Toiling Midgets

Toiling Midgets

Infobox musical artist
Name = Toiling Midgets

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Origin = San Francisco, California, U.S.
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Genre = Post-punk, Instrumental rock
Occupation =
Years_active = 1979-1983, 1989-1997, 2007-Present
Label = Matador Rough Trade Fistpuppet Thermidor Toiling Midgets Media
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URL = [ Official Website] and [ Official Website]
Current_members = Craig Gray, Paul Hood, Tom Mallon, Mark Sullivan, Erich Werner
Past_members =
Notable_instruments =

Toiling Midgets is an influential rock band from San Francisco, California with "roots in seminal San Francisco punk acts the Sleepers and Negative Trend1." They were "one of the first West Coast punk bands to experiment with dub and post-punk elements1", and have been active on-and-off since 1979. They recently reunited, playing two shows (Dirkfest, a June 7–June 8 2007 festival taking place at [ Slim's] and the Great American Music Hall respectively and honoring the late Dirk Dirksen; the 2007 Haight-Ashbury Street Fair on June 10 2007) in June 2007 and have planned a European tour for the summer of 2008. The current lineup does not feature a vocalist, and the Midgets' instrumental rock is almost always defined as "undefinable."


The Midgets were formed in 1979 by drummer Tim Mooney and guitarist Craig Gray of the local San Francisco band Negative Trend and guitarist Paul Hood from Seattle's Punk bands MEYCE and The Enemy and bassist Nosmo King. Paul Hood had previously been a bassist in Seattle, but picked up the guitar in the hopes of playing in a rock band like his hero, Mick Ronson. The band added the late singer Ricky Williams to its lineup in 1981. The Midgets released their first album, "Sea of Unrest" about this time, before Williams insisted that Nosmo King leave the band, and leaving the band without a bass player. At the end of 1982 bassist Aaron Gregory joined the group, and Annie Ungar (Gun Club) joined as a third guitarist. The formation of the band released "Dead Beats," which represented a return to the all-instrumental approach with which the Toiling Midgets has initially been formed. Toward the end of 1983, the band broke up. Hood moved to Seattle, Washington and Gray moved to the United Kingdom.

In 1989, the band reunited just before the Loma-Prieta Earthquake. Returning to the instrumental format with which the band had begun, the band released and singer Mark Eitzel joined the band about this time. The new group released a CD on Matador Records in June 1992 called "Son" and had embarked on a U.S. tour earlier in May. However, on the eve the tour Eitzel quit the band. When asked during a May 23rd interview with the University of Minnesota's student newspaper if he was still with the band, Eitzel replied,

"Fuck no! They're fucking assholes. They're like these ex-junkie rock stars who expect to be driven around in limousines all the time and they're getting older and they're not doing anything new. Fuck 'em. It's death, y'know, I'm sorry."

Without a singer, the band toured instrumentally. (Williams did not reunite with the band in 1989, instead he moved into a Midget side project that included violinist Mary Redfield (Wade) and recorded an album in 1991 (unreleased). Shortly after rejoining the band, on November 21 1992, [ Williams passed away] due to respiratory complications and a mixture of drugs and alcohol abuse) Shortly after the tour, drummer Tim Mooney and bassist Joe Goldring (who presumably joined solely for touring) left the band (Mooney went on to join the American Music Club, which Eitzel was also the singer for), and were replaced by drummer and long-time producer [ Tom Mallon] and bassist Erich Werner, who had previously been in the Seattle bands Telepaths and the Blackouts.

Mallon and Werner are still part of the lineup today, along with Gray and Hood. Along the way, the lineup picked up keyboardist Mark Sullivan (Lucky, Motorcade). For a brief time during this period (1992 -> 1997), the band was joined by Paul Hood's sister, violist Joanna Hood (who had performed with the Loma Mar Quartet and Paul McCartney), and vocalist David Ripley. The group went on an indefinte hiatus in 1997, but reformed in May 2007 to prepare for the summer of 2007's concerts in San Francisco.

Current line-up

*Craig Gray - Guitar
*Paul Hood - Guitar
*Tom Mallon - Drums
*Erich Werner - Bass
*Mark Sullivan - Keyboard

Former members

*Nosmo King - Bass
*Tim Mooney - Drums
*Ricky Williams (deceased) - Vocals
*Aaron Gregory (deceased) - Bass
*Annie Ungar - Guitar
*Mark Eitzel - Vocals
*Joe Goldring - Bass
*Joanna Hood - Viola
*David Ripley - Vocals
*Carla Fabrizio³ - Cello on "Son"
*Lisa Davis³ - Bass on "Son"


*"Do the Incendiary," initial demo tape, recorded by Tom Mallon (available [ here] ) and released by Toiling Midgets Media
*"4 TRK Mind," a four-track recording (available [ here] ) and released by Toiling Midgets Media
*"God's Man," a demo from 1989-90 also recorded by Mallon (available [ here] ) and released by Toiling Midgets Media
*"Sea of Unrest," released in 1982 on Rough Trade Records and re-released in 1994 on Fistpuppet Records
*"Dead Beats," released on Thermidor Records in 1983
*"Golden Frog," a 7" released on Matador Records on October 17 1991
*"Son," the band's most recent studio album, released on Matador Records on July 14 1992


*1: [,,502207,00.html Biography]
*2: All information for history, line-up, and discog comes from current drummer [ Tom Mallon's website] , the [ Midgets' MySpace] , and [ TrouserPress.Com's website]
*3: [,,175995,00.html ArtistDirect info for "Son" album]

External links

* [ Official Website]
* [ Myspace]
* [ Midgets @]
* [ Midgets @ Trouser Press]
* [ Midgets videos on YouTube]
* [ Photos from the Haight-Ashbury Street Fair Concert @ Flickr]

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