil Moon</span> American folk rock act

Sun Kil Moon is an American folk rock act from San Francisco, California, founded in 2002. Initially a continuation of the defunct indie rock band Red House Painters, Sun Kil Moon is now the primary recording moniker of vocalist and guitarist Mark Kozelek. The project is named after the Korean super flyweight boxer Sung-Kil Moon.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aaron Gillespie</span> American musician

Aaron Roderick Gillespie is an American musician, best known for being the original and current drummer and clean vocalist for the rock band Underoath and the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for the alternative rock band the Almost. He has also contributed his drumming skills to the band The Dangerous Summer. Gillespie also maintains his own solo project and released his debut full-length album, Anthem Song, in 2011. From 2013 to 2016, he was the touring drummer for Paramore.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">American Music Club</span> American indie rock band

American Music Club was an American, San Francisco-based indie rock band, led by singer-songwriter Mark Eitzel. Formed in 1983, the band released seven albums before splitting up in 1995. They reformed in 2003 and released two further albums.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Circle (Finnish band)</span> Finnish experimental rock band

Circle is a Finnish experimental rock band formed in Pori in 1991. Their eclectic, ever-changing style has been associated with genres such as krautrock, heavy metal, progressive rock, and ambient. On some albums they have defined themselves as New Wave of Finnish Heavy Metal (NWOFHM).

<i>California</i> (American Music Club album) 1988 studio album by American Music Club

California is the third studio album by American indie rock band American Music Club. It was released on November 10, 1988 on Frontier Records.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mark Eitzel</span> American musician

Mark Eitzel is an American musician, best known as a songwriter and lead singer of the San Francisco band American Music Club.

<i>The Invisible Man</i> (album) 2001 studio album by Mark Eitzel

The Invisible Man is a solo album by the American Music Club singer/songwriter Mark Eitzel, released by Matador Records in 2001.

<i>Engine</i> (American Music Club album) 1987 studio album by American Music Club

Engine is the second album by American Music Club. It was jointly released by Frontier and Grifter in the US and by Zippo in the UK and Europe in 1987. The 1998 Warner Bros. Records reissue added three additional tracks from the same period. The artwork for the Zippo UK release features an incorrect track listing, putting the songs in the wrong order.

<i>United Kingdom</i> (album) 1989 studio album by American Music Club

United Kingdom is the fourth studio album by American indie rock band American Music Club. It was released exclusively in the United Kingdom in 1989 on Frontier Records and Demon Records. The album was recorded primarily for the country, where the band had a larger following than in their native United States, and consists of a mixture of studio and live tracks. United Kingdom was produced by Tom Mallon, who also produced the band's previous three LPs, The Restless Stranger, Engine and California.

<i>Love Songs for Patriots</i> 2004 studio album by American Music Club

Love Songs for Patriots is the eighth studio album by American indie rock band American Music Club, released on October 12, 2004 by Merge Records and Devil in the Woods in the United States and by Cooking Vinyl in Europe.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Negative Trend</span> American punk rock band

Negative Trend was an American punk rock band active between 1977 and 1979. Before they disbanded, the band released one self-titled EP in September 1978.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Red House Painters</span> American rock band

Red House Painters were an American rock band, formed in San Francisco, California in 1988. They were one of the most prominent acts associated with the slowcore/sadcore subgenre. Fronted by primary songwriter Mark Kozelek, the band also included drummer Anthony Koutsos and bass guitarist Jerry Vessel. Guitarists Gorden Mack and Phil Carney both performed with the band during separate six-year tenures.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jussi Lehtisalo</span> Musical artist

Jussi Lehtisalo is a Finnish bassist. In 1991, he founded Circle, a prolific band drawing influences from heavy metal and krautrock to develop a style of repetitive experimental rock. He also runs a record label, Ektro Records, releasing his own music alongside left field rock and metal releases by artists such as Faust and Acid Mothers Temple.

The Sleepers was a San Francisco-based band, formed in 1978. They were one of the earliest punk bands in San Francisco, and later took on a darker, moodier post-punk sound before breaking up in 1981.

Jesters of Destiny is a heavy metal band from Los Angeles, California, which was formed in 1984 by Bruce Duff and guitarist Ray Violet. Evolving from a recording project spearheaded by Violet, who was working as the house engineer for Dawnbreaker studio in San Fernando, CA, the band recorded what would be the first two Jesters songs during the project,which was instigated in order to come up with commercial jingles. The songs were "Diggin' That Grave" and "End of Time." The band presented the songs to Metal Blade Records, who included "End of Time" on Metal Massacre V collection. It closed the LP, which include early tracks by Overkill, Fates Warning, Voivod and Metal Church. The band then signed to Metal Blade, but due to the band not being strictly heavy metal, the label created a subsidiary, Dimension Records, which released the band's debut album, Fun at the Funeral, in 1986, and an EP, In a Nostalgic Mood, in 1987, during their first tenure. Following ",,,Mood," Metal Blade dropped the band. They demo-ed a number of songs for a planned third LP to be titled, No Laughing Matter, but were unable to land a new recording contract. They broke up in 1988. During their run, a number of lead guitarists and drummers were part of the band, including on drums, David Buzzelli, Louie Schilling, Walin' Jennings Morgan, Dave Kuzma, Blaze; and on guitar, Sickie Wifebeater, Michael Montano and Brian Butler.

Tim Mooney was an American drummer, producer, and sound engineer. He drummed in the Sleepers, Toiling Midgets, Negative Trend, Sun Kil Moon and American Music Club.

<i>Tom Peterson and Another Language</i> 1984 studio album / Mini-LP by Tom Peterson and Another Language

Tom Peterson and Another Language is the debut and only (mini)-album from American musician and former Cheap Trick bassist Tom Peterson, released in 1984 under his group name Tom Peterson and Another Language.

X_______X (band)

X_______X was a no wave band formed in 1978 by Cleveland musician and artist John D Morton. Morton is perhaps best known as the leader and founder of protopunk band Electric Eels. Original members of X_______X were Morton on lead guitar & vocals, Anton Fier on drums, Jim Ellis on bass, and Andrew Klimeyk on rhythm guitar and vocals.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Warshaw, Aaron "Toiling Midgets Biography", Allmusic. Retrieved December 23, 2018
  2. 1 2 3 Sprague, David "Toiling Midgets", Trouser Press . Retrieved December 23, 2018
  3. Mamone, Jordan N. (1999) "Toiling Midgets Sea of Unrest", CMJ New Music Report , April 5, 1999. Retrieved December 23, 2018 via Google Books
  4. Earles, Andrew (2014) Gimme Indie Rock: 500 Essential American Underground Rock Albums 1981-1996, Voyageur Press, ISBN   978-0760346488, p. 333
  5. Body, Sean (1999) Wish the World Away: Mark Eitzel and the American Music Club, SAF Publishing Ltd, ISBN   0-946719-20-9, p. 45, 99
  6. Strong, Martin C. (2003) The Great Indie Discography, Canongate, ISBN   1-84195-335-0, p. 202
  7. Minsker, Evan (2012) "R.I.P. Sun Kil Moon, American Music Club Drummer Tim Mooney", Pitchfork, June 16, 2012. Retrieved December 23, 2018
  8. "Toiling Midgets Live at the Waldorf July 21 1982", Extro Records
  9. Lanham, Tom (2013) "Stellar lineup for Tom Mallon tribute", San Francisco Examiner , February 27, 2013. Retrieved December 23, 2018
  10. Rodriquez, Patricia (2014) "Remembering Tom Mallon",, May 2014. Retrieved December 23, 2018
  11. "A Smaller Life", Ektro Records
  12. "A Smaller Tape", Ektro Records